Audio restoration software are tools that in theory, we should never need. After all, we all record audio at the correct level in ideal locations, without any technical defects or any other outside influences. But in this real world, we live in we are presented with a wide range of audio that is recorded too high and so is distorted or recorded too low so that when we boost it is noisy. We end up with location recording with noises that we don't want or spill from adjacent sources. Maybe it was too windy, or the mic was rubbing on the person's clothing. These are just some of the issues we turn to audio restoration software to help us resolve.
In this list, we highlight 7 powerful audio restoration software packages, some stand-alone, some plug-ins and some that offer both options that we think you should try in your next mix.
Our experience has also shown that it is sometimes worth having more than one of thse in your tool kit becasue they all work differently and so for one audio example one of these will do a better job than another, and on a different audio example another one will do the best job.
iZotope RX 6
Trusted by the top audio pros around the world, RX is built on years of extensive research in advanced digital signal processing and machine learning. RX 6 features cutting-edge technologies for post production like lav mic de-rustle, dialogue isolation, and intermittent low-end wind rumble removal. It also introduces creative approaches to age-old music recording problems like microphone bleed, sibilance, mouth clicks, and breaths. With version 6, RX advances to the next level of audio repair that once seemed impossible with modules that can handle wind, mic rustle and remove the bleed from unwanted sounds. Check out Mike's review of iZotope RX 6, and find out why 'Mr RX It' was so impressed that he gave it Editors Choice for the first time.
Back in April last year iZotope released RX6 Standard and RX6 Advanced and also added a new product, RX Elements which replaced the RX Plugin Pack and includes the RX 6 Standalone Editor application as well as the plug-ins that were in the RX Plugin Pack. iZotope have been able to bring the latest machine learning technologies to bear on some of the previously impossible audio repair problems including mic rustle, wind noise, and lifting dialogue out of noisy backgrounds.
What Do I Think About RX6
Working mainly in audio post-production, for me the De-rustle, De-wind and Dialogue Isolate are incredible. I had to clean up a video of a baptism on a beach that was originally recorded on a VHS camcorder and then transferred onto DVD with the low frequencies filtered off but there was still some higher frequency wind noise left. I thought that De-wind wouldn’t be able to fix it, but it did! The dialogue was also embedded in a lot of background noise and instead of de-noising it, I just ran it through Dialogue Isolate, job done!
Moving onto the music based tools, it's great to see iZotope adding some more music-focused tools to RX6 and adding them straight into RX6 Standard too. The De-bleed module has to be the stand-out module here, I have had to deal with click bleed in the past especially with larger orchestral recordings and it was hard work. De-bleed does it straight away.
The new features in both RX6 Standard and RX6 Advanced are amazing and the addition of RX Elements for the same price as the RX Plugin Pack was is also a very smart move and so I am awarding iZotope's RX6 Editors Choice.
iZotope RX6 Pricing
- RX Elements - $129
- RX6 Standard - $399
- RX6 Advanced - $1199
Todd-AO has released Absentia DX with an algorithm that is designed to analyse production dialog recordings and then remove obvious hums, wireless rings, and ticks while maintaining the integrity of the human voice. Absentia DX is a completely different take on cleaning up audio.
The first difference is that this is a stand-alone application, it's not a plug-in. You can simply drag and drop files and folders onto the app and depending on the settings, it will process the audio accordingly and either replace the original files or put them in a folder.
Another key feature is that it can process files and not modify the metadata which is great news for Pro Tools users.
Back to the tools, and the Hum Remover can work in two modes, either Strong or Smooth. The Broadband Reducer is designed to provide modest removal or broadband noise. Finally, the Tick Remover designed to remove ticks when dialog is absent. In this review, Mike takes it for a test drive.
This is a very clever application that is great for batch processing complete folders of production sound, it's the sort of job you could hand off to an assistant to setup and process. I have to say the Hum Remover is spectacular, and the Broadband Reducer and Tick Remover are great for normal audio that just needs a little cleaning up.
This latest video, which has just been released, is about a recently added feature is Doppler Remover which is demonstrated in this video to remove the whistle and hum of a background plane.
