Asymmetric & Deformed Audio Waveforms: Should You Worry?

Asymmetric & Deformed Audio Waveforms: Should I Worry? (DC Offset Explained) |

You’ve probably seen an audio clip where the waveform appears skewed and wondered what caused it. Let’s find out what DC offset is, why it happens, how to solve it, and if you need to be concerned about it.

The skewed or deformed audio waveform is caused by what’s known as a DC offset. While the term seems hardware-related, and indeed, it tends to plague hardware more often, you can also have this problem in digital audio. In digital audio, it mainly occurs during summing (or numeric calculations of audio bits), so you’ll likely notice them after freezing a track. So, re-rendering the track might solve the problem if it’s a temporary tick in the synthesizer or effect processor.

What Is DC Offset?

In an audio clip, the horizontal line in the middle is zero, and the audio signal is recorded in positive (up) and negative (down) values. DC Offset is an imbalance between the positive and the negative signals in an audio waveform, where the zero becomes a different value, either positive or negative.

Suppose you have a regular audio clip, and the waveforms are alternating between +5v and –5v. Now, if the waveform started alternating between +6v and –4v, you have a DC offset. And since DC offset essentially makes the waveform lean more towards one kind of signal over the other, we also call it DC bias.

Why Is DC Offset Bad?

The worst problem with DC offset is that your audio will clip before it would as a normal audio waveform. When a waveform is biased towards either the positive or the negative value, the higher value will reach the clipping level quicker. You might also face issues in editing and metering.

The following pictures demonstrate the clipping problem:

Normal Waveform |
A typical waveform – note the height of the sine wave.
DC Offset Clip |
Notice how the height (peak level) is the same, but it’s clipping.

The second issue you will face with DC offset is while editing. Since the “zero” of an audio clip with DC offset has a value, it will create an audible “pop” when you split/splice it. Similarly, you will have the same issue when looping an audio clip as it has no zero-crossing.

DC offset can also cause metering software/hardware to go haywire. For example, if your audio is biased towards either a positive or negative signal, your dB peak meter will read much higher than what you perceive. In fact, in rare cases, DC offset can cause damage to your speakers/amplifiers due to extreme peaks despite a low perceived audio level.

What Causes DC Offset?

There are several causes of DC offset, and you’re more likely to face them in audio recorded with faulty devices and in renders from a complex signal chain. In the digital world, a delay unit, hand-drawn wavetables, certain filter combinations, and so on can cause DC Offset.

Let’s explore the causes a little further:

  • Direct Current
    This topic is probably the most common cause of DC offset. When one of the hardware in your signal chain adds DC voltage (one that doesn’t alternate) to an AC circuit (one that alternates), the output AC voltage will have a bias towards one kind of value. Soundcards, audio interfaces, microphones, phantom power supply, and mixers are often the culprits here.
  • Unison
    While most synthesizers are designed to avoid DC offset as much as possible, once in a while, adding detuned unison voices that are in phase with the original signal will cause a DC offset. You can avoid this issue by turning the phase parameter on the oscillator(s) slightly.
  • Delays
    If you are using multiple delay units linked together, you could be causing feedback loops between them, even if they aren’t audible. Note that you will have to do some rather crazy routings to make it happen, but it’s still a possibility, especially in hardware units. Such setups can cause DC offsets.
  • Wavetables
    Wavetable synths have grown in popularity thanks to the freedom they offer. However, hand-drawn wavetables or poorly programmed ones might contribute to adding DC offset in your audio output.
  • Filters
    As with unison, most synths avoid DC offset caused by filters. However, if you stack up multiple complex filters, you might end up creating a DC offset. It happens even more often when you have wavetables that are already offset because resonance from filters adds more to the issue.
  • Post-Repair Issues
    This issue is relatively rare. When a hardware unit is repaired, the repairperson might replace a faulty transistor with a close substitute instead of a replica. If the components happen to be in a recording circuit, you will get DC offset.
  • Grounding
    Often, the grounding circuits of different hardware units are at different potentials. When two such hardware equipment is connected, they cause ground loops, which ultimately cause DC offsets. Similarly, a computer’s SMPS (PSU) can also create spikes of AC voltage that enter your audio interface and other hardware to cause such ground loops.

