How to Remove Noise With Audacity

Download Audacity

You’ve got your recording finished and realized there’s a hum or hiss on one half of the recording. This quick tutorial will walk you how to import your audio into Audacity, split the stereo track and remove the noise.

Start by downloading Audacity from audacityteam.org/download for your operating system (Mac, Linux or Windows).

Open up Your Stereo Recording in Audacity

In this case we have an mp3 that was recorded from Skype via Piezo from Rogue Amoeba. It records your mic on one channel, and the Skype caller on the other channel.

Open up Your Stereo Recording in Audacity

Single Stereo Track

When we start, we have a single stereo track. You can see in the silence sections on the second track that the center line is thick – that should be a thin line, instead it’s actually noise. We want to remove that noise but only affect the second track.

Single Stereo Track

Split Stereo Track

Tap on the disclosure triangle next to the track name and select Split Stereo Track. This does not exist as an option in the menus up above, only under this disclosure triangle.

Split Stereo Track

Two Mono Tracks

Now that we have two mono tracks, select the track with the noise.

Two Mono Tracks

Select a Region of Pure Noise

Hopefully you have a good sample area, but Audacity can do amazing things even if only with a few seconds of data. You can see in the bottom track a grey area that I’ve selected as our noise profile.

Select a Region of Pure Noise

Select Effect and Noise Removal…

Select Effect and Noise Removal...

Click Get Noise Profile

When you click this, the window will go away and it won’t look like Audacity did anything at all, but in fact you’ve just told it, “this is what noise looks like”.

Click Get Noise Profile

Select the Entire Track

Select entire track, or all of the area where the noise is you want to remove. You should see a yelow border around the track if you’ve selected it properly.

Select the Entire Track

Open Noise Removal Again

Open Noise Removal Again

Click OK

Now that you’ve taught Audacity what noise looks like, you can do Step 2 which is telling it to actually remove the noise. The tricky maneuver here is to simply push OK. If you want to go wild and play with the controls, have fun, or just click OK like I do.

Click OK

Window You’ll See During Noise Removal

Window You'll See During Noise Removal

Nice Clean Audio

Now you can see that in the same gap (and elsewhere) the line is thin, indicating visually that the noise is gone. If you find the audio is distorted as a result of the noise removal, you might want to go back and mess around with those controls.

Nice Clean Audio

92 thoughts on “How to Remove Noise With Audacity

  1. MHINA - May 21, 2017

    Thanks! this was very helpful

  2. Nitin Arora - May 28, 2017

    Well I am trying but my audio is so much mixed with the outside noise that I am not able to separate it out. Can you provide some help for such audio file?

  3. Allison Sheridan - May 28, 2017

    That’s the hardest thing, Nitin. If you don’t have a segment where you can sample just the noise, the only thing you can do is sample where there’s noise and real audio you want. The result will probably be awful. I wish I had a better answer for you. The lesson forward is to figure out how to eliminate the noise before recording. Also always do a test recording. Even with the technique I demonstrate, it will still sound sub-optimal, just not as bad.

  4. GOAT - June 22, 2017

    Thank you. it really helped me

  5. Kumar Paathak - June 22, 2017

    I have a video file (mp4) for which noise needs to be removed. Could you please help ?

  6. podfeet - June 22, 2017

    Kumar – you’ll need to use some kind of video editor to extract the audio from the video. High end apps like ScreenFlow and Final Cut Pro X can extract the audio but if you have QuickTime, you can open it there and choose File, Export, Audio Only. From there you can open the audio in Audacity to remove the noise. But then you’ll need a video editor to get the audio back into the video, right? I don’t know of free options to do that. If you had Final Cut Pro X, you could remove the noise while in the app, not needing Audacity at all. there may be free video editors out there that can do this but I’m not just familiar with the topic well enough to advise.

  7. Christina Carnet - June 25, 2017

    Is it possible to remove, if not, almost remove the instrumental to a song?

  8. Christina Carnet - June 25, 2017

    I’m using Noise Reduction and it’s not doing anything to my track.

  9. podfeet - June 25, 2017

    Christina – no, it’s not possible to remove an instrumental track from a song if all you have is a mono track. With the little information you’ve provided about using noise reduction I can’t possibly help you figure this out. Please describe exactly what you’re doing in detail and I might be able to help. I’ve seen it do bad things to a track but never nothing.

