Todd-AO have released Absentia DX with an algorithm that is designed to analyze 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 plugin. 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, I started with a file where the screen had broken on the mic cable so there is plenty of hum. You can see the difference just looking at the Spectrogram as well as listening to it. In addition, I could have chosen to add the Broadband Reducer option as well, in which case Absentia DX would process the audio in two passes, removing the hum first and then the broadband noise.
Next up was a clip from a wedding, that has both some hum and noise, and is a more 'real-world' example. The broadband noise reduction is subtle and actually works better on these kinds of 'real-world' examples. This is where Absentia can come into its own, by processing most, if not all the location recordings. In fact, Todd-AO recommends Hum Remover in Smooth mode and Tick Remover for batch processing production sound files.
So what about the Tick Remover? So let's move to a scratched vinyl record. It didn’t remove all the vinyl clicks but it perhaps it was a little unrealistic to expect it to do that.
So what about a more real word example. I used a clip with some mouth clicks in it and Absentia DX again handled this much more 'real-world' file so much better.
Finally, I wanted to see how processing files that are already in a Pro Tools session would work.
Using a Pro Tools session where one of my clients had some archive audio with hum on it which she has already edited. The file was Clip 24 and only two smaller parts are in use in the final edit. Having processed the file with Absentia, having closed the session I swapped out the old Clip 24 file with the processed version and re-opened the session and all just fine. Pro Tools did not complain, the new file played and was so much better.
On working with Pro tools sessions Rob Nokes from Todd-AO told us...
Over the last 8 months I have had a lot of experience in testing original and abdx files, swapping between the two. I create a "copy of Audio Files" as a backup, and then process the "Audio Files" folder. If I come across some audio that needs investigation, I swap either all the files or just the one file. The safest way to swap is quit and restart. I have had success, swapping files and then redrawing the waveform, that seems to refresh the sound cache.
I have not upset Pro Tools so far with either of these methods. We have a large set of Production Sound Recordings for testing with varying types of sonic issues. For these we had a suffix on the tail to keep track of what version of the software was used on the test files. Before each release we run the new algorithm over our test files to make sure all is good with the new release.
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 the an assistant to setup and process. I have to say the Hum Remover is spectacular, and the Broadband Reducer and Tick Remover are great on normal audio that just needs a little cleaning up. 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 check out Absentia DX from Todd-AO.