Audacity Settings for Voice Over – In-Depth Instructions with Examples & More

Audacity is a free, open-source multi-track audio editor that can help you immensely with editing audio files for your online courses.

While Audacity can definitely help you create clear-sound audio, you need to know how to use it to get full value out of it.

In this post, we will go over the best audacity settings to immediately ensure your audio sounds clear and legible in your online course lectures.

Downloading and Installing Audacity

As mentioned above, you can download Audacity for free from their website.

Don’t worry about what operating system you have as Audacity can run on Windows, Linux as well as macOS.

Once you install Audacity onto your computer, you’re ready to go.

Once you’ve recorded and edited your audio files to make them as clear and crisp as they can be, it’s time to export them. We have compiled a step-by-step guide for you to follow.

Step 1: Recording Audio Into Audacity

First, open Audacity and familiarize yourself with its interface. If you’ve ever used any audio manipulation tool in the past, you’ll understand what most buttons mean right off the bat.


Before you perform any recording, ensure that your playback device (speakers or headphones) and recording device (microphone) is correct as shown:

recording settings

If you’ve already recorded audio alongside the video for your online course lectures, you can go ahead and skip this step entirely.

You can skip file imports if you haven’t recorded audio yet.

If you choose to just have audio alongside your course slides and haven’t recorded it yet, then you can choose to record it straight into audacity.

This will be helpful since you won’t have to import audio files separately.

All you have to do is hit the red record button and start speaking to record your voice-over.

Once you hit stop, you’ll see that a new track will be displayed inside your Audacity project as shown:


Once you start recording, let your microphone record for a few seconds without speaking anything. This is known as “room tone” and it will come in handy later when you perform noise reduction on your audio files.

Step 2: Applying Noise Reduction to Remove Background Noise by Using a Noise Profile

Once you’ve recorded your voice-over, you should have something that looks like this:

noise reduction

This waveform represents your recording and the flat part at the start of the waveform represents the “room tone” that we mentioned earlier.

If you hear your recording as of now, you’ll find that there might be a lot of background noise or humming which is obviously undesirable. Let’s work on removing it as best as we can.

  1. Start by selecting the section that has room tone. You can do this by clicking and dragging your left mouse button to select it as shown:
  1. Next, click on “Effect” in the top toolbar and select “Noise Reduction”.
  1. A window will pop up with a few sliders and a button. This is where the room tone we recorded will come in handy. Before Audacity can perform noise reduction, it needs to know what the background noise in your audio file sounds like. You can see the ideal settings for the sliders in our screenshot below. Click on the button that says “Get Noise Profile” and Audacity will now have a sample of what the room noise in your audio file sounds like.
noise reduction
  1. Once Audacity has your noise profile, select the entire audio file by pressing Ctrl + A. Then, go to the “Effect” menu and click on “Repeat Noise Reduction”. Alternatively, you can just press Ctrl + R which repeats the last effect you’ve done in Audacity.
repeat noise reduction
  1. And that’s it! Listen back to your recording and you should see that the noise reduction effect has done its job. If you feel there’s still room noise within your audio track, you can choose to repeat noise reduction again.

While you can perform noise reduction as many times as you want, doing it too many times can cause your voice-over to sound robotic, distorted, and tinny. Hence, be careful not to do it too many times and listen to your entire track every time before you apply the effect again.

Step 3: Normalizing Your Voice to 0 dB

After you remove the noise, you may find that your recording is a little quiet. This can also happen if you’ve purposefully set the gain of your microphone to low in order to prevent audio clipping.

It’s a good practice to normalize your recorded track to 0 dB which will make it the loudest it can be without any clipping.

For this, you should:

  1. Press Ctrl + A to select the entire audio file.
  2. Go to the Effect menu and click on Normalize as shown:
  1. In the window that pops up, copy the settings shown in the screenshot below and then click “OK”.

You’ll notice that your waveform must have become a lot bigger now with much bigger waves. This means that we’ve amplified its volume without distorting it in the slightest.


Step 4: Compressing Your Voice-Over

After making your voice-over as loud as it can be, it’s time to compress it.

Think of compression as making the quiet parts of your sound louder and the loud parts of your sound quieter.

While this may seem pointless and counter-intuitive, it actually results in your voice-over sounding very crisp and clear.

Always preview changes.

Feel free to listen carefully to your track before and after you apply compression. You’ll see that it has a huge positive impact on the audio quality of your voice-over.

To apply compression, press Ctrl + A to select the entirety of your track, then go to the Effect menu and click on Compressor as shown:

menu compressor

The window that pops up will have sliders for threshold, noise floor, ratio, attack time, and release time. We won’t get into detail to explain what all these sliders mean in this post.

For now, you can just copy the settings you see in the screenshot below:


Ensure that make-up gain for 0 dB after compressing is unchecked.

You can experiment with compression settings in your free time to find the sound profile you like but for now, we feel these settings will ensure your recording is as crisp as possible.

If your recording seems weird or unclear after you apply compression, you can undo it and use a ratio of 2:1 instead of 3:1.

Step 5: Performing Some EQ

This step is going to take some judgment on your part since these settings will differ depending on your voice, your microphone, and what your audio tracks sound like.

First, listen to your voice-over demo before you start editing in order to judge what seems off about it. Does it sound too bassy? Too nasally? Too tinny?

Depending on what your voice sounds like, you will make adjustments within the filter curve.

Start by selecting the entirety of your track by pressing Ctrl + A, then go to the Effect menu and click on Filter Curve EQ as shown:

filter curve EQ

The left part of the curve represents the lows (bass), the central part represents the mids and the right part represents the highs (treble).


This is something you’ll have to adjust and play around with a little bit in order to get your track sounding the way you want it to.

Remember that you can always check what your changes sound like by clicking the Preview button in the bottom-left part of the window.

If you don’t want to adjust EQ settings and just want a quick way to apply EQ on your whole track, you can check out the factory presets by clicking the Manage button in the bottom-left and going to factory presets as shown: 

factory presets

Once you’ve checked out different presets and found the one that works best for your recording, click OK and Audacity will apply the EQ settings to your voice-over.

Step 6: Normalizing the Entire Track to -3 dB

Once we’ve performed all the audio editing steps to make your voice-over the best it can, we need to bring it back to a loud enough and acceptable volume.

We’ll do that by normalizing your voice-over again with Audacity but this time, to -3 dB instead of 0 dB.

The process will be the same as step 3 but instead of 0 dB, you’ll enter -3 dB as shown:

normalizing entire track

This will result in your voice-over being fairly loud but the peak amplitude still has some room for you to work with.

Thus, if you want to make some additional changes in Audacity to your track, you’ll have the space to do so.

Final Step: Saving and Exporting

Once you’ve performed every step described above, you’re pretty much done.

Feel free to play around with the different effects and their settings if you still feel your voice-over could sound better.

Once you’re satisfied, you can save the Audacity project by clicking on the File menu and then clicking on “Save Project”.

saving project

If you want a proper file that you can use within video editing tools to make online course videos, go to the File menu and click on Export.

You can export in a number of different formats but we prefer exporting as. WAV files ensure the highest quality.

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Wrapping Things Up…

This brings us to the end of our post for the best Audacity settings to have for refining voice-overs.

We hope you gained some value out of this post. Let us know in the comments if you have any further tips for refining voice-overs for online courses.