  10. Janet - June 27, 2017

    This is fantastic! I’m trying to make high-quality videos and the noise from my computer fan was adding some really unprofessional sounding noise. The other day I was going nuts trying to learn what settings to change on my microphone and wondering if I needed to buy a software program. This did a great job of getting rid of that noise and I already had it on my PC. Thanks very much for this!

  11. Allison Sheridan - June 27, 2017

    Glad this helped, Janet! I have to say, after you go through this one time, you learn to find ways to stop the noise in the first place. I used to have lots of fan noise from a laptop and I just started keeping it on a cooling gel pack so it wouldn’t fire up the fans so badly. As it aged I had to use icepacks wrapped in towels. Finally I cleaned out the vents and the fans went back to normal. All way easier than removing noise after the fact.

  12. Neil Hocking - June 28, 2017

    Thank you Allison

    This was really easy to follow and works great – at least it would have done if my emergency phone video wasn’t so bad to be beyond repair. Will definitely be remembering this for future audio though.

    Neil

  13. Travis - July 5, 2017

    We have a pesky neighbor that lets her dogs bark continuously and we’re getting recordings of it for a court thing but in the background you can hear her talk and say stuff about us. However, we have a lot of white noise(static) that I’m trying to remove so we can hear what she’s saying. I’ve tried numerous things but it ends up getting distorted. I’ve read that a lot of people use the noise removal tool but I only have noise reduction. I’ve checked the add-ons tool bar and everything is enabled. I don’t have a noise removal tool. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  14. Allison Sheridan - July 5, 2017

    Travis- The only thing I know that can help is to teach Audacity what the noise sounds like by giving it a good sample of only that noise. Do you have a reasonable length of pure noise? Under the best of circumstances, you always get some distortion.
    .
    I don’t know much about rules of evidence but it’s possible processing this audio might make it problematic to use.

  15. Lisa Krouze - July 6, 2017

    After I did the noise reduction the track is so quiet I had to turn my speakers all the way up and I still could barely hear it. Is there another step I’m missing?

  16. Rohini - July 7, 2017

    I have done exactly as told but with noise reduction but nothing happened, rather the vocal voice has reduced.
    Am I doing something wrong?

  17. Linda - July 14, 2017

    When I select OK to reduce the noise, my sound waves for the entire recording disappear. I can still play the recording back, but I am unable to do any editing because I cannot see the sound waves. Stumped Newbie.

  18. JC - July 26, 2017

    I tried this out a few times, and the audio kept coming out a bit “Tinny” after reduction. What should I do?

  19. Allison Sheridan - July 26, 2017

    I’m afraid with noise removal, tinny is the usual side effect. You can back off on the settings but you’ll always be trading off noise for tinny. Best solution overall (for the future) is to ensure you don’t have noise going into the recording in the first place.

  20. Joshua Tanenbaum - July 27, 2017

    I’ve imported my track, but it won’t let me “Split Stereo Track”. There’s only one track that shows up when I import my track. Not 2. So this doesn’t work from the beginning for me. Help if you can. Thank you.

  21. podfeet - July 28, 2017

    Hey Joshua – it’s kind of hard to tell what’s going wrong without seeing your file.

  22. Anonymous - August 2, 2017

    IT was the best post for my problem…thnx

  23. Deb - August 7, 2017

    Hey Allison,

    Thank you so much. I did a simple podcast this evening, and I was trying to clean up my audio for background noise.

    I used your easy step by step method and wow, all done in few seconds. Actually, you brought smile on my face because you are good teacher – one who can make things easy for non-experts.

    I have shared the URL with you where I posted the podcast in my website, it is about guided meditation, anyways. Thank you again for your help!

    Take care,

    Deb

  24. podfeet - August 7, 2017

    You made my day, Deb! I love to do these tutorials and if it only helps one person it gives me motivation to keep doing them. Smiling right now.

