How to Remove Background Noise In Audacity

Make your podcasts sound professional

Audacity is one of the most popular open-source (and free), cross-platform recording tools on the market. Out of the box, Audacity does a great job of recording your audio. However, by removing ambient (background) noise, you can take your recordings to the next level.

These instructions use Audacity version 2.2.2, but should apply to all newer versions of the software.

What Is Background Noise?

Background or ambient noise is the constant hum of the world around you. You may not notice it, because you hear it all the time. It’s your AC, your refrigerator, the aquarium in your office, the hum of lights, or computer fans. In other words, it’s a steady stream of noise. To get an ideal recording environment, you need to get rid of those sounds. However, you don't have to shut off your AC or refrigerator to get your recording up to professional levels.

Background noise is not random sounds, like barking dogs, trains, footsteps on the floor above you, a doorbell, or the clicking of keyboard keys. These sounds must be removed manually (and can take significant time to extract).

How to Get Rid of Background Noise

You should remove background noise before converting the file from .aup (Audacity's file format) to .mp3, .wav, or another format.

The process for removing background noise goes like this:

  1. Highlight a section of the recording (about 1-2 seconds minimum) that doesn’t have any intentional voices or sounds (in other words, blank space).

    Screenshot of the selected region in Audacity.
  2. Click Effect and then click Noise Reduction.

    Screenshot of the Audacity Effects menu.
  3. Click Get Noise Profile.

    Screenshot of the Noise Reduction window.
  4. Select your entire recording by clicking Ctrl + A on your keyboard.

    Screenshot of the entire recording selected.
  5. Click Effect and then click Noise Reduction.

    Screenshot of the Audacity Effects menu.
  6. Click OK.

    Screenshot of the Noise Reduction window.
  7. Allow Audacity to complete the process.

At this point, Audacity will remove the noise using your Noise Profile, which is a sample of ambient noise picked up by your microphone. Depending on how long your recording is, this can take seconds or minutes.

When the process completes, give your recording a listen, and it should sound exponentially better. With all that background noise removed, your podcast will have cleaner and much more professional-sounding audio.