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Author Topic: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way  (Read 19010 times)

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Offline voltronic

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Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« on: June 25, 2013, 04:45:44 PM »
Maybe others know this already, but I just discovered a way to easily reduce the level of close-to-rig clapping without much impact to the surrounding music, making normalization easier and/or the clapping less obtrusive.

I'm a school music teacher, and most of what I record are student concerts.  I make edited CDs of every performance so that we can share the concert recordings with our students. The most difficult process for me during mastering has always been dealing with clapping from the audience when I go to normalize the overall level.  Since there are frequently people clapping along to the music and/or applauding very close to the mics, the claps are very high in level relative to the music.  This leaves little room to raise the overall level without resorting to significant compression, which I try to avoid for acoustic performances.  The fact that I'm currently using the built-in omnis on my M10 does not help things (but CA14c's are on the way soon!)

Previously I would manually attenuate the applause between songs and/or edit the loudest claps individually, and then normalize.  This accomplished the goal of raising the overall music level, but my edits were always very obvious and unnatural sounding.  Today I was reading up on click/pop removal for vinyl transfer, and thought it might apply to this situation.  The results were dramatically more natural sounding, and this process takes a fraction of the time.   This would have saved me hours editing this year's concerts.  :facepalm:

I tried this first in Izotope RX2, then again in Audacity.  No suprise that RX2 gave me superior sounding results but you can similar results in Audacity also.  Here's my process for both programs:

In Audacity:

1. Select area to remove clapping
2. Effect > Click Removal
3. Start with the following settings and adjust by ear:
   Threshold: 200
   Max Spike Width: 10

Or if you have RX2:

1. Select area to remove clapping
2. Open DECLICK & DECRACKLE module
3. Set preset to "Vinly record" (which enables the Random Clicks algorithm - you could do the same thing manually but this preset sounded great to me)
4. Preview as normal, and double-check previewing with "output clicks only" to ensure music transients aren't being grabbed by the processing
5. Make sure "output clicks only" is unchecked before processing.

I've linked a folder with audio samples as well as screenshots from Audacity and RX2.  File names will tell you what was what as far as processing.  The performance is an elementary school jazz band playing the end of "Jump, Jive, and Wail".  You'll hear the audience start clapping along to the beat, then it immediately goes into applause.  The M10 is on a camera tripod in the front row of the audience, almost dead center about 20' back from the band.  And yes, this is in a CafeGymAtorium with loud HVAC.  Let me know what you think of the results.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/j92ewqoy2kpu7zd/d6gE5C_hjz
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Offline Phil Zone

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 09:22:55 PM »
That's a great idea, thanks!
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Marshall7

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 04:17:04 AM »
I'll certainly be giving this a try.  Thanks.

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2013, 04:17:06 PM »
I've been using click removal in Audacity for just this purpose and have been happy with the results.  I appreciate the additional guidance on threshold and spike, though.  +t!
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Offline candor

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2013, 12:41:39 AM »
Maybe others know this already, but I just discovered a way to easily reduce the level of close-to-rig clapping without much impact to the surrounding music, making normalization easier and/or the clapping less obtrusive.

snip

Previously I would manually attenuate the applause between songs and/or edit the loudest claps individually, and then normalize.  This accomplished the goal of raising the overall music level, but my edits were always very obvious and unnatural sounding.  Today I was reading up on click/pop removal for vinyl transfer, and thought it might apply to this situation.  The results were dramatically more natural sounding, and this process takes a fraction of the time.   This would have saved me hours editing this year's concerts.  :facepalm:

I tried this first in Izotope RX2, then again in Audacity.  No suprise that RX2 gave me superior sounding results but you can similar results in Audacity also.  Here's my process for both programs:


I had been doing this in audacity but to get all the claps down to music levels the declick settings I had to use ended up making the applause sound have a pumping effect.  After I switched to Adobe Audition I found I got better results by selecting the applause area and applying a hard limit to the section with a db cut which brought the loud claps down but left the rest untouched.  This resulted in an easy way to do the same thing and a superior sounding (at least to me) result.