How To Avoid DC Offset?

You can avoid DC offset by ensuring proper grounding and conditioning your hardware equipment before recording. During music production or mixing, stay vigilant when using a highly complex chain of filters or delay units. Similarly, double-check wavetables to see if they are not offset.

Let’s get into these tips in more detail.

  • Ensure Grounding
    Having a proper grounding/earthing system and ensuring your equipment is connected is one of the best ways to avoid DC offset. If the hardware doesn’t have a grounding compatible plug, connect the chassis to the grounding terminal in your socket. Make sure you read up on which terminal is the live, neutral, and ground in your country. For the USA and many European countries, the ground is a metal ring around the socket.
  • Phantom Power
    Having multiple hardware gears increase the chance of a DC offset. So, avoid using equipment like phantom power supplies. Instead, opt for an audio interface or a mixer with built-in phantom power. Furthermore, if you own a microphone that requires a battery, make sure the battery is full and seated correctly. And perhaps even consider switching to a regular mic as these are less prone to DC offset.
  • Avoid Over-Complication
    Some people tend to use overly complicated effect chains despite intending a simple process. For example, avoid using multiple delays routed into each other instead of a multi-tap delay. This tip applies to any time-based plugins like reverb, chorus, flanger, etc.
  • Keep An Eye Open
    When using complex chains of effects, hand-drawn wavetables, or amateur wavetable packs (often free ones), make sure that you don’t contribute to DC offset. Ensure there is no feedback loop from effect processors and that the wavetable is evenly divided in both positive and negative signals.

How Do I Remove DC Offset?

In almost all cases, a frequency (hum or spike) near 0 Hz causes DC offset. So, using a high-pass filter anywhere from 1 Hz to 20 Hz should get rid of DC offset. I suggest setting the high-pass filter at 10 Hz, which should be low enough not to cause sonic changes and high enough to filter out DC offset.

While the concept mentioned above remains useful, most audio editors nowadays provide a dedicated tool for removing DC offset. They intelligently detect the amount of DC offset and apply an opposite offset to make the waveform balanced. In this section, I will demonstrate the tool in various editors and DAWs.

For the sake of navigation, here is the order of the editors I will be using. Clicking on the link will take you to the download/purchase page.

How Do I Remove DC Offset In Audacity?

Audacity features a built-in DC offset removal tool in its normalizer. So, all you have to do is load the audio with DC offset, select an area (or the entire audio), add the Normalizer effect, and select the ‘Remove DC offset’ option. If you don’t want normalization, uncheck the option.

Step 1: Load and select the audio with DC Offset.

Select the audio with DC offset.

Step 2: Open the Effect menu, and select Normalize.

Find Normalize under the Effect menu.

Step 3: Make sure the option ‘Remove DC offset’ is checked, and uncheck the rest if you only want DC offset removal. Then, click OK.

Uncheck the unwanted options.

How Do I Remove DC Offset In ocenaudio?

Ocenaudio is probably the easiest editor to use for removing DC offset. To remove DC offset, load your audio file, select the problematic area (or none if you want it to affect the entire audio), go to the Effects menu, and click on Remove DC. That’s it; your audio should be fine now!

Step 1: Load your audio.

Load your audio file in ocenaudio.

Step 2: Open the Effects menu and click on ‘Remove DC.’

Find Remove DC under Effects.

How To Remove DC Offset In Cakewalk by BandLab?

Cakewalk by BandLab has a dedicated tool for removing DC Offset under its Process menu. Select your audio clip, open the Process menu, and find ‘Remove DC Offset’ under Apply Effect. You can use this tool on multiple audio clips at once by using Ctrl + Click to multi-select.

Step 1: Import your audio clip into a track in Cakewalk, then select the clip(s).

Select the clip with DC offset.

Step 2: Under the Process menu, navigate through Apply Effect and click on Remove DC Offset.

Use Remove DC Offset.

