Last Updated on February 27, 2020 by Facundo
We all want our recordings to sound as good as possible, but let’s face it, unwanted noise is probably the most common issue for people who are trying to record music at home, or even for Pod-casters.
Getting your room to be as quiet as a professional studio is almost impossible and costs a lot of money.
Luckily there’s a couple of ways to fix this!
I personally use Audacity and the Reaper plugin “REAfir”, that help with this issue.
In this post I will teach you exactly how to use them, but first we will need to go over some basic information on how you can avoid picking up noise while recording, since this is even more important than being able to remove it afterwards.
If you can avoid picking up noise, then there will be no need for you to even use a tool like REAfir.
Software you will Need
Audacity is a free DAW. I personally use Cubase since I bought it some time ago, but Audacity is actually a great Recording Software!
The Reaper DAW is not free but luckily this plugin pack is! And you get REAfir which is amazing at reducing noise.
Basic first steps to a noiseless recording
1. Turn of anything that creates unwanted noises
- Computers (if you can’t lower their noise by lowering their fan speed, try placing the microphone as far from the PC as possible, also the microphone should never be facing it).
- Air Conditioners (you should never record while the Air Conditioner is on).
- Anything that is creating unwanted noises should be turned off, otherwise there will be no way to avoid it.
2. Use Cardioid Dynamic Microphones
Dynamic Microphones are not as sensitive as condenser microphones, they won’t be picking up as much ambient noise.
Of course, using cardioid pattern microphones is a must, since they filter out almost everything around them.
You can choose from a variety of them; the Shure SM58 and Sennheiser e835 are two very well known microphones which will get you extremely good results, both in audio quality as well as in noise rejection.
3. Get the microphone close to the sound source
The best way to avoid recording ambient noise is by lowering the gain and placing the microphone closer to the source you’re trying to capture.
Increasing the gain makes the microphone more sensitive, picking up more sounds overall.
Placing it closer to the source will allow you to reduce the gain, capturing less ambient sound while still recording the source’s sound clearly.
How to remove noise from a recording, the Free way!
If you are about to record and you know you are going to get unwanted noise, do this…
Record some ambient noise
What I mean by this is, when you press record don’t start singing or playing right away.
Let it record for about 10 seconds so it can pick up the ambient noise which you will remove later on.
You can also leave it recording once you are done performing for about 10 sec, this will also work.
All you need is about 10 seconds of only ambient sound!
Now you can go ahead and record the entire track.
And of course, this works with any previously recorded tracks that you import.
I will teach you how to do it in Audacity first, then with the REAfir Plugin.
Remove noise with Audacity
1. Record your track, but remember to let it record for about 10 seconds before performing.
2. Select the part where you are capturing most of the ambient noise, in this case it’s the beginning of the recording.
3. After this go to “Effects” and click on “Noise Reduction”
4. Once you did this make sure to click on “Get Noise Profile”.
This will create a noise profile which will later be cancelled out.
5. Then what you need to do is select the track, by clicking on it on the left side.
Go back to Effects, click on Noise Reduction again and click “OK”.
Here you can Preview the effect and check if it’s working properly.
You can choose how much noise you want to filter out manually with the “Noise Reduction”, “Sensitivity” and “Frequency Smoothing” controls.
Now, hopefully, it will have removed the background noise.
This obviously is not perfect.
Reducing too much noise may often leave your recording sounding really bad; it tends to sound very thin and tinny if you go overboard with the effect.
Here you can see the before and after tracks;
It may not seem like a big difference when looking at the waveforms, but there definitely is a significant reduction in noise!
Now I’ll show you remove noise using the REAfir Plugin!
I personally use this one a lot more since I think it’s a much better option, plus you can use it in almost any DAW.
The only reason y would recommend you to go with Audacity is if you don’t have Cubase, Pro-tools, Reaper or any other popular DAW.
Although you could use the REAfir plugin with a DAW like Cakewalk which is free and doesn’t have any limitations like Cubase LE, for example.
If you want to learn more about Free DAWs, here’s a list of the best ones.
Now, back to the matter at hand…
The screenshots you will be seeing are from Cubase, but if you’re using another DAW all you need to do is load the plugin and then follow the exact same steps.
1. Do the same thing you did with Audacity; Record leaving either about 10 sec before or after of ambient noise recorded.
Go to the inserts of that specific track and select REAfir.
2. Once it opens click on the arrow beside “Mode” and select the “Subtract” Option.
After that make sure to click on “Automatically Create Noise Profile”.
3. Next, go to the section where you recorded the ambient noise and press play.
It will analyse the whole section while playing it. You will instantly be able hear how it starts reducing the noise.
NOTE: Make sure to only play the background noise, don’t let it start reproducing your performance or it will try and remove that as well. (If this happens you can always press the reset button and try again).
4. Uncheck “Automatically Create Noise Profile” after you’re done creating the noise profile.
Same as with Audacity you can control it manually, should you need to!
And that’s it! You have successfully removed the background noise!
If I honestly had to choose between one of these two, I’d 100% go with REAfir. I personally think that it’s a lot better at removing background noises.
If you don’t own a DAW that can support it and you don’t want to spend any money on one, of course you could get Audacity! It’s still a great software, but remember that you could get a free DAW like Cakewalk instead and use the REAfir plugin.
I really hope this was useful! Have a great day!