  25. John Pacheco - August 8, 2017

    So I wonder if the people having trouble isolating a section of the track to ‘create a noise profile’ are attempting to do so while viewing their entire recording. Go to the ‘view’ button, ‘zoom in’, multiple times and you can easily find a “noise only” sample. Also I ‘noise removal’ and ‘noise reduction’ are the ~= same thing.

  26. Allison Sheridan - August 8, 2017

    Great point, John. I haven’t actually looked at the instructions for years since I originally wrote this. I just reread and I see that I did show selecting a small area, but you make it much more obvious what people should be doing. I’m afraid that if the segment is too short, it may not be able to get enough information to do a good job of reducing noise. Hopefully, your advice will help others.

  27. Deb Chowdhury - August 12, 2017

    Hey Allison,

    I must thank you because you made it so simple that’s the key, and the mark of a good teacher (I have said that before as well). Well, I just wanted to update you, because it might be helpful for people who are on tight budget like me doing pod-casting and visiting your site.

    The podcast is there now, sorry it took a little while to upload it to Libsyn (URL is on my previous comment).

    I used a cheap $20 tie-clip microphone, my Samsung S7 as the recorder, and Audacity. Off course your valuable tips to clean it up. I think the recording is of decent quality (bearing in mind I have a 6 year old, and we all know what 6 year old’s do).

    Thank you again, I do appreciate your work, and I will keep following you.

    Have a great day,

    Deb

  28. Allison Sheridan - August 12, 2017

    Thank you so much, Deb – big smiles on my face! I don’t see your URL though, I wonder if my spam watching stuff stripped it out of your post? I’d like to hear how it sounds. From reading you I’m guessing that your passion for your topic will make podcasting a real joy for you. When you’re ready to step up your game on microphones, I have some recommendations for some inexpensive options.

  29. Deb Chowdhury - August 12, 2017

    Hey Allison,

    Thank-you, good morning from beautiful Canada.

    This is the URL: https://www.meditation-for-sleep.com/guided-meditation-for-sleep/

    But, I can see the URL and it is working in my first comment though. If you click on my name it is there. Please delete this comment if necessary, it might unnecessarily spam your comments section. I wish you had nested comments.

    Well, yes I would love and appreciate your comments on Microphones. But, I do have a high quality Rode NT-1 but that needs setting up etc. (time-consuming).

    But with my phone, it is so much easier just plug in and record, and you can do it anywhere, so I was experimenting with things and also it is a cheap set-up.

    Would love your comments on the audio please or suggestions when you have time?

    Take care,

    Deb

  30. Allison Sheridan - August 12, 2017

    Your audio sounds fantastic! I can’t believe that’s from a cheap lavalier mic on your phone.

  31. Deb Chowdhury - August 12, 2017

    Thank you Allison, for checking it out. Well, it is surprising where we are going in terms of technology, moreover I did not not clean up everything, BTW I am an IT professional (Database – nothing to do with audio engineering), and my boss, Rob is a big fan of mobile technology, and Google platform etc., actually he got me into it, and I decided why not give it a try, now you’re such an experienced professional Allison, you feel it is good enough, so I feel it is worth it!! Take care.

  32. Fianna - August 22, 2017

    What do the numbers under “Noise Removal” do and what would adjusting them do?

  33. Anonymous - August 28, 2017

    tried it and it made the tape hiss worse as well as the audio quality.

  34. podfeet - August 28, 2017

    That’s a shame. If you don’t have a spot where there’s just the hiss, it’s hard for Audacity to figure out what is hiss and what is good audio to keep. The best thing to do is eliminate hiss and noise at the source _before_ recording. I suggest finding a way to monitor the recording as its being made so if noise starts coming in, you can stop and fix it. I ALWAYS do a test recording and listen to it before doing my final recordings. Even if I’ve recorded a few minutes earlier with the same setup, I check it again. It’s amazing how it changes when you’d swear you’d changed nothing.

  35. Steve - September 26, 2017

    followed your advice but I think i’m stuck with what i have. Trying to remove a gear sound from my camera when zooming in and out while recording video (with audio), want the camera gears out, but trying to keep the rest of the audio. Is this possible?

  36. podfeet - September 26, 2017

    Steve – because you can repeatedly make that sound happen with your camera, you might have a good chance. Try recording just the sound of the camera gears for a few seconds with no other audio over it. Add that to the audio clip you’re working with. Then use the raw gear noise as the sample, and then apply to the real audio. Does that make sense? Let me know if it works!

