Noise Suppression for Microsoft Stream Videos

Listen to Speech not Background Noise

Office 365 Notification MC215351 June 5 tells us that “Noise suppression for recorded videos in Microsoft Stream will reach generally availability later this month.” Microsoft showed off noise suppression at the Ignite 2019 conference to show how speech could be better distinguished from background noises like a hammer drill during video playback. The update is now rolling out and is due to complete worldwide deployment in July.

The feature works by isolating speech from other sources of noise to make speech clearer. Isolation can occur when a video is uploaded to Steam or afterwards by updating video settings. The extra processing needed when noise suppression is enabled means that new videos take a little longer to become fully available after upload. Microsoft hasn’t quantified just how much additional overhead is incurred to do the extra processing, but it isn’t very noticeable in any of the videos I tested.

Given the way that Microsoft reduced some of the processing load for different Office 365 services since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s surprising that they should choose to enable features that incur new load now. Perhaps this is a sign that things are slowly returning to a state when Microsoft can restore the features they throttled in March and April.

Enabling Noise Suppression

Noise suppression can be enabled when a new video is uploaded to Stream or by updating the settings for existing videos. In both cases, you set the noise suppression slider to on in video options (Figure 1). For existing videos, you’ll need to select the video first and then access Update video details (pencil icon).

Enabling noise suppression for a Stream video
Figure 1: Enabling noise suppression for a Stream video

If noise suppression isn’t supported for the chosen video, you won’t see the option.

When noise suppression is enabled for a video (and the video has been processed), viewers have the option to keep noise suppression on or turn it off during playback (Figure 2).

Noise suppression control during Stream video playback
Figure 2: Noise suppression control during Stream video playback

Qualifying Videos

There’s no need to upload existing videos again as Stream can process them behind the scenes for noise suppression. Video owners and Stream admins can enable noise suppression for existing videos if the videos meet certain criteria, including:

  • The video is two hours or shorter and no larger than 3 GB.
  • An audio track is available, but not when multiple audio tracks in different languages exist in a video.
  • The video is not a recording of a Teams meeting. This is because noise suppression is automatically done when Teams meetings are recorded.

Noise suppression isn’t supported for Live Events. This shouldn’t be an issue because of the structured nature of these events where better microphones are often used.

Sparse Troubleshooting

Microsoft documentation for noise suppression is sparse and it seems like the feature either works or it doesn’t. The troubleshooting page even includes the statement: “There are some scenarios where noise suppression, even when turned on by video owners, doesn’t work for video viewers. We don’t always know why.” Quite!

Noise suppression is a great example of a change in detail that easily missed. By subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, there’s more of a chance that you’ll stay informed.

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