9. SoundSoap Controls

SoundSoap was designed to provide high-quality noise reduction, while remaining simple to use, with a minimal number of controls.  While there are not many controls required to quickly clean up noisy media, it is important to know what each one does, for the best possible results.

SoundSoap+ provides additional controls for noise reduction that are different from the SoundSoap+, so refer to Chapter 10 for a description of the SoundSoap+ controls.

To activate or deactivate your copy of SoundSoap, click on the “SoundSoap” logo on the bottom right of the user interface.  Here you can also turn help tips on or off, and change the on/off setting for Analyze Media.

The next section introduces the graphical user interface of SoundSoap. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the various knobs, buttons, sliders, and displays, and then move on to the next section, which features more detailed descriptions on how to use each.  The SoundSoap GUI (Graphical User Interface) contains the few knobs, buttons, and sliders required to reduce most types of broadband noise, hum, rumble, or clicks and crackle from just about any type of digital media. These controls are described below.

Learn Noise



SoundSoap’s “Learn Noise” feature is what makes it so powerful and easy to use. The Learn Noise feature is used to isolate the noise contained in a file, and automatically set the values for the Noise Tuner and Noise Reduction controls.  If your file has a section of isolated noise, and none of the music, voice, or other audio you wish to preserve, use the section for “Learning the Noise”.

To use this feature, just start playback and hold down the Learn Noise button. SoundSoap will analyze the audio playing until you release the Learn Noise button.  The Learn Noise button will create a noise profile from the audio you provided it, and determine the best settings for the Noise Tuner and Noise Reduction knobs. It is important to understand that noise profiles are created “behind the scenes” and are not visible or accessible within the SoundSoap interface.

To reset/clear the noise profile, option/alt-click on the Learn Noise button.

For more detail on using the Learn Noise feature, please refer to the SoundSoap QuickStart chapter.


Noise Reduction



SoundSoap’s Noise Reduction button controls whether broadband noise reduction is on or off.

When the button is not turned on, SoundSoap is not removing broadband noise, and it is normal to hear any broadband noise that is present in the original media.

When the button is illuminated, SoundSoap is processing the media according to the current broadband tool settings.

Noise Reduction operates independently of the Click & Crackle removal slider, and the Enhance slider. When noise reduction is in turned off, SoundSoap may still be processing with its Hum Removal, Click & Crackle, or Enhance sliders.

Noise Only


When the “Noise Only” button is illuminated, SoundSoap is processing the media according to the current broadband noise reduction controls, and is outputting only the broadband noise that is being reduced. This is a very useful setting, as it allows you to isolate and hear just the noise, and is helpful in determining the effectiveness of a particular noise reduction setting.


Noise Tuner



The Noise Tuner knob determines what is considered to be noise, and what is considered to be the desired audio signal. For example, turning the Noise Tuner knob all the way to the left makes more of the audio content part of the desired audio signal that we wish to preserve. On the other hand, setting a higher threshold value with the Noise Tuner means that more of the audio content will be eliminated.

Another important concept related to the Noise Tuner knob is the “noise profile”. If the tuner determines the level at which some audio content is desired signal and some is noise, think of the noise profile as the “shape” of the point where the desired signal meets the noise. SoundSoap uses a “flat” noise profile, in which all frequencies are treated equally unless the Learn Noise feature is used, and then a custom noise profile is created that addresses the specific frequencies of the noise that are present in a media file. When using a learned noise profile, more noise reduction is applied in the frequency ranges where it is needed.  

The Noise Tuner is set automatically by first using SoundSoap’s Learn Noise feature. This method is ideal when the media file being cleaned has an isolated area of the noise by itself. Learn Noise first analyzes the frequency content of a portion of the audio, and then creates a noise profile, automatically setting the Noise Tuner knob to what should be an ideal position.

The Noise Tuner can also be used to make adjustments without having first “learned” a custom noise profile. This method is typically used when the media file being cleaned does not contain an isolated portion of noise by itself. In some instances, learning a noise profile within a section of the desired audio signal can cause some frequencies that should be preserved to be removed, based on the custom noise profile that’s created. In cases where there is no isolated portion of noise by itself, adjusting the Noise Tuner knob using a “flat” noise profile can often produce better noise reduction results, as a flat noise profile affects all frequencies equally.

Whether you’re using a learned noise profile or a flat noise profile, the Noise Tuner knob behaves in exactly the same way – it simply sets how much of the audio is considered noise.


Noise Reduction



The Noise Reduction knob works in two ways – first, it manually adjusts the amount of noise reduction being applied. As the Noise Reduction knob simply adjusts the amount of noise reduction being applied, it is very important to first “tune-in” the offending noise using the Noise Tuner knob. Once you have found the right setting to reduce the noise in a particular media file, then you can use the Noise Reduction knob to adjust how much of that noise is removed.

