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Old 2005-06-29, 08:01 PM
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tungarbulb tungarbulb is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
An urgent message about digital noise reduction

Iím glad I found Traderís Den. I wish Iíd found it 20 years ago. (I know that would have been impossible, but what the heck ). Just the same, I need to say something for the benefit of novice sound processors and ultimately the whole trading community.

So far I have downloaded two shows from here via torrent which contain very noticeable digital artifacts as a result of overzealous de-noising. These artifacts - which sound a lot like hearing dozens of wind chimes in the distant background (any sound pros and savvy tapers will know what Iím talking about) are WAY more annoying to listen to than the original analog tape hiss.

When I was getting started with digital sound processing, I too wanted to scrub my analog originals until they sounded like born-digital recordings. I found out the hard way that you canít do that. You end up killing the high end (something which digital de-noising was supposed to do away with) and introducing the digital janglies which Iíve described above. Listen to some very good commercial CD reissues of analog-source recordings, and youíll find that some tracks, even ones from major bands like the Stones, have just a touch of residual hiss in the background. The engineers who make their living restoring old tapes know that trading a smidgin of analog hiss for digital distortion, diminished frequency response and other artifacts is not the thing to do. Their equipment is probably a lot more sophisticated than anything we have too. If they canít make an old master tape sound perfectly noise-free, neither can we.

De-noising is a balancing act. The object is to find the point at which de-noising starts doing more harm than good. Think of it like planing a door to fit a particular doorway. If you very carefully shave off a little wood at a time, youíll eventually make the door fit properly. Shave off too much wood, and the door will be too small to close properly. Plane the door too fast, and you might gouge the wood. Your digital de-noiser should be set JUST at the point where noise is reduced to a tolerable level and no artifacts have surfaced. A good sound card, amp and headphones will help you a lot. (Most ďcomputer speakersĒ and built-in sound cards are not suitable for serious audio work, but you already know that.).

Keep the good stuff coming, guys. And I implore you once more, please donít try to make an old analog recording ďsound like a CDĒ.

Last edited by tungarbulb; 2005-06-29 at 08:14 PM.
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