The price is amazing just $49, so if you regularly have production sound coming in that needs a little work doing on it then you should this check out.
Accusonus ERA Range
Accusonus has 3 audio restoration tools in its range.
- ERA-D is aimed at post-production professionals and dialogue editors that need a fast route to audio denoising and dereverberation. ERA-D focuses on just 2 things, noise suppression & de-reverberating.
- ERA-N Denoise - With this the user can reduce and remove unwanted fans, air-conditioners or other background noise with the turn of a single knob. Based on the multi-patented Accusonus noise suppression algorithms found in ERA-D, ERA-N simply works and allows for efficient removal of the most common noise sources.
- ERA-R Dereverberation - Accosonus claim that this is the only plug-in on the market today that removes excessive reverb from audio with a single knob.
What Is ERA-D?
ERA-D suppresses both noise and reverb. The denoise module is a fully adaptive processor so there is no need for users to set a learn feature for noise-profiling. Both denoise and dereverberation engines can be used in mono, stereo or dual mode. ERA-D features a very useful four band control that enables users to further hone in on areas that require finer processing.
Check out Mike's detailed review of the Accusonus ERA-D with plenty of examples too.
In this free tutorial, you will learn how to clean up a poorly recorded dialogue track using the noise and reverb suppression plug-in ERA-D by Accusonus. Watch this tutorial to learn the controls and to see how easy it is to transform a poorly recorded dialogue track into a really usable audio clip in a matter of seconds.
In this video review, Dan Cooper takes a look at ERA-N, a new straight-forward one knob noise suppression/denoiser plug-in by Accusonus. Watch the video to hear how ERA-N handles denoising tasks across 4 very different audio examples.
In this video review, Dan Cooper takes a look at a new one knob dereverberation plug-in called ERA-R by Accusonus. ERA-R is a very powerful plug-in for cleaning up reverberant dialogue. Users can simply turn down excessive reverberation in real-time with the use of the single ERA one knob control in the middle of the GUI.
|ERA Product Comparison Chart|
|Denoise||Single channel algorithm||Yes||Yes|
|Single Knob Control||Yes||Yes|
|Dereverberation||Single channel algorithm||Yes||Yes|
|Single Knob Control||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced||Dual Channel Mode||Yes|
|Joint Processing Engine||Yes|
|Signal flow control||Yes|
|Spectral Band Processing with 2 controls||Yes|
|Spectrum analysis of input/output/noise/reverb estimations||Yes|
|Advanced settings for all algorithms||Yes|
- Mac OS
- Version 10.9.0 or later
- Formats: AU (32/64 bit), VST (32/64 bit), VST3 (32/64 bit), AAX Native (64 bit), RTAS (32 bit)
- Note that currently Wavelab, Audition and Soundforge are not supported on Mac systems.
- Version 7 SP1 or later (32/64 bit)
- Formats: VST (32/64 bit), VST3 (32/64 bit), AAX Native (64 bit), RTAS (32 bit)
- Note that currently Audacity is not supported on Windows systems.
- ERA-N is priced at $59.
- ERA-R is priced at $59.
- ERA-D is priced at $299
Learn more about the Accusonus ERA range.
Acon Digital Restoration Suite
This consists of four tools for audio restoration work – DeNoise, DeHum, DeClick and DeClip. Version 1.7 added support for multi-channel formats such as 5.1 and 7.1 channel surround as well as support for the VST3 plug-in standard.
- DeNoise is a plug-in designed to reduce stationary noise, such as broadband noise, hiss, wind noise, buzz and camera noise. Great efforts have been put into preserving as much of the original signal as possible during the noise reduction process. As a result, DeNoise can reduce or in many cases completely remove the noise in a very transparent manner without loss of transients, attacks or “air” in the recording.
- DeHum targets hum and buzz typically introduced by poorly grounded electrical equipment, but also other tonal noise sources like electrical motor noise.
- DeClick is designed to remove impulsive noise such as clicks, crackle, plosives and thumps. These distortions are frequently encountered on LP and 78 RPM records, but also occur in digital recordings when recording voice without pop shield or due to drop-outs or distorted data packets.
