Due to the fact that generally podcasts are not recorded or produced in a professional studio, it is no surprise that one of the most common issues in the podcasting world is noise. Computer fans, HVAC systems, and all kinds of other noise love finding their way into your mix. Luckily for us, there are some cheap and easy ways to fix these problems.
One solution is to simply cut out any part of the audio someone isn’t talking. This will remove background noise from the quiet moments, but if you’ve ever tried this route, you already know it is an agonisingly slow process. Short 5-10 minute audio can receive this treatment, but any longer and you will begin to realize that you are wasting hours of your time.
A better solution is a gate plugin. As their name implies, the function of a gate is to open and shut. Once the threshold is met, the gate opens and all the sound is let out. When the threshold is not met, the gate is closed and the output is silence. This tool can help save loads of time as it takes seconds to set up and will cut all sound below the set threshold. The drawback is that if you have a sound that is impossible to remove through equalization without destroying the voice, you will have just created wavy background noise. This is arguably worse than leaving the noise alone because it draws attention to it every time to gate engages or disengages. And as always, there is the possibility of improper setup of a gate that could destroy your audio entirely.
If taking out all the noise is your intention, a noise reduction tool will be your best best. Audacity comes standard with an outstanding noise reduction effect. It is simple to use and produces premium results. And for those that prefer a plugin, there are many paid and free ones that also can do the job extremely well. The use of most of these effects is to select a section of the audio with the noise you’d like to remove, collect the profile of the noise, and allow the plugin to remove it for you. This method paired with a gate correctly set up will provide amazing results in the removal of unwanted noise.
Try these methods in your next session, and always remember that less is more. Slight changes to keep the natural flow is the key.