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I'm a novice to audio. When it comes to removing background noise should you do it first or last? Different YouTube videos recommend different things. If I remove background noise first it comes back after I amplify the signal and then I have to do it all over again. I feel like it's easier to remove background noise at the end but I feel like there's a reason not to do it? Maybe it works better with a softer signal than a compressed/hard limited/eq'd/normalized/amplified signal? Can someone provide me insight on what the best method is and also why?

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I'd denoise before any other process.
If you compress anything before you denoise, then you're fighting against a moving noise floor, making the job harder. If it comes back after you start the rest of your process, it wasn't properly denoised in the first place.

If the noise was really bad I'd run denoise first as a separate process; otherwise I'd just put it first in the chain of processes & run it 'live' as I was editing. That way, if there were any sections that needed special attention I could just switch on the automation & 'edit around' them. That way if you move any parts, the automation will move with them.

Most of the rest of your list I'd consider part of the mastering, so would drop it into my final output bus, or a group bus if I was mastering over music/FX etc.
I tend to work in such a way that all my FX processing is done 'live' as I edit. I don't 'bake' anything into the file until the last moment, at export. That means I can always go back & change my mind. Hence also why I would only denoise separately before the edit if it needed particularly aggressive handling.

My workflow is usually Cubase/Nuendo, but similar rules should apply to most high-end DAWs.

Late edit
on the off-chance you have to edit picture & audio together, if it was a particularly gnarly soundtrack, I'd edit in a video editor, then export the soundtrack & fix it properly in an audio editor, then re-merge. I don't like doing heavy audio work in video editors, they're a bit clumsy for my liking.

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  • I try not to denoise more than what's needed to preserve the quality of the vocals. All of my stuff comes in really low so when I denoise first on a low signal it sounds good but then after I'm done and amplify the signal to where it needs to be what I missed rears its head slightly.
    – Mickey
    Nov 29 '21 at 13:47
  • Then I'd look into why it's coming in really low, because beyond leaving sensible headroom [-18 is often aimed for by a boom op] then everything else is signal lost into your noise floor, consequently bring it it back because of the amount of post gain you need to use.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 29 '21 at 15:30
  • Not super low. I'm experimenting with a lav. If I hold it next to my mouth it records at a decent volume but once it's installed on my collar it results in a much lower signal.
    – Mickey
    Nov 29 '21 at 17:55
  • Have you run out of preamp gain? What's your setup?
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 29 '21 at 17:56
  • I'm using a Rode Wireless Go II module with matching II lav. It comes in at roughly -17db.
    – Mickey
    Nov 30 '21 at 3:08

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