How To Remove DC Offset In REAPER?

As with anything in REAPER, it has multiple ways to remove DC offset. However, one of the most straightforward ways is to use the JSFX called DC Filter. Add the JSFX to a take/track and render it. The start and end of the clip can create pops in the render, though, so make sure you have a bit of space.

Step 1: Import your audio clip into a track in REAPER.

Load the audio clip in REAPER.

Step 2: Right-click the clip, go through Take, and click on ‘Show FX chain for active take.’

Step 3: Add the JSFX called DC Filter (note the category I have selected).

Step 4: Right-click the clip and click on ‘Render item as new take.’ This option will create a new take in the same item so that you can compare the two. If you want to delete the old take, select it, right-click it, go through Take, and click on ‘Delete active take.’

How To Remove DC Offset In FL Studio?

FL Studio makes it easy to remove DC offset from an audio clip. All you have to do is load the audio file into an Audio Clip channel in the Channel Rack (F6), then enable ‘Remove DC Offset’ under Precomputed Effects in the channel’s UI. Unfortunately, there’s no way to activate it in multiple clips at once.

Step 1: Load the audio file in an Audio Clip channel in the Channel Rack.

Load the audio file in an Audio Clip channel.

Step 2: Enable Remove DC Offset. And if you want to render the file, right-click the waveform and click on ‘Save as.’

Enable Remove DC Offset.


And we’ve come to the end of our detailed guide about DC offset. As you can see, while the issue definitely requires remedying, it’s not something you have to be worried about much. Preventing it is pretty easy, and if you stick with recommended hardware, you’re unlikely to get DC offset from recordings.

However, if you do end up with DC offsets, it’s not a complex problem to solve at all. If I didn’t list the DAW you are using in the guide above, try looking for the tool in similar options or refer to your DAW’s manual. I hope the guide has helped give you an understanding of the DC offset.

Readings You May Like:

Guitar/Amp Focused:

Can I Put Nylon Strings on a Steel-string Guitar?

Do Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?

Buying Your First Guitar: 2 Things To Know

Are Tube Amps Worth It? (Tube vs Solid-State Amps)

How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup?

Can I Play Classical Guitar On A Steel-String Guitar?


How often guitar necks need reset?

Can You Play Two Guitars Through One Amp?

Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar?

Can I leave My Guitar Tuned Down a Step? Yes, But Is It Safe?

Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why?

How To Know If your Guitar Amp Is Broken?

How To Fix Distorted Bass Guitar Sound?


Do Fender Guitars Appreciate In Value?

Should You Put Stickers On A Bass Guitar?

How Acoustic And Electric Guitars Are Made?

Is Electric Guitar Too Loud for an Apartment?

Does a Preamp Improve Sound Quality?

If I Learn Acoustic Guitar Can I Play Electric Guitar?

How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice Bass Guitar?

Do I need an AMP/DAC To Run Bookshelf Speakers?

How to Record Electric Guitar Into Logic Pro X?

Do headphones get worse with age?


Headphones & Studio Monitors:

Do headphones get worse with age?

Monitors vs Studio Headphones For Mixing & Mastering

Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins 2022

Does Heat Damage Headphones?

Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Good For Music Production?

Can Headphones Break in Cold Weather?

Why do headphones & cables get sticky?


Can Wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?

How Do I know If My Studio Monitor Is Blown?

Side Effects Of Sleeping With Your Headphones On

Do You Need Music Amplifier For Studio Monitors or Studio Headphones?

Do Headphones or Earphones Damage Your Brain?

Can Headphones or Earphones cause Deafness or Toothache?

FarField, MidField & NearField Monitors – Their Uses, Pros & Cons


MIDI & Synths:

Should I Buy A MIDI Keyboard Or Synth? (Are Synths Worth It Anymore?)

