Recently we announced the release of this new audio restoration tool from the Plugin Alliance stable, the Accusonus ERA-D, which has been heralded as a serious player in the audio restoration sector. We have had time to get to grips with it and so we wanted to share our findings with you.
Accusonus ERA-D - Simple And Powerful In One Package
It would be fair to say from the outset that ERA-D is not a full restoration suite but neither is it a one trick pony. It is though, the first tool available that deals with noise and reverb together in one package. Yes there are tools that have denoising and dereverb modules in one suite, but Accusonus have designed ERA-D to handle both problems together. Although there appears to be two modules in ERA-D, in fact when you use them together, the modules are linked intelligently under the hood. In fact in researching this plug-in, there is a huge amount going on under the hood, which is why it is both simple and very powerful all in one package. It is available in AAX Native, AU, VST2 and VST3 formats so will work will all the host DAWs around.
4 Modes Of Operation
ERA-D has 2 interactive modules and 4 modes of operation.
- De-Noise: Signal passes through the de-noise engine only.
- De-Reverb: Signal passes through the de-reverberation engine only.
- Cascade: Signal passes through the de-noise and then the de-reverberation engines.
- Parallel: Signal passes through the de-noise and de-reverberation engines simultaneously. When parallel mode is selected, a fader appears to set the balance between noise and reverb suppression.
In addition there is a dual mode which provides separate analysis of two sources, such as two different microphones, for improved noise and/or reverb reduction.
ERA-D - Advanced Or Simple
There is an Advanced tab which offers more options for fine tuning...
- A noise time constant control, which affects the speed at which the algorithm adapts to noise changes.
- A processing time constant, which affects the general adaptation speed of the noise suppression engine in Dual Mode.
- Three flavours of noise reduction: A, B and C, which have different styles to them and in reality you should try each one for the material you are working on. They are NOT good, better and best.
- Separate reverb time constant controls for low and high frequencies affect the speed at which the algorithm adapts to reverb changes.
- Advanced Artifact Control.
4 Adjustable Frequency Bands
ERA-D is a 4 band restoration tool with Intensity and Range Controls. You can adjust the strength of processing with the intensity controls and Range controls act a little like Threshold controls. You can also link these controls together if you prefer.
On the monitoring side you can switch between Input, Output and Diff which enables you to listen to what ERA-D is removing. In addition you can listen to the Left and Right hand channels separately too.
Does It Work?
The simple answer is yes. One of the first things you realise with ERA-D is that there is no Learn button! It automatically analyses the incoming audio and creates appropriate noise and reverb profiles. You can also force it to reanalyse the audio by simply clicking on the Adapt button, and it is important to do that when you jump to another clip.
The simplicity and power and very compelling features of ERA-D. In simple mode it is easy to use and get good results quickly, although it would be fair to say that I didn't really get it to perform well until I had spent time with the manual and watched the tutorial videos on the Accusonus web site.
The other advice I would give, is to start with the closest preset to what you are trying to do. There are banks of presets for each mode, so you will save a lot of time starting with a good preset and then fine tuning it to your particular situation.
Some Test And Real World Examples
Below are some real world and test files where I have tried hard, within no more than a couple of minutes, to get the best result I could. Its quite possible that with more time I could get even better results especially as I get more experienced with the way ERA-D works.
Please note I have used WAV files for these clips so they may take a little time to load after you press the Play button. But I wanted you to hear what the plug-in is doing rather than any data compression artifacts from using mp3 encoding.
This is one of the first file I reach for when testing audio restoration software. Although it seems simple, speech with hiss, it is actually very testing of these kind of tools. When I first started with ERA-D it was OK but not as good as I would like and managing the artifacts was a challenge. Also one of the side effects I commonly get with this file is that the noise pumps up and down between the words. I worked with the 4 bands listening to each band to set the Intensity and Range controls for as much transparency as possible.
This is a clip from podcast 179 and on Julian's track there is some background noise and so this is a good example of a clip with low level noise on a close mixed recording. Here I started with the Camera Noise preset and then adjusted it from there.
This is a clip form a NAMM 2012 interview and when I first tried this clip with ERA-D I was very disappointed. Although it very successfully removed the hall rumble and air con noise, I was getting a lot of artifacts from the background chatter. However once I got better with ERA-D and started from an appropriate preset, I was able to get much better results more quickly.
This clip was from a DSLR camera and as you can hear from the original clip, it has buzz, noise and is a reverberant recording. So I went into the Joint set of presets and chose the Cascade - Advanced preset, as I knew this clip would be a challenge. I then went through and adjusted the Intensity and Range controls as well as the amount of demonising and dereverb processing to get this one to the standard you can hear in the processed version.
This is a clip from an interview with the contributor talking in a reverberant hall. I first tried using just the Dereverb module as there wasn't an obvious noise issue, until I heard it processed! There was some background noise which was giving the Dereverb module a hard time and so there are some artifacts. Once I added the Denoising module, I got an improved result with much less side effects.
There is no doubt that the ERA-D will take its place in my toolkit of audio restoration software. It won't replace any of them, but as we know in the audio restoration business, different tools work better on different files. So just as you might have a range of different screwdrivers of different types and sizes to cover any type of screw, so it is worth having different audio restoration software packages at your disposal to cover different types of problems.
The combination of self learning, as well as the Denoising and Dereverb modules working together, are inspired ideas. Together with the combination of 'simple and powerful' makes it easy to get good results quickly, although you should allow yourself time to get used to ERA-D before using it in anger.
The price of $299 for denoising and Dereverb is very competitive too and Accusonus have been very wise to come under the umbrella of Plugin Alliance to help them make as much or this clever and innovative plug-in as possible.