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How to minimize background in a loud restaurant?

Community Beginner ,
Oct 06, 2022 Oct 06, 2022

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Hello all,
Here is a topic that comes up periodically for me. I sometimes have to record interviews in a crowded bar or restaurant. 
I am familiar with how to minimize a hum or buzz through adaptive noise filtering or noise reduction. However when I try to filter in this way on a file with lots of background chatter it makes things much "tinny-er" than usual.

Does anyone have a suggestion for ways to minimize the distraction of background chatter in these situations? A specific filtering profile or EQ that works best for you?  Many thanks!

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FAQ , How to , Noise reduction

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Community Expert ,
Oct 06, 2022 Oct 06, 2022

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Unfortunately, any processing at all you do in a situation like that will show - what you are trying to minimise is in the same band as what you're trying to keep.

 

There is one technique, though, that can help but you have to apply it at recording time - and that's to use a stereo mic to make the recording. This may sound like a slightly mad idea, but consider this: the person you are interviewing is center-on to the mic, and all the background chatter is stereo. Now, if you apply the center channel remover with the controls set to enhance the center rather than reject it, you'll get way less of the chatter. And in fact, recording like this makes it a lot easier for the listener to pick out the person speaking anyway, so the background is slightly less of an issue than it would be with just a mono recording, where everything is all mixed together in the single channel.

 

It's not perfect, and yes, you need a stereo mic with a hefty windshield over it, but it can be remarkably effective.

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