I got some pretty good results using Steinberg Clean for that sort of stuff a while back.
When in doubt, read the book... Yeah, sure!
I've been using Cool Edit Pro 2 for many years and FINALLY figured out what they were talking about in the help file on manual noise reduction:
"To speed up the repairing of single clicks, configure the F3key to correct them when they are highlighted by first choosing the Click/Pop filter and pressing Fill Single Click Now. The F3 key then repeats the last action without bringing up the dialog box. You can also create a quick key in the Favorites menu for filling in single clicks. [Yeah, I know that but maybe other people don't.]
"Use the Spectral View feature with the spectral resolution set to 256 bands and a Window Width of 40% to see the clicks in a waveform. See the Spectral Display area of Options > Settings > Display to adjust these parameters. Clicks will ordinarily be visible as bright vertical bars that go all the way from the top to the bottom of the display."
I've always just used the Waveform View, which looks like an EKG, showing peaks and valleys corresponding to the total energy in the sound wave. The big clicks are easy to find and remove manually, but it is the smaller ones that can be very time-consuming to remove (I had learned how to recognize their various signatures in the Waveform view, but some could be very elusive).
But by switching over to the Spectral View, those small and elusive clicks show up very clearly- you should listen to them to make sure that they are not just a drum hit. (Actually if it is on the beat, I don't care if it is a drum or a click- I leave it in! ) The one drawback with the Spectral View is that it can take a second or two for the program to redraw the screen when you zoom in or out, or move to a different spot in the track (with Waveform view this would be almost instantaneous).
Backtracking a bit, there are plug-ins which will automatically try to remove pops and clicks from your tracks, but they never seem to catch ALL of the pops, and if set too high they can have an effect on the overall sound of the track (like making it muffled by removing much of the dynamics). IMO you can get much better results by using the "Fill Single Click Now" button in Cool Edit Pro to manually remove the pops and clicks, one at a time. I have a theory on editing sound files: I figure that if you are working on a selection .001 to .003 seconds long, you can remove the clicks without changing the overall sound of the track... that would be like the 5 second rule when dropping candy on the floor. LOL
For older tracks that are really noisy (like old 78's) there might be 30,000 pops and clicks in a 3 minute song so you probably don't want to clean it up manually. I had been using the Click and Crackle Removal Tool from Sonic Foundry, but noticed that it can change the overall length of the selection, which can cause all sorts of problems. The plug-in included with Cool Edit Pro works very well, but there are a LOT of settings that you can change and the processing can be very time consuming.
One program that works well is Diamond Cut DC6- they sell a higher end version of the program to police departments for doing foresics on tape recordings. It does cost about $160 on-line but there is a less expensive version called DC Millenium for about $60 (I started off with that and then upgraded to DC6 for an additional $99). I think that the DC products work better than the Cool Edit Pro plug-ins for continuous noise (like tape hiss on old recordings)- they will remove a lot of that noise without adding a "phasey" sound to the track.
Well, time to go back to the salt mines!
I got some pretty good results using Steinberg Clean for that sort of stuff a while back.
I picked it up dirt cheap awhile back but haven't really found a use for it. It does a lot of processing BESIDES noise reduction, but I already use Cool Edit Pro for most of that. I don't believe that Version 3 has a continuous noise filter in it, for recordings with a lot of tape hiss or a constant FM broadcast noise.
One problem I noticed in testing it out today is that processing the track will change the length- usually noise reduction will make a track a little bit shorter but Steinberg Clean made it longer. This can create sector boundary errors if you were to burn the tracks to a CD.
I don't know if you noticed but there is also a Clean Plus version which comes with a USB powered hardware preamp so that you can connect a magnetic phono cartridge to the line level input of your sound card, make recordings, clean them up and add special processing and then optionally burn them to a CDR audio disc or data disc. A handy "one stop shopping" solution for the average customer who wants to convert some old albums to CDs, not put together a whole digital recording studio... LOL
I've been working on a jazz record - "California Concert" on CTI from 1971* with all of the CTI all-stars: George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Airto, Hubert Laws, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Hank Crawford and Johnny Hammond (killer line-up, eh?) I *thought* I had the noise reduction set right, but as I was listening to the tracks I found the tenor and trumpet solos totally weird, with much of the high frequency content eliminated as noise. So back to the drawing board... I had to lower the settings, which meant that a lot of the noise was left in, for me to remove manually. Actually for the bass solos, I used a stronger setting since noise reduction doesn't bother the lower frequencies that much.
