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What Does Noise Reduction Do featured

What Does Noise Reduction Do?

By Author: Team Agora In Developer

Achieving a well-balanced environment where communication is clear is crucial for working professionals worldwide. The problem is the world is louder than ever before. Unwanted noise can disrupt the flow of meetings, degrade the sound quality of a video or audio track, and lead to distortion.

An increasing number of businesses are seeking methods to reduce noise and access a higher standard of sound quality. These organizations are aware of the stress and disruption unwanted noise can cause and are committed to finding the right solution.

This article will explore what noise reduction does and how Agora implements acoustic noise reduction to improve business communication:

  1. What is Noise Reduction?
  2. Benefits of Reducing Noise within Audio and Video
  3. What Does Noise Reduction Do?
  4. Real-Time Noise Reduction
  5. How to Reduce Noise in Audio and Video
  6. Quiet the Extra Noise with Agora

What is Noise Reduction?

Noise reduction is the process that involves taking a signal and eliminating unwanted noise from it. There are various audio noise reduction techniques to remove unwanted sounds.

Sound consists of pressure waves running through the air. Many describe it as energy created by vibrations. The listener’s inner ear converts those vibrations into electrical signals, sent to the brain for processing. After these signals have been processed, humans can perceive the actual sound.

Unfortunately, the pressure waves running through the air are not always what people want to hear. Echoes, unwanted noises, and the general ambiance of the environment are all potential problems that could lead to a decline in the quality of real-time communication.

There are many options for how to reduce noise at varying points, such as during post-processing or pre-processing.

Benefits of Reducing Noise within Audio and Video

Noise can become a severe problem for any production because it has the potential to be disruptive, and there may not be a way of removing it by using natural methods.

Some popular recommendations for reducing noise include altering the acoustics of the immediate environment, choosing a microphone with a narrow pickup, or switching to noise-canceling headphones. However, this is not always a practical way forward.

Switching to software-based options via automatic pre-processing extensions or manually removing unwanted noise via post-processing is often the only viable solution.

Some benefits of targeting unwanted noise within audio and video include:

  • Maintain Flow – Real-time communication often suffers from disrupted flow due to unexpected noises and echoes. Reducing noise allows the flow of the meeting to be maintained.
  • Avoid Distortion – Noise distortion may happen due to hardware issues, but it can also result from multiple speakers talking over each other. This is a particular problem when hosting conferences, team meetings, or tutorials. Automatic reduction filters out distortion.
  • More Professional Productions – The prevalence and accessibility of advanced recording and broadcasting technology have elevated expectations. Poor quality video/audio can lead to a negative impression of a brand or individual professional.

The quick fix of implementing background sound to handle wind or traffic noise can be an adequate band-aid, but background sound can also make noise reduction more difficult during pre and post-processing. This is because the software cannot tell the difference between unwanted sounds and background tracks.

Developing a strategy for handling undesirable sounds is crucial for creating the crystal-clear communication people have come to expect.

What Does Noise Reduction Do?

Noise attenuation or elimination is vital to creating crisp audio. Regardless of the noise source, there are ways to gain more control over unwanted noises.

Most acoustic noise reduction tools focus on post-processing. These tools require the user to obtain the waveform of their video. The waveform is a measurement of the various sound waves that contribute to making up what one hears.

Longer noise profiles make it easier to pinpoint different types of noises in different places on a single track. The user needs to select the waveform region where they want to reduce the noise, then select their parameters. In most cases, this is a matter of trial and error, like adjusting the sliders within the tool being used.

But what if you need to reduce noise in real-time for your users? Agora is the solution for you.

Real-Time Noise Reduction

Developers are increasingly focusing on the pre-processing of noise to deliver communication in real-time that is crisp, clear, and easy to understand. At Agora, we make it possible to build voice and video experiences with noise reduction included.

When you use our products, you can apply an audio noise filter automatically so that you can prevent sounds from appearing within the finished product.

