I have an audio file that I have a conversation that is hard to hear the vocals due to street noise - traffic background, barking dogs etc...

I'm trying to isolate the vocals to hear the conversation. I have tried Audacity using the noise reduction - but it has not removed the noises. I have tried both an MP3 and WAV format after converting it from a OGG file.

Not sure if there is a software that is best to remove this background noise to make the conversation more clear?

1 Answer 1


The audio codec is not really relevant.

If capturing noise profiles does not work, then you can try operating with low and high pass filters. High pass filters help to elimiate humming of car motors. Low pass filters help to reduce high pitch noises, like screeching brakes. Of course you have to be aware not to cut off relevant frequencies from the vocals. Also try adjusting the frequencies with an EQ by de-emphasizing the frequencies outside the human voice.

With some noisy locations it is impossible to get a decent recording even with the best equipment. Usually in film-making, when you cannot avoid a noisy set, you completely replace the dialogue tracks later. It's a good idea to additionally record a noise track on set with nobody speaking and have that as a subdued background track later in the mix. But the dialogue has to be re-recorded in the studio and needs ot be lip synced it to the video. This technique is called ADR. However this is a bit too much work for a low budget production (which I assume is the case here.)

If noise removal tools, low/high pass filters and EQ don't help, and re-recording is too much trouble, you will probably have to live with what you have.

  • 1
    iZotope is a good, if expensive way to remove background - but will leave the dog barks, which would then benefit from your generic background noise recording, so when you dial them out manually you don't get sudden silence. (Now I'll have to watch an episode of Elementary, my favourite "all we can afford is a noise-gate" show, to get my fix of "you didn't really want to do it that way" for the week ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 17:10
  • 1
    An anecdote - whilst doing the music track for a student short [for which I was being paid peanuts, of course], I spent about 4 hours carefully de-noising & fixing shifting phase & EQ on dodgy boom positioning/head-turning on lav mics, by hand, just as a bit of a favour for a new film-maker. The student then changed the edit completely & wanted me to not only re-time the entirety of the score, but had discarded all my clean-up. Let's say I didn't put much effort into it the second time.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 17:14
  • BTW… yes, I did re-time the music, because I'm not actually a t**t, I'm a professional. But there was no way I was going to play catchup on any non-contracted parts ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13, 2020 at 18:57
  • Thanks Matt and Tetsujin. Please note that I'm a novice when it comes to working with Audio files. I'm following a little bit of what you are saying, but may need you to dumb it down for me as I have just started to learn about this. Is there a way to isolate just the vocals on a software so I can hear what is being said more clearly?
    – user30813
    Sep 13, 2020 at 19:38
  • Well, to go in depth is quite a lot of work, but maybe this article helps to understand how to use the EQ (=Equalizer, which any audio editor should have): flypaper.soundfly.com/produce/…
    – Matt
    Sep 14, 2020 at 5:23

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