SOUNDSOAP 3 is the first product from
Soundness, a company started by Steve Berkley,
co-founder of BIAS, which is best known for
Peak, its 2-track editor, and previous versions of
its all-in-one audio restoration tool, SoundSoap.
The update includes AU/VST/RTAS/AAX plugins
(32- and 64-bit versions) as well as a Maconly
standalone version ($79 in the Apple store).
|With its simple interface, SoundSoap 3 provides a number of useful noise-reduction
features that are easy to use, all at an affordable price.
Typically, audio restoration software can
be complex and intimidating. In contrast,
SoundSoap 3’s processing controls are all
located in a single window and are designed
to allow anyone to quickly dial in reductions
of broadband noise, hum, rumble, click, and
crackle—the types of things you run across
when digitizing a record collection or editing
audio in videos and podcasts.
Although not as flexible or configurable
as other audio restoration tools, SoundSoap
3 has powerful algorithms under the hood.
Moreover, it’s considerably less expensive than
other audio restoration software.
Broadband Noise The main screen is
simple and clearly labeled. (To get a concise
text description of any function, simply hover
your mouse over any control or window.) The
screen is dominated by two large knobs and
a black-and-red circular window, all related
to the broadband noise-reducing feature,
which is designed for getting rid of steady-state
sounds such as hiss, air conditioners,
and fans. A standalone version includes a
recording option, and offers many ways to
share your files.
The software automatically sets its
parameters based on the noise detected when
you press the Learn Noise button during
playback. It’s best to do this at a point when
you hear only noise and no source material.
Unlike previous versions, the software no
longer requires a 2- to 3-second noise sample.
Once SoundSoap 3 has learned the noise,
fine-tune the results with the Noise Tuner
(threshold) and Noise Reduction (processing-intensity)
knobs. Changes are reflected in the
graphic, spectragram-like display of the Wash
Window, which is split in two: The left side
represents the original file with the noise,
and the right side, the file after the noise has
been removed. The Noise setting of the Noise
Reduction switch above lets you hear what is
being removed, which helps you determine
if you’re processing your source material too
I tested these features on a variety of noisy
sources and found that the automatic settings
were usually very effective. If anything, they
provided too much processing—typical with
most noise-reduction software—so you’ll often
need to fine-tune the processing with the
provided controls. (That’s common with all
Click, Crackle, and Hum The Remove
Click and Crackle feature mitigates vinyl
record-related artifacts, while Enhance is used
to add a little high end when needed. The
Remove Hum feature, which reduces 50- or
60-cycle hum, works well, but has no option
for removing harmonic material above the
fundamental frequencies; in some situations,
I had to use broadband noise reduction to
supplement the hum remover to completely
eliminate a more complex noise signal.
The Remove Rumble button engages a
highpass filter that cuts frequencies below
40 Hz, which is perfect for eliminating
specific turntable artifacts. The Preserve
Voice algorithm removes frequencies above
the range of the human voice, helping clean
up the high end of vocal-only material. All of
these processes work effectively and operate
independently of the broadband noise settings.
Noise Be Gone SoundSoap 3 lives up to its
promise of powerful, yet easy-to-use noise
reduction for records, videos, podcasts, and
spoken-word recordings, as well as basic
music-cleaning applications in your DAW.
If you can live with its limited control set,
SoundSoap 3 is an excellent value.
Mike Levine is a musician, composer, and
producer from the New York area.
STRENGTHS Good processing results. Easy to
use. Concise online help. Low price compared
to other audio restoration suites. Plug-in or
standalone. Improved Learn Noise feature.
LIMITATIONS Few editable parameters
compared to other noise-reduction applications.
No harmonic options for hum-removal feature.
SoundSoap 3 $149; upgrade $49;
standalone version $79