How To Remove an Echo in Audacity

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:

  1. Click File at the top of the screen.
  2. Select Open.
  3. A window will appear. At the bottom of the window, change Files of type to All supported types.
  4. Click on the file you want to edit, then click Open.
  5. 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.
  6. Open the Effect menu at the top of the screen.
  7. Select Noise Reduction.
    Noise Reduction
  8. Increasing the Noise reduction slider should greatly improve audio quality.
    Noise Reduction in Progress
  9. If turning up noise reduction decreases the volume, go to the effects menu and choose Amplify to increase the volume.
    Audacity Amplify
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
    Low and High-Pass Filters
  12. 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.
    Equalization
  13. Proceed by clicking the File menu on top of the screen and going to Export Audio.
    Audacity Export Audio
  14. 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.
  15. 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:

  1. Download the plug-in directly from this link.
  2. Put the downloaded file (.ny file extension) in the Plug-Ins folder. Make sure that Audacity is closed while doing this.
  3. Open Audacity.
  4. Go to Effects > Add/Remove Plugins.
  5. Select Noise Gate and hit Enable.
    Noise Gate Plug-In

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Were you successful in reducing the echo of your audio file? Which method did you find more helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “How To Remove an Echo in Audacity”

Avatar Lorenzo says:
Thank you very much TechJunkie and Geo Dancer, I solve my problem, so I also leave my procedure to help the next guy in echo distress. Noise Gate didn’t work with my Audacity installatio neither, so I followed Geo Dancer advice. This is my receipt: Graphic EQ: from 20 to 100 Hz set to 20 dB (top); 125 to 160 set to -8 dB; 200 to 400 Hz set to 0 dB; 500 Hz to 2 kHz set to -4 dB; 2,5 kHz to 20 kHz set to -12 dB. Then I also used the High pass filter, set to 500. Finally I used the amplifier to rise up a little the volume, not the level it suggested (because was returning some of the echo), but a little less, set to 9.3. Now the sound is good enough.
The Audacity “preview” button helped a lot, triyng again and again after every change of values. Thanks again!
Avatar Rev_Lee says:
I placed the NoiseGate plugin file in the Audacity/Plugins folder with Audacity closed, made sure that I enabled it with Add/Remove Plugins, but it never appears in the Effects list to use it. Ended up just re-recording the audio file as it took less time that the above methods.
Avatar Michal says:
@Rev_Lee – the article misses one step. After inserting plugin into the Plug-Ins folder, you need to enable it in Audacity. In order to do this go to: effect->add/remove plugins -> select your newly added plugin and hit “enable” button.
Avatar Geo Dancer says:
Thanks for the article! I am a very beginner with audio, so my efforts should be taken with a grain of salt. First I tried the Noise Gate plug-in, but it did not help. Next I tried Graphic EQ: I set the beginning sliders to -20 dB (the bottom position), I set the 125 Hz and 160 Hz slider to -10 dB, and I left the remaining sliders at 0 dB … This had good, desirable effect, but not quite enough for my liking. My last test proved the most acceptable … I used the High Pass Filter, leaving Rolloff at 6dB but I set the Cutoff Frequency to 500 Hz. Not perfect, but decently better with minimal effort. The high cut filter also reduced the overall volume. When I used Normalize to recover the volume, it returned some of the echo I was trying to eliminate. I found that simply turning up the volume control raised the volume while only returning a small part of the echo (but this last might just be my optimistic perception). As an audio beginner, I think this is enough tweaking to let me turn my attention from audio to my video content. Thanks!

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