- DeClip restores audio recordings distorted by analog or digital clipping.
Acon Digital Restoration Suite is available for both Windows (PC) and OS X (Macintosh) for $99.90 and supports these plug-in formats - AAX, VST, VST3, and AU (OS X only) and is supported on Mac OS X 10.7 and above and Windows, 7, 8 and 10.
Brusfri is a relatively new audio noise reduction plug-in that has been designed to have a simple and straight-forward interface. It is very well suited for cleaning up noisy audio recordings, whilst retaining sound quality. The manufacturers claim that unlike many other noise reducers on the market, Brusfri doesn’t mess with audio phasing to suppress noise (a technique that often comes with audible side effects). Instead, multiple fine-tuned gates are used to silence unwanted noise. In case you are curious, Brusfri means ”Noise free” in Swedish.
The way it has been designed to work is to select and hold LEARN for a second, whilst playing the unwanted noise, to create a noise profile. You need to make sure only to feed the plug-in with isolated noise when it’s learning what is noise, since it will use it to create a noise profile. Most of the time, using LEARN is all that is needed, but there is also a handful of parameters to fine-tune the reduction id needed.
Brusfri Compatibility And Price
- AAX version, compatible with Pro Tools on Mac & Windows
- Audio Units version, compatible with most Mac OS X DAW’s
- VST & VST3 version, compatible with most Mac & Windows DAW’
- System requirements: Mac OS X 10.7+ / Windows 7+ with SP1 or higher
- Price $59.99
Sonnox Restore is a suite of three plug-ins designed for audio restoration. It's advanced algorithms and novel features are designed to allow fast and extremely effective removal of pops, clicks, crackles, scratches, hum, buzzes and background noise from virtually any recording without damaging the important 'wanted' audio content.
With their interfaces, Sonnox Restore's plug-ins are designed to be quick and easy to use. The DeClicker has a dialogue mode and 'exclude box' for retaining wanted audio; the DeBuzzer has 3 frequency ranges and real-time tracking for wandering problem frequencies and the DeNoiser with its independent de-hisser offers powerful real-time broadband noise reduction.
The DeNoiser Plug-In with its integrated de-hisser delivers broadband noise reduction in real time. The process is based on a continual analysis of the input signal in order to build a noise profile. Alternatively, you can use Freeze Mode to sample a section of audio containing just target noise. Sonnox acknowledges the delicate balance between removing noise and retaining the character of your original recording, so have added a Warmth control to return some richness and added a DIFF function to audition only the removed noise.
This has been created for fast and effective removal of buzz, hum, whine and whistles. You use the intuitive display to help isolate the fundamental frequency – it constantly gives feedback on the top contenders – or you can define it manually with the help of a tone generator. If the fundamental wanders, the default Auto Tracking Mode is designed to follow it in real time. The harmonics of your problem fundamental frequency will also be tracked. All that remains is to engage the default comb filter or the optional parametric EQ, and then fine-tune the content that’s removed using DIFF auditioning.
Declicker has been designed to remove pops, clicks and crackle using three discrete sections. Each has a threshold and sensitivity control to define the number of events that are detected and removed. The unique Events Graph shows the level and duration of each pop, click and crackle as it’s detected in three separate colour-coded groups. Sometimes there will be events detected that represent audio you want to keep rather than remove. So Sonnox has built the Exclude Box to refine the number of repaired events, and also Dialogue Mode for independent control over speech in the programme.
Sonnox Restore Compatibility And Pricing
- Pro Tools
- Pro Tools 10.3.8, 11.3.2, 12 – AAX Native
- Pro Tools 7, 8, 9, 10 – RTAS
- Approved Pro Tools CPU, OS and hardware configuration
- Legacy RTAS support for OS X 10.4.11 – 10.6.8 & Windows XP
- iLok USB device with latest drivers
- iLok2 / iLok3 required for AAX plug-ins
- Audio Units
- Audio Units-compatible application (Logic, Digital Performer etc.)
