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In Soundbooth CS5 Essential Training, author Jeff Sengstack demonstrates how to record, edit, optimize, and enhance audio using the professional tools in Adobe Soundbooth CS5. This course covers basic audio edits, such as trimming, fading, and panning clips, removing unwanted noise, enhancing audio with special effects, and creating stereo blends from multiple tracks. An overview of recording hardware and a detailed explanation of core audio concepts are included as well. Exercise files accompany the course.
Background noise consists of noises we sometimes tune out, the kind of low hum emanating from even a polite, quiet audience, traffic noise, so-called white noise from an air condition or heating fans, electrical hum from fluorescent lights and audiotape hiss. Soundbooth has the feature that can isolate background noise and then remove all or some of it. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I want to show you how to approach the subject and you can decide whether it's working well enough for you. So we're going to work on the hum, we're going to work on the tape hiss and we're going to work on the vinyl record surface noise that looks like hiss and we'll save the scratches and the louder vinyl noise and the coughing and the cellphone for other tutorials.
So let's start by looking at this hum. You can pretty much see it right there. (Male Speaker: these truths to be self-evident.) (Hum.) There it is. What we want to do is we want to make a sample of the hum noise only, capture that sample and then try to have Soundbooth remove that hum while leaving everything else intact. So, the first thing we need to do is find a place where just the hum is playing and not the voice and that's right about here. You can sort of see that gap in the speaking voice and see the hum is only thing going on there. So, we need to take a sample of that spot and the best thing to do is to zoom in on a little bit.
So, I'm going to press the Plus key a couple of times. I want to get a noise sample, so I need to select that area that does not have me speaking, has no other noises except the hum. So, I'm going to select this area right there. That way, we can tell Soundbooth, "Listen to this, capture that sample," and the way you do that is you go to the Tasks panel, the Clean Up Audio area, and then this Capture Noise Print. The Capture Noise Print will become active when you've actually made a selection. If I click away from that, you'll notice that it's no longer active. So, I'll go back and select that area again, and just slide this over just little bit.
It's best to get as large an area as you can, practically, for your sample. The larger the area the better your sample. We're going to say Capture Noise Print. Nothing dramatic will happen. It just flashes and it's done its job. Now we want to try to remove this hum from this clip, so I'm going to select that entire segment there with that hum in it, just click on this thing says Noise and it's going to open up a dialog box. There's the Noise with a couple of settings. It says Reduction and Reduce By. Reduction specifies the so-called amplitude of the noise floor, basically anything below this point will be reduced and then Reduce By says, how many decibels are you reducing that thing below that noise floor? So at least we'll just preview with these settings that we just happened open up to and see what that sounds like.
(Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evident) Well, the hum is gone. I think that's pretty remarkable. But you do hear this kind of the sort of static-y, rough sound there. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evi -) So it's not a perfect process. Let me try to make it less Aggressive, as they say, but we'll keep the Reduced By at the same level. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be) Still kind of static-y. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths) So you can see this is not necessarily going to perfect here. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be) And the thing is there actually is a 60 Hertz hum affect, which I wanted to show you briefly, but we'll just stick with this thing for now and we'll say, OK we're done.
We'll accept that and let's see what happens. And notice that little yellow thing is gone, it removed it, but it didn't really affect the rest of the speech here. Let's just listen to that now. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.) So hear that there are some artifacts. It's not a perfect process, but it did make a dramatic difference and got rid of that hum. Let me show you one quick thing. I'm going to Undo that by pressing Ctrl+Z on Windows, or Command+Z on a Mac. That puts that hum back. I'm going to apply an effect there and I talk about applying effects in a different movie, but I wanted to show you briefly how that works here.
