Noise Reduction Using Python’s noisereduce Library

Noise is an unavoidable component in most recorded audio. However, the presence of unnecessary noise can detract from the overall quality of the sound. Thanks to advancements in the Python ecosystem, the noisereduce library offers a straightforward solution to tackle this issue.

What is the noisereduce Library?

The noisereduce library is a Python tool designed specifically for reducing noise in audio signals. This library leverages the power of spectral gating to remove unwanted noise from an audio clip. The principle behind it is simple: by identifying the noise profile from a section of the audio and subsequently removing it from the entire clip, we can achieve cleaner audio.

Installing the Library

Before diving into its application, make sure you’ve installed the library. You can do so with pip:

pip install noisereduce

Key Concepts

Spectral Gating

Spectral gating revolves around the idea of removing all spectral content that falls below a certain threshold. By identifying which portions of the audio are noise (usually the quieter sections), it becomes feasible to eliminate this noise throughout the audio clip.

Noise Profile Estimation

This step involves selecting a segment of the audio that contains only noise. The library uses this profile to understand and target the unwanted noise throughout the clip. Therefore, the accuracy of the noise profile is paramount to achieve effective noise reduction.

Using the noisereduce Library

Basic Usage

import noisereduce as nr
import librosa

# Load your audio file
y, sr = librosa.load("your_audio_file.wav", sr=None)

# Apply noise reduction
reduced_noise = nr.reduce_noise(y=y, sr=sr)

Selecting a Noise Interval

For effective noise removal, specifying an interval which contains only noise can help the algorithm achieve better results:

noise_interval = (1000, 1500)  # example interval in samples
reduced_noise = nr.reduce_noise(y=y, sr=sr, prop_decrease=1.0, verbose=False, noise_clip=y[noise_interval[0]:noise_interval[1]])

This instructs the algorithm to use the samples between 1000 and 1500 as the noise profile.

Fine-Tuning the Process

Adjusting the Propagation Decrease

The prop_decrease parameter allows you to adjust the extent of noise reduction. A value of 1.0 means complete reduction, while a value closer to 0 is milder:

reduced_noise = nr.reduce_noise(y=y, sr=sr, prop_decrease=0.5)

Using the Wiener Filter

The library also provides a built-in Wiener filter which can be enabled by setting use_spectral_subtraction to False:

reduced_noise = nr.reduce_noise(y=y, sr=sr, use_spectral_subtraction=False)

A Real-World Application: Podcast Enhancement

Consider a scenario where you’ve recorded a podcast, but there’s a constant hum from a fan or HVAC system. This hum detracts from the clarity of the voices in the podcast.

Using noisereduce, you can select a brief interval during which no one is speaking, and the only audible sound is the hum. This segment will act as your noise profile. By feeding this to the algorithm, you can effectively remove the hum, leading to clearer and more professional-sounding audio.

Caveats and Considerations

  1. Accuracy of Noise Profile: The effectiveness of noise reduction is highly dependent on the accuracy of the noise profile. An inaccurate profile may lead to the removal of wanted frequencies or the preservation of unwanted ones.
  2. Overprocessing: Excessive noise reduction can make audio sound unnatural or “tinny”. It’s essential to strike a balance and avoid overprocessing.
  3. Different Noise Types: While noisereduce is effective for consistent, droning noises like fans or HVAC systems, it may be less effective for sporadic or transient noises.


The noisereduce library provides Python users with an efficient and versatile tool for enhancing audio quality by reducing noise. As with all tools, careful application and understanding of its strengths and limitations are key to obtaining the best results.

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