Audio Miracles

  • Steve Puffenberger
  • Audio

Audio Miracles

Yes, we do noise reduction for old recordings?

Tick and Pop Removal on Vinyl and Lacquer Records

I've been challenged lately: are vinyl records really better than digital recordings?  In audiophile circles that's a loaded question, and you'll get all kinds of answers. In the end it's all in the listener's taste.

For me, I really like the crystal clear sound from a CD, absent of any surface noise or pops and ticks.  So I set about seeing if, with all these new tools from Adobe, I can make a scratched up old record sound like a CD.  While I've done it succcesfuly on several of my favorite records, to keep legal with copyright, here is a capture from the last remaining vinyl album from the music library to which I have license. This is the end of one song and the beginning of another with the inter-track groove played in full.

While you can hear the difference, what you can see really tells the story.The upper display in Adobe Audition shows you the waveform of the audio that was recorded in terms of amplitude (loudness), which is similar to what you would see on an oscilloscope.  The yellow and red heat map below is a frequency analysis of the signal, with lowest frequencies at the bottom and highest at the top.  The intensity of the sound at any frequency is illustrated by the brightness of the color, so the bright yellow is quite loud, and the light purple is very quiet.

You can clearly see (and hear) the ticks of a scratch on the record during the "before" interlude, and you can see the red of the lower frequencies which indicates some system hum and turntable rumble. The purple "cloud" during the between-track band is just plain surface noise - the sound the vinyl makes as the stylus tracks over it, which is there all the time, but masked by the sound. Turn up the volume and you'll hear it quite clearly.

After running our "secret sauce" of noise reduction steps, you can see all the surface noise is gone, along with the turntable rumble and systsem noise.  All that is left is a little bit of the tick that was very sub-audible - you might be able to feel it if you were touching the woofer. Now we can't guarantee perfection on all transfers with noise reduction. Ticks and pops are one thing, but if the record groove is worn and the sound distorted, the distortion artifacts will remain in the transfer.

Can noise be removed from tapes?

Well that works on records, will it work on tape?  Absolutely! If the recording was properly made, with good signal levels, we can significantly reduce, and in most cases eliminate the dreaded tape hiss, resulting in a very clean, CD-like sound.  But if the tape hiss is as loud or louder than the voices on the tape,  or if there is really heavy background or mechanical noise that, again, is louder than the signal, noise reduction can create some odd-sounding artifacts, but spoken words can be made understandable.

So when you request a transfer, request noise reduction and we'll make your recordings sound as close as they can to CD quality!

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