Saturday, December 22, 2012

De-essing part 5: software

There is one final solution that can potentially solve all your problems when trying to de-ess a LP: going digital.

Digitizing your music from analog is not only the way to go for archival purposes on the cheap, but it also allows you to tweak with the resulting data in literally, hundreds of ways. A free, or very low-cost program can reduce or eliminate  hisses and scratchings and can be very good with dealing with the constant noise wave.

The program I have been using for years is the Magix Audio Cleaning Lab. Apparently, they have dropped the version number so the latest one is labeled MX. My old version 11 works so well that I have not seen the need to update it. Broadly speaking, the program lets you import your music from various sources,  including your turntable, process it, and save it or export it into different file formats or optical media. The processing stage is the meatiest one and it can automatically analyze the data for a recommended set of adjustments; alternatively, if you're so inclined, you can choose from many presets or fiddle with the various processing tools as you would with rack hardware. Generally the results are very good. Not all offending sounds can be eliminated, but close enough.

In regards with de-essing, there are at least a couple of tools that can help you. One is a dedicated de-Esser plug-in and the other is a preset in the multimax tool. Oh, there are also a couple of free VST plug-ins:  Spitfish ( and  the Tonman deesser ( . They pull a mighty effort at cleaning, but if the source is too far gone, they will still leave noticeable traces. In my informal tests the
Tonmann performed best out of the free tools. There are surely some other paid plug-ins out there.

So, is this the way to go? If you don't care whether your music is analog or digital, then getting this kind of software and using it concurrently with other solutions, such as the ones we have already discussed, will solve most of your problems. If you do care about keeping your LP music analog, using software is not an option for regular listening.

More on de-essing: 


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