In any case, the best scenario is an album in great condition, with just a few pops and clicks on each song which can be removed manually, one at a time. If you select a segment .001 to .003 seconds long to manually declick, it still sounds very natural. An automated setting is okay to remove the fine crackle of a vinyl album without really degrading the signal (I will check the "keep noise" mode to make sure that I am not removing too much signal, just the little "snap, crackle, pop" underneath everything.
The idea of using the Spectrum View makes it much easier to pinpoint those elusive clicks hiding in busy segments of the song! You need to listen to the track, maybe 5 seconds at a time, looking for bright lines which coorespond to pops and clicks which really shouldn't be there (as opposed to drum hits). It is that discernment which makes me wonder if a truly effective noise reduction algorithm can ever be deviced... (A similar sentiment was expressed here maybe 5 years ago, but its amazing how much they have improved consumer level products since then.)
* This album was released on CD a few years back and is currently selling used for about $150 a copy! And that with it only having 4 of the 5 songs that were released on the the 2 LP set...
Hey Steve, Have you ever tried the ADS instant music box to cut albums over to cd from a stereo to computer?
I seen that COMP USA has this little devise on sale for $29.99 after in store and mail in rebate.
I have over 450 albums that I would really like to take some and do the conversions to cd.
BTW, do you by chance have the Almost Famous movie DVD directors set? I've been looking for that Stillwater CD and cannot find it any where.
For the real musicians who did this music, the parts of the songs I've heard sound pretty good from the movie.
What has worked the best for me is a standalone CD recorder hooked up to my stereo. After making a recording in real time you can then import it into your computer at maybe 16x speed. With the import boxes you are tying up your computer for the entire process.
However, I have been looking for something to put in my notebook computer for mobile recording. Perhaps something that plugs into the PCI Card Bus slot, with digital and analog inputs and outputs. Or maybe something that goes through a USB port.
But for home use I don't think that you can beat a standalone CD recorder- they will essentially do everything that you used to use a cassette recorder for, but with much higher sound quality. They have come down a lot in price- they used to be around $500!
I used to use a MiniDisk deck, but it seems like the main use for them these days is stealth recording at Eric Clapton concerts... LOL
I looked over at Ebay and seen some CD recorders around $150.00 and up.
When you say import do you mean plugging the cd recorder into your PC, then downloading the songs from the CD recorder harddrive or do you record to CD from the CD recorder, then use the burned cd to download to your pc?
Then you said using cool edit pro to enhance the sound and rid the music of pops?
I'm trying to get a grasp on this concept, not to sound stupid but recording old LP's to cd really well is sorta like being a sound engineer
I'm looking to do this as simple and quick as possible due to the wife/kid time factor. LOL....
I want to get a nano Ipod to load alot of these into but also have some good CD's to play in the car as well.
Most my album collection is from late 60's to 70's and some 80's but mostly
I would pass on any CD recorders on eBay unless they are in a factory sealed box; optical drives always wear out for me, even now that I've stopped smoking.
With the CD recorder once you finalize the disk you can play it on any CD player, or put it in the CD drive in your computer and rip it.
The two CD recorders I've used are very stupid when it comes to splitting tracks on vinyl albums, or even more pristeen sources. In a perfect world they would split the recording up into tracks and you would be perfectly happy with the disk you burned. But I'll record each side to a single track, and once ripped will load it into my audio editor of choice- Cool Edit Pro- to do noise reduction and split it into individual tracks. You can get Steinberg's Clean Version 3.0 for about $20 or $30, and it will do all of that for you- rip the tracks, clean them up, allow you to do some basic processing and then even burn them to CD.