- Mac OS X 10.6.8 – 10.12
- Legacy 32-bit support for OS X 10.4.11 – 10.6.8
- Bundle price
- £393.75 GBP
- $575.06 USD
- €465,98 EUR
Cedar Studio 7
Available as a range of AAX and VST plug-ins for the Mac and PC as well as a standalone version of Retouch 7, Cedar Studio 7 is made up of processes designed to eliminate a wide range of common problems and significantly improve the sound quality of your audio. Each CEDAR Studio 7 process has been derived from our multi-award-winning CEDAR Cambridge flagship, and provide results, quickly, and with the minimum of fuss and user intervention.
Cedar Studio Auto Dehiss - Cedar claim that many plug-in dehissers are prone to side-effects known as twittering and glugging. Cedar has designed Auto Dehiss with a more advanced algorithm that enables the software to determine the broadband noise content and remove it without the introduction of unwanted side-effects or artefacts. A manual mode is also offered for fine-tuning the results when wanted.
Cedar Studio Debuzz - Buzzes and hums can creep into the highest quality recordings and live audio, and so Cedar has developed DeBuzz to eliminate them quickly and easily. This simple process is designed to remove unwanted signal components across the entire audio spectrum and is capable of removing all manner of buzzes and hums with fundamentals as high as 500Hz. Debuzz will also track wandering tones and, unlike traditional filters, can successfully restore your audio without unwanted side-effects such as limited bandwidth or the hollow sound introduced by comb filters.
Cedar Studio Declick - Declick has been created with better impulsive noise detection and a better interpolator than any previous declicker available as a plug-in. Cedar claim this results in superior performance across a wider range of material than ever before. They suggest that this performance is so good that, in most cases, it's not possible to hear that the signal was damaged prior to restoration.
Cedar Studio Declip - Cedar Studio Declip has a declipping algorithm, which has been developed to allow you to identify and remove most instances of clipping in a single operation. Cedar claim that you will be amazed at how effortlessly it removes clipped samples and reconstructs the original signal, improving clarity, reducing or even eliminating distortion, and restoring the original dynamic range of the damaged audio. Two processing modes are provided and these allow you to choose between an algorithm optimised for light clipping, and one optimised for heavy amounts of clipping.
Cedar Studio Decrackle - Based upon the technology that underpinned the renowned CEDAR CR-1, Decrackle has been created to be able to dig into a damaged signal to identify and remove all manner of ground-in and grungy crackle without damaging the wanted audio. It also removes many forms of buzz and some amplitude distortions from material as diverse as cylinder recordings and current broadcasts contaminated with lighting buzz.
Cedar Studio DNS One - Arguably the modern standard for dialogue noise suppression in film and TV studios, on location, in newsrooms and for sporting events worldwide, DNS One with LEARN has been developed to offer the same Academy Award winning noise suppression as its illustrious siblings the DNS1000, DNS1500, DNS2000 and DNS3000. In the words of one member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, DNS was "probably used on every major movie coming out of Hollywood in the past couple of years", and can now be found on virtually all dubbing stages worldwide.
Cedar Studio Retouch 7 - Retouch 7 has been created to enable you to define the temporal and spectral content of the sound that you want to manipulate. You are not limited to simple definitions of complex sounds: Retouch 7 allows you to mark complex areas in its spectrogram using the types of tools commonly found in photographic and image manipulation software. Once identified, sounds can be manipulated using modes including Interpolation (to suppress or remove them seamlessly) as well as Copy, Patch, and Delete modes, a Volume mode that allows you to listen to just the marked sounds (or everything but the marked audio) plus new Cleanse and Revert modes.
The other module is an Adaptive Limiter but that is outside the scope of this article but was included in Mike's earlier review of the Cedar Studio suite of tools which included the DNS One, DeBuzz, DeClip and Adaptive Limiter 2 plug-ins.
This suite of tools does come at a price. The Cedar Studio 7 might be the most expensive audio plug-ins around. Each component is sold individually for $2,929 except for the DNS One dialogue noise suppressor, which is $3,840. The entire bundle works out at $11,017.
Learn more about Cedar Audio Studio 7.
These are 9 very powerful audio restoration products that all do a great job. Which ones do you use? Let us know in the comments below...