  37. AKSHAT NEGI - October 1, 2017

    I have a recording from an experimental setup from which i tent to eliminate noise. I also have recorded noise separately can i use this recording of noise to eliminate it from my experimental recording.These recordings have been done using a microphone so noise is from sources like tubelight.

  38. martin - October 11, 2017

    I finally understood, thanks for that.

  39. Anonymous - October 22, 2017

    I have a recording with music in the background and cant hear much other than the music. How do i eliminate the music?

  40. podfeet - October 22, 2017

    I’m afraid this isn’t possible, with any software.

  41. Lindsay A Gordon - November 8, 2017

    Trying this, the help in Audacity was not as helpful as this.

  42. Mike V - November 15, 2017

    Hello.

    I have a problem. I’ve selected the noise part of the track, but when I click effects I am not able to select Noise reduction or any effect.
    Can’t understand what I am doing wrong.
    Please help

  43. Luke - November 18, 2017

    Thank you very much, I was digitising some old compact cassette tapes and this method worked fantastically. Thanks again

  44. bond007 - November 24, 2017

    Hi,
    I am using Audacity v 2.1.0, The name of the options are somewhat a bit different in this version. The mp3 file from which I want to remove noise looks like this-
    https://i.imgur.com/3VFon92.jpg
    You have mentioned that “We want to remove that noise but only affect the second track.” Why don’t we remove the noise from the first track also as it also has noise lines? Why is it showing 2 tracks for a single audio file?
    You have mentioned to select the track with the noise, in my case both one’s are having noise. If I select the either one a yellow border forms outside that recording. I am not able to select them both at the same time. How to do that?
    How to save the file in mp3 format itself, as the output files are getting saved in .audacity format only.

  45. podfeet - November 24, 2017

    bond007 – Good questions. In my example, I used a stereo recording where there was noise on one person’s mic, but not on the other. This happens with Skype calls sometimes where one person doesn’t have good noise isolation. One stereo track has a left and a right channel, hence the two waveforms. I showed that so I could demonstrate how to split the two sides. Applying noise reduction causes audio artifacts, so if one side didn’t have noise, it would be better to leave it alone.

    I’m glad you sent a screenshot of your recording to illustrate what you’re dealing with. Sadly it looks to me like you have a VERY low signal to noise ratio. It looks like this may have been recorded using an audio jack instead of a USB-mic. The audio jacks on computers don’t have enough gain to provide a clean signal.

    You may get usable audio using the techniques I describe above but I’m not terribly hopeful with the audio file you have. If this is a precious recording to you it’s worth pursuing but if not it would be better to rerecord with some better equipment.

    In answer to your last questions, it looks to me like this is a stereo recording of a single source, like one microphone. In that case, you can separate them as I describe above and then delete the second track. One mic can’t produce stereo sound so it’s just useless to you.

    To save as other than .audacity, choose File/Export and choose the format you desire. If you want to export to mp3, you’ll have to install the LAME encoder. I don’t have the bandwidth to walk you through this, but the steps to do this are in the documentation and help files. http://www.audacityteam.org. Good luck!

  46. Stranger - November 26, 2017

    Hey, i dont have the noise removal i just have noise reduction?? Can you please help mee? thank u

  47. Marie-Louise - November 29, 2017

    @Stranger, the noise removal function is now labeled as noise reduction in the most current version of audacity. It’s the exact same function. I personally find that I get better results with that function however when I skip the stereo track splitting step. You might find this step by step tutorial helpful: https://youtu.be/oLGyV9G0x10

    (Disclosure: I created this tutorial)

  48. yagnajee - December 2, 2017

    HI,
    Everything is very open and very clear explanation step by step for audacity, thank you for sharing with us, keep moving.

  49. AJ - December 3, 2017

    Do you really have to split it into individual stereo tracks and process them separately?

  50. podfeet - December 3, 2017

    You really do, AJ. In my experience the noise is usually on one track (like one side of a Skype call) so you really don’t want to apply noise reduction to a track that doesn’t need it.

