Come Clean

November 1st, 2004 APC, Software, Tech

Once you’ve got your LP or cassette music into digital format, how do you strip out the unwanted snap, crackle and pop? Using Pinnacle Clean, Drew Turney has the answer.

Following on from APC’s July Workshop, which covered how to get your music from LP or cassette to digital format, now we bring you the lowdown on how to strip out the unwanted background noise with Pinnacle Clean; look for it on this months cover CD and try it for yourself.

Music in the Raw

The philosophy behind Clean is to create a track list that you’ll export either to your hard drive or onto a data or music CD. After you install it, open a new project. It’s where you’ll collect and modify the tracks in a single track list for export.

Clean imports files in either .wav or mp3 format. You can also record analogue music straight from your turntable or cassette player through a preamp and into your sound card, but for more information on digitising music, see July APC’s cover CD.

To import your tracks, simply go to the Import menu and select them from your hard disk or CD (which must be in your drive).

First, you have to organise the structure of your final output. Much the same way you would in any music player, just use the track list window to arrange or rename tracks by dragging or double clicking, also specifying the pause between tracks.

Spit and Polish

The meat of Clean’s powers is the effects which remove the age, LP or tape noise from your music. You can change the track start & end points, fade in & fade out points in the waveform display by dragging the appropriate markers, but the real magic happens under the effects tabs.

The declicker, decrackler and denoiser are the major functions under the restoration tab. Apply them at varying intensities depending on the track quality by clicking on the button and dragging the slider, or typing a numerical value in the box.

The Denoiser is a general function containing presets you can use or add to using the Wavelab application. Wavelab comes with Clean, and lets you sample a ‘footprint’ of settings from any track and export them back to Clean, where they’re available in the Denoiser presets).

Toggle the on/off button of each effect to compare the setting to the original sound, and toggle the audition buttons on and off (they’re beside the on/off buttons) to hear the sound Clean has stripped out using that effect; very handy to identify aurally what each effect does.

The Enhancement tab effects work the same way, and it’s here you apply effects to enhance the harmonics and stereo spread, even optimize the sound for playback in a car. Here the terminology gets a little trickier, so experiment. Modify the settings the same way you did under the restoration tab and see what sounds best (there’s even room for two VST plug-ins, which are widely available).

The Mastering tab contains the stuff pros do at those desks with hundreds of dials — preparing the tracks for production. The button sliders here alter the speed/pitch, phase correction and loudness (imperative if you have music with a wide dynamic range but don’t want to lose the quiet notes).

Entering the Real World

If you’re serious enough to produce output for playback in certain environments, you’ll probably get use out of the extras, including the equalizer and surround sound settings (where you literally drag speakers round a little room to optimize the output for your stereo setup).

But by this time, most users will be ready to export. When you’re satisfied all your tracks are spot on, click the process button to prepare the whole project for output.

A good idea is to use the normalise function, which selects the highest level in a track and brings the rest of the track to the same level, resulting in increased ‘punch’ throughout the track regardless of loudness. To normalize the entire project, use Meta normalise (a good idea unless you want every track to playback at different levels of density).

Finally, click on the CD menu and select to write a data or music CD (if you’ve ever burned a CD on a computer before, it’s the easy part). If you save and retain your project you can modify and output it more than once for different playback scenarios.

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