Make All Your Mixes Sound Like Your Favorite Records With Your Free Mix Cheatsheet

Audio Repair – Why It Is Important and How You Get the Best Out Of It


Have you ever ditched a take because there was a problem with the audio? Noisy guitar amps? Headphone mix bleed? Barking dogs? Until a couple of years ago, re-recording would be your solution of choice. 

Audio repair used to be something reserved for forensic audio (a seriously cool topic) or film sound professionals.

But things have shifted. Packages like iZotope RX or Accusonus ERA are becoming standard tools even in music production. 

Why bother with audio repair? I just re-record…

No doubt about it: a clean take is the most desirable recording to work with. But consider this: More and more artists record in their home studios. As a consequence, more often than not you as a producer or engineer will have to work with less than ideal raw material. The arrival of COVID19 has intensified this even more.

Being able to fix audio problems is like pulling an ace out of your sleeve during a poker match. Some clients might even think you’re practicing voodoo with their audio…

Are you ready to add an essential production skill to your portfolio? Let’s go for a ride!

What audio repair tasks will I encounter?

Unwanted noises can be grouped into three categories, each needing a specific set of tools to remove. They are:

  • Background noise: Hiss from a mic pre or guitar amp hum are two great examples. This type of noise is constant and, therefore, the easiest to tackle.
  • Repetitive transient noises: Vocal smack sounds, crackles, or pops fall into this category. These sounds are a bit more difficult to remove, but since they still have a certain regularity, there are automated solutions out there to help you to get rid of them.
  • Random noises: Your artist’s chair creaked during the recording? There’s a dog barking in the middle of the second chorus? These noises are the most difficult to remove and will require manual editing.

The tools of the trade

Now that you know which types of enemies you will have to tackle on your path to audio repair mastery, let’s check out the tools you need to take down each one of them!

Constant background noise removal plug-ins

These are really easy to use. Just give them a few milliseconds of noise to analyze and choose the amount of reduction. More sophisticated tools can estimate the background noise signature for you – handy if you don’t have a piece of noise-only recording available.

Denoise plug-ins

The ERA Noise Remover (Accusonus) and the Spectral Denoise module (iZotope’s RX) are great for removing constant background noise.

Transient noise removal plug-ins

These plug-ins work with algorithms made to detect certain types of noises like clicks, mouth pops, plosives, or fret squeaks. Usually, they give you a small set of parameters to tweak the algorithm to your needs. A bit of experimentation might be necessary, but once you get the hang of it, the results will be very satisfying.

DePlosive and DeCrackle

The ERA Plosive Remover or the De-Crackle module in iZotope’s RX are examples of transient noise removal algorithms.

Tackling random noises

While the first two categories of noise can be removed with automated algorithms, tackling random noises requires you to really get your hands dirty. For this work, you’ll need a spectral editor (also known as Photoshop for audio) like iZotope’s RX or Steinberg’s Spectral Layers.

iZotope RX8 UI

This is how Photoshop for audio looks like (iZotope RX main user interface).

You’ll need to identify the noise signature of the offending sound in a spectrogram. It’s a bit like reading the code of the Matrix – after some time, you just think ‘bird… dog… thud…’.

Noise signatures examples

Some noise signatures that you might encounter…

Tips for choosing the right audio repair package

To sum up, I’ll compare two popular audio repair packages and give you the ups and downs of each one. This should give you a good idea of what to look for when you’re researching the bundle that’s perfect for you. 

Full disclosure: The links in this section are affiliate links, so I get a couple of quids if you decide to buy something after clicking them.

Accusonus ERA Bundle (Standard)

  • Contains Noise Remover, Reverb Remover, De-Esser, De-Clipper, Plosive Remover, and Audio CleanUp Assistant.
  • Advantage: Highly intuitive and well-priced.
  • Disadvantage: No manual editing possible. 

iZotope RX8 (Standard)

  • Contains a great variety of automated and manual audio repair tools (Spectral Repair, DeNoise, DeReverb, DePlosive, Music Rebalance, DeClip, and many more).
  • Advantage: Highly flexible toolkit with manual spectral editing.
  • Disadvantage: More time needed to learn the different functions, higher price.

If you only need to remove the odd noise from a vocal or guitar track, the ERA bundle will serve you well. However, my advice is to get proficient in the use of RX. Apart from being the more complete option, it’s considered a standard in post-production. And film producers are always looking for good dialogue editors…

About Norbert

Norbert is a sound designer, composer, and engineer. You can give him a nudge on Insta (@norbertweiher) or head over to norbertweiher.com to check out his work.


Transform Your Muddy Mixes Into Powerful, Radio-Ready Records With Your FREE Mix Finisher Cheatsheet

*Spam sucks and I will not share your email with anyone.

About me

About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

Read more

LEAVE A COMMENT