Why Is Audio Gear So Expensive? (Especially Synths)

Top 12 Synth Brands 2022 – Analog, Digital & Modular Synth Manufacturers

11 Tips How To Choose MIDI Keyboard 2022

Should I Buy MIDI Controller Or Keyboard? Cons, Pros & Tips


Recommended Gear:

Top 12 NearField Studio Monitors 2022 On Any Budget

Top 10 Midfield Studio Monitors 2022 For Home Recording

Best Biggest Studio Monitors 2022 (FarField Monitors)

Top 10 Guitar Pickups for Low Tunings 2022

Top 10 Analog Compressors For Mixing & Mastering (On Any Budget)

Top 12 USB Audio Interfaces Under 150$, 200$, 300$ 400$ (Any Budget)


Top 12 Hardware Equalizers 2022 (Analog EQs For Mixing & Mastering)

Top 6 Analog Hardware Limiters 2022

Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps 2022 (On Any Budget)

Top 6 Ribbon Mics 2022 On Any Budget (For Vocals, Drums & Guitars)

Top 6 Cheap Dynamic Mics For Vocals Under 50$, 100$, 200$ & 300$


Top 6 Chorus Guitar Pedals 2022 (On Any Budget)

6 Best 61-Key MIDI Keyboards 2022 (On Any Budget)

9 Best 49-Key MIDI Keyboards Under 100$ & 200$ (2022)

Top 5 Best 25 Key MIDI Keyboards 2022 (On Any Budget)

Top 12 Acoustic Drums 2022 (Best Kits/Sets On Any Budget)


Plugin Roundups:

Genre Focused:

Top 10 EDM Plugins 2022 (And 10 Best FREE Plugins For EDM)

Top 10 Plugins For TRAP Beats 2022 (And 5 Best FREE Trap Plugins)

20 Best Plugins For Rock Musicians 2022 (+ 6 FREE Plugins)

Top 14 Trance Plugins (Uplifting, Tech, Progressive, Vocal, Dream, Hard)

Top 10 GOA & PsyTrance Plugins 2022 (Best Psychedelic Trance Tools)

Top 7 Plugins For Dubstep 2022 (With 10 Best FREE Effects & Synths)


Top 20 Synthwave Plugins 2022 (+ 11 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 15 Plugins 2022 For Techno, House, Electro, Tech House, UK Garage

Top 6 Plugins For Latin Music 2022 (And 4 FREE Tools)

Top 12 Plugins For Hip-Hop 2022 (+ Best Kontakt Libraries)

Top 7 Plugins For Game & Film Scoring 2022 (+ 6 Best Kontakt Libraries)

Top 10 R&B And Pop Music Plugins & KONTAKT Libraries 2022

30 Best Free Plugins For DnB, EDM, IDM & Experimental Music 2022


EQ Plugins

Top 12 Free EQ Plugins 2022 For Precise Mixing & Mastering

Top 9 Mid/Side EQ Plugins 2022 For Mixing & Mastering (+ 2 Free Tools)

Top 7 Graphic EQ Plugins 2022 (With 3 Best Free EQs)

Top 7 EQ Plugins For Mastering In 2022 | And Best FREE Mastering EQs

Top 6 Passive EQ Plugins 2022 (Klevgrand, SPL, UAD, Waves, IK Multimedia)

Top 11 Plugins For Making Metal 2022 (Best Guitars, Drums & Effects)


Compressor Plugins

Top 11 Free Compressor Plugins 2022 (VCA, Vari-Mu, FET, Digital)

Top 7 Multiband Compressor Plugins 2022 (And 4 FREE Plugins)

Top 5 Diode-Bridge Compressor Plugins 2022

Top 6 Mastering Chain Plugins: Complete VST Solutions 2022

Top 10 FET Compressor Plugins 2022

The 7 Best VCA Compressor Plugins 2022 (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 11 Mastering Compressor Plugins 2022 (And 2 FREE Plugins)

Top 10 Opto Compressor Plugins 2022 For Transparent Sound

The 7 Best Vari-Mu Compressor Plugins 2022 (And 2 Best FREE Tools)


Reverb & Delay Plugins:

Top 12 Delay Plugins For Music Production In 2022 (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 12 Reverb Plugins (And 5 FREE Reverb Plugins)

The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins 2022 | AudioThing, GSi, u-he, Eventide

