Cleaning up Audio in Audacity?

alaska_vfx_filmer Website User Posts: 486 Enthusiast

I recently attended and recorded a live concert with a friend., Unfortunately they were not planning on recording it at the sound booth, and it was to late to alter things, (I only showed up 15 minutes before it started), I ended up dropping a handheld recorder in the middle of of the auditorium on its own tripod and making a dash for my camera with about 10 seconds to spare. Long story short, I have what you might expect, loud clapping, plenty of reverb, slightly muffled, etc. 

I'm quite now to the audio editing world, I have Audacity, but I honestly have barely touched it.

I know that realistically I'm not going to get super hq audio.

Can anyone offer any tips or tutorial recommendations ?


  • GodofThunder
    GodofThunder Website User Posts: 190 Just Starting Out


    i just typed in “audacity tutorials” in YouTube and got lots of suggested videos. I’ve got audacity but hardly used it. Generally, if I need to know something, YouTube is my go to.  Not much help from me, but help is out there. Good luck 

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,962 Ambassador
    edited July 2019

    Without hearing original audio it's hard to tell. You can't work miracles. You'll need to learn about EQ and notch filtering. You'll need to learn about compression, expansion and gating. 

    Note for the future. Does your handheld recorder have a line level input? If so, buy the cables to connect to 1/8, 1/4, XLR and RCA. Next time you make nice with the sound guys and ask nicely if they can send an effects channel, monitor channel, or submix channel to your recorder. Make your own board recording. Ask em if they need anything to drink  or just bring em a bottle of water each. I can't tell you how many easy shoot days I've had lubricated by just handing a fellow tech a bottle of water.

    Edit: my wife, Laura reminds me this includes security, gate, and parking lot staff. Outside? Sunblock. Seriously, everyone will remember and love you. I've done gigs where staff parking was half a mile away but parking let me go right behind the stage because I got her water, sunblock, and... A chair. Got the chair with sunblock and water... 

  • alaska_vfx_filmer
    alaska_vfx_filmer Website User Posts: 486 Enthusiast

    GodofThunder, Yes, I went to youtube fist, but there are THOUSANDS of audacity tutorials, most of which on noise reduction are for "cleaning up your voice", 

    The problem is that, I don't even know what to call what I'm looking for. 

    Triem23 , Yep I know it would have been MUCH easier to tap directly to the board source, the sound guys were really nice, but as I say, I got there 15 minutes before kickoff, so there was no time to alter the setup. the recorder was actually  lent to me by the sound guys, I have a ZOOM  H4n that does have xlr ports, but somehow all there source ports were being used, Oh well, experience, I'll call ahead and get there early next time.

  • Hictor
    Hictor Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 342 Enthusiast


    if you really want a good general understanding of sound editing, you first, and foremost need to understand how to "edit frequencies."

    This is using EQ, and most of the time, there's really no point of playing around with EQ until you understand concepts like bands/bass/mid/treble and certain categories of sound (Say Human, for example) generally fall in each of those.

    The reason why I say this is, is because essentially most if not indeed every other effect or process, is itself an EQ.

    Try your luck in Udemy. There's plenty of courses there.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,962 Ambassador

    So to re-state and expound on what @Hictor and I both wrote, you're just going to have to learn about EQ. And by EQ I mean you also need to learn the differences between and controls for parametric, paragraphic and graphic EQ (I also said "notch filter" but a notch filter is merely a narrow EQ band and can be done with any type of EQ.

    The bottom line is that you have a single recording of the entire room and there's not too much you can do to isolate the music from the audience. Sound is, of course, vibrations is a medium - air in this case - where the speed of the vibration determines it's pitch and the size of the vibration it's volume.

    Now you're going to run into issues like if anyone near your mic is talking, laughing or singing alone, the frequencies of their voice are going to be the same frequencies as the band's singer (exceptions exist - if the band has a female singer and the audience member is male he may be an octave below the woman). All the waveform is is data of pitch and amplitude and there is absolutely no way it's actually possible to isolate the singer's voice from the audience's. Same goes for applause (same frequencies as cymbals and snare resonance) or maybe foot stomps (probably about the same frequencies as the bass drum).

    All you can hope to do is try to shape the sound in such a way as to try and have the music cut through. Chances are this will either muffle or sharpen the sound as all you can do is try to cut out (lower) frequencies where the band doesn't overlap the ambient sound.

