Over the last decade realtime noise reduction plug-ins have year on year become more and more powerful. Many of the most popular plug-ins within this category have been developed to such high standards they provide us clean & transparent, for want of a better word, “unartificial” results. The high quality of noise reduction these days is not the only thing we should be celebrating, noise reduction plug-ins have also become simpler and faster to use.
Audio post production professionals rely heavily on noise reduction plug-ins. Budget are tighter than ever these days with work having to be turned around quickly. Post production engineers demand great sounding noise reduction plug-ins which also work fast, but which noise reductions plug-ins are best?
Our Test Of The Best Noise Reduction Plug-ins You Can Buy Today
We have featured a number of noise reduction plug-ins over the years in articles and videos for The Production Expert Community. In this blind listening test we feature what we consider to be 4 commonly used real-time noise reduction plug-ins available today. Each plug-in featured in this test used the same poorly recorded source audio clip, which was recorded using a dynamic microphone positioned at a distance of 3 inches from the voice with the mic preamp gain set to maximum to compensate for the low output from the mic.
We feel this audio clip represents a fairly typical example of a poorly recorded dialog track that employed rather desperate measures in getting a half decent recording level, including a plosive, which also can come from poorly recorded voice over tracks. Each plug-in produced two passes:
Gentle noise reduction: Each plug-in was set to around 50% reduction (which was roughly the default setting for each plug-in). The aim was to reduce the sound of the hiss and avoid possible artefacts
Aggressive noise reduction: The second example for each was set to a far greater value of reduction in the aim of eliminating the hiss completely regardless of artefacts.
In The Interests Of Fairness
Obviously, each of the plug-ins we used in this test is different in design. There was no way to be able to set each plug-in to a fair “50% value” of reduction so we used our ears and judgement in setting each plug-in to sound as close a possible in terms of reduction.
Where possible we used the “Learn” or “Listen” modes in each plug-in to capture the noise profile.
No fine tuning was applied. We only used common noise reduction controls that each of the plug-featured such as threshold and amount/reduction controls. We spent around 10 seconds setting each plug-in.
Noise Reduction Plug-ins Used In This Test
Accusonus ERA Noise Remover (Formally known as ERA-N)
Acon Digital De-Noise (Part of Acon Digital’s Restoration Suite)
iZotope Voice DeNoiser (Part of iZotope RX Bundles)
The order in which the plug-ins are listed above bear no resemblance to the order of the audio examples listed below in this blind listening test:
We have produced a .zip download containing all the examples in this test in WAV to enable you to easily compare the audio files in the comfort of your own DAW - Download Noise Reduction Examples. Please note, the link may say “We're sorry, this file type is not currently supported.”, please ignore this warning and click Download to download the audio examples.
Which Of The De-Noise Examples Do You Prefer?
From the 4 noise reduction examples, which do you prefer the sound of the most? Which set do you feel performed the best in both gentle and aggressive noise reduction? Vote below:
In the coming weeks we will publish the results from this test and we will also reveal the plug-in names. Make a note of the example you voted for!