Hopefully this adds another tip to your post-processing bag of tricks   :D

Offline voltronic

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2013, 09:13:49 AM »
Quote

I had been doing this in audacity but to get all the claps down to music levels the declick settings I had to use ended up making the applause sound have a pumping effect.  After I switched to Adobe Audition I found I got better results by selecting the applause area and applying a hard limit to the section with a db cut which brought the loud claps down but left the rest untouched.  This resulted in an easy way to do the same thing and a superior sounding (at least to me) result.

Hopefully this adds another tip to your post-processing bag of tricks   :D

Yep, that's one of the methods described in the sticky thread on post processing - I'll give that a shot also.  Thanks!
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Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2013, 11:24:56 PM »
I have always highlighted each clap and reduced the gain of that clap. Works great and sounds very natural. But this seems like the way to go ;)
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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2013, 01:51:50 AM »
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Offline bluntforcetrauma

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2013, 08:54:58 PM »
Great, how do you actually select a "hard limit" for clapping?  What kind of db cut do you use? I use PEAK but i do have adobe audition I just never had used it.
I have been using the pencil tool in PEAK to individually lower clapping, in the attempts to lower clapping in order to have the " highest db of the recording being music and not clapping, so that when normalizing it will normalize to the sound of music and not an applause.
any help will be appreciated
i have been editing some acoustic shows and most have extended clapping after songs that are of a higher db level than any other "music " part.

Maybe others know this already, but I just discovered a way to easily reduce the level of close-to-rig clapping without much impact to the surrounding music, making normalization easier and/or the clapping less obtrusive.

snip

Previously I would manually attenuate the applause between songs and/or edit the loudest claps individually, and then normalize.  This accomplished the goal of raising the overall music level, but my edits were always very obvious and unnatural sounding.  Today I was reading up on click/pop removal for vinyl transfer, and thought it might apply to this situation.  The results were dramatically more natural sounding, and this process takes a fraction of the time.   This would have saved me hours editing this year's concerts.  :facepalm:

I tried this first in Izotope RX2, then again in Audacity.  No suprise that RX2 gave me superior sounding results but you can similar results in Audacity also.  Here's my process for both programs:


I had been doing this in audacity but to get all the claps down to music levels the declick settings I had to use ended up making the applause sound have a pumping effect.  After I switched to Adobe Audition I found I got better results by selecting the applause area and applying a hard limit to the section with a db cut which brought the loud claps down but left the rest untouched.  This resulted in an easy way to do the same thing and a superior sounding (at least to me) result.

Hopefully this adds another tip to your post-processing bag of tricks   :D

Offline candor

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2013, 02:24:50 AM »
Great, how do you actually select a "hard limit" for clapping?  What kind of db cut do you use? I use PEAK but i do have adobe audition I just never had used it.
I have been using the pencil tool in PEAK to individually lower clapping, in the attempts to lower clapping in order to have the " highest db of the recording being music and not clapping, so that when normalizing it will normalize to the sound of music and not an applause.
any help will be appreciated
i have been editing some acoustic shows and most have extended clapping after songs that are of a higher db level than any other "music " part.

Maybe others know this already, but I just discovered a way to easily reduce the level of close-to-rig clapping without much impact to the surrounding music, making normalization easier and/or the clapping less obtrusive.

snip

Previously I would manually attenuate the applause between songs and/or edit the loudest claps individually, and then normalize.  This accomplished the goal of raising the overall music level, but my edits were always very obvious and unnatural sounding.  Today I was reading up on click/pop removal for vinyl transfer, and thought it might apply to this situation.  The results were dramatically more natural sounding, and this process takes a fraction of the time.   This would have saved me hours editing this year's concerts.  :facepalm:

I tried this first in Izotope RX2, then again in Audacity.  No suprise that RX2 gave me superior sounding results but you can similar results in Audacity also.  Here's my process for both programs:


I had been doing this in audacity but to get all the claps down to music levels the declick settings I had to use ended up making the applause sound have a pumping effect.  After I switched to Adobe Audition I found I got better results by selecting the applause area and applying a hard limit to the section with a db cut which brought the loud claps down but left the rest untouched.  This resulted in an easy way to do the same thing and a superior sounding (at least to me) result.

