Vinyl Studio III – de-click and noise reduction

I’ve been far less productive than expected digitising my vinyl. In part that’s due to the great de-click and noise-reduction capabilities of Vinyl Studio.

Just as recording and track splitting have their windows, clicking Cleanup Audio opens a two-track view of the recorded waveform.

Alpine Soft recommends a ball mouse to get around the Cleanup Audio window quickly as you move a lot from overview to high magnification. An Apple trackpad and Magic mouse proved a confusing combination and while I downgraded to an older Apple mouse to try a ball I didn’t stick with it. Zooming with the keyboard + and – keys and replaying with the spacebar worked fine for me.

Clicks first.Vinyl Studio can automatically detect and correct vinyl clicks and pops. Thresholds can be adjusted and both percussion strikes and brass ‘rasps’ excluded from erroneous correction. Too much correction and the sound is lifeless. I chose a light-handed approach – once I’d learned to visually spot clicks I started editing digitised LPs by replay and eye combined. This takes considerable time but I have to say the results so far have been worth it.

This is how to see a click. In the waveform view you know roughly where the click appears but may not be able to track it down and spot it for correction.Vinyl Studio gives you an spectral view which instantly identifies the energy spectrum of the click. The fast rise time of the click waveform contains all frequencies (rather like a square wave) so it becomes easy to spot.

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You can hear a nasty click but can’t spot it in the complex waveform

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Spectral view on the V key shows just where the click is hiding

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Using a highly magnified view, the click waveform can be edited out (original waveform grey, corrected green). The area over which the correction is applied can be adjusted – see cyan correction ‘slice’ with drag handles

Click detection and editing is very flexible. With some serious headphone time you can produce click-free transfers that are musically satisfying, airy and thoroughly listenable. Just beginning to wish I was doing this at 24/96.

Hiss and hum reduction is also possible. A sample of vinyl surface noise (or tape hiss) can be used to create a noise filter. I’ve used this sparingly to reduce surface noise between tracks or with single instruments or voices. I’ve only cleaned up one whole  album – a very noisy Polydor pressing of Burt Alcantara’s synthesiser classic Zygoat. The hum filter with 50 and 60Hz mains filters has proved useful on one unexpected occasion.

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Custom EQ curve used to gently boost ‘presence’. This can be saved for later use on a whole album side or part of a track

Equalisation is also possible – again this is something to use sparingly. I have used all the click, hiss and EQ tools on one old favourite – a poor quality pressing of Richard Blackford’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This was compulsory Chirstmas morning listening in our household but we began to learn every click and vinyl swoosh – not next holidays!

The more you explore the filtering capabilities of Vinyl Studio the more you are rewarded with clean, musically satisifying tranfers but as my productivity shows you have to work hard to get the best results.

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