DIAMOND CUT PRODUCTIONS

Diamond Cut Live 4.59 (Win) Diamond Cut Live ($995) is the latest incarnation of Diamond Cut Productions' well-respected audio-restoration tool kit. It
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Diamond Cut Live 4.59 (Win)Diamond Cut Live ($995) is the latest incarnation of Diamond Cut Productions' well-respected audio-restoration tool kit. It adds real-time performance to an already formidable bundle of noise-reduction and audio-enhancement tools.

A review of version 3.06 in EM's October 1999 issue praised Diamond Cut for the quality and variety of its effects but took issue with its "cumbersome" user interface. For the most part, version 4.59 exhibits the same strengths and weaknesses. The package includes specialized filters for removing everything from clicks and pops on vinyl to electrical hums. It also includes lowpass, highpass, bandpass, and notch filters. After cleaning up your audio, you can sweeten it with basic reverb, dynamics, and spectral-enhancement effects.

Is It Live?The big news is Diamond Cut's Live mode. Imagine doing a live radio show featuring classic tracks from scratchy old 78s and having the ability to remove every click and pop in real time without ever committing data to your computer's hard drive. While you're at it, why not warm up the low end with some gentle EQ and add a hint of reverb? All of this and more is possible with Diamond Cut Live. Depending on your computer's processing speed, you can string together any number of filters to address whatever ails your audio. Play dirty audio into your computer; after a short processing delay, cleaner audio is issued from your sound card's outputs. Of course, you'll need a full-duplex card to take advantage of Live mode.

I put Diamond Cut Live to the test with a 20-year-old cassette of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition that I copied from vinyl. The original recording has an unusual amount of tape hiss for a classical recording, and my turntable contributed a steady low rumble. Add a constant barrage of clicks, pops, static, and tape hiss from the cassette, and you have a serious audio-restoration challenge.

I opened the software's Multifilter, dragged in the Impulse Filter and the Continuous Noise Filter, dialed up an appropriate preset on each, and heard nothing. The well-written manual explained that I must press the Live Preview button to hear the filters in action. Preview seems like a misnomer for a real-time feature; nonetheless, my concern with taxonomy vanished when I heard the results. Diamond Cut Live stripped away the flaws, leaving me with renewed appreciation for a great performance.

Quibbles and BitsDiamond Cut Live could run several filters at once on my Pentium III/450 MHz, but it choked when I used extreme settings on some filters. I maximized the buffer settings to run the Impulse Filter at the necessary level without dropouts, and that increased processing latency by more than half a second.

Changing settings during Live Preview often caused skips or glitches in the audio output and even produced an occasional crash. Just moving a dialog box caused a dropout of half a second or so. Unfortunately, that effectively reduces Diamond Cut Live to a set-it-and-forget-it program, and users might want to tweak settings on the fly.

Whenever you reopen a filter's dialog box, the preset is indicated as Default, even if you change the settings of your selected preset. However, minor annoyances such as these don't outweigh the boatload of high-quality audio-restoration tools that Diamond Cut Live offers. At almost $1,000, it's not inexpensive, but the real-time capabilities are certainly an impressive addition to the Diamond Cut arsenal.