Hopefully this adds another tip to your post-processing bag of tricks   :D

If you look at the waveforms in your editing software, the clapping sections are distinctive.  High narrow peaks - usually louder than the surrounding music or other recording.  It can take a bit of trial and error, but I usually start with the hard limit at or below the peak level level of surrounding program.  This way the loud claps are attenuated but the rest of the applause sounds pretty natural.  I find this takes me much less time than highlighting and adjusting each clap individually and I've often got claps that all don't respond to the same click removal settings.  If the overall applause is still too loud, the envelope tool is your friend.

stevetoney

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 10:44:25 AM »
I use the noise reduction tool VERY sparingly because, in my experience, I think it's very intrusive to the rest of the master recording which you don't want to be touched.  So, I've never liked the results I get applying the noise reduction in Audition 1.5 for clapping.  I either isolate each clap and bring down the levels or use the hard limit tool. 

Maybe I just need to find the perfect settings, but I've played with the settings quite a bit and never found anything that I like.  I always found that the dynamics of the remaining sections were altered too much for my liking.  My 'issue' seemed to be that I could never get the settings dialed in right for the noise reduction tool to work without causing the music on either side of the clap to sound like it's muted and/or underwater.  So if I decrease the settings enough that so there's no impact on the music, it doesn't do anything to the clap...but if I increase the settings enough to eliminate the claps, the tool then messes up the sound of the music.  Even momentary analog noise spikes, like someone kicking my stand or a beach ball hitting my mics, aren't effectively removed by this tool without the resulting sound being impacted.  That said, I've had great luck using the tool to remove isolated digi noise spikes.

Having said the above, I'm not willing to sacrifice any on the sound of the music in order to deal with the claps, so maybe my comment is based on the fact that I haven't found any settings that work well enough for my liking.  But again, I've tried and I've never found any settings I'm happy with, so I go with the hard limiter or the 'isolate the clap' method.

EDIT TO ADD:  I'm curious to know if 'power users' have any luck with the noice reduction tool  on clapping (vs. hard limiting).  If they do, then I'd like to know what settings you use and/or how I can better apply the settings than I have.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 11:06:39 AM by tonedeaf »

Offline voltronic

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2013, 11:27:55 AM »
I use the noise reduction tool VERY sparingly because, in my experience, I think it's very intrusive to the rest of the master recording which you don't want to be touched.  So, I've never liked the results I get applying the noise reduction in Audition 1.5 for clapping.  I either isolate each clap and bring down the levels or use the hard limit tool. 

snip

Having said the above, I'm not willing to sacrifice any on the sound of the music in order to deal with the claps, so maybe my comment is based on the fact that I haven't found any settings that work well enough for my liking.  But again, I've tried and I've never found any settings I'm happy with, so I go with the hard limiter or the 'isolate the clap' method.

EDIT TO ADD:  I'm curious to know if 'power users' have any luck with the noice reduction tool  on clapping (vs. hard limiting).  If they do, then I'd like to know what settings you use and/or how I can better apply the settings than I have.

IMHO, noise reduction is never going to be the best choice for something like clapping because a noise reduction algorithm it's looking for steady-state noise to cancel (ex. HVAC drone, hiss, etc.) as opposed to intermittent random noise like clapping, etc.  That said, I've never been satisfied with Audacity's noise reduction - it always has given me the phasey "underwater" sound you experienced, or it sucked out percussive transients from the music.  BUT - the noise reduction in iZotope RX quite frankly is spectacular.  It really is able to cancel the background noise without harming the actual music, at least to my ears.  This is no help for claps or stand hits though.

