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Problems with the stereo sound of an MP3? Fix it with Audacity

When listening to stereo sound that is not well balanced, it is something that can happen directly from a sound track such as a video file. It can be a very annoying problem and that at first it even makes us think that it is a problem with our headphones or speakers. However, having a file where the audio is unbalanced can be more normal than it seems. For our peace of mind, this is something that we can solve from Audacity to achieve a more consistent audio that allows us to be heard with better quality.

Is the audio in a video? Extract it with VLC

In the event that we have a video with a poorly balanced sound, where it is not heard correctly in stereo through the two speakers, the first thing we are going to need is to make a copy of the audio stream. In this way, we will be able to edit it independently of the video in Audacity. For this we can carry out this conversion work from different programs, but we are left with VLC, a tremendously complete and free multimedia player that we can download from this link.

Once downloaded and installed, from the main VLC menu we click on the “Media” tab. Later we click on «Convert» and from the «File selection» section we add the video to which we are going to extract the audio. Finally, we click on the “Convert / Save” button that we find at the bottom of the window.

This will open a second window called “Convert”. Within the “Preference” section, the “Convert” option is directly marked. Here, we find the «Profile» section with a drop-down menu, from where we can select the desired format such as «Audio – MP3». From the wrench-shaped icon we can choose more types of formats and codecs in case we need it.

VLC Convert and Profile

Once the Profile has been chosen, we go to the “Destination” section, where we will click on the “Explore” button to select a destination path for the new file, as well as a name. Now we just have to click on «Start» to carry out the conversion. In general, the conversion time is usually short, although as we can imagine, it will depend on the duration of the audio.

Fix bad stereo audio with Audacity

Audacity is a free and open source program with which you can record and edit audio, ideal for turning our PC into a home recording studio. It is the perfect program for users who want to start in the world of audio editing as it has a wide range of possibilities behind an interface that is not exactly characterized by its brilliance. We can download it directly from their website.

Once installed we run it and the first thing we have to do is import our audio file. To do this we click on the “File” tab and then on “Import” and “Audio”. It can also be enough to just drag and drop the audio on the interface if it is more comfortable for us.

Audacity import audio

Next, we will apply a solution depending on whether the audio is unbalanced or if it is only heard through one channel, in which case the best solution is to convert it directly to mono.

Unbalanced audio, adjust it correctly

In the event that we have unbalanced audio, it means that the volume varies and is not equal for the left and right channels of our headphones or speakers. The solution to this problem may be simpler than it might seem.

We simply have to look at the controllers in the column to the left of the track where we find a slider bar between L and R, which is left and right, which we will use to change the stereo balance. Now we must play the track and move the slider until we hear it perfectly.

Audacity balance audio

Once finished we only have export the audio we’ve created with the new stereo balance. To do this, click on File, then on «Export» and «Export as». Here we can choose different formats to export our audio such as MP3, Ogg and WAV. If we want to obtain a format with the best uncompressed quality, it is advisable to use WAV. On the other hand, if we want a format that is compatible with any device, we can choose MP3. Finally, we only have to choose a name for our audio and the destination path where we want it to be stored. We click on «Save» and we will immediately obtain our new audio with the balanced sound.

Audacity Export As

Audio sounds for one channel only, mono conversion

In the event that our audio is completely turned to the left or right output of the channel, it will not be enough to just change the panorama, because the slider will not solve the problem. In this case, the most advisable thing is to turn the track into mono.

Although there are users who think that mono is synonymous with low quality, something that is not true at all, since it can have the same quality as stereo. In fact, it is still used within the recording industry. Mono sound was designed to be heard from a single speaker, so in a stereo system, a mono source will always be well centered.

To change our audio to mono, we will click on the title of the track, which will open a menu where we will select the option “Divide track from stereo to mono”. By performing this action we will have two separate mono tracks. Once this is done we must bear in mind that Audacity will only export the audio as a mono file if we only have mono audio and the pan slider is intact and centered.

Audacity Split Stereo Track to Mono

To export, click on the “File” tab, then “Export” and “Export as” (MP3, Ogg and WAV). We select the desired format and finally we give a name to the new sound file and we choose the location where we want it to be hosted.

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