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electronic MUSICIAN



Jan 25

Written by: masterblogger
1/25/2011 10:57 AM  RssIcon

EQ_De-CrackleWhen 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?
Trevor Hodges
Atlanta, GA
via email

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 smoother tone.

Ask EQ a technical audio-related question, and EQ will answer it. Send it to

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