How To Fix Clipped Audio (FAST)

How to Fix Clipped Audio

It’s heartbreaking if you killed it while recording only to find out that your recording was clipped in the process and sounds unusable on first sight. Don’t stress though. Not all hope is lost. There are plenty of ways to make a clipped track sound not only ok but great.

What are the best ways to combat clipping? To sum it up for you: The best ways of refurbishing a clipped recording through editing are using equalization and applying compression. There are also a few good De-Clippers in audio repair software out there. This will usually help to make your clipped track sound at least a little more natural. But it is usually best to find where your clipping issues are coming form and fix the problem once and for all. The most common causes for clipping are incorrect setting on your recording devices, preamps, etc.

For a detailed overview of the topic a few practical tips read on. You will find out what effects to apply post production to improve a clipped track and how you can single out what causes the clipping.

How To Fix Clipping By Editing

Sometimes you do not have the luxury or the patience to re-record a full session of takes, because you found signs of clipping while you started editing your tracks.

Sadly it’s the case that any information lost during clipping can’t be restored. The best you can do is to apply the following techniques. They should work with audio that has slight to moderate clipping to make them sound more natural.


Clipping often occurs during high volume peaks of your track. Compression has the ability to decrease the dynamic range of your recording.

Thereby stabilizing the high and low volume peaks of your track making clipping less prominent. If the software you’re using only has a linear compressor, dial it up until you are happy with the effect.

If however you have access to a multiband compressor, you will want to reduce the amount of gain and threshold.


Equalizing the recording can be a great way to fix some of your clipping problems if they are caused by specific frequency ranges dominating your mix.

If excessive bass is causing your clipping, open your EQ settings. Then view the low bass, high treble and medium mid-tone frequencies. Depending on what frequencies are causing the clipping reduce the ones that are in your EQ.


Because clipping occurs when you exceed the maximum decibel range your output device can handle, tuning down the master volume of your audio file.

As silly as it may seem clipping issues can be resolved by tuning down a single slider or knob. Consider it before getting into some more elaborate editing techniques or blowing money on a de-clipper that might or might not work.


Another alternative to prevent clipping is using limiters. They are tools that prevent your audio from exceeding a certain threshold. Unlike a compressor though they do not reduce the gain above your set threshold smoothly. Instead the gain reduction is quite abrupt.

It will prevent almost all excess gain above. So you can compare it to a compressor with an unusually high compression ratio. Combining limiters with compressors to safeguard yourself against extremely high peaks, which your compressor couldn’t handle, is a good idea.


As the issue of clipping has been around since people started recording their own and other people’s music, many software developers have come up with their own de-clipping software. The seller promises to give you a tool that can remove the clipping form audio by reconstructing your lost data with some fancy algorithms. A popular De-Clipper that we recommend is Izotope’s RX7.

Now the most important questions are: Do they work? Are they worth the cost? All I can do to answer these questions for you is share my personal experience with you.

In the past we have worked with various De-Clippers and similar audio repair software. Our conclusion is that a lot of them don’t work as well as you would hope, but a select few perform really well.

As many teams are constantly making improvements to their software we can’t give you a definitive list of programs that work well and that don’t. You will have to do your own due diligence and research the ones you are interested in.

Audio repair programs often have a hefty price tag and are not always the most reasonable investment for the home studio owner.

Before buying one consider if the money would be spent better anywhere else in your studio that would yield you a better final result in your sound. If you are hell-bent on getting one or don’t have any other gear on your wish list go right ahead.

How to Prevent Clipping

Clipping occurs, when a signal exceeds the maximum dynamic range of an audio channel. This will lead to the signal being distorted in a way that seems as if somebody had chopped off the top and bottom of the sound wave.

The main culprits you will have to single out when preventing clipping is inappropriate microphone equipment and wrong settings on equipment that you use to transfer your audio signal. Bad vocal technique can also cause a serious amount of clipping.


When recording vocals be aware of the type of microphone you are using and what distance is best for your specific type. Rigorously stick to the optimal distance.

Try out different distances and recording settings to find out if the clipping originates from there. Same goes for the volume modulation of your voice or instrument during the recording sessions. When it’s only the shouting sequences that are giving you trouble, try adjusting your microphone settings before trying to edit out, since this is usually your last resort and won’t yield you as good results as simply removing the source of the clipping.

Other Equipment

If this is not the case, your best bet will be the chain of recording equipment that carries your sound signal. A classic example would be a clipping preamp. Go along the path the signal travels and check every device for indications of clipping.

Most devices that can clip have a clipping indicator. Keep the volume of your signal as high as possible without clipping on each step your signal takes in its path is essential.

This way your signal isn’t bottlenecked by a set dynamic range while at the same time you keep the noise to a minimum, which would have occur if you had significantly lowered the amplitude.

As the clipping indicator of most devices is a light, it’s easy to fix clipping related problems. You will have to turn them up until their clipping indicator starts signaling. Most of the time this will happen in the form of a light turning on. Then turn the device down until the indicator is no longer activated at any point of your play back.

How To Prevent Clipping During Mastering

Clipping can also occur during mixing / mastering. If you are trying to edit a clipped track to sound at least usable the last thing you’ll want is even worse clipping because of faulty editing. So make sure your volume levels are correct and you are not overdoing the amount of gain you apply.

Usually clipping is treated as an error or fault, but it doesn’t have to be. In some niche cases it can lead to desirable results for specific type of musical style and a select few of instruments.

Some engineers even deliberately aim for analog clipping on certain parts of their mix because it adds a unique style to their sound. Analog clipping is clipping caused by the physical components of your equipment. Other than digital clipping the soundwaves are not squared off perfectly at the top and therefore sound differently than the most often undesirable square waves of digital clipping.

A great example for the deliberate implementation of clipping: Analog clipping on a set of drum recordings can make it sound warm and saturated. This distortion effect is great for vintage and modern hip-hop.


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