Despite efforts to make recordings as clean as possible, noise contamination can still occur. By golly its about time McDSP did something about it. Say goodbye to noise. Say hello to the NR800 Noise Reduction Processor.
The NR800 reduces unwanted noise while preserving the original signal, in realtime. Noise reduction modes and bias options cover a wide variety of scenarios, and low and high noise reduction focus points zero in on the culprit frequencies. Fully independent pre-filters further enhance noise reduction capabilities. Read on to get acquainted with the latest in noise reduction technology from McDSP!
The NR800, like all McDSP plug-ins, comes with plenty of presets to get you started. Wind in your dialog? Noisy guitar amp? Too much leakage from the toms getting into the snare? The NR800 has those scenarios covered at lots more. Spend some time with the preset library in the NR800 and see what it can do.
Before digging into the noise reduction capabilities of the NR800, be sure to enable the HPF and LPF filters on the left hand side of the user interface. These filters can help isolate the portion of the frequency spectrum that contains the ‘good’ audio. No need to exercise the noise reduction algorithm on audio you don’t want in the first place.
The NR800 pre-filters come with a wide range of slopes – 6 dB/Oct to 36 dB/Oct – useful for subtle and not so subtle results! Sometimes it is useful to apply a slight amount of pre-filtering using the 6 dB/Oct slope, to gently remove a small amount of unwanted signal.
The NR800 pre-filters are also very useful in defining what is the range of frequencies you’d want to keep. Once the HPF and LPF frequencies are selected, the NR Low and High focus points should be set to approximately the same frequencies, or even slightly inside the window created by the HPF and LPF. For example, if the HPF and LPF frequencies were 100 and 10,000 Hz respectively, you’d want to have the NR Low focus point at or above 100 Hz, and the NR High Focus point at or below 10,000 Hz.
It’s a Snap
Start playback. At a moment of nominal signal level, press the Threshold Snap button, found on the right hand side of the UI. This will give the NR800 algorithm an idea of where the signal levels are for the DESIRED signal are at. Press the Gain Snap button, located right next to the Threshold Snap button. The gains will move to a reduction level that should be appropriate for the audio in question.
That’s right – you tell the NR800 how to remove the noise by letting it know the signal level of the audio you want to keep. No more hunting for that ‘good noise’ segment of your audio track. Just hit play, snap the threshold, and then snap the gain for the appropriate amount of noise reduction. If the result is not what you need, then snap the Threshold and then the Gain again.
The Gain snap can be further enhanced by choosing one of the NR Bias modes found just above the Gain and Threshold snap controls. The default setting is FLAT, but there is a collection of other settings that can influence how the noise reduction is calculated when the Gain snap button is pressed. To audition the NR Bias options available, choose a NR Bias setting, and then ‘snap’ the Gain again. A green guide-curve is displayed in the plot, but does not affect the sound. The guide curve can also be used as a reference when manually adjusting the noise reduction amounts in each band.
After ‘snapping’ the NR800 to attention, you may still want to adjust the gain in some (or all) of the bands. Golly it would be great if you could link all those bands to a master, huh? Well you can! The NR800 links all its bands together with the M (master link) and L (link) buttons. The master band will move all the linked bands, while the linked bands can still be moved independently.
For even faster setup, hold the shift key and then press the M (master link) button in a given band. You will see all the bands L buttons toggle (to ‘on’ presuming they were all ‘off’ previously). Now the band with the pressed M is the master for the Gain and Threshold controls in all the other bands.
Go for the Modes
On the far right of the NR800 user interface there is an NR Mode menu with options like SMOOTH I, DYNAMIC, and FAST. As the amount of noise reduction is auditioned, be sure to check out some of these modes. Each mode is calibrated differently and one may perform better than another for a given application.
R and R
Also on the far right of the NR800 user interface are the Range and Response knobs. The Range controls the overall amount of noise reduction and is a convenient way to reduce or increase the overall reduction amount. The Response control provides an adjustment to the calibrations including in the NR Modes. A faster response makes the NR800 react more quickly, while a slower response makes the NR800 sound more natural.
There is also an ‘x2’ button right next to the noise reduction ’NR’ enable button. The ‘x2 button will double the overall amount of noise reduction, and is useful in extreme situations. You can dial the Range control back to 50% with the ‘x2’ button enabled to get the 100% noise reduction ‘setting’.
Han Shot First
In the event you are having trouble discerning if a given noise reduction band is doing the job you want, and enabling/disabling the band with the 1, 2, 3, … numbered buttons is not enough, you can solo the given band and listen to the pre-processed signal coming into the NR800.
Are we there yet?
The NR800 is the essential workflow of the noise reduction process. Isolate, identify, and improve. The best mixes are not made by computer, they are made my audio engineers. If you are reading this, you must be one of the later (I hope). Fire up the NR800 and get some noise reduction processing in your production.