As a professional studio engineer, it’s not unusual, albeit a little frustrating, to receive audio recordings which are by no means up to scratch. From clipping and background noise through to inconsistent recordings, there’s a whole host of ways in which supplied audio can be initially rendered unusable. Previously, this meant that the only option was to re-record, however with thanks to technological and software advances and developments, here at Matinée Multilingual, we are now in a position to, in many cases, repair and enhance these otherwise useless tracks. We asked one of our studio engineers, Adam, to offer a little more information on the new found possibilities.
Clipped audio issues
From time to time, we receive audio which has clipped when recorded, caused when the audio level of the signal has been set too high. When this happens, the transients of the audio signal are cut off, which causes unpleasant sounding distortion. Whilst this can differ in severity, historically, clipping of any extent has prevented an audio track being used in any professional application. Previously, there was no way to recreate or repair the signal lost to clipping and it was almost impossible to eliminate the distortion and make the audio useable. That is, until now.
Here, you can hear the distortion caused by clipping on an audio track. Utilising software available to the engineers in our studios, we are now able to almost completely remove this, turning a previously unusable track into something which, in most instances, can be utilised. An example can be heard on this recording.
We previously showcased a comparison of audio before and after a professional edit in our ‘Hear The Difference…’ post and, in many instances, it’s unwanted noise which is one of the main issues highlighted pre-edit. Both background noise (as an example, an artist rustling a script) and interference can create problems on an audio track, making an otherwise perfect take useless.
As an example, please have a listen to this track where mobile phone interference can be heard throughout.
We are able to find isolated sections of interference and noise, and highlight as a reference, the software then finds any similar instances and removes them from the audio signal. Here is the above track after the edit.
In a second example, imagine an interview which has been recorded in a busy office and when listening back to the audio, ambience can be heard in the background. Using the same software, we were able to distinguish between the noisy elements (the office ambience) and the tonal elements of the recording (the speaking voice) and remove this from the signal. The track following processing can be heard here.
For many years, the sound recording industry has been faced with the inconvenience of re-recording tracks plagued with clipping, noise and interference, often causing projects to miss deadlines and run over budget. Through recent software releases, however, we are now in a position to be able to fix many recordings, which previously couldn’t have been used.
Our software offers us the opportunity to visually edit audio with a spectral repair tool, either manually or automatically using a number of selection tools available. Combined with the ability to see a spectrographic representation of an audio waveform, we are easily able to distinguish any unwanted audio frequencies, highlight them and reduce them in volume.
Project deadlines and turnaround times are something which can often dictate approaches used but by having available a solution to repair and enhance problematic recordings quickly, efficiently and accurately, we are able to offer a solution where others may not be able to.