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How can I clean up noise from audio recordings? I recorded on a laptop, using a mike that came with a pair of headsets. It's one person speaking, no instruments or echoes or anything, just one human voice. This is my first recording.

It's all fine, but I need to get rid of sounds like static, or the burst sound you get when you breathe too close to the mike.

I'm using Audacity, applied noise removal to smooth out the recording in general, and then managed to get rid of a couple of pops, using "repair", the draw tool, and equalization. But it's taking AGES, and in my 7 min audio I've still got about 15 more noises to fix. I'd like to just re-record, but it doesn't help because I can't avoid all these sounds, they always creep in. I don't know if I need a better mike?

The problem with the repair tool is that I need to zoom in to the sound so much that I lose track, if there were a repair tool that repaired the entire spike sound waves, that would be great.

Am I really doing whatever there is to be done? Or are there some plugin or tips on cleaning out the recording? When I listen to it on my laptop, it's actually quite decent, but when I put in earphones, the static and other sounds show up in some words.

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It's difficult to know how significant these unwanted sounds are - can you post them so we can hear the track (or at least a section of the track)?

You have got to keep your wits about you when editing - I use wavelab and sometimes I put markers around the problem areas so I don't forget which part of the track I'm working on. Also getting a section of track to loop around markers allows you to hear the effectiveness of edits.

A lot of times (on song vocals) I'm in cubase and it's easier because I can break a vocal pice up into lines and phrases - a DAW can help.

Your laptop will have a more limited bandwidth compared to your headset and this will make the pops seem less intrusive BUT filtering can be used on these so all is not lost.

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This depends on how high the quality of your recordings need to be. If you are looking to create a personal note library, or commentate on Multiplayer Gaming Videos, then I would just look at improving your recording technique. For example, moving the mic away from your mouth and speaking louder. You should be able to avoid plosives (pops) and your voice should be loud enough that you can use an expander to reduce the background noise (Presonus Studio One contains one as part of the channel strip plugin in the Free version)

If you really need the recordings you already have, I would suggest looking at a suite like Izotope RX (although this is at a serious price of around $300). More domestic alternatives are available by Izotope and MAGIX. Check out amazon's alternatives for research.

Again your circumstances are key here. If you think you'll be removing noise on a regular basis for quite a while, I'd suggest the RX suite. Again re-recording properly is ALWAYS the preferred option, especially when quality is important

  • RX Elements is $129, it used to be called RX Plug-In pack but recently they added the standalone editor to the lowest tier – Qrchack Nov 9 '17 at 17:25
  • Yeah, they've really stepped up for low budget users now. :) – Pres Jun 28 '18 at 14:07
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I can only recommend you Magix Audio Cleaning Lab

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It's all fine, but I need to get rid of sounds like static, or the burst sound you get when you breathe too close to the mike.

Sounds like you rather need to work on your microphone technique and maybe invest in a pop screen (for some microphone techniques, a pop screen would not apply, but then the microphone itself should be suitable for the singing style, like with built-in such screens).

Post-editing of bloopers is for the case when you cannot rerecord, like when recording a whole band/orchestra, having limited studio use time, having a historic recording to work with. Your current technique/mic combination sounds like not doing the trick at all, so that's what you should be tackling next.

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You're starting out with a bad quality source. Your internal soundcard is (as the name implies) internal, which means all the data passing nearby (HDD, CPU, USB traffic, Wi-Fi) as well as power supply noise gets into your recording. That's where the static comes from. You can only do so much in post-production, and as you've learnt first-hand, it is time- and labour-intensive. Which is why you should think of it as a last resort. Repairing audio to a decent quality costs at best lots of time, at worst lots of money, too. The tools are expensive because they're mostly used in movie editing and those people will pay every price to meet the deadline.

The industry-standard tool for that is iZotope RX, priced from $129 all the way up to $1199 for the full-featured version. For a comparison chart, look here. The $129 version used to be called iZotope RX Plug-In Pack, but now they offer the standalone editor as well as plug-ins which you can use in Audacity or any audio editor you'd like. Here are some highlights of what you get:

  • Batch processing

enter image description here

  • Clip gain (draw a curve to fade in/out or minimize volume changes)

enter image description here

  • De-click, De-clip and De-hum

  • Normalize

  • Voice de-noise

The higher-priced versions include a variety of additional tools like De-plosive, De-reverb, Ambience Match (which lets you record at home and add the background noise of an outdoor recording, handy for movies) and Leveler (automatic tool for getting consistent volume). That said, the price is much higher for these tools, as these are geared towards movie production.

Another alternative is Waves plugins, which are another industry-standard tools. These are a bit more costly, though. There's a full Restoration bundle (de-noise, de-hum, de-click, de-crackle), but it's $749, currently on sale at $399.

From my experience, iZotope is the standard, and for good reason. It works better than Waves every time I try it. That said, there's one affordable ($149 regular, on sale $49) and really easy-to-use plug-in from Waves that I can honestly recommend - NS1 Noise Supressor. It does noise reduction, it does it really well, and it couldn't be easier to use:

enter image description here

This might be your rescue. However, I'd really recommend you to grow up and use proper tools for the job - now's the time to get yourself an USB microphone. You'll get an infinitely better result starting with a quality sound source, and you'll save lots of time. Samson C01U is $35 for the old version, you can get the new one with headphone output (for hearing yourself while you talk without delay) for $72. Behringer C-1U is $48 and this is what I've started with. Get the one that's the cheapest in your local stores, or have a look at used ones. There are tons of rappers around who realized they're not that good after a week or two and now sell them for really cheap.

PS: The reason you can hear noise on headphones is because listening through your laptop speakers gives you absolutely no clue about the sound your playing, especially in terms of quality and noise.

PS2: Sorry for the lengthy response, but hope you find it useful!

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