    I'd disagree with Hictor  that every effect or process is an EQ, because that's not correct (for example reverb and echo have nothing to do with EQ), but a heck of a lot of effects ARE done via EQ (Filter sweeps, phasing, flanging, some forms of chorusing, as examples, are EQ-based. Noise reduction? It takes a sample "noiseprint" and applies EQ to cut the bands picked up by the noiseprint.... Basically Noise reduction is a graphic EQ with 20,000+ bands).

    The (arguably) most powerful form of sound editing is "Spectral Editing," and Audacity can do it (Which is amazing as most software that can do spectral editing is specialized and expensive!), but spectral editing is - you guess it - EQ on steroids where you're generating a display of ampitudes on all frequencies then boosting and cutting frequencies down to the individual Hertz frequency. Spectral editing is pretty complex and out of my skill set, so, all I can do is advice you to search YouTube for tutorials.

    One more of advice re: sound guys: besides the cables also grab some attenuators to change signal levels (like drop a +4 dB signal to -10 or -60 dB). I wasn't at the event in question so I don't know how full the audio guy's board really was, but, above, I mentioned three specific named types of busses. It's very rare that a sound guy's board truly is totally full. I've had audio guys tell me all their aux busses were full, then, when I ask, have an effects send open. Well, an effects send just sends out an audio signal just like a main, channel, subchannel, monitor or aux bus. The audio guy just didn't think about using an effects send as a send to a subrecorder because an effects send usually sends to an effects unit.... But a send is a send is a send. I've had audio guys tell me they have no aux channels available and I point at the "Tape Out" send that's available. But I started as an audio guy. :-)

  • alaska_vfx_filmer
    alaska_vfx_filmer Website User Posts: 486 Enthusiast

    Thanks for the full fleshed reply's (I think 'full fleshed' is the word), I will probably try some quick and dirty fixes to the audio, just so I can edit and post the event on youtube, and fix the audio properly when I have more know-how, Though I know it will probably never be perfect.  

    Interesting (maybe) side note.

    I will be editing the event in Final Cut Pro (Its a multi-cam), I had five cameras at times, 

    1 camcorder 1080 30p

    1 camcorder 720 30p

    1  point-shoot 1080 30p

    2 dslr 24p 

    Editing should be fun 

  • Hictor
    Hictor Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 342 Enthusiast

    @Triem23 I stand corrected.

    Did you fiddle with Spectral Layers Pro? The 2018 version came out with a feature that is very much akin to Photoshop's healing tool. 

    i'm honestly surprised that barely anyone's talking about it.  Magix has a serious problem marketing its products.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,962 Ambassador

    @Hictor I've never used SpectraLayers. Ok, think I tried the demo of v1 back when Sony Launched it.

    Poor SpectraLayers. A small company was developing it. Sony bought it, then let it languish. Magix bought it from Sony but never knew what to do with it. Magix Sold it to Steinberg, which means it's basically going to end up as a Cubase plug-in. 

    The problem with SpectraLayers ia it's an expensive, niche tool. You don't really combine samples in SpectraLayers, and it doesn't have effects and generators like Vegas or Sound Forge or Acid (and it doesn't share the core Vegas, Sound Forge and Acid have because SpectraLayers came from different devs). It's that expensive software that can do great isolation or cleanup in the hands of a specialist, but, for the most part I have no need for SpectraLayers. I'd basically never use it 

  • Hictor
    Hictor Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 342 Enthusiast
    edited July 2019


    WHAT THE $#@ ?!

    There's a version 6?!

    What's up with Magix. Seriously.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,962 Ambassador

    @Hictor well, they (Magix) still own v5. Heck, you can still by the Sony v4!

    Steinberg is a great home for it. They'll add it to Cubase, make it integrate with other DAWs and do something with it. I think Magix just got it as part of the deal with Vegas/Sound Forge/Acid. Those three are out of the Madison office that's been home to that team since the Sonic Foundry days. SpectraLayers only has the single developer and another guy who does some help. It's always been an orphan product.

    I'm glad Magix sold it to Steinberg. Totally better fit for them.

  • create0
    create0 Website User Posts: 1
    edited October 2019

    That's really cognitive information to know about such a indomitable and concrete stuffs. I stolidly respect that effort and hope to keep the good work as same as . Thank you for being so workaholic, it has server us the way we want. Indeed , grateful  to you.

Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!