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Author Topic: Best way to remove excessive background hiss from otherwise good recording?  (Read 7035 times)

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Offline jj69

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I expected an artist to play a mostly rock set and he ended playing a mostly jazz set, so I had the input levels on my PCM-M10 set too low.  As a result, an otherwise excellent recording is marred by excessive hiss, especially during the between song speeches to the audience and during quiet passages of slow songs.  The recording was made at 48k/24 bit. 

Can someone suggest the best way to remove background hiss?  I usually use Audition 3.0.  In the past, when I’ve attempted to use Audition’s de-hiss feature, the software removed the hiss, but left behind what I can only describe as a “burbling” and “gurgling” sound that was even worse than the hiss.  I believe this is referred to as “artifacting.”  As a result, I have never bothered using hiss removal until now. 

Should I be using different software, or am I just using the wrong settings?  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

Offline yousef

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If this was me, I think I would first try some fairly focused (but light) EQ and then apply some *very* conservative noise/hiss reduction - probably not much more than 3dBs of reduction, if it allows you to specify.

I find that the ear can be very forgiving of hiss over the course of an entire recording. Less so of the artefacts that occur at the more brutal end of hiss-reduction.
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Offline ScoobieKW

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I've found that you can perceptually clean it up by dealing with the between song stuff (even volume envelope) and leave the music as is. My brother in law made a mix of live recordings of his bands for my wife years ago. I didn't touch the music at all, and his response when he heard my CD transfers, was how well I did the Noise Reduction.
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Offline TSNéa

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Hello jj69,

You could try MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab:
http://www.magix.com/us/audio-cleaning-lab/

I think MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab is probably the same than Magic Audio Cleanic MX that I used sometimes for conferences, meetings, a show for children with tales and songs. Not really music, yet. You have a choice between presets for six different types of noise or enter your own parameters.
They offer a 30 day test version here :
http://www.magix.com/us/free-download/

It's made by the developpers of Samplitude, an (object oriented?) audio editing sofware that seems to be greatly appreciated in documentary and radio work. I got once a free LE with a cheap audio interface: very attractive. The price of the Samplitude full version is pretty high...

Hope it helps.

Offline bryonsos

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Obvious question, but... Did you normalize the recording?
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Offline jj69

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Obvious question, but... Did you normalize the recording?

Yes, of course. 

Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Maybe you could use parallel compression techniques to boost the transients, while leaving the hissy bits behind.

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Offline anr

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You shouldn't necessarily blame the record levels on the M10.  Other factors can produce what you perceive as "hiss".  It may simply be the natural room noise, which is more broadband.  If you attack that with hiss reduction plug-ins you'll take out a lot of low/mid range music, as well as top end "hiss".  Study the file carefully to find the quietest part and look at it with a spectrum analyser.  Try what yousef said - a little EQ.  Quite often, running a mains hum filter programme (50/60Hz comb filter) gets rid of a lot of room "noise". 

When I really feel it is necessary, I use Sony Noise Reduction 2B.  As stated above, go carefully in very small steps using the above quietest part as a reference.  It needs at least 500ms to work with. 

Offline jj69

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I'm almost positive it's hiss.  The levels were set really low.  I was not using a pre, and I typically set the input knob on the Sony to 5, which I've been told is unity gain.  However, I typically record hard rock/metal shows in very loud rooms. 

I appreciate all the advice, but much of the terminology is "over my head," so I'm not quite sure how to apply it. 

Would it help if I post a sample of the audio?  If so, should I post some between song chatter or some music?  How much?  Is a few minutes enough? 

Offline anr

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jj

By all means post a sample.  Try to include a section of quietness between songs as well as music. 

Offline Ekib

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I use Nero Wave Editor . It's so easy to work with .
But I have to say, I don’t mind it. I do object when I see people sticking microphones up my nose, in the front row. If I see anyone doing that [laughs] I’m going to have security remove them. Because that’s just obnoxious. But I don’t mind if people come and discreetly at the back make a recording of it. And I know that it’s just for their own use, for the superfan.
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Offline BlindGuyEars

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Izotope RX 2 if you can afford it.
But, echoing what everyone else said. use a tiny bit of hiss reduction and some very careful and conservative EQ.

I'm not sure how parallel compression would help. What about downward expansion though?

Offline jj69

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Okay.  Here are a couple of samples from the recording, both in FLAC format.  These are recorded in 24 bit at 48kHz.  The only thing done to the recording at this point is that it was normalized. 

"Sample 1" is  a one minute sample.  The first 30 seconds or so is between-song banter and the remainder is beginning of the old standard, "Beyond The Sea."  You'll notice that the hiss is very distracting during the banter, and much less so during the song. 

Sample 1:
https://rapidshare.com/files/3167617211/Sample1.flac

"Sample 2" is just 10 seconds of near-silence, ending with an announcer beginning to introduce the band.   The two seconds before the announcer begins speaking is probably the best place to take a sample of the background noise.  Prior to that you can hear the house music played through the PA system. 

Sample 2:
https://rapidshare.com/files/4280393094/Sample2.flac

Most of the suggestions people have made in this thread are a bit over my head, so if someone could give me a more simplified step-by-step approach, that would be greatly appreciated. 

Offline anr

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JJ

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The background noise you hear isn't "hiss" in the accepted sense of the word.  In fact, during the gaps between speech in the spoken intro there is very little above 2kHz.  It is what I described (above) as room noise.  Sometimes you just get rooms that are noisy when empty (and there is a formal method of measuring and classifying this).  Things like whether the room walls are external or load bearing effect this.  All I did to your sample is run a 60Hz hum filter, which made an appreciable difference, and then a very little amount of noise reduction using Sony NR2b. 

The recording is very good indeed.  The problem, if indeed there is one, is that the room is a little unsuited to that type of music.  Fortunately, artists and promoters aren't too anal about such things, otherwise there'd be nowhere for them to play!  I'd say there is very little you could have done to "improve" the recording at the time. 

Offline jj69

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anr,

Thanks for the info.  I can't listen to your sample until I get home from the office tonight, but I can't wait to hear it. 

I am a bit skeptical that there would not have been much, much less of the background noise - whatever it is - had I set my input levels much higher (or used a pre).  If it would be helpful, perhaps I'll post an un-normalized sample of the same audio tonight.  The normalization process added at least 20db to the signal. 

Do you know how I can duplicate the process you used in Audition 3.0?  Does Audition have a similar hum filter? 

I'm not familiar with the Sony software you mention, but could someone recommend NR settings for Audition.  In fact, Audition has two NR filers, a "hiss" filter and a "noise" filter.  I'm not sure what the difference is, or which one is best for this application. 



The background noise you hear isn't "hiss" in the accepted sense of the word.  In fact, during the gaps between speech in the spoken intro there is very little above 2kHz.  It is what I described (above) as room noise.  Sometimes you just get rooms that are noisy when empty (and there is a formal method of measuring and classifying this).  Things like whether the room walls are external or load bearing effect this.  All I did to your sample is run a 60Hz hum filter, which made an appreciable difference, and then a very little amount of noise reduction using Sony NR2b. 

The recording is very good indeed.  The problem, if indeed there is one, is that the room is a little unsuited to that type of music.  Fortunately, artists and promoters aren't too anal about such things, otherwise there'd be nowhere for them to play!  I'd say there is very little you could have done to "improve" the recording at the time.

 

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