Get rid of background noise in audio

Audio with and without background noise
Image description: Comparison of 2 types of audio tracks. At the top, a pink pac-man character is speaking. Their audio output has heavy background noise. At the bottom, a green blob character wearing light blue headphones is listening to the same audio with no background noise.

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Why This is Important

Audio with little to no background noise is accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

People who are Deaf or hard of hearing often have a harder time separating speech from background noise. In order to be accessible, any background noise in audio content should be completely taken out, be able to be turned off, or be at least 20 dB lower than the speech level (number prescribed by WCAG).

This references WCAG criterion 1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio (Level AAA).

How to Implement This

There are 2 basic steps to sharing audio content with little to no background noise: record audio in a quiet space with a good mic and then edit out any background noise in the editing process.

Recording

The best way to avoid background noise is to record quality audio in a quiet space. Though it sounds simple, obtaining a quiet space could be challenging for multiple reasons. External noise is a huge factor, and if your space is near construction, near traffic, has loud heating/cooling, or has loud people, recording audio there might not be an option.

Many public libraries have audio recording studios or private study rooms that you could use instead.

Here are a few articles that recommend ways to improve the acoustics of your space and create your own recording studio.

If possible, get a quality microphone. There are quite a few small mics that can connect directly to a computer, tablet, or mobile device. I recommend desktop Shure mics that can connect to a computer or mobile device (not a paid endorsement).

Editing

Here are some suggestions for ways to edit out and reduce audio.

How to Test This

Listen to the audio content and take note of any background noise that may be present.

Credits

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