Waves Ltd.’s Native restoration plug-in bundle ($1,200) is so easy to learn and quick to apply that you will be looking for excuses to use it.
Product PointsApplications: Audio and video production studios; broadcast studios; home studios
X-Click and X-Crackle: Removes impulsive noise (pops/clicks/etc.)
X-Noise: Removes broadband noise (record surface noise/air conditioning noise/etc.)
X-Hum: Removes DC offset/rumble/hum and harmonically related hum components
Contact: Waves at 865-546-6115, Web Site
+ Fast learning curve
+ Easy to use
+ Extremely fast processing times
+ Very high quality sound
– Will not run on host software that uses older DirectX management such as Sound Forge 4.5
Native Restoration is available as a plug-in for either Mac (RTAS, AudioSuite, VST, MAS) or Windows (RTAS, AudioSuite, VST, DirectX under Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, XP). It can remove impulsive noise including the pops and clicks associated with phonograph records and broadband noise like record surface noise, air conditioning noise, etc.
X-Click removes larger pops and clicks, X-Crackle removes clicks and crackle and X-Noise removes broadband noise.
In addition, Waves has added X-Hum to reduce rumble, DC offset and hum. X-Hum contains two tools: a high-pass filter and eight notch filters that can be linked in a harmonic frequency structure to eliminate 60 cycle and similar hum problems.
Three things set this digital restoration software apart. First is the incredibly easy learning curve. I was able to begin without opening the reference manual at all (I recommend reading the manual to master the finer details).
Most digital restoration packages require a fairly lengthy learning curve. Waves has deliberately created simple on-screen displays with a minimum number of controls. For example, X-Click and X-Crackle have only two on-screen sliders: Threshold and Shape for X-Click and Threshold and Reduction for X-Crackle. And because all of the plug-ins can be previewed in real time, you can hear the effect each control has as it is adjusted. A few minutes of playing with the on-screen controls, and you will be able to adjust the parameters for maximum effect and minimum artifacts.
Speaking of artifacts, one of the thorniest problems in designing noise reduction software is the problem of artifacts created by noise reduction tools. These can create robot-like sounds, whistles, etc. as the amount of noise reduction is increased.
Waves X-Noise has fewer artifacts than any noise reduction software I have tested. At the same time, the resulting sound is high quality – virtually a mirror image of the original minus the original’s annoying analog noise.
Not only is Native Restoration easy to learn, but it is easy to apply. Most noise reduction software has a plethora of parameters that must be adjusted. Not so with X-Noise.
Like most broadband noise reduction software, X-Noise works by comparing the source to be denoised with a sample noise print created by isolating a portion of noise on the original recording. The process is fine-tuned by adjusting the threshold and the amount of reduction to be applied. In addition, the attack, release times and processing resolution can also be adjusted to better match the material being restored.
In most cases, only the threshold and reduction sliders will need to be adjusted. In a minute or less, you should be ready to process your sound file.
Incredibly, the actual process does not take much longer. I found that X-Click took less than a minute and a half to remove the pops and clicks from a 15-minute Long Play album, and less than another two minutes to remove the surface noise from the same album. Assuming a setup time of a minute or so, that works out to less than five minutes to digitally restore a 15-minute 44.1 kHz stereo WAV file.
That compares to 25 minutes, which the software I have been using took to process the same WAV file to a comparable degree. More importantly, the sound quality of the restored recording was of the highest order. The noise was gone, but all of the original brilliance, dynamics and even the subtle nuances of the original remained.
Let’s face it: time is money. Any time you can do a task five times as quickly as before, that is a quantum leap in productivity. And the 25 minutes required by my other software did not take into effect the five to 10 minutes required to adjust and test the noise reduction parameters.
Waves has waited a long time to wade into the digital restoration market, but now that it finally has, Native Restoration is certain to have an impact. If you have been putting off digital restoration because you did not have the time to master new software or to devote to a lengthy project, consider Waves’ Native Restoration package.
Windows 98 SE; Intel Pentium III 850 MHz processor; Digital Audio Labs CardD+ audio card; Sound Forge 6.0 Technics SP10-MK2 turntable; SME-3012R tonearm; Shure 500 cartridge; custom phono preamp; Mackie SR-24-4 VLZ Pro mixing console; AR-3A speakers