Top 10 FREE Delay Plugins 2022 (VST, AU, AAX)

The 10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins 2022


Metering Plugins:

Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins 2022 (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)

Top 6 Spectrum Analyzer Plugins Of 2022 – Spectral Analysis Tools

Top 6 Oscilloscope Plugins 2022 To See The Waveforms

Top 5 Key Detection Plugins & Software 2022 (+ Best FREE App)


Amps & Preamp Plugins:

Top 10 Guitar Amp Plugins 2022 (And 5 Best FREE Simulators)

Top 10 Bass Amp Plugins 2022 (And 5 Best Free Simulators)

Top 9 Preamp Plugins 2022 (For Vocals, Guitars & More!) + Free Preamps


Kontakt Libraries

20 Best Kontakt Libraries For All Categories 2022 (Synths, Drums, Vocals)

Top 7 Drum Libraries For KONTAKT 2022 (And 4 Freebies)

Top 7 Trap Music Kontakt Libraries 2022 (And Best Lo-Fi Kontakt Library)

Top 7 Metal & Rock Kontakt Libraries 2022 (Best Guitars & Drums)

Top 10 Guitar Libraries For Kontakt 2022 (Acoustic, Electric, Bass & Freebies)


Top 7 Trailer Scoring Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 2022

20 Best Free KONTAKT Libraries 2022 For Various Instruments

Top 9 Piano Kontakt Sample Libraries 2022 (And 5 Best Free Pianos)

Top 10 Percussion KONTAKT Libraries 2022 (And 3 Freebies)

Top 7 Kontakt Libraries For Horror & Thriller Scoring 2022 (No VSTs)


Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility Plugins:

Top 6 Noise Reduction Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best Free Tools)

6 Best Audio Restoration Plugins & Software 2022

Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins 2022 To Fix Your Bass & Drums

Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins 2022


Instrument Plugins: 

Top 6 Vocoder Plugins 2022 (Effects & Synths + FREE Vocoder)

Top 12 Randomizer Plugins 2022 Including FREE Plugins

Top 6 Kick Drum Plugins 2022 (Best Kick Designer Tools)

Top 12 Woodwind Plugins 2022 (And KONTAKT Libraries)

Top 10 Double Bass Plugins 2022 (Best Upright Basses)

Top 5 Strings VST Plugins 2022 (AND 4 Best Free Instruments)


Top 6 Sampler Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 6 Classical Guitar Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (And FREE Guitars)

Top 7 Wavetable Synth Plugins 2022

Top 12 Sub Plugins 2022 (Best 808 & Bass Tools For Massive Low End)

Top 10 Plugins On PluginBoutique 2022 (And 7 Best Free Plugins)

Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance 2022

Top 7 Acoustic Guitar Plugins 2022 (And 4 Best Kontakt Libraries)


9 Best Bass Guitar Plugins 2022 (And 2 Best Freebies)

Top 6 Electric Guitar Plugins 2022 (Best PAID & FREE Picks)

Top 10 Arpeggiator VST Plugins 2022 (Best Synths, MIDI Effects & Tools)

Top 10 Modular Synth Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)

Top 6 Choir Plugins & Sample Libraries 2022 (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

11 Best Percussion & Drum VST Plugins In 2022 (And FREE Plugins)


Top 8 Piano Plugins 2022 (Best Sounding Pianos & 5 FREE Piano Plugins)

Top 6 Organ Plugins Ever Made 2022 (And 3 Best Free Organs)

Top 14 VST Plugins For Beginners 2022 (And 9 FREE Plugins)

Top 9 Drum Machine Plugins 2022 (And Groovebox Plugins)

4 Best Banjo Plugins 2022 (Best Banjo Instruments)


The 5 Best Ukulele Plugins & Kontakt Libraries 2022

Top 13 Synth Plugins 2022 (And 5 Best FREE Synths Plugins)

Top 13 Sequencer Plugins 2022 (Synth, MIDI & Step Sequencers)

The 10 Best Multi-Effect Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 12 Plugin Bundles For Musicians 2022 (Synths, Mixing & Mastering)



