Imagine you’ve just finished recording a video, only to play it back and notice a constant hum in the background. It’s frustrating, but no one will care as long as the picture quality is good, right? Wrong! Good video content isn’t just about crystal-clear visuals — the audio quality is just as important.
Whether it’s the buzz of distant traffic, the unexpected whir of an air conditioning unit, or some unidentifiable hissing sound, even the most meticulously planned recordings can fall victim to intrusive background noise. While some video makers might be tempted to ignore such issues, poor audio can severely detract from your content and distract your audience.
But fear not, removing (or at least reducing) unwanted noise is easier than you think — and it doesn’t involve refilming your entire video. In this guide, we’ll show you how to remove noise from audio to ensure that your message is heard loud and clear.
So, if you’re looking to learn how to remove white noise from audio, look no further! All you need is the right tools and a little know-how, which is exactly what we’ll be discussing in this post. We’ll also be looking at:
- What is audio noise and how it 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 background noise and why is it harmful?
There’s no single definition of audio noise, but generally speaking, it’s any background sound such as fans, people talking, cars driving by, or other ambient noises that shouldn’t be in your video. Even faulty wiring in your devices (such as your microphone) can cause an annoying background buzz!
While good audio goes a long way in making a good video, noisy audio distracts viewers from the information that’s being given. Don’t believe us? Here are some examples:
Noisy Audio Background
In this audio clip, you can clearly hear a hiss in the background. While it might not be overly distracting, it could be a lot better.
Clean Audio Background
Now here’s the same clip, but with the audio noise removed…
There’s no denying that the second clip sounds better. It’s cleaner, clearer, and — most importantly — it sounds more professional. It’s a bit like when you turn off a semi-loud appliance, like the hood over your stove, and realize how much quieter (and nicer) it is without that noise.
How to remove background noise from audio BEFORE you record
As with many things, when dealing with noisy audio, prevention is the greatest cure. While there are a few things you can do to record great audio, one of them is finding the quietest possible environment.
You don’t need a professional studio to get great results — though you could make a DIY recording studio (if you have the time and budget) — but you do want to pick a quiet space that you have some control over. 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 conditioning? Is there a fan turning on and off? Are people talking in other rooms? Are there fluorescent lights buzzing overhead? These are just a few of the noises that might distract from your voice over.
Once you’ve chosen your space, run a short test recording to get an idea of the sounds your equipment might pick up. You don’t need to speak, just use your microphone to record 10-20 seconds of the room’s natural noise. In technical terms, this is called “recording your room tone.”
When you’re done, listen to your room tone recording using headphones. Is there anything that you can hear that can be immediately eliminated?
For example, if you can hear the fan from your heating/cooling system, then 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.
Your room tone recording will also help you reduce audio noise after you’ve recorded as it can act as the baseline for your audio software to remove noise. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated, because next we’re going talk you through it.
How to reduce background noise from existing videos
There are a lot of free audio editing applications out there, but they can be complicated and require some prior knowledge of audio editing techniques.
However, because we want to make things easy for you, in this example we’re going to show you how to remove background noise from audio, using TechSmith’s Audiate.
What’s Audiate? It’s only the easiest way to record and edit your voice over like a pro… no big deal.
Using magic (aka. very clever and complicated technology), Audiate transcribes your voice over as you record it and then lets you edit the audio as if it were a text document. If you need to cut a word or sentence, just highlight it and delete it. It’s that simple!
Audiate can also transcribe imported audio recordings, so if you’ve already recorded your voice over but don’t yet have Audiate, it doesn’t matter. You can still import the audio, edit it, and use it to isolate your voice from background noise. However, the steps below are for reducing audio noise that you’re recording (not importing).
So, without further ado, here’s how to remove white noise from audio (or any other noise for that matter):
Step 1: Record your room tone audio and voice over
First, record your room tone as we mentioned above. That means getting a 10-20 second clip of what the room sounds like before you start talking. Then, in the same recording, record your voice over.
Next, before you work on removing the background noise, edit your voice over as needed.
Step 2: Apply the Remove Noise filter
Once you’re happy with your voice over, click the Filters and Effects button, then the Plus symbol (+) to add an effect, and select Remove Noise.
Next, adjust the effect’s settings to reduce as much of the room tone noise as possible from the first 10-20 seconds you recorded by using the Processing slider to adjust how much noise you want to remove.
While it can be tempting to remove all the noise from your recording, it’s worth noting that 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 consists of mostly high-frequency sounds (like hissing), you could select High Frequency.
The Output slider will allow you to adjust the volume of the audio coming out of the filter while 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 has affected your voice over recording. Does it sound good? Or, does it sound a little off?
Applying too much noise reduction can sometimes make your recording sound strange. Fixing this is as simple as adjusting the settings to maintain optimal noise reduction while also ensuring your voice sounds natural.
How to reduce audio background in a video editor
Aside from Audiate, TechSmith’s Camtasia is also great at removing audio noise — especially when the audio is already embedded in a video. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Camtasia, it’s an advanced video editing software that doubles up as a sophisticated screen recorder.
Despite its vast range of cutting-edge tools and functionality, Camtasia sports a sleek and intuitive user interface. This means it’s great for professional video editors looking to make complex edits, as well as those people looking to make their first-ever YouTube video.
With Camtasia, you can add music to a video, change the speed of a video, and even make a split screen video in just a few simple steps! While you don’t necessarily need both Camtasia and Audiate, they integrate seamlessly to help optimize your workflow.
For example, Audiate makes it easy to create an .srt file with its own transcription that can be used to add captions to your video in Camtasia. What’s more, if you record your audio separately in Audiate, you can easily sync your audio and video sources in Camtasia.
You can also use Camtasia as a way to get rid of white noise in audio that features in a video, which is exactly what we’re going to discuss in this section.
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 Timeline.
Step 2: Apply the Remove Noise audio effect
Next, click on 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 you want to remove with the Reduction slider.
And that’s all there is to it. Just remember not to go over-the-top with the noise reduction or your audio might sound strange.
Removing background noise from audio, the FAQs
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 editor’s noise reduction feature. In TechSmith Audiate, click the Filters and Effects button and then click the plus sign, and choose Remove Noise. You can adjust the settings to get the sound you desire.
TechSmith Camtasia has a filter to reduce audio noise. Separate the audio and video tracks 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.