  51. Anonymous - December 16, 2017

    I only seem to get a shorter version of sound remover. It has the 2 steps but non of the noise reduction, sensitivity, frequency smoothing, or attack/delay time, tags. All I can get is get noise and preview it and save. I am using a different Audacity or have I missed something. Would appriciate feed back on this subject

  52. browncharlie471@gmail.com - December 16, 2017

    I only seem to get a shorter version of sound remover. It has the 2 steps but non of the noise reduction, sensitivity, frequency smoothing, or attack/delay time, tags. All I can get is get noise and preview it and save. I am using a different Audacity or have I missed something. Would appriciate feed back on this subject

  53. bond007 - December 22, 2017

    Dear Podfeet,

    Thanks a lot for replying. All queries solved, just one major remaining. Yes the audio is being recorded from an Old Galaxy smartphone. When I split the track both mono tracks have the same graphical noises or bars. I selected them both using ctrl+a and followed the rest of the steps but the end track was just like the original. I selected one track and then followed the rest of the steps but the result unfortunately was the same. Any help?

    Thanks

  54. Orion - December 31, 2017

    Maybe because I have an old version of Audacity, but when I try noise removal I get less noise–but I also get a burbling kind of sound that’s just as annoying as the noise. Any ways to avoid this problem?

  55. May - January 5, 2018

    Thanks a ton! This really helped me out and the audio sounds so much more professional even though I am using all cheap equipment.

  56. Zin - January 10, 2018

    if I send you my flash drive, can some one do it for me ?
    I know nothing is free…………….

  57. Grey - January 12, 2018

    @zin. Yes i can help. Send me your email.

  58. Mark - January 16, 2018

    Hey folks I’ve used this before and it’s great makes cheap audio sound pro. Small issue is I made a work video today and there’s cars going by in the background, can this same technique be used to get rid of that? I guess rather than select little bits/hissing and what to cut out, is there a way to select just what you want to keep?

  59. EricSound - January 18, 2018

    it work, thank you, was able to remove the noise

  60. Alison - January 25, 2018

    What if your split audio tracks are exactly the same?

  61. Dave Lessard - January 25, 2018

    Hello everyone. I just recorded a podcast using Audacity. During the playback, you can hear a cyclical swishing noise. Any thoughts about how to get rid of that?

  62. podfeet - January 25, 2018

    Do you have any silence where you can capture the noise to remove it?

    And as always the best way to get rid of noise is to figure out where it’s coming from before you do a once in a lifetime recording. Isolating the mic from desktop vibrations, turning off AC/Heat, etc. I monitor the audio (including my own voice which is ANNOYING) so when there’s noise I know about it immediately.

  63. podfeet - January 25, 2018

    The main reason I suggest splitting the tracks is if you have a true stereo recording with one person on one track and the other on a second track. Splitting will isolate the side where the noise was created and not affect the other track. If when you split the track they’re the same, just delete one of them and do your noise reduction on the maintained track. Does that make sense?

  64. Leslie - February 2, 2018

    I have a recording of a phone conversation while in the car. Is it possible to remove all of the road noise from the recording to be able to hear the other person (on the other end of the call) on the phone conversation as well?

  65. Allison Sheridan - February 2, 2018

    It’s worth a try!

  66. Leslie - February 2, 2018

    I’ve done that, but I still can’t hear the other person on the line. I tried to amplify the conversation but that did not work. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  67. Allison Sheridan - February 3, 2018

    I misunderstood your problem, Leslie. If the audio from the other person isn’t there, there isn’t a program in the world that can create it.

  68. Leslie - February 3, 2018

    Ok, thank you.

  69. Zach - February 3, 2018

    I only had a Noise Reduction option, and not a Noise Removal option. Any help would be appreciated, thanks

  70. matt - February 3, 2018

    what levels should i set the noise removal step 2 at?

  71. Allison Sheridan - February 4, 2018

    Matt. it all depends on how bad the noise is. I start with the defaults and if the resulting audio is too distorted, I undo and dial it down and try again. Perhaps someone else understands the controls better than me and can provide a more detailed answer.

  72. Anonymous - February 5, 2018

    Hello, I have an audio recording from a phone, however the contain include the conversation but also music, dogs barking, car and motocycles passing by, an electricale appliances kick starting every few minutes. i would like to know how to get a clear copy of the conversation with all the unwanted noise remove.