Automatic reduction via a noise filter is necessary due to increased streaming demands. Live streaming means there is no opportunity to clean up audio before broadcasting to other parties. Our noise reduction solutions have several benefits, including:

  • Save Time – Manual reduction of noise in post-processing is a time-consuming process, even for bonafide experts in the subject.
  • Streamline Workflows – Faster audio cleaning allows developers to move forward at a faster pace in spite of the potential for unwanted noises.
  • More Professionalism – Post-processing of audio has its limitations, which can cause severe problems with public perception. Immediately generating high-quality sound offers a great first impression to the intended audience.
  • Improved Accuracy – Automated noise filters have come a long way and can now offer results that are on par with manual processing, if not better.

So, how do these automatic solutions work?

Essentially, they work in precisely the same way but at a faster rate than any human operator within post-processing.

For example, if poor acoustics lead to echoes in a video, automatic noise reduction and/or cancellation will detect the near-identical sound waves and cancel them in the seconds after the initial soundwave was detected.

This ensures that the sound quality is much improved without any noticeable delay.

Automatic noise reduction can also help to reduce the amount of background noise in a recording, making it easier to hear what is being said. This is done by using an algorithm to identify and then remove sounds that are not part of the main speech signal.

In some cases, such as when there is a lot of wind noise, the algorithm can also be set to reduce the level of all low-frequency sounds in order to make the speech more intelligible.

When used correctly, automatic noise reduction can make a big difference to the quality of recordings. So, if your users are having trouble with poor audio quality, it is definitely worth considering using an automatic noise reduction solution.

How to Reduce Noise in Audio and Video

Agora has several built-in tools to aid in dealing with noise, such as the echo canceller, which automatically eliminates echoes caused by acoustics on both sides of a two-way communication channel. The Agora platform is also compatible with a wide variety of extensions to support noise reduction. One of the most powerful extensions available is AI Noise Suppression that provides enhanced audio clarity, even in loud locations. This algorithm is powered by artificial intelligence and works to effectively suppress noise and deal with human voice distortion. AI Noise Suppression can remove over 100 different types of noise, from keyboard clicks to construction sounds. With cross-platform support and global scalability, AI Noise Suppression is the solution to distraction-free communication for your users.

Step One – Understand the Tech

Now you know what noise reduction does, it is necessary to understand the tech behind the AI Noise Suppression extension.

The average transmission pipeline within the SDK follows along from capture to post-processing and playback. The AI Noise Suppression is positioned at the pre-processing stage to modify audio and video data in real-time automatically. Before use, make sure that the type of noise you want to suppress matches those handled by the extension.

Step Two – Integrate and Import the Extension into Your App

Note: This procedure is for the web. To find implementation steps for other platforms, see AI Noise Suppression documentation.

1. Run the following command in the root of your project:

npm install agora-extension-ai-denoiser

2. Add the following code to your .js file:

import {AIDenoiserExtension} from "agora-extension-ai-denoiser";

Step Three – Dynamic Loading

There are JS and Wasm dependencies to run the AI Noise Suppression extension. The browser used must be able to load and execute these files.

Step Four – Register the AI Noise Suppression Extension

The AI Noise Suppression extension must be registered by calling AgoraRTC.registerExtensions and passing in the AIDenoiserExtension method. Another option is to listen for callback reporting if the JS or Wasm files fail to load correctly. There should be only a single AIDenoiserExtension instance.

Step Five – IAIDenoiserProcessor instance and injection

Call the createProcessor method, then set whether the extension should be enabled by default. The extension can then be injected into the audio processing pipeline by calling pipe and specifying the processorDestination property. If done correctly, the extension can be enabled or disabled as required. You will also be able to set the noise suppression mode and level.

Agora strongly recommends dumping audio data to make troubleshooting more efficient. Call the dump method, and listen for the ondump and ondumpend callbacks.

Quiet the Extra Noise with Agora

Agora is the worldwide leader in advanced video and audio technology. Our suite of products, including voice calling, interactive live streaming, and video calling all support noise reduction. On top of this, Agora offers access to state-of-the-art third-party and first-party extensions that target the problem of extra noise.

The AI Noise Suppression is just one extension that supports high-quality audio streaming. In addition, developers can use advanced capabilities like Bose PinPoint Noise Filtering to reduce noise in their real-time communications.

To learn more about how Agora’s AI Noise Suppression can improve the audio experience for your users, sign up for free today.