Audio recording: How can I silence ambient noise?

16 replies
I'm about to purchase a professional microphone, but I am scared
to death that it's going to pickup background noise -- especially
the sound that comes from my computer fan. How can I prevent
this?
#ambient #audio #noise #recording #silence
  • Profile picture of the author Greedy
    Look into using Noise Gating, and EQ Sibilance Frequencies.

    If you Google them, they'll go into more detail.

    Depends on your software, but any decent audio editor has a way of implementing them.
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  • Profile picture of the author jcoxpgh
    If it was me I would move my computer as far away as possible from the mic. Is your computer a laptop or a desktop? If it's a desktop you might want to clean it and see about changing the fans for quieter ones. If your going all out you could try to setup a mini studio with noise dampening material around where your recording.
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  • You can either remove background noise in Camtasia or with a free download called Audacity. I'm a professional animator, and I use a Logitech desktop microphone (el cheapo) and Audacity for studio quality sound. All you do is record for a few seconds without saying anything, providing a sampling of what your background noise sounds like, then you click a button to remove the background noise from the entire sound clip.
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    • Profile picture of the author WillR
      Originally Posted by OnlineBusinessAffiliates View Post

      You can either remove background noise in Camtasia or with a free download called Audacity. I'm a professional animator, and I use a Logitech desktop microphone (el cheapo) and Audacity for studio quality sound. All you do is record for a few seconds without saying anything, providing a sampling of what your background noise sounds like, then you click a button to remove the background noise from the entire sound clip.
      This is the exact same way I do it inside of Camtasia. You always should record a 5-10 second sample of silence at the beginning of each video and then you can use the 'Audio Enhancements > Background Noise Removal > Manually Select a Region of Audio With Noise'. Before you do this you simply select that region of silence at the beginning of your video. It will then recognize and background noise and remove it from the whole video.

      It works a treat.
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  • Profile picture of the author salegurus
    Have been using a Blue Yeti for a while a must say it does a damn good job cancelling out any background noise...
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    On the latest audio we recorded for a project, we were able to remove the ambient background noise using the free Audacity program. Basically, you highlight a section of your audio where there is no voice (or whatever it is you recorded) and use that as a reference sample. Then you hit the button to remove that from the recorded audio and, voila, it's gone!
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  • Profile picture of the author Don Schenk
    I have a furnace/AC fan noise in the room where I record. I use a noise gate as Greedy suggested. A noise gate is an automatic microphone switch that turns off the mic at every pause.

    I just looked through the version of Audacity on my computer (it may be an older version), and I did not see any setting for using a gate.

    NCH Software makes an audio program called WavePad that does have a gate which will operate as quickly as 1 millisecond. And WavePad does have an additional noise removal system that works after the fact. You select a couple seconds of the noise you want to remove (like between words or paragraphs) and tell it to remove that particular noise from the entire track.

    Whenever I record a seminar or program with a pocket recorder or with my iPhone, I use WavePad to remove the room noise. It works well.

    I do know there is a free trial of WavePad you can test. The free version used to work forever, and to add other whistles and bells there was an additional charge. I think they may have changed it to a short time (like 2 weeks) free trial.

    It is a lot easier to use than Audacity, and you can shuttle with it by using the arrow keys.

    The noise gate I use is a Drawmer 201, that works as quickly as 10 micro-seconds, but it is overkill for what you need.

    :-Don
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  • Profile picture of the author Gonzosan
    Originally Posted by James Liberty View Post

    I'm about to purchase a professional microphone, but I am scared
    to death that it's going to pickup background noise -- especially
    the sound that comes from my computer fan. How can I prevent
    this?

    I do video recordings and I used to use a headset mic (USB) and it was really bad with background noise. I was able to remove some of it in Camtasia but ended up having to increase the volume overall. After that I decided to get a better setup and was pleasantly surprised to find I could have a pretty good mic for $45.

    I now use the Audio-Technica (ATR2100 USB). It's not highest end, but honestly it's an amazing mic. I record using my Macbook pro with the mic literally right in front of me and there's no background noise. It'll pick up some key inputs and mouse clicks if they're pretty loud but it's very good at removing all that.

    The higher end one I would get is a Heil mic but that costs a good $300 and my AT mic does a mighty good job as is so I don't plan on upgrading anytime soon. You can also get a pop filter for it which is like $15-25 depending which one you buy (I have a Nady pop filter but don't use it).
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  • Profile picture of the author m30jake
    Originally Posted by James Liberty View Post

    I'm about to purchase a professional microphone, but I am scared
    to death that it's going to pickup background noise -- especially
    the sound that comes from my computer fan. How can I prevent
    this?
    IMO I'd just buy voice overs from Fiverr.com and not bother with the hassle with getting a microphone etc.
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  • Solutions for your question range from the professional (such as setting up your computer in a different room from your mic, and your mic being located in an isolated vocal booth) to the amateur solution (using software to cancel out noise). Somewhere in the middle would be the option of surrounding your mic with what we call a "Portable Microphone Vocal Booth" Google the term to get an idea. You can buy one, or build it yourself. Hope this helps.

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    • Profile picture of the author Marty S
      Hey James.

      The best solution is not having to remove background noise at all, since no matter how good the program you use, the quality of the sound (voice) will always diminish when using a noise reduction effect.

      As such, back to your original problem of room noise which can be a major headache to be sure. If you don't have a quiet room, then the solution MUST be in your mic, however, some of the higher end mics mentioned here (I have several of them) are condensor types that actually pick up MORE background sound and will effectually add to your problem.

      For best audio in your situation, I would choose a high quality logitech headset, as they do an excellent job in quality recording and pick up virtually no background sound at all.
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      • Profile picture of the author Gonzosan
        I recommend watching "Podcasting Tutorial- Video 1: Equipment and Software" by SmartPassiveIncome on Youtube. It's a great intro to finding the right mic and software to use and it's what led me to purchasing my mic setup. Personally I think it comes down to good hardware. I tried the software route but like mentioned above it really does affect the entire voice recording and it's just terrible.

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  • Profile picture of the author sketchaddict
    I have been creating screencast videos with voice using Camtasia software.. And its Noise Removal feature works pretty fine for me..

    Make sure you have a good mic and placed close to your mouth while recording voice.
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  • Profile picture of the author fpdeziner
    Use a noise gate its really easy, especially if you're using a simple application like GarageBand. Garageband simply requires you turn the noise gate on for the track that contains your recording and then set the threshold of the noise gate anywhere from -100dB to 0dB. The threshold is basically the softest your audio track can get without being silenced by the noise gate. If you set it to -10dB, pretty much everything would be silenced unless it was fairly loud. If you set it to -100dB, it would be like the noise gate wasn't really even active in the first place.
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  • Profile picture of the author claygc
    You don't have to worry about picking up background noise. Using a pro condenser mic will give you fantastic dynamics and make the audio sound really nice.

    If you have a noisy cpu fan, getting a simple booth made like in the video below will remove any noise and room reflections.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV5Rl-IK-eo

    Most audio and video software packages have noise gates and noise removal as well.

    Hope this helps.
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