Sound Restoration Software

Dec 1, 2010 9:00 AM, By George Petersen



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Buzz. Hum. Click. Pop. Hiss. EMI. RFI. Wind noise. It’s a tough (audio) world out there. Sound happens. Some of it is good and some—well, not so good. Once upon a time, any sort of blemish on a track was there forever. And equalization and gating alone can only do so much. Today, high-speed, nearly real-time analysis algorithms and state-of-the-art sonic re-creation software driven by fast CPUs can create a powerful combination, capable of audio miracles that just a few years ago would have required either hours of drudgery or excessively long computational times.

And such products are not simply for archivists in tape vaults. Having the right application on hand can do wonders for saving a great take—even under ordinary, everyday circumstances, such as a piano bench squeak during the decay of a final note that mars an otherwise exemplary performance. Fortunately, help may be no more than a few mouse-clicks away. Let’s look into some new entries in the field of software-based audio restoration tools.

The latest version of Adobe Audition goes cross-platform for Mac or PC. Adobe Audition for Mac, currently in public beta, is a new development (not a porting from the PC version), offering stereo or multitrack mixing/editing/recording, Native 5.1 surround support and advanced audio restoration capabilities. Functions specific to audio renewal include automatic phase correction; adaptive noise reduction (to remove noise that changes over time); click/pop repair; de-clip; and a Photoshop-style lasso tool to select/delete glitches isolated in frequency and time on a spectral frequency display.


Mix Reviews reNOVator

Algorithmix offers a full palette of mastering/restoration tools. Its flagship reNOVAtor runs as a plug-in on Pyramix, Steinberg WaveLab, Pro Tools HD/Mix/LE (Mac and PC), Sequoia, Soundscape 16/32 and R.Ed, and in stand-alone mode on Windows PCs. It uses color-spectrogram analysis to locate, isolate and remove problem spots; the removed sound is then replaced by a signal re-synthesized from the surrounding material. The company also markets two restoration plug-ins for DirectX/VST users: NoiseFree operates on broadband noise while preserving the timbre, ambience and low-level detail of the original; and ScratchFree removes clicks, crackle and scratches.

Included with the Logic Studio and Final Cut Studio bundles from Apple, Soundtrack 3 offers multitrack editing/looping/mixing with a variety of audio repair tools on the Macintosh platform. Included is a Frequency Spectrum view; individual or batch correction of clicks, pops, hum and phase issues; and an advanced Noise Print function for replacing unwanted sounds with ambient noise copied from another section or file, with automatic matching and crossfades for a seamless blend.

Formerly known as DINR, the Avid Intelligent Noise Reduction plug-in for Pro Tools reduces unwanted noise, such as tape hiss, guitar amplifier buzz or rumble from air-handling systems. Previously available only for TDM systems, this award-winning plug-in is now also available in the AudioSuite format for Pro Tools LE systems on Mac OS or Windows.

Offered separately or included with its new Peak Pro Studio XT bundle, SoundSoap Pro 2 from BIAS offers intelligent adaptive noise-reduction with four restoration tools in a single plug-in, including new Adaptive technology for automated broadband noise removal with advanced controls for eliminating unwanted hiss, room noise, electrical hum, rumble, clicks, crackles and broadband noise with minimal artifacts. SoundSoap Pro 2 is designed for AU, RTAS/AudioSuite and VST formats for use with Mac (OS 10.3.9 and higher) and Windows (XP/Vista/Win 7) hosts.

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