1/25/2011 10:57 AM
When you really need to repair a flat-lined recording with crackly distortion, Waves X-Crackle is a pricey—but effective—solution.
Help, please! I’ve been reading your articles about
the evils of squashing music, digital clipping, and
so on, and have dialed back. But I have an older
song that’s so “flat-lined,” it sounds like eggs frying
in the background. A friend who is a mastering
engineer tried various de-clipping options, and
none of them worked. His only suggestion was to
take off some of the high end so the frying-eggs
sound isn’t so annoying. Can’t anything fix this?
EQ: Well, Trevor, we’re glad you’ve learned your lesson.
However, de-clippers are usually not the answer for the
type of problem you describe, which sounds like the
worst of all possible worlds—digital clipping combined
with excessive compression.
We asked our resident mastering guru, Craig Anderton,
if any fix was possible, and he reports getting surprisingly
good results from Waves’ X-Crackle plug-in.
While it’s not really a de-clipper, it greatly reduces the
audio artifacts that result from the clipping—which is
what really matters anyway.
X-Crackle has a terrific feature where if you click on
the “difference” button, you can hear only what’s being
removed—and it can be pretty horrifying. Also, don’t be
shy about running the Threshold and Reduction sliders
up high; desperate waveforms call for desperate measures.
Unfortunately, though, desperate measures have a
price tag to match—X-Crackle is not available on its
own, so the least expensive way to get it is as part of
Waves’ Restoration bundle, which currently streets for
around $900. But all of the Restoration plug-ins work
remarkably well, so you may find yourself being able to
solve other problems as well—for example, some
restoration tools can give spiky amp sim sounds a
Ask EQ a technical audio-related question, and EQ will
answer it. Send it to EQeditor@musicplayer.com.