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Cleaning A Voice Track With Audacity

Cleaning A Voice Track With Audacity

Audacity LogoOne of the best ways to improve your home videos whether they are of family events, outings, or even videos you are making for online consumption is in the area of audio.

There is an old saying that the most important part of video is audio and in this case you can make your videos more watchable by making them more… listenable! (OK! I know that’s not really a word!)

Quite often when you are looking at other peoples videos you may have noticed that although the video itself seemed quite OK, there was something that seemed to be annoying about it or some way that it was failing to hold your attention.

More often than not it is actually the audio quality that is having that effect.

On this page I have laid out a simple procedure anyone can follow to quickly and efficiently clean up a narration or voice over track.

The techniques apply to any voice recording you have done regardless of the source but before that always remember when you are recording a voice to set your device at the highest possible quality of recording.

Some devices don’t offer this but many do, so take the time to go into the settings of whatever you are using to make sure you are getting the best audio quality you can.

Once you have your recording we are going to use a free audio editing software program to polish the sound file you have, so we need to get that file isolated and into a format suitable for editing.

If you have recorded a voice track on your computer this is simple because you will already have a single audio file and most likely it will be in the .wav format that we need.

If you have used some other kind of system and do not have a .wav file then you can get a free audio converter here that will do the job, or just Google for one.

The point is that we need to get the file into the .wav format to get the best results.

Because we are going to edit the file and are also going to be adding that file back to a video project it is very important to stick to the .wav format.

If you are dealing with a voice track from one of your existing videos simply load the video into your video editing software then go to the output – sharing – distribute part of the program and choose to output the file as a .wav audio file.

One you have the sound file you will need another free software program called Audacity which you can download for free here: Download Audacity.

Just choose the version suitable for your system and install.

Now that we have Audacity installed, open the program and load your audio file by selecting “File” then “Open” and navigating to where you put the audio file.

Audacity Step 1
Audacity Step 2

Audacity will give you the option of either directly editing the original file (faster) or making a copy of the file and editing the copy (safer). My choice in this is to manually make a copy before I even start and place it in a separate folder.

Audacity Step 3

That way I always have the original to go back to if I mess up and I am not getting Audacity to do anything extra that could lead to problems.

One more point to note before we get into the procedure is that Audacity is an incredible sound editing platform. Although this simple guide will get your voice tracks up to speed it in no way taps into the vast capabilities of the program.

It would be worth anyones time to delve further into learning how to effectively use Audacity for all parts of your video sound tracks.

Cleaning Up Your Voice Track

Once you have chosen the method of editing, the file will load into the program and be displayed as a waveform representing the sounds within the file.

Audacity Step 4

Noise Removal

Before we start we need to find a small section of the voice track that has no vocals recorded on it. We will use this section of the track to give Audacity a sample of the noise we want to remove.

In the example track I have used the mouse to select a portion of the file.

Audacity Step 5

Now select Effect then Noise Removal and a dialogue box will open.

Audacity Step 6

Click on Get Noise Profile and Audacity will capture and analyze the small sample you selected in the previous step.

Audacity Step 7

The dialogue box will disappear and you will be back at the waveform view of your file.

Click anywhere on the waveform then either hit ctrl + A or use Edit / Select All to make sure the entire file is selected.

Now go back and select Effect, Noise Removal again and the same dialogue box will open only this time check the bottom of the box to see that (1.) Remove Noise is checked then hit OK.

Audacity Step 8

Although there are lots of ways to adjust and fine tune this module remember, we are going for a quick and dirty fix here!

It will immediately run and you will notice that the areas where there were no vocals before have now become much thinner indicating the reduction in noise.

Audacity Step 9


First of all make sure the entire audio clip is selected by using ctrl + A or by using the Select All function under the Edit tab.

Go to Effect then select Equalization.

Audacity Step 10

A new dialogue box will open shown below. Make sure that Draw Curves is selected and then from the drop down box select EMI 78 as the profile you want.

You can use the preview button to listen to the change it will make if you like. Finally select OK and Audacity will apply the changes.

Audacity Step 11

What you may notice is that the small areas where you removed noise have now kind of fattened up a little because of the Eq changes.

Audacity Step 12

Take a listen to the final product and if it is ok then… OK!

If the Eq has raised the noise level to a noticable degree then re-do the noise removal step once more for final clean and you should be done.

17 comments to Cleaning A Voice Track With Audacity

  • Rusty

    I already have Cyberlink Audio Director 4. I will be setting up to do some videos & podcasting & have been told I should use Adobe Audition or Audacity. What are your thoughts? Will Cyberlink work OK or should I change my audio software?

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Rusty,

      In my experience the reason people say stuff like that is not because it is based on any actual knowledge.

      It’s based on the fact that the particular software they are recommending is what THEY are using.

      To be truthful they usually aren’t even recommending it, they are usually stating with absolute certainty (based on no data) that the one they are using in the ONLY one you can use!

      Audio Director 4 is perfectly suited and perfectly equipped to deal with anything you may want to do for a podcast.

  • Stefan Fuchs

    Good guide, just that what i’m looking for. I just downloaded Audacity but the draw curve EMI 78 does not exist in Equalization. I used RIAA instead and called the effect normalize after that.

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Stephan,

      There are a few filters that come with Audacity you can use and anyone can play around with them to find one they like.

      I wanted to keep the guide simple.

      Thanks for leaving comment!

  • Chavon Gaskins

    Are you able to remove people voices with this? I have school basketball games but dont want the conversations to stay. Other parents don’t need to hear everything.

    • Lance Carr

      HI Chavon,

      Unfortunately you probably can’t do this.

      When you select some constant background noise it is usually at a low level and is restricted to a reasonably small group of wavelengths.

      When you remove it the sound of the overall track changes because every other sound that shares sounds of the same wavelength also get removed.

      However the change this causes is not usually so bad that it is noticeable.

      The sounds of voices are not consistent even sounds that are continuous.

      By the time you sample each one and remove them you would probably removed all other sounds on the track as well!

  • Lisa

    Lance, I have a few questions regarding Audacity that you might be able to help me with. Would you mind contacting me via FB? My address is I would really appreciate any answers you might be able to give me!!

    • Lance Carr

      Hi Lisa, I sent you a PM on FaceBook but no reply!

      I am not really surprised because FB messages from people you are not actually connected to tend to get buried.

      You can contact me directly on this comments thread or go to the Contact page and send me an email.

  • ray

    I cant find EMI78 in my audacity!

  • Works great!
    Thank you… I wasn’t expecting to be able to be able to produce something like this myself…

  • tom

    You are very helpful. Do you have a company I can send recordings to be improved. I am close but need to make sure I am hearing what I think I am.



  • tom

    You are very helpful. Do you help people out for a fee to really enhance recordings?



  • Sibylle

    How do I put the audit file to the video file once it is cleaned up?

    • Lance Carr

      That would depend on what video editing software you are using, generally it is simply a matter of adding the final video file into the software’s audio library then dragging it on to the timeline of the editor.

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