Work is loud. Whether you’re in an office, a coworking space, or at home at the dining room table, sound permeates your environment all the time. And that background noise has a direct impact on your ability to communicate. And it’s become even more of an issue with the rise of remote work.
Think about the last Zoom call you were on. Even with participants on mute, there were probably one or two situations where your colleagues had to ask, “What did you say?” or “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” It doesn’t matter if it was a siren in the background, a dog barking, or a child participating in distance learning in the next room—these interruptions directly affect your ability to communicate effectively as a team.
The same can be said for pre-recorded media. Podcasts, customer interviews, webinars—all of these rely on the participants’ ability to communicate clearly.
When you remove background noise from video, it cuts down on potential issues and makes communicating remotely much easier. Being able to have these clear conversations has a direct impact on your team’s ability to collaborate effectively and feel connected with their peers. As the landscape of work communication continues to evolve, the tools that get the video-audio experience right are the ones that will find success.
Background Noise in Video Makes Communication Difficult
The effects of background noise on team collaboration have been studied for years, and the results aren’t good: The more background noise people have to contend with, the more difficult it is to work together effectively. As our working relationships become more distributed, the need for clear communication through video will increase, as will the need for best-in-class video conferencing tools.
Background noise in video has a direct impact on our ability to communicate ideas by making it difficult to understand important statements or concepts. Those disruptions can have a negative impact on your ability to
- brainstorm new product ideas as a team,
- offer 1:1 guidance to a direct report, or
- reach out to an important stakeholder for feedback.
This negative impact on communication happens in pre-recorded video as well. Poor audio quality in an educational video on your website or popular webinar, for example, will significantly decrease its value for users. It makes your company look unpolished and unprofessional. And over time, that perception becomes a part of your brand identity.
Extraneous background noise also renders certain tools unusable; most platforms can’t accurately convert a garbled video recording, including those that automatically add closed captioning or live transcriptions to your videos.
If not addressed, background noise disrupts any important conversation you have over video. When users aren’t able to communicate effectively in real-time or digest information from a pre-recorded video, that causes confusion and frustration. And it decreases engagement with the video content as well.
Reducing Background Noise in Video Boosts Team Collaboration
The ability to collaborate effectively is a direct result of how teams communicate. Whether it’s sharing an office with colleagues or a home with our family, extraneous background noise wreaks havoc on collaboration.
One of the best examples of the impact of background noise on our ability to collaborate is when we use videoconferencing tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams. Consider the last time you were on a call, and one of your colleagues wasn’t on mute, so the bleed-through of their running dishwasher and barking dog interrupted every other sentence. Such experiences are never pleasant.
If not addressed, background noise disrupts any important conversation you have over video and makes it difficult to move forward as a team. When you’re not able to communicate easily, that causes confusion and frustration by making people repeat themselves. It decreases engagement with the speaker or presenter as well.
Let’s say you have a brainstorming session, where one member of your team is working from the same room as their spouse, who’s also on a call. If they’re both talking simultaneously, your colleague probably won’t feel comfortable participating in the conversation because they either have to repeat themselves or interrupt their spouse. That general confusion or lack of engagement drives down your meeting’s overall value and wastes every participant’s time.
If your plan was to record these brainstorming sessions for future review, it’s important that people watching the video can get something from the recordings. If a listener constantly has to strain to follow the conversation or rewind to catch a comment that was overshadowed by background noise, that video is immediately less valuable for your team. Removing background noise from these video calls will resolve the issue.
How to Remove Background Noise from Live Video
When you remove background noise from video calls and other conferencing tools, it helps users communicate better as a team while also providing a better overall experience with your product. The process of removing background noise happens in real-time, as a reactive adjustment or a proactive measure.
Use Dolby.io’s Interactivity APIs
Dolby.io’s Interactivity APIs have a full suite of features that reduce the impact of background noise, including built-in noise suppression, dynamic audio leveling, and spatial audio. Incorporating these features into your real-time video conferencing tools ensures the best possible experience for users at scale.
Building these features into your platform helps create more lifelike video conferences, which increases engagement across your entire user base. With real-time call recording, you’re able to immediately translate these conversations into a video file to share with the team, cutting down on the time it takes to find value in recorded calls as well.
While these features do need to be incorporated during development or feature release, proactively addressing background noise issues cuts down on the potential for negative experiences with your platform or tool.
Minimize Room Tone
Some background noise is unavoidable, but users can do a lot to minimize the effects of that noise on their video calls and recordings. Providing strategies for reducing this noise, often called room tone, is a great way to teach people how to record better-quality videos on their own.
Whenever someone purchases your videoconferencing tool, include tactics the user can use to proactively address the background noise. Your suggestions can be as simple as positioning the microphone, so it doesn’t capture as much noise from a fan or an air conditioner. Or it might involve helping them understand how to set up their recording area to absorb some of the room’s ambient noise by using pillows and blankets.
Users who minimize room tone proactively will see increased benefits from our other strategies as well because they’re already cutting down on the background noise present in their recordings.
How to Remove Background Noise from Recorded Video
If you’re not able to remove background noise from video during recording, there are tactics for resolving audio quality issues after the fact. Whether they’re on your website or internal company documentation, video recordings can add continual value for watchers long after the call itself occurred.
Use Dolby.io’s Media Processing APIs
Dolby.io’s Media Processing APIs give video conferencing apps and platform developers a way to remove background noise from pre-recorded media. Incorporating this functionality into your tools decreases the amount of work required by end-users to communicate clearly through video.
Our Media Processing APIs not only allows you to remove background noise from video but also gives developers a way to correct loudness, analyze audio, and smooth dialogue. When you combine these strategies together, it ensures the best possible audio experience for users.
Use Audio Engineering Software
Audio recording and postproduction tools, like Audacity, have the functionality to remove background noise—but the process is technical and requires a basic understanding of audio and video recording best practices. Removing background noise in this way can also impact the quality of your recordings because the processes to filter out unwanted sounds impact all aspects of your audio.
Before you work with these tools, you’ll need to understand the current state of your recording file as well as other factors, like microphone sensitivity and frequency management.
Removing background noise from video this way cannot be done in real-time, meaning direct conversations using your tool will be difficult and potentially painful for users.
Don’t Let Background Noise Ruin the User Experience
Being able to communicate effectively as a team is one of the most important features of a videoconferencing tool. If you’re not able to address these issues for users, you risk frustration and reduced satisfaction on their part. When that happens, it leads to decreased engagement in your product and an overall lack of trust in your brand. Over time, those issues cause irreparable damage to your business’s bottom line.