Like building your own guitar amp, you do this because you are crazy- not to save a few bucks in buying the CD. If the album is well- orn, you could spend a week or two cleaning it up (not 8 hours a day but an hour or two each night). I might do 20 test burns, each time noticing something else I want to change- a few pops here, maybe one of the tracks is too loud compared to the other tracks, et al. So I only do this for an album that *I REALLY WANT TO HAVE ON CD*... LOL
If you are going to be listening to these on headphones you'll have to clean them up a lot... those pops and clicks will drive you crazy!
Getting back to the post-production, if you set the noise reduction algorithm very aggressively it will remove most of the snaps, crackles and pops, but it will probably also leave the music very dull- so that is a trade-off you might want to make sometimes...
P.S. Here's an idea- get your wife and kids to process the tunes on the computer! LOL
An e-buddy from Italy told me about Groove Mechanic... I ran some tests on it and it passed with flying colors: most of the pops and clicks removed without changing the sound and timbre. I don't think that any of the programs can remove ALL of the pops and clicks but I was able to listen to the cleaned up tracks without wincing in pain.
Here is a link to their home page (they have a 15 day trial version or you can buy it for $39):
And here is the short FLAC file I've been using to test the NR programs:
02/10/07 After using Groove Mechanic for a few different albums I noticed that it introduces random peaks and other anomalies throughout the sound file- not always but with a track record like that, who want to take a chance??? Well, I got a tip on another program, ClickRepair, which is decent enough by itself, but works even better in conjunction with Groove Mechanic (do one pass of GM, set to 7.0 or 7.5, followed by one pass of CR, set to 40 (with the Pitch box selected). I did two rather difficult albums this way using the automatic settings, without any manual cleanup. This is the closest I have gotten to "one stop shopping" in the vinyl restoration business...
Link for ClickRepair:
BTW the results after the processing described here would be iPod ready- well, almost! I did track them in Cool Edit Pro, doing fade-outs and fade-ins, and silencing the space between... What was most noticeable was that the fade-outs on the vinyl albums went on much longer than my prior attempts (which would reach the noise floor a lot quicker). These fade-outs kept going and going until there was just silence- I probably could have gotten by without the added fade-outs,fade-ins and silence...
Last edited by Steve A.; 02-11-2007 at 04:42 AM.
Ten months later and I'm still using ClickRepair 2.1
I'll do 2 or 3 passes- first at "25", then at "35" and if the source is very scratched up a final pass at "45". With the 3rd pass, you can hear it dullen the sound a little bit so I only use that version if the source is really bad. What works best for me is to automatically do 2 or 3 passes with the program (while I'm doing something else) and then decide later which one to use. (It takes a lot more time to go back and do it later.)
Okay, here's a fresh tip. I've been working on the Robert Johnson recordings on Columbia- first trying to clean up the tape hiss and rumble on the 1997/2004 remasters on CD, and after giving up on that doing a vinyl rip of two LPs.
Before running ClickRepair, I tried processing them with Native Waves Platinum X-Click and X-Crackle. (X-Click Threshold: 60.0 Shape: 75) (X-Crackle Threshold: 80Reduction: 60) These plug-ins are fairly transparent unless set up to 100 so I'm not hearing a lot of audio degradation.
After processing the tracks with ClickRepair, a second pass of ClickRepair might be in order.
More news on the digital audio front... I finally stopped my boycott of Adobe Audition, mainly because I was running into problems with Cool Edit Pro 2 not handling 24 bit files very well. My initial reluctance to use Audition had a lot to do with the too-busy interface- who needs a browser if you are going to be editing audio files??? But I turned most of that stuff off so it looks I lot like CEP2, and with most of the bugs fixed!
If you're willing to throw some money around you might want to check out Sonar producer 7 for around 600 bucks. You may be able to dig around and find a copy of sonar 6 for a lot less. It's a bit daunting at first but the amount of control you've got over the output is just mind bending. And makes Adobe Audition look like a complete piece of junk! While this may be complete overkill for click and pop removal you'd wind up with a full blown recording, mixing and mastering music workstation. If you can't get er done with this piece of software you CAN'T get er done!
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