Here are some general tips to consider before you begin any audio editing or repair project.
1) Save the original audio file
Before making any editing and processing decisions, save out the original, raw, unedited, and unprocessed file. That way you or your collaborators can always revert back to the original version.
You may also come back to an edit you made at the end of a long day and find it sounding worse than ever. This is where the original files come in especially handy.
If you’re editing inside a DAW, such as Pro Tools, the Playlist feature makes this particularly easy. Just duplicate the playlist of the original file before making any edits to it and render any edits to a new playlist labeled as such.
RX allows you to save your work and unlimited undo history as a RX Document File (RXDOC) so that you can revisit your edit decisions later on. Making sure your collaborators have access to your RXDOC files could be helpful too.
2) Compare different settings and listen for artifacts
Sometimes it helps to make the same audio repair with different settings. Then you can carefully compare the resulting files and listen for artifacts.
RX has a Compare Settings feature that allows you to compare A/B results.
Tools such as De-click and De-hum have modes for previewing just the sound that is being removed so you can be sure you’re not removing critical parts of the original sound. Try out the Clicks Onlymode in De-click or Output Hum Only option in De-hum.
3) Avoid overediting and overprocessing
Noise reduction and signal processing are not without artifacts, and these artifacts can become quite obvious if these tools are overused. Avoid overuse by following these guidelines:
- Process only the sections of audio that need it. Do this by making small selections so that a processing gesture doesn’t get applied to the entire file unnecessarily.
- Complement the project, don’t distract from it. A little background noise may sound more natural to your audience than the characteristic sound of overprocessing.
- Process multiple times with conservative settings instead of a single time with extreme settings.You may also find that processing a number of smaller sections yields better results than processing one large section all at once. This is particularly useful when removing substantial amounts of noise.
4) Document your edit process
Referring back to documentation will help you improve your workflows and solve problems more quickly and efficiently in the future. For forensics work, documentation is often a required deliverable in addition to a best practice.
RX automates this process by allowing you to save module-specific presets and RXDOC files. If you’ve figured out a solution and want to document it, use the undo history tool to retrace your steps.
5) Keep the ears rested and the mind open
Audio editing and restoration work requires a lot of focus on subtle details. Taking breaks will help you return with a fresh mind to see and hear the bigger picture.