Click Removal (or whatever your program of choice calls this) is made specifically to address intermittent noises, and like I said in my original post I was able to get great results with it - even in Audacity.  Personally I was amazed with how much of a difference it made, but of course YMMV.
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stevetoney

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2013, 12:43:54 PM »
^ Thanks alot for this response.  It really helps define the experiences you've had with these tools, as well as differentiate what didn't work.  It also helps to know that you had the same experiences I had with the tools I mentioned that I've used.  It's really exciting to know that there is a good tool out there for clapping!

For some reason, in my initial response I didn't key in on the fact that you were talking about the click reduction tool, not the noise reduction tool.  Cool!  Thanks for the tip!
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 12:49:16 PM by tonedeaf »

Offline F.O.Bean

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2013, 12:55:24 PM »
THANKFULLY! I ONLY record loud PA systems, because I only have to reduce the gain of a few claps per set, or fireworks at summer festies. I will just continue to do the individual claps ;)
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Offline bluntforcetrauma

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Re: Attenuating clapping in live recordings - the easy way
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 05:07:42 AM »
So if one is to " select portion of recording needing clap removal" then what do i do?
do I set hard limit?
do I use click removal for clapping?

anyone suggest steps - I know we all may use different software, for example I use PEAK with some plug ins. But instinctively they most use the same or close to the same steps they just might call the process a different name.
so after selecting section of recording that needs to decrease clapping--what would be the next steps?
would I use hard limiter first?  then some sort of click removal?  then envelop?  of course I dont know how to use the envelop at all.
also how do you know what to set hard limit at?  and how actually does one do it?

thanks


Great, how do you actually select a "hard limit" for clapping?  What kind of db cut do you use? I use PEAK but i do have adobe audition I just never had used it.
I have been using the pencil tool in PEAK to individually lower clapping, in the attempts to lower clapping in order to have the " highest db of the recording being music and not clapping, so that when normalizing it will normalize to the sound of music and not an applause.
any help will be appreciated
i have been editing some acoustic shows and most have extended clapping after songs that are of a higher db level than any other "music " part.

Maybe others know this already, but I just discovered a way to easily reduce the level of close-to-rig clapping without much impact to the surrounding music, making normalization easier and/or the clapping less obtrusive.

snip

Previously I would manually attenuate the applause between songs and/or edit the loudest claps individually, and then normalize.  This accomplished the goal of raising the overall music level, but my edits were always very obvious and unnatural sounding.  Today I was reading up on click/pop removal for vinyl transfer, and thought it might apply to this situation.  The results were dramatically more natural sounding, and this process takes a fraction of the time.   This would have saved me hours editing this year's concerts.  :facepalm:

I tried this first in Izotope RX2, then again in Audacity.  No suprise that RX2 gave me superior sounding results but you can similar results in Audacity also.  Here's my process for both programs:


I had been doing this in audacity but to get all the claps down to music levels the declick settings I had to use ended up making the applause sound have a pumping effect.  After I switched to Adobe Audition I found I got better results by selecting the applause area and applying a hard limit to the section with a db cut which brought the loud claps down but left the rest untouched.  This resulted in an easy way to do the same thing and a superior sounding (at least to me) result.

Hopefully this adds another tip to your post-processing bag of tricks   :D

If you look at the waveforms in your editing software, the clapping sections are distinctive.  High narrow peaks - usually louder than the surrounding music or other recording.  It can take a bit of trial and error, but I usually start with the hard limit at or below the peak level level of surrounding program.  This way the loud claps are attenuated but the rest of the applause sounds pretty natural.  I find this takes me much less time than highlighting and adjusting each clap individually and I've often got claps that all don't respond to the same click removal settings.  If the overall applause is still too loud, the envelope tool is your friend.

 

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