Sometimes, all it takes is just a slight mistake in the setup process to completely sabotage your recording and fill it with excessive amounts of echo and reverb. Enter Audacity, a free little program that helps you edit your audio files and is available on both Windows and Mac.
Even though it’s impossible to completely remove it, you can use Audacity to reduce the echo found in your audio recordings. We’re going to show you how you can do this both with and without using a plug-in.
How Do You Remove Echo in Audacity?
Before we proceed, make sure that you have Audacity downloaded and installed on your computer. If not, you can always download it from the official website.
Also, note that this process is very complex and requires a high understanding of how sound recording works. Otherwise, you’ll just have to make do and experiment with all the features until you’re satisfied with the result.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can remove echo in Audacity with and without a plug-in.
Reducing Echo Without a Plug-In
After downloading and starting Audacity, follow these steps:
- Click File at the top of the screen.
- Select Open.
- A window will appear. At the bottom of the window, change Files of type to All supported types.
- Click on the file you want to edit, then click Open.
- Select the segment of the audio file you’d like to edit. You can do this by clicking on one end of the segment and dragging the mouse until you reach the other. If you want to edit the whole file, press Ctrl+A on Windows or Command+A on Mac.
- Open the Effect menu at the top of the screen.
- Select Noise Reduction.
- Increasing the Noise reduction slider should greatly improve audio quality.
- If turning up noise reduction decreases the volume, go to the effects menu and choose Amplify to increase the volume.
- Find the compressor in the Effects menu. The main thing you should do is change up the ratio, but you can also change up the noise floor and threshold if necessary.
- Depending on your current sound pitch inside of the file, you might need to use a low pass or a high pass filter. They are located in the bottom half of the Effects menu. A low pass filter helps if your audio is too high-pitched, while a high pass filter comes in handy if the audio sounds too low or too muffled. Stick to changing just the Rolloff.
- Find the Equalization effect and switch from Draw Curves to Graphic EQ. You may find the latter simpler to use because it gives you control over the sliders and lets you set their values that way, while the former forces you to draw the equalizer yourself. If you need to fix up your low tones, focus on the sliders to the left. The middle bars affect the mid-tones, while the bars on the right should be altered to affect the higher tones.
- Proceed by clicking the File menu on top of the screen and going to Export Audio.
- Choose the file type in the Save as type menu. The best-known ones are mp3 (compressed) and wav (lossless). Make sure that you don’t accidentally overwrite the old file.
- Go to File and select Save Project As to save the project file.
Reducing Echo with a Plug-In
There are lots of free Plug-ins for Audacity, but for this particular issue, Noise Gate is the one you need, as it helps improve the sound quality and can help reduce the echo.
Here is how to install it:
- Download the plug-in directly from this link.
- Put the downloaded file (.ny file extension) in the Plug-Ins folder. Make sure that Audacity is closed while doing this.
- Open Audacity.
- Go to Effects > Add/Remove Plugins.
- Select Noise Gate and hit Enable.
To reduce the echo, start with an “Attack/Decay” of 75, “Gate threshold” of -30, and a “Level reduction” of -100. Use these settings as a starting point. If the echo doesn’t change, increase the Gate threshold until the echo is reduced. If important audio gets cut, reduce it.
What’s most important is that you set the gate threshold. After you do that, tweak the level reduction and attack/decay settings until you’re satisfied with the result.
It’s impossible to completely remove the echo, but it isn’t impossible to reduce it. This is a quite difficult process, but if you’re skilled or persistent enough, you might find the results satisfactory. Just keep in mind that this requires lots of playing around with all kinds of different values and effects because different recording settings require different approach methods.