    Its very urgent and i thank you in advance.

    Regards

  73. Allison Sheridan - February 5, 2018

    That is going to be nearly impossible, I’m afraid. The noise removal tools require a consistent noise, like a hum or a hiss. Random noises like motorcyles and dogs are not possible to remove in any sort of automated way. If this is really crucial you might be able to have a professional audio editor work on it (and it will cost you a lot). I’m not even sure it’s possible.

  74. Anonymous - February 6, 2018

    Thank you for your response.

    i have been manipulating the audacity for a few days. I have manage to clear some noise however while manipulating the audio with various set up, i have notice that there are two kind of blue area, a light blue and slightly darker blue. Is there a possibility that I can erase one of the blue area. It just for a few minutes of the audio. I am convinced that i require only of blue area out of both and the audio will be perfect.

    Looking forward to your quick response.

    Thanking you

  75. Anonymous - February 6, 2018

    if i send you a voice some one can please remove the vibrating voice of that voice

  76. Ginga - February 12, 2018

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial.

  77. Brett - February 25, 2018

    Hey, Could Someone help me remove some noise from a Wedding Clip Ceremony? Super Buzzy! I can email you the track today! Thanks guys.

  78. LuAnn - February 27, 2018

    I am trying to transfer an older audio recording from a cassette. It is only a speaking voice but the whole time talking there is an overwhelming noise. Not sure if its the age of the tape or need to apply this method. Does anyone have suggestions? Or another tutorial?

  79. Allison Sheridan - February 27, 2018

    LuAnn – have you tried the technique in the tutorial? You didn’t say so it’s hard to advise.

  80. Anonymous - February 28, 2018

    THANK YOU!!! My boss is having me transcribe some terrible quality audio and this helps a lot!

  81. Rory - March 5, 2018

    I wanted to clean up some old tapes of my father in law singing traditional Irish songs, this did the trick very well prior to adding vocal enhancement, thanks very much for the advice.

  82. podfeet - March 5, 2018

    That’s such a cool project, Rory. I’m so glad this helped you, I’m sure those are treasured recordings.

  83. Anonymous - March 13, 2018

    Cant seem to get rid of white noise, any suggestions?

  84. LuAnn - March 15, 2018

    Yes, have tried the tutorial and cannot select a section of the noise because its the whole way through so the program doesn’t even give me a chance to do noise removal, not highlighted to select.

  85. Jan - March 23, 2018

    Both tracks are identical; I see no difference as is portrayed in the directions for noise removal. Also, my Audacity offers “noise reduction” and not removal. I tried the process suggested, repeating it three times, and still I have a LOT of hiss (computer fan noise). Any other suggestions?

  86. Sushan Ekanayake - April 2, 2018

    Thank you for the support. this works perfectly. after repeating the procedure 3 times, almost 100% background noise was gone. love this app

  87. AsH - April 3, 2018

    i have recorded a program audio in laptop with using mixture, but entire audio clip was too buzzy! i have tried with this software tool , but the result was not satisfactory. Could anyone suggest me how to do? or lemme know some other software tool..!

  88. Anonymous - May 26, 2018

    I am trying to remove background music from song but not yet done ,, could you please any one help me.

  89. Aravind - June 16, 2018

    Allison – thank you for taking the time to create this tutorial. I followed the steps and it worked perfectly. Contributions such as yours is what makes the internet great and I commend you for it. As has been commented by other users above, the menu item within Audacity has changed (at least on Windows) to Effect > Noise Reduction (instead of Noise Removal). Please verify its the same on other operating systems and then update the article for the benefit of other people.

  90. Cat Smith - June 25, 2018

    Thank you so much! I can’t always depend on the quality of my live radio show, but I don’t want to leave anything out when posting replays. Thanks to your tutorial, I don’t have to! Thanks!

  91. Sajjad - July 8, 2018

    awsome!!!

  92. Brian - July 11, 2018

    Audionamix makes something called IDC (Instant Dialogue Cleaner) that can help with denoising your audio. I’m not sure that it can work with Audacity. They also make software that can take music out, etc.

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