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So, folks, what's the dirt on contemporary noise reduction for things like hiss, hum, and background drone noise? Are folks still using DINR, third-party plug-ins, artful gating?

Avid DiNR

My two cents is that different algorithms are good for different things, and I've had good results with SoundSoap and even Soundtrack Pro, but for specific things and certain circumstances. Certainly haven't found the One NR Ring to rule them all.

Bias SoundSoap

Howzabout y'all?

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16 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I stand by my iZotope RX suite. Love it for hum, hiss, noise floor reduction, etc... as I said in my post on the "Secret Software Weapon" thread, I've also used the spectral repair to take audience coughing, etc out of live music recordings and all. Also very useful to reduce the crackling of distortion / clipping.

iZotope RX

I have DINR, Soundsoap pro, and the Waves Restoration suite as well. DINR is pretty decent, don't use it too much though. Soundsoap Pro hasn't ever yeilded any results I've been happy with. The Waves Restoration suite is pretty nice. Great for basic noise floor reduction and hum removal. None of these are as powerful as the RX suite though.

Waves Restoration

Above all though, nothing has ever come close to comparing with the Cedar Audio unit (DNS 1500) on the Dubbing Stage. Ridiculous. Absolutely amazing real-time noise reduction (latency is only about 1/400th of a frame!)

Cedar Audio DNS 1500

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I have been lucky enough to have used almost every product in the arsenal and there is no one-stop noise removal tool in my opinion.

Izotope RX is probably the best bang for the buck. The stand alone version is absolutely amazing though the plugin-in version is not as powerful and requires an extreme amount of DSP.

Waves Restoration is very powerful as both plug-ins and an audio-suite application. When I have a large project with a large amount of pops and clicks I revert to insert versions of X-Click and X-Noise.

The king of ambiance/dialogue cleanup for years has been the Ceder DNS, which is extremely powerful and efficient in DSP usage as it is an external box, which is probably also its greatest weakness as you cannot use it unless you have an interface that can handle AES in/outs.

The new Waves DNS plug-in is in my opinion 95% as powerful as the Ceder box but does not require external processing and can be used on as many tracks as you like, where the Ceder is limited to an AES pair.

I personally own Waves Restoration and Izotop RX. Though next year when I upgrade my Waves and grab the DNS plug I will rely mostly on the Waves plug-ins and sell my RX...

As always, my 2-cents,

Nick

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Once i've killed all the noise i can with eq and RX/NoNoise/(your broadband noise reduction of choice), i like to run it through Waves C4 (set to multiband noise reduction). Whether you tune it to individual scenes with automation or set a general expansion setting, it does a great job of wiping out what's left.

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You're definitely right when you say that different tools work for different things - always good to have a handful at your disposal!

In addition to some carefully drawn volume automation, I handle a lot of hiss using the Waves C1 plug.

iZotope RX is also worthwhile for hum, hiss, etc - and at $350 or so for the basic bundle, it's a great deal! Their spectral repair plug is amazing as well - a must-have.

Additionally, Sony Oxford makes some good NR plugs - their old de-click is amazing, and I've also had some good results with their de-buzz...

Word is that Cedar is releasing their DNS-One plug-in in the next month or two - should be amazing!

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Also a mega fan of iZotope RX Suite! Especially the spectral repair, it's an amazing tool for getting rid of unwanted sounds within your clip (such as the squeak of a chair over your dialogue).

I only tried the demo and that was a while back, but the Wave Arts Master Restoration Suite is also quite a good one. It's quick and easy to use.

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I've been using Waves WNS lately, but I really try not to use any NR if I can help it. I prefer to use editing and EQ to fix problems. I'll use WNS or the other Waves NR plugins as a last resort.

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For quick cleanup, I've had great success with Adobe Audition 3.0. I don't mix in it, but it's great for bouncing clips out for cleanup. Has a great set of tools that include hiss reduction, noise reduction, ANR, spectral spot healing, iZotope time stretch, all for a good price. I believe the ANR tool is a dumbed down version of something from RX, but don't quote me on that.

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Just purchased iZotope RX and have to say that for the price this software is simply amazing. Would recommend it to anyone. A+

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Wow, doesn't anyone remember the Dolby Cat 43? I just picked up the components on Ebay for a couple of hundred bucks, and it was the workhorse of the industry in its day. I'd love to hear from someone who could compare the Cat with the Izotope.

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Before my time. Anyone know of any links anywhere as a quick Google search and a hoke around dolby.com didn't reveal anything. –  ianjpalmer Aug 17 '10 at 8:26
    
The Dolby Cat 43 was an adaptation of their pro "type A" noise reduction circuitry to single-ended noise reduction. It was targeted at cleaning up dialog tracks in film sound production and was fairly effective at that. Trying to use it for general purpose noise reduction on mixed program will probably give results much inferior to the better digital noise reduction suites available now. We are talking about analog circuitry dating from the 1960's after all. Comparing Dolby Cat 43 to Izotope RX2 is apples and oranges--RX2 is a very good digital noise reduction suite. –  Robert Auld Dec 25 '12 at 7:54
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A few years back, I was adviced to check out the Behringer denoising hardware uni.

alt text

I was a bit sceptical to say the least, but figured that it wouldnt hurt to try it out, when I found a used model for about $50. I was blown away by the fact that it works very very well. I know that the name makes alot of peoples skin crawl, but this thing does what its meant to do, and does it really well! I have removed noise (hum, clicks, buzz, backgrounds, reverb) with this thing with great results, and without getting those artifacts that plugs often bring.

