Although some people may claim that vinyl records bring a warmer quality to music, few contest the notion that dragging a needle repeatedly through a groove introduces unwelcome pops and crackles. Thankfully, many new tools have arrived that can zero in on this annoyance — and others — and largely eliminate it. One such tool is Bias’s SoundSoap, a $99 noise-reduction utility (available as a VST audio plug-in or as a stand-alone product) simple enough for a preschooler to operate.
Clean Up in a Jiffy
It really is that easy to use. To remove hiss and hum from a recording, you need only open a QuickTime-compatible video or audio file (including AVI, WAV, AIFF, MP3, and MPEG-4) and press the Learn Noise button. In a couple of seconds, SoundSoap profiles the noise in the file and removes its most annoying characteristics. SoundSoap allows you to focus on specific kinds of noises as well. Click on the Preserve Voice button, and SoundSoap removes audio clutter outside the range of the human voice. And clicking on the Remove Rumble button eliminates noise below 40Hz. Should you care to see what SoundSoap is doing, take a gander at the ovoid Wash Window, which offers a view of your sound before and after processing.
We successfully removed much of the background roar from a QuickTime movie shot near an airport runway. We also applied SoundSoap to a digit-ized 78-rpm recording featuring voice and big-band music. Although SoundSoap removed much of the hiss and crackle, the resulting file sounded a bit flat. We then wished that SoundSoap also let us enhance recordings with tone controls and a stereo-field enhancer, as does Arboretum Systems’ noise-reduction utility, the less-intuitive Ray Gun Pro X ($149; 800/700-7390, www.arboretum.com).
Macworld’s Buying Advice
There’s no question that SoundSoap ably and easily removes noise from just about any audio file you throw at it — and if that’s all you have to do, then this is the tool you need.