The second way to use the Noise Reduction knob is similar to the way the Noise Tuner can be used in conjunction with the Learn Noise button. To use the Noise Reduction knob in this way, first use the Learn Noise button to pick up a noise profile from the media file, and then, based on this profile, use the Noise Reduction knob to fine tune the amount of noise being reduced. When using the Learn Noise feature to establish settings, it is often unnecessary to make any further adjustments to the Noise Reduction knob.


Track



The Track option automatically reduces the amount of noise reduction during louder parts of your material, reducing the number of artifacts introduced by noise reduction.  You may find that you can use a greater noise reduction setting with fewer undesired effects to the material when this option is turned on.  

This feature is not available in SoundSoap Solo.


Wash Window



SoundSoap’s unique Wash Window provides a visual representation of the noise reduction process. The Wash Window displays the frequencies that are in the audio before and after SoundSoap. The lowest frequencies are at the bottom, and the highest frequencies are at the top.  Time advances from left to right.  The black color represents silence, or no energy around a particular frequency.  Red and orange colors represent different intensities of energy around a particular frequency.  A center line divides the oval window into left and right halves, and indicates "before" and "after". Depending on the settings of the Noise Reduction and the Noise Tuner, the Wash Window will give you a visual sense of SoundSoap's noise reduction process.

Visually, removing broadband noise with SoundSoap will take out or reduce some of the red areas. You will notice that the Noise Tuner setting changes what is considered noise based on what is displayed in the Wash Window.

On the right side of the Wash Window, you will see lighter or fewer shades of red than on the left side, depending on the Noise Reduction setting. When Noise Only mode is used, only what is being removed is displayed on the right side of the Wash Window.


Declipper



SoundSoap's Declipper produces stunning restorations of clipped audio.  Clipping is a form of audio distortion that occurs when the signal is overdriven beyond it's maximum volume range, and reduces the sound quality and intelligibility of audio. Use this setting to automatically fix distortion on audio that was recorded too loud, using SoundSoap's advanced digital signal processing algorithms that detect and restore clipped audio.

This feature is not available in SoundSoap Solo.


Remove Click & Crackle



When this slider is in its leftmost position, it is inactive. Moving it towards the right removes more clicks and crackles – moving it towards the left removes fewer clicks and crackles. The ideal setting for the click and crackle slider will vary depending on the audio material you are attempting to restore. The general rule for this control is to use the lowest setting possible, which successfully eliminates the clicks and crackle present in your digital media file.

The Click & Crackle removal slider operates independently of all other controls.

This feature is not available in SoundSoap Solo.


Enhance



If a media file you’re working with sounds a little “dull”, use the Enhance Slider to add “sparkle” back into the audio signal by boosting frequencies that may have been lost because of degraded media. As this control is designed to enhance frequencies and tone, it is recommended that it be used as a final processing step, after the appropriate settings have been made to remove noise.

When this slider is in its leftmost position, it is inactive. For the best results, leave the Enhance slider inactive until you have configured all other controls for the best noise reduction results. When you have done this, you can control how much enhancement is applied by moving this slider. Moving it towards the right applies more enhancement – moving it to the left applies less enhancement.

The Enhance slider operates independently of all other controls.

This feature is not available in SoundSoap Solo.


Boost Volume



Use the boost slider to increase the volume on the track.  While the boost control does not cause distortion/clipping, it can cause dynamic compression to the audio.  Compression provides you with more volume, but alters the range of loudness in your material, making the softer sounds louder, so there is less variety in volume levels.  Be aware of adding dynamic compression to your audio when using this control, and use it carefully and sparingly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range_compression


Preserve Voice



The Preserve Voice feature filters out any frequencies that are above the frequency range of the human voice. This helps in preserving the audio quality of voice-only recordings that may also contain noise. If the media includes music or other audio content besides the human voice (speech, singing, etc.) the Preserve Voice feature should not be used. Preserve Voice mode operates independently of all other controls, and may be turned on before or after “learning” a noise profile, and will not affect the accuracy of the learned noise profile.


Remove Rumble



The Remove Rumble feature targets very low frequencies commonly known as rumble. Typically, “rumble” occurs at about 40 Hz or below. Rumble is commonly found in recordings of vinyl records, where the very low frequency noise of the turntable motor can be transfered through the turntable’s needle and be picked up in the recording. Use Remove Rumble mode when attempting to clean media that contains this type of low- frequency noise.

Remove Rumble mode operates independently of all other controls, and may be turned on before or after “learning” a noise profile, and will not affect the accuracy of the learned noise profile.


Hum Removal Mode



The Remove Hum buttons in the SoundSoap interface control whether hum removal is set to remove 50 or 60 Hz hum, or whether hum removal is turned off.

• When the “50 Hz” button is illuminated, SoundSoap will remove 50 Hz hum.

• When the “60 Hz” button is illuminated, SoundSoap will remove 60 Hz hum.

• When the “Off “ button is illuminated, SoundSoap’s Hum Removal feature is inactive.

The Hum Removal buttons operate independently of other controls. When Hum Removal is in the Off position, SoundSoap may still be processing with its Broadband noise reduction, Click & Crackle, or Enhance sliders.

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