Mon, 14 Jan 2013 Magix Audio Cleaner Pro review
Rescue old analogue recordings and optimise new digital ones
- Manufacturer: Magix
- Pros: Excellent range of pre-set cleaning and mastering tools; good step-by-step agents (wizards) for cleaning and mastering audio; good-looking interface; inexpensive
- Cons: Editing tools not so intuitive; digitising analogue recordings still long-winded
- Price: £39.99
- Star rating:
Although Mac users have a range of high quality audio tools for cleaning up recordings, in the main these require an engineer’s understanding of sound and its associated jargon, and are thus rather less suitable for those of us who just want to ‘clean up’ an old recording in some undefined way so that it sounds better. Audio Cleaner Pro is pitched to provide the best of both worlds and includes more than 250 pre-sets for removing noise, hiss and crackling, together with a ‘cleaning agent’ - a wizard which automatically analyses a recording and then walks you through the process of sorting it out; for anyone more comfortable with traditional sound hardware, it’s possible to display any of the cleaning and mastering tools as if it were a rack unit and alter any included settings manually using the mouse.
In terms of workflow, Audio Cleaner is divided into four discreet tasks - Import, Cleaning, Mastering and Exporting. You can open WAV, MP3, AIFF, OGG Vorbis, AAC and M4A audio file formats or record directly into the program via a microphone or by plugging in a cassette deck or record player. Once audio’s been imported, there are five basic cleaning tools to choose from - DeClicker, DeHisser, DeCrackler, DeNoiser and DeClipper, each of which includes a variety of pre-sets - and which can be applied to the entire recording or any individual section. Mastering allows you to apply one or more of six effects - StereoFX, EQ, Brilliance, Dynamics, Multimax and Reverb/Echo - to a finished recording in order to give it a final sonic polish and make it more suitable for different kinds of playback; this is the ‘secret sauce’ of audio production and often makes the difference between an average recording and a great one. Finally, you can export the finished audio file, either as one of the supported file formats (see above) or by burning it to a CD.
In addition to applying the various effects, Audio Cleaner Pro also allows direct editing of the waveform, so it’s possible to define and edit individual sections, add fades and effects, adjust the volume, insert track markers, add automatic pauses between tracks - even manually add a volume curve by drawing with the mouse pointer, which is particularly useful for boosting very quiet passages in a recording.
In use, Audio Cleaner Pro does a good job and we liked the highly specific nature of many of the pre-sets (for example ‘Remove wind and nature noises’, ‘Remove mains humming’) the helpful step by step cleaning and mastering wizards, and the general high quality of the noise removal tools. However, the tools for working directly on the waveform are less intutitive and we’re not convinced that the way Magix distingishes between projects (the entire audio file) and objects (selected parts of the same file) is as clear as it could be. That aside, this is good value.
Aside from the one-click cleaning pre-sets, Audio Cleaner Pro also includes a step by step Cleaning Agent which walks users through the cleanup process.