Mikkel

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@Mikkel Nielsen I'm tempted to buy one for so cheap. Ebay has a ton right now. Is it good for mono voice recordings in noisy environments? Tape hiss? –  Utopia Jul 14 '10 at 18:04
    
I think you can get great results with this, in almost any case. If you want to, you can send me a noisy file and I can send it through the unit, and send it back to you. How does that sound? Send it at gimaudio[at]gmail.com –  Mikkel Nielsen Jul 15 '10 at 7:34
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I love Wave Arts' products as an inexpensive option. In addition to the Master Restoration suite, I've also purchased the Power Suite 5, which includes a multiband compressor that works wonders on certain types of noise. I picked up that tip from the Digi User Conference about a year ago. Also, if you buy one suite, the other products become HEAVILY discounted. I got the MR Suite for $150 after purchasing the PS5.

I also have DINR. I also never use it.

My first major software purchase was BIAS SoundSoap Pro. In my opinion, the value of the $100 update to SoundSoap Pro 2 was negligible, and I've gotten really tired of the artifacts I get with BIAS if I lean on it at all. I wrote customer support about how lousy I thought the gate on it was, and they offered to teach me how to use it. Maybe I am a knucklehead, but I've never been happy with the results with this product--especially at the sticker price. I might have them "teach" me using one of my problematic files before trying to sell it to see if there is a magic button I am missing.

Next project I have that Wave Arts doesn't help, I will probably purchase Izotope RX. I am using NR specifically to clean up noisy backgrounds in dialog tracks. In the low/no budget indie film and run and gun commercial video markets, an experienced production sound recordist is a rare thing (at least in Portland, OR), so noise reduction is a HUGE part of my freelance work. If you start showing people you can salvage footage without ADR sessions, it definitely brings more work and goodwill your way.

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My personal experience wasn't so hot with the WaveArts MD5. For me it was more an alogrithm problem than a noise reduction 'style' problem. Actually, I lost the license somewhere and haven't even missed it. It functions quite similar in nature to the Waves C4 and CEDAR, utilizing multi-band expansion as one of its tenants. I found the MD5 to be be very unforgiving and rough like an mp3, where the C4 is generally more forgiving even under a heavy load and has a smoothing, rounder, and punchier character - especially in Opto. That one may be worth checking out for comparison. –  Stavrosound Mar 29 '12 at 9:18
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I just got an email today from Waves showing their new NR plugin, the W43.

Intrigued to see what the consensus is as it's rather cheap at $300/€260/£200. Sadly I've not got time at the moment or I'd download a demo and have a look. Would love to hear if anyone does have a go, especially compared to Cedar's DNSOne or Waves WNS.

Ian

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+1000 for Izotope RX.

But I've got surprising results with the Wave Arts Master Restoration Suite. It sounds 'smoother' and with fewer artifacts especially with broad band noise. I use RX only in extreme conditions (read: spectral repair).

But usually a mix of different noise reduction plugins in different percentages works the best.

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The first noise reduction suite I had experience with was Sound Forge Noise Reduction. Version 1 was pretty lame. Version 2 was much better, quite useable (I still turn to the declicker for problematic clicks occasionally) and I reviewed it for Recording magazine.

Subsequently I got the Waves Restoration Suite, and I have used it a lot for various noise reduction tasks. It offers better fidelity than SFNR with some limitations--the declicker seems optimized for vinyl and cannot handle big clicks for example.

Recently I got iZotope RX2 (the basic version), and I have been exploring its capabilities. Spectral repair, of course, is something new and I find its ability to deal with discrete sound events within the overall sound picture to be fascinating. The other tools--broadband noise reduction, declick and decrackle, hum removal, a nice parametric EQ, all seem to work very well. For the price, the basic version of RX2 offers a lot of bang for the buck.

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There's quite a few options out there: WaveArts MD5, Waves C4/C6, Waves X-Noise, Waves Z-Noise, Waves WNS, Waves W43, CEDAR DNS(1000,1500,2000), Cedar DNS One, Dolby Cat .43, Sonic Solutions NoNoise, BIAS Soundsoap, Algorithmix reNOVAtor, iZotope RX, DINR, Zynaptiq Unveil - and probably a host of others.

Noise suppression is a dark art, in that most of the time 'we're shooting into the dark' as to which tool or combination of tools to use under varying circumstances. The price ranges of these vary (from $100-$7500), as do their alogrithm basis (some are FFT, some Spectral, some Expansion), and depending upon what you throw at each one, each will provide varying degrees of success or failure. And that's where it becomes an art - figuring out the high points of them and playing to your strengths.

My personal favorite is the CEDAR DNS, it's quite amazing, but on a regular basis the Waves C4 is my workhorse - and it's quite soft on the wallet while being a pretty good catch-all for most broadband noise problems without creating digital artifacting weirdness

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CEDAR DNS is also my favourite, but I don't often have access to it, so I use Izotope RX2 which is excellent for the cost (£185).

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