Noise is a fact of life when recording anything, and podcasting is no exception. Whether it’s the constant, low-level whirring of your computer fan or the chaotic din of traffic, animals and passing airplanes—some sort of noise is nearly inescapable.
And no one likes a noisy podcast. It makes it hard to hear what you’re saying, fatigues the listener and gives the whole production an amateur feel. Fortunately, there are things you can do to mitigate noise in your recordings and achieve a clean, professional sound.
This article will cover noise reduction strategies for every stage of the podcasting process, from tips on optimizing your recording space to mic techniques for cleaner recording and detailed instructions on how to remove background noise from audio.
Need a quick primer before diving in? Check out our podcasting home page for everything you need to start your podcast.
Find A Quiet Place
In the battle against noise, a quiet place to record is your first line of defense. By minimizing noise in your environment, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches when cleaning up your audio later. Here’s how to get rid of background noise from the get-go:
- Record at a time of day when environmental noise is at a minimum. This could be in the middle of the day when your housemates are out, in the evening after the kids are asleep or in the dead of night when there’s no traffic to be heard.
- Set up your microphone away from windows, which can leak a ton of outdoor noise into your microphone. If you must be by a window, choose one that shuts tightly and use a heavy curtain to block out as much sound as possible.
- Turn off any unneeded fans, air conditioning and other appliances—all of these contribute small amounts of noise, which can add up quickly. Even interference from fluorescent lights can result in noise.
- Choose a room without a lot of hard, reflective surfaces to minimize reverberation. The ideal home recording space is a medium-sized living room or bedroom with plenty of carpeting and soft furniture to soak up reflections.
Once you’ve found a nice, quiet place to record your podcast, set up your microphone and dial in your settings to ensure you’re capturing your voice as cleanly as possible. Proper mic setup can go a long way toward a professional sound, and it all starts with selecting the right pickup pattern.
- Use a microphone with a cardioid pickup pattern (one that records only from the front) for the most clean, focused sound.
- Do not use the omnidirectional or stereo pickup patterns for podcasting, as they tend to pick up unwanted noise and reverberation from your surroundings.
- If you’re recording two people at once and only have one microphone, use a bidirectional (front and back) pickup pattern and sit on opposite sides of the mic.
Next, position your microphone about six to twelve inches away, angled up toward your mouth. This way, the mic will pick up your voice much louder than any potential background noise. Turn up the gain (microphone volume) only as much as you need to, and record a short test to make sure your sound is nice and clean. For more tips on making your voice sound good, check out 5 Hacks for Recording and Mixing Podcast Vocals.
Real-Time Noise Reduction With Blue VO!CE
If you’re using Yeti X to record your podcast, you’ve already got a powerful noise reduction tool at your fingertips. Yeti X comes with Blue VO!CE, a suite of broadcast vocal effects for fine-tuning your sound. To access Blue VO!CE, you must first install the Blue Sherpa desktop app or Logitech G HUB software.
Among other useful effects like voice EQ, compression and de-essing, you’ll see an effect called Noise Reduction. You can use the slider below to adjust the overall amount of noise reduction, or click the three dots next to the effect to open a menu with more detailed settings. The Sensitivity, Bias, Release and Maximum Attenuation controls will allow you to dial in the perfect amount of noise reduction. Learn more about using Blue VO!CE with Yeti X here.
Blue VO!CE features a real-time noise reduction effect for cleaner recordings.
Noise Reduction Software
If you’ve followed the suggestions above to minimize noise in your recordings, you may not need any further help. But, if you still end up with some noise in your recordings, you’ll need to do a little work in post-production to achieve a squeaky-clean sound. This is where noise reduction software comes in handy.
Noise reduction software intelligently analyzes your audio to separate the noise from the important content as transparently as possible. iZotope RX, Hindenburg Journalist Pro and Audacity all feature excellent tools for noise reduction. Read on to learn how to remove background noise from microphone audio with each of these tools.
How To Remove Noise With iZotope RX
With advanced features for surgically removing everything from wind and bird noises to electrical hum and distortion, iZotope RX is considered by many to be the industry standard noise reduction software. RX can be used as a standalone app or a set of plugins in your audio editing software, but we’ll focus on the latter here—specifically the Voice De-noise plugin. Here’s how to remove noise with iZotope RX Voice De-noise:
- Open the plugin on the track you wish to clean up. The plugin defaults to Adaptive Mode, providing instant noise reduction as soon as you press ‘play.’
- Use the ‘Learn’ function to analyze the noise profile for improved results. Find a short section of pure noise (no talking), press play and click the ‘Learn’ button. Let it run for a few seconds, then stop playback. The next time you play your recording, Voice De-noise will intelligently remove noise based on that noise profile.
- Adjust the Threshold and Noise Reduction sliders and switch between Gentle and Surgical modes to fine-tune the effect.
How To Remove Noise in Hindenburg Journalist Pro
Created specifically for broadcast applications like radio and podcasts, Hindenburg Journalist Pro includes several powerful and easy to use features for enhancing spoken-word productions. The Noise Reduction plugin can be a lifesaver, and its simple one-knob interface means anyone can get great results quickly. Here’s how to remove noise in Hindenburg Journalist Pro:
- Open the effects menu on the desired track and choose the Noise Reduction plugin. Play your recording and watch how the plugin constantly analyzes the audio, separating the important content from the noise floor.
- Adjust the single knob on the plugin interface for optimal results. Start with the effect all the way down and listen closely as you turn it up until the noise disappears.
- Use only as much noise reduction as you need to, because too much processing can begin to negatively affect the sound.
How To Remove Noise in Audacity
Audacity is a free recording software that’s been around for decades, and it just happens to have an excellent noise reduction tool built right in. Even if you mainly use a different program for making podcasts, Audacity’s Noise Removal tool can be an excellent option for cleaning up your recordings before editing. Here’s how to remove noise in Audacity:
- Select a portion of your recording with no talking—just a short section of pure background noise.
- Select Noise Removal from the Effects menu and click ‘Get Noise Profile.’ This will analyze the noise in order to identify and intelligently remove it.
- Select your entire recording and bring up the Noise Removal window again. Adjust the sliders to start with fairly mild noise removal settings and hit ‘OK’ to process the audio.
- Repeat the last step until the noise is completely gone.