Old 02-19-2019, 11:02 AM   #1
BalSam
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Default Voiceover Noise Reduction - HELP!

Hi,

Iíve recently set up a home studio for voiceover. Been playing around with noise reduction tools (after watching a TON of videos) but Iím unsure which are the best options and in what order to use them...

Iíve tried subtracting room tone with ReaFir, LPF/HPF in ReaEQ and ReaGate but Iím yet to try a Limiter. Is there a definite order in which these should be used? Or maybe I donít need to use all of them??

Iíve also seen one or two vids about using make up gain after compression whereas others say make up gain should be avoided at all costs!

Iím confused.

This is my first post so any and all help much appreciated!
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:48 AM   #2
clepsydrae
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I have not had great success using ReaFIR to remove background noise. AFAIK, good noise reduction still costs some $ (iZotope RX, Waves xNoise, etc.)

If you want to use ReaFIR, I'd put it first in the chain for reasons of workflow: you're more likely to tweak the EQ and other stuff, and you don't want to have to re-learn the noise profile every time you make a tweak.

Compression (or limiting, which is just extreme compression) is relevant to this subject insofar as there are little gaps of (noisy) silence that are coming through despite your gating. In that case, any compression that follows will effectively be turning up the noise floor. Compression is so named because it compresses the dynamic range, which could be interpreted as "making the noise floor and the signal peak closer to each other", which is obviously not what you want if you're trying to avoid noise. Whether or not you use make-up gain is kind of irrelevant, though: the make up gain will not alter the overall signal-to-noise ratio. Indirectly, it is relevant because if you apply compression you may then need to boost the signal (with the noise) to compensate, but it's wrong-headed to say "make up gain is bad". It's just a trade off: if you want to apply compression, you need to balance that with the fact that the overall SNR will suffer (and make-up gain doesn't affect that.)

You might also explore closer micing in the booth (not always desirable, I know) since the closer your mouth is to the mic, the better the signal-to-noise ratio is going to be.
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Old 02-19-2019, 02:48 PM   #3
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There's a reason pros still record in soundproof studios with good equipment and good mic position, etc.

Noise reduction works best when you have a constant very-low level noise... Noise reduction works best when you don't REALLY need it. And if the noise is bad, the cure can be worse than the disease.

As clepsydrae says, limiting & compression make the signal-to-noise ratio WORSE. Sometimes that can be offset by downward expansion (noise-gating) but if the noise-gaiting becomes noticeable it can be very distracting.

Quote:
Iíve also seen one or two vids about using make up gain after compression whereas others say make up gain should be avoided at all costs!
WRONG!

Your work will likely be rejected if you don't use make-up gain.

It's true that make-up gain (or ANY analog or digital amplification) WILL boost everything including the noise and that DOES tend to make the noise more noticeable. But make-up gain doesn't damage the signal-to-noise ratio and the listener will hear the same noise when they have to turn-up the playback volume (because you didn't apply make-up gain).
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Old 02-19-2019, 02:55 PM   #4
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Reafir can do great with the right approach.

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...5&postcount=23

Explains a trick where the wet/dry mix of reafir is modulated by the material's volume, so that when loud, the noise reduction is low level, and when quiet, ramps up.

Makes for clarity and natural results.
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Old 02-19-2019, 03:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenK-msx View Post
Reafir can do great with the right approach.

https://forum.cockos.com/showpost.ph...5&postcount=23
OP: definitely do this when you use ReaFIR. (Too bad it doesn't have per-FFT-band gating/expansion built-in.)
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:18 AM   #6
BalSam
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Thank you so much for these replies...

I probably should've said in the original post - the main (and most infuriating) issue is the low hum from an air filtration system in the house (exactly the sort of thing you described DVDdoug)

Clepsydrae I've not had great success with ReaFir either so I may have to bite the bullet and buy something else. Sound Recovery by Bitsonic's had some good reviews and I've also seen this -

https://klevgrand.se/products/brusfri/

Thankfully neither of those options seem to break the bank but maybe you get what you pay for?

BenK-msx before I do ANYTHING however, I'm gonna follow your method for ReaFir!!

The other part of my question I maybe should've put in a separate thread...

When it comes to noise gating/HPF/EQ/Compression/De-Essing etc I guess I was talking about AFTER I've successfully gotten rid of the background hum. I'm confused about the order in which these things should be applied (assuming they're all needed/required) once the hum is hopefully a distant memory...

Is there a kind of 'standard' chain for voiceover from beginning to end before rendering?

Oh and I've realised when I talked about make up gain it was AUTOmake up I've seen differing opinions about, not make up gain generally!!

My bad!
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:35 AM   #7
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The reafir trick should work well for when you zero in on right settings.

Generally I'd do the 'fixy' things first, then proceed to sweeten. Corrective EQ before compression, maybe some sweetening gentle EQ after, maybe some further compression after that, fit de-ess in there, if it's really essy, before comp.

Don't be afraid to have multiple stages of tweaks that are doing one job ranging from correction>>sweetening that are getting less severe as you go.

