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Thread: Restoring your old tapes / cleaning up the hiss sound

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Morecambe/Nottingham
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    164

    Restoring your old tapes / cleaning up the hiss sound

    Ok,

    Here is a quick n dirty guide to 'cleaning up' your mixtapes from back in the day.

    Unless your lucky enough to have a near mint copy of a mix, its probably got some hissing on it - most of mine have

    For example CANOs copy of mix factory @ sequins (nice one for the upload matey ) had a lot of hiss and was very low in volume averaging at roughly -4db. Us humans like things at roughly 0db (thats "zero" decibells). Its just the level our ears find best.

    Here is an example of what the mix looked like before it was cleaned up and after it was cleaned up.



    As you can see, the wave image on the left is before, and the one on the right is after.

    Click on the mp3 below to listen to the example - as you will hear its well worth cleaning up tapes if you think they need it.

    Click here to listen

    There are quite a few different ways to clean up audio, but this is just "my way"

    I use the Waves plug-ins bundle, simply because they are "the shit" for this type of thing.
    There are many others on the market and even ready made pieces of software designed to restore your beloved recordings.

    i do my restoration in the following order.

    1. Remove hiss with X-Noise plug in.
    2. Normalise
    3. Expand/Limit with Waves L1, L2 or L3. (not always necessary)

    1. Open your mp3 in soundforge

    Open mp3 in soundforge and it will look something like this...



    as you can see the spikes average out around -4db, we need to bring this as close to 0db as possible.
    but before you do this you should remove the hiss.

    2. removing the hiss

    Select the waves XNoise plugin as shown below...



    Once open you now have to do some careful listening and use the controls i have highlighted below...



    Thresh
    ------

    This is the level that the xnoise starts removing the hiss at. The higher you have this the more it removes.
    Be careful though - you can end up degrading the actual mix if you do too much.

    Reduction
    ---------

    once the above threshold is reached the Reduction determines how much noise/hiss reduction is applied to the music. Again, too much of this and you will start reducing the quality of the music

    Audio/Difference
    ----------------


    click on the difference button and the music will be removed and all you can hear is the hiss that XNoise is removing. This is very useful in working out the right amount to set on your thresh and reduction levels.

    When you start hearing music with difference mode enabled it pretty much means that your removing too much, so lower the threshold or reduction (use your ears).

    bypass tickbox
    --------------


    bypass allows you to hear the audio without the xnoise enabled - a good way to see how it affects the audio file.
    tick the bypass box - the hiss returns.

    Realtime tickbox
    ----------------


    realtime determines whether the hiss is removed as you hear it, or is processed first then sent to your speakers.
    if you are not running a professional soundcard in your pc then realtime might be a bit much for your computer. when you change settings it will stutter the sound. unchecking the realtime checkbox will make it run smoother but you wont hear your setting changes instantly.


    So, once your happy that youve removed enough hiss, hit the 'OK' button. This applies the hiss removal to your mix file.

    Be patient! it could take up to 10 minutes to complete.


    3. Normalising the file.

    Now that weve removed the hiss we could do with bringing up the volume a bit.
    Normalising finds the loudest part in the audio file, and then increases the volume of this loudest part to 0db - and also the rest of the file relatively.
    If you dont understand - just do it! It makes sure its as loud as "normally" should be ;-)

    You do this by choosing 'Process' from the top menu, then 'Normalize...'

    This shows the following section...



    Ensure the settings are as above and click OK.

    Job Done!

    I was going to add a section to this about limiting but will have to do that another time.

    also, its not completely necessary or relevant to all situations, so maybe best left out ;-)


    Hope this tute helps

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    London
    Posts
    151
    Good stuff. I have been meaning to transfer and clean up my old box of WBMX and pirate radio tapes for years but never got round to it. I'll probably give it a go after looking at this.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Pensacola, Florida
    Posts
    256
    Thanks for the tip. I have pleanty of tapes that need restoration. I currently have Microsoft Plus digital media but I've never used it and it doesn't seem to be nearly as good as the program you have, I'll have to check that program out. Thanks again.
    Rick

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Atherton, under the bridge
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    473
    cheers fella very very helpfull

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida (originally Yorkshire)
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    234
    Thanks for the tips - Where can I get Soundforge 8 reasonably cheap/free?

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida (originally Yorkshire)
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    234
    Cheers

    where can i get Soundforge 8 reasonably cheap/free?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    3,154
    Nice one for that mate

    Made this a sticky so it wont get lost

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    101
    Quote Originally Posted by Firthsta View Post
    Thanks for the tips - Where can I get Soundforge 8 reasonably cheap/free?
    Same place you can get anything cheap/free -- eMule

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Morecambe/Nottingham
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    thought i best also point out that the XNoise tool is part of the waves diamond plugins bundle - these dont come with soundforge but are available to buy separately lol

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Harrogate
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    1,259
    averaging at roughly -4db. Us humans like things at roughly 0db (thats "zero" decibells).

    Thougfht my staffy was enjoying my tunes more than usual lol!

    Nice one for putting this up, top improvement in sound quality

    I 'found' z-noise, which looks & acts basically the same thing as x-noise

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    manchester
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    87
    got bundles of old tapes that i've been itching to resore! now i know nice one matey

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Liverpool
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    173
    very helpful, thanks

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    London
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    3,800
    Is soundforge available for a Mac?

    If not is there Mac software that will do the same thing?

    Cheers

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Morecambe/Nottingham
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed View Post
    Is soundforge available for a Mac?

    If not is there Mac software that will do the same thing?

    Cheers
    Soundforge is windows only, however there are alternatives that function in exactly the same way.

    Bias Peak
    Welcome to BIAS!
    (there is also a lite edition)

    Adobe Audition
    Adobe Audition

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    London
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    3,800
    Cheers dude, will look into this and have a go I reckon.

    Great tips too, thanks.

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