Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Realtime Noise-Removal with PulseAudio: Is It Possible?

Ubuntu 7

Absolutely, it is possible to implement real-time noise removal with PulseAudio. This article will guide you through the process using the PulseAudio module module-echo-cancel. This module provides acoustic echo cancellation and can also help reduce background noise.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to implement real-time noise removal with PulseAudio using the module-echo-cancel. This module provides acoustic echo cancellation and can help reduce background noise. By enabling and configuring this module, you can effectively remove noise in real-time for a better audio experience.

What is PulseAudio?

PulseAudio is a sound system for POSIX OSes, meaning it is a proxy for your sound applications. It allows you to do advanced operations on your sound data as it passes between your application and your hardware. Things like transferring the audio to a different machine, changing the sample format or channel count, and mixing several sounds into one are easily achieved using PulseAudio.

Enabling the module-echo-cancel

To enable the module-echo-cancel, follow these steps:

  1. Open the PulseAudio configuration file: Use a text editor with root privileges. For example, you can use the command sudo nano /etc/pulse/
  2. Add the following line: Preferably near the end where there is a comment about Echo Cancellation:
    load-module module-echo-cancel
    This command loads the module module-echo-cancel which is responsible for noise and echo cancellation.
  3. Save the file and reload PulseAudio: Either restart the computer or run the command pulseaudio -k to restart the sound system. The command pulseaudio -k kills the running daemon. A new one is spawned automatically.

After enabling the module-echo-cancel, you should be able to select the new Noise Cancellation option from the Input Device section in your sound settings.

Setting the Echo Cancel Device as the Default Input Source

To set the echo cancel device as the default input source, modify the configuration file as follows:

  1. Open the PulseAudio configuration file again: sudo nano /etc/pulse/
  2. Modify the load-module line: Include a custom source name. For example:
    load-module module-echo-cancel source_name=logitechsource
    This command loads the module-echo-cancel with a custom source name logitechsource.
  3. Add the following line at the bottom of the file: To set the default source:
    set-default-source logitechsource
    This command sets logitechsource as the default source.

Remember to restart PulseAudio for the changes to take effect.

Limitations and Alternatives

The effectiveness of noise removal may vary depending on the specific microphone and environment. Some users have reported that the module-echo-cancel can slightly affect the quality of their voice recordings, while others have found it to be helpful in reducing background noise.

If you are using a different distribution or want to explore alternative solutions, you can consider tools like NoiseTorch or implementing a noise suppression plugin for PulseAudio. However, it’s important to note that real-time noise removal in Linux can be a complex task, and hardware solutions or external software may provide better results in some cases.


In conclusion, PulseAudio does provide a way to remove noise in real-time using the module-echo-cancel. Although the effectiveness may vary, it’s a good starting point for anyone looking to reduce background noise. For more advanced noise cancellation, consider exploring other software solutions or hardware upgrades.

How does the `module-echo-cancel` work in PulseAudio?

The module-echo-cancel in PulseAudio uses advanced algorithms to analyze and remove echo and background noise from audio input. It works by comparing the sound received by the microphone with the sound played back through the speakers and cancels out the common elements to reduce unwanted noise.

Can I use the `module-echo-cancel` with any microphone?

The module-echo-cancel can work with most microphones, but its effectiveness may vary depending on the microphone quality and the surrounding environment. Higher quality microphones tend to provide better results in noise cancellation.

Will enabling the `module-echo-cancel` affect the overall sound quality?

Enabling the module-echo-cancel may slightly affect the sound quality, particularly in voice recordings. Some users have reported a slight degradation in the clarity of their voice recordings when using this module. However, the impact on sound quality is subjective and may vary depending on the specific setup and microphone used.

Can I use the `module-echo-cancel` on other operating systems?

The module-echo-cancel is specifically designed for PulseAudio, which is commonly used on Linux distributions. It may not be directly compatible with other operating systems. However, other operating systems may have their own noise cancellation features or software options available.

Are there any alternative solutions for real-time noise removal in Linux?

Yes, there are alternative solutions available for real-time noise removal in Linux. One popular option is using tools like NoiseTorch, which provides advanced noise suppression capabilities. Additionally, you can explore implementing a noise suppression plugin for PulseAudio or consider hardware solutions for better noise cancellation results.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *