Think blurry or shaky video is a problem? Sure, video quality is important, but audio noise can ruin your video just as quickly.
But fixing muddy or noisy audio can be a real pain. And recording clean audio can be tough, especially in noisy environments.
Whether it’s background noise or less-than-ideal equipment, sometimes you end up with hissy or otherwise noisy audio.
But fixing audio noise doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. In fact, it can be very easy!
We’ll show you how to reduce audio noise in your videos.
Here’s what you’ll learn
- What is audio noise?
- How noisy audio can ruin your viewer’s experience.
- How to reduce audio noise before you start recording.
- How to reduce audio noise in your recording.
- How to easily fix noisy audio, even if it’s already embedded in a video.
What is audio noise and why is it harmful?
There’s no single definition of audio noise, but in general, it’s background sounds such as fans, people talking, cars or trucks driving by, buzz from faulty audio wires, or other ambient noises that shouldn’t be in your video.
Noisy audio distracts your viewers from the important information from the person speaking in your video.
Good audio goes a long way in making a good video
In fact, our study, Video Viewer Habits, Trends, and Statistics You Need to Know found that a whopping 75% of the videos we analyzed had clear and easily understandable voice overs.
But that’s not all. Almost 90% of the videos that submitters rated four or five stars for “how accurately did the video achieve its goal” and “how did you personally rate the video” had clear audio.
Check out these examples.
In the example below, you can clearly hear a hiss. It’s not overly distracting, but it could be a lot better.
Now check out the same clip with the audio noise removed.
Clearly (pun intended) the second clip sounds better. It’s cleaner, clearer, and it sounds more professional.
How to remove background noise from audio BEFORE you record
The best way to fix noisy audio is to not have noisy audio to begin with. That means recording in an environment that’s as quiet as possible.
You don’t need a professional recording studio to get great results, but you do want to pick the quietest room or area you can find.
Then, you should get familiar with the typical ambient sounds in that area.
Can you hear large trucks or other traffic from outside? What about the heating or air conditioner system? Can you hear the fan turning on and off? Can you hear colleagues or others talking in other rooms? Is there a buzz from the fluorescent lights?
Those are just a few of the kinds of noises that can show up on your voice over when you record.
Next, do a test recording of your room. You don’t need to speak, but use the microphone you will use for your voice over recording. Record 10-20 seconds of the natural noise in the room.
This is called recording your room tone.
Then, listen to your room tone recording in headphones. What can you hear that you can immediately eliminate?
For example, if you can hear the fan from your heating/cooling system, you could turn it off while you record. If you hear people talking in the background, you could (politely) ask them to move their conversation to a different area. You can turn off any buzzing lights if possible.
Your room tone recording will also help you reduce audio noise after you’ve recorded.
Your room tone recording can be a baseline for your audio software to remove noise.
Let’s see how.
How to reduce audio noise
There are a lot of free audio editing applications out there, but they can be complicated and require at least a basic knowledge of audio editing techniques.
In this example, I’ll show you how to reduce audio noise using TechSmith Audiate.
Put simply, Audiate is the easiest way to record and edit voice over audio. It transcribes your voice over as you record, so you can edit your audio like text. It can also transcribe voice over recordings you import.
Note: The steps below are for reducing noise in audio you are recording, not imported audio.
Step 1: Record your room tone audio and voice over
Pretty straight forward. Get 10-20 seconds of what your room sounds like. Then, in the same recording, record your voice over.
Edit your voice over as needed.
Step 2: Apply the DeNoise filter
Click the filters and effects button, click “+” sign to add an effect, and choose Remove Noise.
Adjust the effect’s settings to reduce as much of the room tone noise as possible from the first 10-20 seconds you recorded.
The Processing slider adjusts how much noise will be removed. While it’s tempting to remove ALL the noise from your recording, doing so will likely make your voice over sound muddy or unnatural.
The Focus dropdown allows you to choose what types of sound frequencies you want to filter out. For example, if your audio noise is mostly stuff like hissing or other high-frequency sounds, you could select High Frequency.
The Output slider allows you to adjust the volume of the audio coming out of the filter.
The Remove Hum/Buzz switch can automatically remove many kinds of hums and buzzes common to noisy audio.
Step 3: Check your voice over
Once you have reduced the noise in your room tone, listen to how the filter affected your voice over recording.
Does it sound good? Or, does it sound weird or unnatural?
Applying too much noise reduction can sometimes make your voice over sound muddy or strange. Adjust the settings if necessary to maintain optimal noise reduction while also keeping a natural sound to your voice.
How to reduce audio noise in a video editor
TechSmith Camtasia also works well for removing audio noise.
This is especially useful for videos where the audio is already embedded.
Step 1: Open your video in Camtasia and separate the audio and video
Separating audio and video tracks in Camtasia is incredibly easy.
Just right-click on your video in the Camtasia timeline and choose “Separate Video and Audio.”
Your audio will now appear on a separate track on the Camtasia timeline.
Step 2: Apply the Remove Noise audio effect
Click Audio Effects and drag the Remove Noise effect to the audio track on your timeline.
In the properties panel, you can adjust how sensitive the noise reduction effect is with the Sensitivity slider and the amount of noise to remove with the Reduction slider.
As with the noise reduction in Audiate, be careful not to go hog-wild with the noise reduction or your audio will sound strange.
Say goodbye to noisy audio
Recording your voice over or other audio in the quietest place possible is the first step in ensuring a clean and clear recording. But even the most remote location will have some ambient sounds.
Knowing how to use the noise reduction tools available to you can go a long way in ensuring your videos sound as good as they look.
Yes! With the right tools, fixing noisy audio can be very easy.
The best way to ensure your audio isn’t noisy is to record in the quietest spot possible.
Use your audio editors noise reduction feature. In TechSmith Audiate, click the Filters and Effects button and then click the plus sign and choose DeNoise. You can adjust the settings to get the sound you desire.
TechSmith Camtasia has filter to reduce audio noise. Separate the audio and video on the Camtasia timeline and then apply the Noise Reduction audio effect.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.