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I know questions similar to mine have already been posted and answered, but I didn't find one that answers my specific question.

I have an audio file where I have a teacher (let's call him Fred) who is within close distance speaking to me. However, in the background I also have a close-by baby talking, a different teacher speaking very loudly on a microphone, and about 50 other people talking to one another in a lower tone.

I'm having difficulty hearing Fred.

For a novice to sound design, what are some suggested tools for me to make out what Fred is saying?

  • You would need to do careful restaration of the sound material to get any viable results. – Dalv Olan Oct 21 '17 at 18:32
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Basically. If the sound you want is going at the same time as the sound you want to keep, and you want it to sound decent, You're pretty screwed. If they are at different times, you can just easily cut out.

If you can stand a reduction in quality, start by using a highpass filter up to maybe 100Hz to 200Hz (200 will sound thin) to reduce the people talking in low tones, then you can use some of the techniques I describe in my answer here, for the baby and other teacher: How to remove background television audio from a phone audio recording)

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Audacity's Noise Removal tool will do the trick. All you have to do is highlight a portion of the audio where the teacher is not speaking (and where the background noise is heard) and select Noise Removal.

All the Noise Removal tool needs is 1-2 seconds of the background noise you're trying to eliminate. Easy peasy.

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You might want to have a look at Gating options in order to solely cut out exactly what Fred is saying. Tools such as Floorfish are useful when it comes to gating vocals.

A noise gate takes in 3 parameters, the threshold (when the gate kicks in), the attack (how long it takes for the gate to kick in) and the release (how long it takes the gate to cut out). Using a gate will help you isolate the vocals so that only when sound reaches a certain threshold will it be outputted through your system.

As well as this you might want to use some filtering to cut out any humming lows or shrieking highs, apply this before your gate. Also, use a de-essing tool at the very top of your chain in order to semi-isolate noise frequencies and remove them. That should help you filter out your lecturer's voice. This wont make him sound good, but it will help you hear just what he is saying.

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