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Power App: iZotope RX3

June 30, 2014
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Remove finger squeaks from guitar or bass recordings

Objective

Remove finger squeaks in guitar and bass tracks.

Background

Anyone who’s recorded guitar or bass has had to contend with finger squeaks that are captured with the recording. Depending on how loud they are in relation to the guitar tone, squeaks can mar an otherwise good recording. Generally, you can’t just cut them out using conventional DAW editing tools, because a squeak usually overlaps some of the tone so removing it would create an unnatural dropout.

The RX audio restoration suite (the current versions are RX3 and RX3 Advanced) from iZotope has a brilliant module called Spectral Repair, which removes squeaks by replacing them with interpolated material from the surrounding audio. In most cases (except where a squeak is really long), you should be able to remove them in a very natural-sounding way.
Step 1 After loading the audio file into RX3 (either the regular or Advanced version), isolate the location of the squeak by listening to the playback and looking at the display—set for a combination of waveform and spectral data and zoomed way in—then select it with the Time Selection Tool. Using the Loop Playback feature, make sure you’ve selected all squeak and no tonal signal.
Step 2 Open the Spectral Repair module, select Replace Unwanted Event (fast) from the preset menu, and hit Process.
Step 3 Listen to the results. In most cases, the squeak will be gone but the tone will remain (notice how the waveform has changed in the screenshot), and you won’t be able to hear any artifacts or unnatural-sounding notes at the edit point.
Step 4 If the results aren’t satisfactory, undo the processing and try adjusting the “before/ after weighting” slider before re-processing; this changes the area of audio that RX uses as source material for its interpolation. You can also vary the length of the surrounding region used in order to improve your results. If the results are still unsatisfactory, try using the Attenuate function instead.

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