Processing & Sound Design Plugins:

8 Best Lo-Fi Plugins 2022 (PAID & FREE)

Top 11 Plugins For Mixing Vocals 2022 (For Home Studio)

Top 12 Saturation Plugins In 2022 (Best Mixing & Mastering Tools)

Top 6 Pitch Shifter Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best FREE Pitch Shifters)

Top 6 Chorus VST Plugins 2022 For Musicians (And 3 FREE Plugins)


Top 6 Limiter Plugins 2022 For Precise Mastering & Mixing

The 8 Best Filter Plugins 2022 For Precise Cuts & Boosts (+ 5 Free Filters)

6 Best Autotune Plugins 2022 To Improve & Enhance Your Vocals

Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins 2022 (VST, AU, AAX)

Top 7 Enhancer Plugins 2022 (For Bass, Drums, Vocals & Harmonics)


Top 6 Flanger Plugins 2022 (And 5 Best FREE Flanger Emulators)

Top 7 Phaser Plugins 2022 (And 3 Best FREE Phasers)

Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums 2022 (And 3 Best Free Plugins)

Top 7 Bitcrusher Plugins 2022 (And 4 Best FREE Bitcrushers + 3 Bonuses)

Top 6 Plugins For Voice-Over & Dialogue Cleaning 2022 (Post Production)

Top 10 Stereo Imaging Plugins 2022 (Best Old & Modern Picks)


Top 5 Multiband Limiter Plugins 2022

Top 7 De-Esser Plugins In 2022 For Better Vocals (And 4 FREE Plugins)

Top 7 Clipper Plugins 2022 (Best Limiter Alternatives)

Top 6 Chord Generator Plugins 2022 That Inspire Melodies (+ FREE Tools)

7 Best Exciter Plugins 2022 For Mixing & Mastering

Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins 2022 (And 2 Best Free Plugins)


Top 11 Distortion Plugins 2022 (And 4 Top Free Plugins)

Top 5 Comb Filter & Resonator Plugins 2022 | Melda, Kilohearts, Tritik

The 7 Best Vibrato VST Plugins of 2022 | Audec, Audiority, Melda

The 7 Best Tremolo Plugins 2022 | Eventide, Melda, SoundToys, Kuassa…

The 7 Best Harmonizer Plugins 2022 | Eventide, Melda, Aegean Music

7 Best Sidechain Plugins 2022 (VST, AU, AAX) | Xfer, Cableguys..


Top 10 Noise Gate Plugins 2022 (And 6 FREE Free Gate Tools)

The 6 Best Ring Modulator VST Plugins in 2022 | KiloHearts, Melda

7 Best Autopan VST Plugins 2022 | CableGuys, Melda, Waves, Soundtoys

The 6 Best Frequency Shifter VST Plugins Of 2022

Top 11 Granulizer Plugins 2022 For Future Sound Design

29 Best Sound Design VST Plugins In 2022


Recording, Mixing, Mastering & Restoration

Complete Guide To Limiter: How To Use It (+ Best Plugins & Analog Limiters)

How To Use Auto-tune & Pitch Correction In Cubase?

Full Guide To Comb Filtering & Resonator – What Is It & How It works?

How Loud Should Subbass Be?

Complete Guide To Noise Gate – What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It?

How to Fix It & Avoid Phase Cancellation In Music?

Should Drums Be in Mono or Stereo? (Kick, Snare, Clap and Percussions)


Difference Between LUFS, RMS & True Peak Loudness Meters

4 Ways To Remove Noise From Your Recordings (+ How To Prevent It)

How Loud Should a Mix Be Before Mastering? Recording, Mixing & Levels

6 Unique Tips How To Improve Your Vocal Recordings

How And When To Use Algorithmic And Convolution Reverb In Your Mix?

Mixing With Reverb: How To Add Life To Your Mixes

5 Quick Ways To Make Vocals Sound Better (Mixing Guide)

How To Use Upward & Downward Compression in Your Mix?



What PC, RAM & CPU Do I Need For Music Production In 2022?

Don`t copy text!