Multimedia files can be full of hum, hiss, rumble, crackles, and pops. Until recently, removing this unwanted audio effectively required professional tools that could cost thousands. But BIAS’s SoundSoap Pro offers pro-quality audio restoration in an easy-to-use plug-in package.
SoundSoap Pro is the professional sibling of BIAS’s £85 (excluding VAT) one-button audio-cleaning program, SoundSoap. Unlike SoundSoap, which can be used either as a standalone application or as a plug-in for other audio applications, SoundSoap Pro is available only as a plug-in. It supports the VST, RTAS, and Audio Units formats; no TDM version is currently available.
From within BIAS Peak 4.12, we tested SoundSoap Pro on a 78rpm phonograph recording; a video file recorded with a cheap, hissy microphone; and a video-clip shot at an airport with jets roaring everywhere. The program easily removed the antique album’s crackles and significantly reduced hiss without wiping out the high frequencies. It performed just as well at removing the cheap mike’s hiss while retaining the quality of the voice. With the airport clip, we had to tweak individual frequencies to avoid a flanging effect, but we eventually removed much (though not all) of the engine drone while leaving the narrator’s voice sounding natural.
SoundSoap Pro consists of four modules: Hum & Rumble, Click & Crackle, Broadband, and Noise Gate. BIAS suggests that you use them in that order – first eliminating the most-obvious problems, such as hum and pops, and then attacking broader ranges of noise.
The Hum & Rumble and Click & Crackle modules couldn’t be more intuitive: simply turn them on and then use sliders to zero in on the offending material.
To use the Broadband module, select a portion of the file that contains the noise you want to remove, click the Learn Noise button, and start playing the file; the plug-in creates a filter that eliminates the noise. The Learn Noise feature cleaned much of the noise from our phonograph and cheap-mike recordings. We had to do more work to filter noise in our airport video (you can make adjustments within 12 frequency bands).
Noise Gate, is designed to eliminate sounds that fall below a certain volume threshold. You might, for example, use it to eliminate breath intakes in narration.
SoundSoap Pro can save and load presets and capture and recall as many as four configurations. A Noise Only feature lets you hear only the noise you’ve removed – useful for determining when you’ve removed too much of the good stuff.
SoundSoap Pro performed well from within Peak. BIAS says the app is fully compatible with Apple’s Logic Pro 6 and Logic Express and with MOTU’s Digital Performer 4; it also appeared within GarageBand and Digidesign’s Pro Tools LE 6.4. We wish that its interface were available in all Audio Units-compatible applications. In programs that don’t support plug-ins with custom interfaces (Final Cut Pro, for example), you have to use a series of nonintuitive sliders to control the plug-in.
SoundSoap Pro combines powerful noise reduction with an ease of use, and costs significantly less than other pro solutions. If you need to scrub the noise from your files, SoundSoap Pro may be the cleaner you need.