It's actually a preset called Remove 60 Cycle Hum. With that set, let's just see what that sounds like. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created e-) So, if you listen really carefully, you can still sort of hear that hum. Let me show you a little graphic, so I can give you an idea of how that works. There is this little graphic that says we're going to cut out 60 Cycles, right there, you can see, 60 Hertz right there and if you listen to the audio, if you play it, you'll see the waveform, the little amplitude here showing that 60 Hertz is kind of loud. (Male Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that.) See that, right there? So, this guy is trying to remove that hum right there and you can use this Effect to remove hum as well.
I did want to show that you now while we're talking about removing sounds. Now close that and we'll remove this particular effect by clicking on the old garbage can. I'll get back with the other Task in hand here, which is removing other sounds. Let's move down to this hissing noise. I'll use the Backslash Key to zoom out and see everything. There is a tape hiss. (Male Speaker: that they are endowed by their Creator) Here, we got pretty good chunk of time where we can get a good sample right there at the beginning before I start speaking. So I'm going to zoom in on that by pressing the Plus key a couple of times. There you go. Let's just get a sample here, using the Time Selection tool.
Drag this thing right about here. That's a good width of the sample. We'll loop that for a second, just to see that nothing else is in there. Okay, so let me just Capture the Noise Print. There we go. Now we're going to select this whole area, right there. That's the thing we want to fix. We want to remove that hiss from there. So, now we're going to click on Noise again, and now we can, let's say, make it a little more Aggressive and let's see how that sounds like. (Male Speaker: that they are endowed by their Creator) Oh, kind of little hissy. I'm going to reduce the noise by more. (Male Speaker: that they are) More Aggressive.
(Male Speaker: that they are endowed by their Creator with) If you listen to that, it's much better, but there's just kind of wavy sound going on there. Again, it's not a perfect process, but at least you can see that the hiss has been removed a lot and the more you play with this thing, the more you find that you might be able to make your reduction in the hissing noise, but we'll just accept that. We'll say OK. Notice how that dark area got lighter suddenly because we've removed that hiss. Let's listen to it. (Male Speaker: that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.) So, not perfect, but better and again, this is something you can mess with and sort of decide, "Is this worth it? Is it that much better now, or not?" Let's move on down the line to this little vinyl record noise, which is very similar, but it has little pops in it.
The difference is this is a two-step process and I'll show you about how you clear up pops in a different movie, but let me just, again, show you the same process where you select some sound and then you try to remove it. So let's go back to that little Time Selection tool. We'll select this area here. Give it a loop. See if that's the right one we want to do. It is. We'll Capture the Noise Print. Now we'll select this whole area here and say this is the area we want to reduce. Let's again, click Noise, Preview it - (Male Speaker: that among these are life.) Pretty loud still.
(Male Speaker: that among these are life.) Lots of times, when the things don't work this well, it's because the sound sample is not big enough. So, let's try that again. Try and see if we can get a bigger sound sample. That's about the limit. So, one reason these things don't work is that the sound sample is not necessarily perfect, so we need a larger area, sometimes, to really do it well. That one wasn't working pretty well, but that's one of the issues about reducing sound, or trying to remove unwanted sounds is that it doesn't always work. On the other side, when I look at music, that may even be tougher because music might be continuous and it's harder to get a good sample there. In this particular case, I put pauses between them to make it easier if you want to practice on this, but again, in real life, sometimes getting these little sound samples is not necessarily easy to do.
You really need to look for pretty good chunks of time where you can reduce those sound. So let's just try this one that we have trouble with on the narration side. (Music playing.) Let me get the sound sample, right there. I'll zoom in a little and make sure I got a good one, put the old loop here. That's about as good as we're going to get it and maybe just a little bit fatter, okay. Now we're going to go back to Capture the Noise Print and see how that work for that particular piece of audio with that music there. Let's see how that sounds. Let's Preview. (Music playing.) Yeah, pretty tough to get that thing reduced. (Music playing.) That's the thing about this little methodology - they don't always work.
(Music playing.) But at least, that's the process you need to go through. You need to get that sound sample, capture it and then click Noise and use that sound sample, which is gone by default, Use Captured Noise Print and give it a shot and see if you can make it worth your while to reduce those noises.
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