First, the Audacity remove echo function in this free and open-source software is one of its many functions that help edit audio files and make them sound better.
You can also use Audacity in the following:
- Removing sound reverb
- Removing background noise
- Removing vocals
- Recording audio
- Removing wind sound
However, even with the use of sophisticated editing tools such as Audacity, completely eliminating echo and reverb effects is next to impossible. All you can do is reduce these sound reflections using the many tools in Audacity.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Remove Echo in Audacity
While completely eliminating echo is not possible, Audacity has tools that assist in reducing sound reflections to a level that is nearly undetectable.
Here is a quick outline of how to do it using Audacity with and without a plug-in. After downloading the Audacity program from their website, start it. Then, follow these steps.
Without using a plug-in
- At the top of your screen, click on the FILE tab.
- From the dropdown menu, choose OPEN.
- On the window that appears, click the TYPE OF FILES bar. Select ALL SUPPORTED TYPES.
- Another window appears. Click on the file you need to edit. Click OPEN. Make sure to have a copy of the file so you will not use your original copy to do your editing.
You can edit either the whole sound file or only a part of it. If it is the whole file that you want to edit, press Ctrl+A (if using Windows). For Mac users, press Command+A. If you need to edit only a segment of the file, click on one end of the segment and drag the mouse all the way to the other end.
On the screen, you can see an image of the sound waves of your audio file. To the left of that image is the part that shows the bad component or the background noise. Move your mouse and scroll it over that portion. That portion is also called the surrounding noise.
Select the segment and proceed to generate a profile for it. Go to the EFFECTS tab at the upper portion of the screen. Click that tab and select NOISE REDUCTION from the dropdown menu. Turning the noise reduction slider higher results in better audio quality.
After clicking the noise reduction tab, the noise reduction box appears. There you can see the noise reduction level of the segment you are editing. You also see there the sensitivity level of that segment. Click on the GET NOISE PROFILE TAB located in the middle portion of the box.
After getting the noise profile, hit ctrl+A again and click EFFECTS. Choose REPEAT NOISE REDUCTION from the dropdown menu. Another box will appear, indicating that noise reduction is ongoing. When that box disappears, listen to the audio by clicking the play button at the top left corner of the screen.
In most cases, there is still some background noise. You can repeat the process – select the audio segment>>click the EFFECTs tab>>select NOISE REDUCTION>>click GET NOISE PROFILE>>hit cntrl+A>>click EFFECTS>>click REPEAT NOISE REDUCTION.
After that, play your audio file one more time. The background noise should be less audible now, so that should be okay for you.
The next thing in this editing process is removing echo.
Proceed to remove echo. To remove the echo from your audio, again hit contrl+A. Then go to EFFECTS and select AMPLIFY. A box appears. Enter 1.667 as your AMPLIFICATION level (1.6 or 1.7 would also be okay to use as your amplification point). Click the PREVIEW button. Then click OK.
What this step does is change the frequency of your audio to a specific limit that it should not be able to cross. (If in the noise reduction step, your audio’s volume decreases, you can increase it again also by using the AMPLIFY function.)
The next step is compression. Again hit cntrl+A, then go to EFFECTS. Choose COMPRESSION. In the box that appears, set THRESHOLD to minus 15 and NOISE FLOOR to minus 40. Then change the RATIO value to 2:1. Also, change the values of ATTACK TIME and RELEASE TIME to 0.20 seconds and 1.0 seconds. Click OK.
Play the audio file again. You can still hear the echo, but it has become less audible.
We have two more steps away from making the echo as low as possible. Proceed to add the filters.
Add the filters so that the audio will be clearer, and the echo will further be removed. Hit cntrl+A and got to EFFECTS. Click HIGH PASS FILTER. Set FREQUENCY to 1000.0 and ROLL OFF to 6. Click OK. Play the audio again.
Now, you can see that the sound is a little bit crunchy. To remove the crunchiness of the sound, do the same initial steps. In EFFECTS, find EQUALIZER and click it. The box that appears is called BASS BOOST. Click the BASS BOOST button and hit OK. Do this step twice and play the file again.
If you are not sure whether to use the HIGH PASS or the LOW PASS filter, you can experiment with the effect of each filter. Sound experts recommend using the LOW PASS filter if the sound is muffled or too low and using the HIGH PASS filter if the sound is too high-pitched.
Once you are satisfied with the result, proceed to the normalization step. Click the ANALYZE tab at the top of the screen and select NORMALIZE from the dropdown menu. In the box that appears, place check marks on the first two items and leave the third item unchecked. Then hit the OK button.
Click the FILE button and go to EXPORT VIDEO. Then go to SAVE AS TYPE (mp3, wav, etc.). Finally, go to SAVE PROJECT AS to save your edited audio file.
With the use of a plug-in
There are many plug-ins for Audacity, and most of them are free. However, for the particular problem of echo in audio files, experts recommend using Noise Gate. It is a plug-in that can enhance the quality of sound by reducing echo.
Download Noise Gate. Use this link.
- Put the file in the Plug-Ins folder. Make sure that Audacity is not open while you do this.
- Launch Audacity and click EFFECTS. Choose ADD/REMOVE PLUGINS.
- Choose Noise Gate and enable it.
- Proceed to reduce the echo in your audio file. Input the following:
- 100 for Level Reduction
- 30 for Gate Threshold
- 75 for Attack/Decay
If this setting failed to reduce the echo, gradually increase the Gate Threshold. Increase it gradually because increasing the Gate Threshold sometimes results in important audio parts getting cut. If that happens, decrease the Gate Threshold.
Setting the right threshold is most important. Also, make sure that you have the best settings for the attack/decay and level reduction.
Expert Tip: Noise Gate is good at preventing unwanted sounds from coming through. Sounds that have not yet hit the threshold cannot come through. So, sounds that are loud can go “over” the gate or the threshold, while quieter sounds or noises are held back.
If you do not want noises to creep into your mix, Noise Gate is the best tool for that purpose. It can help subdue an audible hiss from an amplifier. Also, if the singer likes humming between verses but does not want the hums picked up and be audible in the final mix, Noise Gate is the perfect tool for that.
Installing Audacity Plug-Ins
You can download Audacity plug-ins and get extra functionality for the software. Plug-ins give extra effects and additional audio generation and analysis capabilities. You may also want to install libraries that will allow you to export or import audio formats.
Expert Tip: For installing plug-ins, head to the Audacity website and get the instructions provided on the site. Note that the instructions differ depending on the platform and the plug-in type. Available on the site are instructions for Windows, Mac, and Linux users.
Concerning Audacity libraries, you can use the LAME MP3 encoding library or the FFmpeg import/export library. LAME MP3 enables Audacity to export audio files in MP3 format. It is now bundled in with the newest version of Audacity.
FFmpeg, on the other hand, works for many additional formats, such as WMA, M4A, AMR (NB), and AC3. It also works for importing audio from video files. Use this link to learn how to install the FFmpeg library.
Using Audacity to remove echo from audio files does not require users to be experts and takes only a few steps to complete. The steps are presented above, covering instructions for both with and without the use of a plug-in.
Keep in mind that the instruction presented discusses noise reduction first before proceeding to remove the echo. Note also that, for most of the steps, the EFFECTS tab or function is used. Check out if the plug-ins presented can help you with your project as well.
So, download and launch Audacity and follow the instructions above.
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