Generally speaking
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Old 02-20-2019, 08:12 AM   #8
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The noise remover in this package is relatively expensive compared to free solutions in Reaper but is easier, more natural and more effective.
https://accusonus.com/products/audio...undle-standard

Try to demo the noise remover ($59 on its own) and try it around say 7%. You can ramp it up all the way but of course it becomes less natural is the processing becomes more obvious when you can kill background noise 100%.
Sometimes multiple instances works best with different complimentary filter curves at different levels. Used with care it is quite effective, just don't throw the baby out...
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Old 02-20-2019, 09:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BalSam View Post

I probably should've said in the original post - the main (and most infuriating) issue is the low hum from an air filtration system in the house (exactly the sort of thing you described DVDdoug)
Then I think you'll have good results with a combination of ReaFir and notching or very narrow eq, using each to handle had the job. A static noise like from an air filter, especially a low hum, has very specific frequencies, with the added bonus of them either being out of the range of voice entirely or near the cusp of where it can be sacrificed.

Firstly, any spoken work should get a high pass, which will eliminate anything below where it's set. Usually that would be 75 - 90hz for a male and higher for a female (or anyone with less low end content in their voice). Start there and creep it up until you decide it's too much off the voice and then back it down. That alone should take away a good deal of the low hum.

Before you put ReaFir on you should sweep a narrow eq over room tone to find where the offensive extra noise is. Everyone has their own way of doing this, but basically take a 15db or so boosted very narrow band and slowly creep it up the frequency range, in the area the noise is, up to around 300hz. Hopefully it's much lower than that, around 90hz or so. When you get to where the target freq is the sound will respond to the eq boost and jump in volume. Find the exact freq and change the boost to cut, keeping it narrow. You'll probably want to adjust the amount if it's within the speaker's range, but you should be able to, for example do a narrow cut of -10db of 120hz and not affect the voice too much because it will be so narrow. If you need to, raise it to -6 or whatever. You should be able to affect the air filter noticeably and the voice noticeably.

The advantage of using eq, if it does the trick, is that there are no artifacts. ReaFir works great but not to take out 100% of the noise, if it's very noisy. But both working together can be very effective. I find that using eq (if the noise is eq-able) and two instances of ReaFir, both set conservatively and with the wet/dry mix around 1/2 to 2/3 to be a good go to for noisy narration. It depends on if the narration will be naked or under a bed of music and ambience. If naked you really can't have any audible artifacts. In a mix it's not as critical.
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Old 02-20-2019, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BalSam View Post
When it comes to noise gating/HPF/EQ/Compression/De-Essing etc I guess I was talking about AFTER I've successfully gotten rid of the background hum. I'm confused about the order in which these things should be applied (assuming they're all needed/required) once the hum is hopefully a distant memory...

Is there a kind of 'standard' chain for voiceover from beginning to end before rendering?
No, but a good guideline is to put things you tweak the most at the end, put things that make big changes to the audio before compression, and put things that require a long time to set up and which are dependent on an exactly-known stream of audio (e.g. noise reduction) at the beginning. You just have to think about how the plugins affect each other and order them accordingly. Sometimes there is not a "perfect" order that makes sense and you will always have to tweak a couple plugins when you just wanted to tweak one.

If you're going to drastically high-pass (e.g. to take a loud bass rumble out of the audio), you probably want that before compressors or other dynamics processing, so the dynamics aren't triggering on audio that won't be in the final result anyway (unless you want that effect for some unusual reason.)

The noise reduction is nice to have at the start since you'd have to re-learn the noise profile every time you adjusted anything coming before it (even a minor gain adjustment would throw it off.) (Although if you use ReaFIR and parameter modulation this may not be required since IIRC it's getting it's gain detection from the original audio on the track, not a point in the plugin chain.)

EQ that is minor (meaning, not a drastic HPF but just "polish" of the sound) can often come last -- often it's being tweaked a lot as you mix, and if you e.g. boost at 1k by 1dB you are unlikely to suddenly feel the need to change the compression coming before it.

So, given the list you provided, I'd go:

- noise reduction
- HPF and any other large-scale EQ shaping that should come before dynamics
- compression
- noise gating (if gating is just a simple threshold then compression/gating order is not so important; whichever is tweaked more should go last)
- de-essing
- polish EQ

With this order, any time you make changes to the compression, you'll have to check/adjust the de-esser, which is a pain, but the de-esser will likely work more effectively on a predictable signal that has been evened out a little, so it's probably worth it.

Quote:
Oh and I've realised when I talked about make up gain it was AUTOmake up I've seen differing opinions about, not make up gain generally!!
People describing "auto make-up gain" might be mistakenly referring to "auto gain control", which is a different thing. AGC is just automatic compression with a slow attack/release and a high ratio, and it's usually awful, yes. But "auto make-up gain" usually refers to the compressor plugin software estimating how much gain, on average, will be reduced with the given settings, and adjusting the output gain accordingly. As long as it's only making that adjustment once (meaning, it's not dynamically adjusting it as the audio plays, but only adjusting it when you tweak the compressor settings) it's harmless.

As they say, if it sounds good, it is good.*

* when it comes to compression, beginners may have difficulty accurately determining if it sounds good. :-)
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Old 02-21-2019, 07:26 AM   #11
BalSam
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This is just fantastic.

Time to put my headphones on and bury myself in the computer for a while...

Thank you so much again, all of you, for your help.
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