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Thread: how to properly clean up audio for engine sounds?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    North Island, New Zealand

    Default how to properly clean up audio for engine sounds?

    so i've recently been trying to edit some sounds i've done a BR Class 02 horn sound using audio from a youtube video and I'm wondering how i can remove background noise (i.e wind or voices) without messing up the engine audio i've tried with goldwave and audacity but when remove the voices and background sound it removes some of the engine sounds this is with the vocal something tool i couldn't find proper audio which is why I'm using audio from youtube I'm doing audio first to get started with making stuff cause it seems the easiest and i can work up from that i've read a tutorial on a site that sort of helped but they just said about making it work for msts and not how to clean up the audio properly i understand that using youtube videos is not the best way to make sounds but i couldn't find the sounds anywhere else

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    New England


    There's no exact recipe or step-by-step, because every sound recording cleanup task is going to be unique. But I can pass on some working tips based on my experience in broadcasting and recording studio work.

    • Start with the cleanest recording you can find. If what you have is full of noise, it's going to be infinitely more difficult to get results than with something cleaner at the start. Sometimes its worth keeping up the search for something better.
    • If the sound you want is repetitive (as an engine sound generally is) then pick out the cleanest passage(s) from the recording and carefully edit them together and "loop" them either with a tool in your software, or by picking the passage you want and copy-pasting repeatedly to get a repeating string of the same clip. Take your time and make your selections/edits very carefully so that the repeats aren't noticeable.
    • Back that tricky bit of work up and then start in with filtering and equalization tools on a copy. A lot of audio software has built-in filters, or allows for plug-ins (Usually VST plugins) that do very specific tasks. There are many free/open source ones. There are de-noising filters which attempt to analyze and selectively reduce unwanted noise, but they require a good bit of trial and error. Parametric equalization is an analog method which allows you to select a portion of the audio frequency spectrum (of a center frequency and effective adjacent bandwidth you can control, down to a very narrow "notch") which is useful for reducing or filtering out specific noise.
    • When filtering or equalizing, work on a copy and focus on a specific aspect. When you're satisfied, back that up, make another copy, and use that copy to work on the next troublesome aspect. With digital files, there's no loss of quality as there is with analog sources, so work slowly and carefully, focusing on one bit of the problem at a time and leave a trail of copies so you can walk your project back if you want to try again at a particular stage.
    • Once you have a workable raw bit of sound, it probably still sounds a bit "off". Careful use of effects like echo, reverb, phasing, and level control can change the sound closer to what you want. Again, work slowly, a bit at a time. You're "molding" a sound into what you want.

    Again, there's no one way to do it. Your ears are the most important tool. But digital technology and software offer far more flexibility than we could dream of when I was working with analog multitrack tape. It's amazing what can be done with a snippet of a file and some digital trickery.


    Open Rails and MSTS blog -- Back on the Web as of December 2021

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Perth, WA, Australia.


    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up. An interesting and informative read.



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