If you deal with sound recordings on a daily basis, you are probably keen on the numerous issues that can come along with making them sound good. Whether the sound was recorded by a professional recordist or a complete novice, sometimes there are anomalies and noise problems that you simply can’t get away from, even if you follow all the rules to getting great sound on set.

Noise reduction software is your saving grace. There are a few really solid tools out there, some you’ve certainly heard of, and others you may not have. Let’s break down some of your best options.

 

  1. Accusonus ERA (N/R/D) – Noise Reduction Magic
    image of Accusonus' user interface for their ERA-D noise and reverb reduction tool & the ERA bundle

Accusonus is one of those companies that has gone largely unheard of in respects to audio repair, which is a shame as their offerings are affordable, easy to use, and capable of producing quick results. Here’s a quick overview of their comprehensive ERA Bundles. The ERA Bundle Standard ($129) contains 4 single-knob plugins, each one solving a different audio problem:

● ERA Noise Remover
● ERA Reverb Remover
● ERA Plosive Remover
● ERA De-Esser

The Accusonus ERA Bundle Pro ($349) contains the 4 single-knob plugins as well as ERA D, a joint noise & reverb reduction plugin for post professionals.

You may be wondering about the steep upgrade when ERA-D does essentially the same things as the ERA Noise Remover and the ERA Reverb Remover. The secret here is that ERA-D does something that other tools don’t: 2-channel intelligent noise reduction. This means you can feed in 2 different channels (boom and lav, for instance) and the 2 channels will inform each other of the content, making for a much cleaner denoising process with fewer artifacts. If this fits your situation, I’d say it’s worth the small splurge for the top tier version.

The benefits of Accusonus’ tools is that you can run them in real-time and get results quick. The one-knob style functionality makes them extremely simple for non-audio geniuses to use. It’s definitely worth it for video editors, indie filmmakers or audio engineers who need a clean and quick solution.

Try it out for free and see for yourself.

 

  1. iZotope RX (Standard/Advanced) – King of Audio Repair
    screenshots of iZotope RX audio restoration tools

RX is possibly the most well-known sound restoration software out today. Ever since version 1, iZotope has been pouring R&D into making this software unbeatable.

RX gives you a fully featured waveform and spectral editor with numerous ways to view and select your sound and a complete host of tools including:

  • De-Noise
  • De-Click
  • De-Crackle
  • De-Hum
  • De-Clip
  • De-Bleed (uses
  • De-Plosive
  • De-Ess (removes vocal sibilance with ease)
  • De-Reverb
  • De-Rustle
  • De-Wind
  • Interpolate
  • Dialogue Isolate (algorithms shaped to lighten noise without introducing artifacts)
  • Spectral De-Noise
  • Voice De-Noise
  • Mouth De-Click
  • Deconstruct (the ability to filter and separate between tonal and broadband sounds)
  • Ambience Match & Extraction (no room tone? no problem!)
  • EQ Match
  • Auto Leveler (time saver, helps you audio sound consistent without compression)
  • Time & Pitch Manipulation
  • Center Content Extraction
  • Find Similar (uses machine learning to find sonic events in the recording that are similar to the one you’ve highlighted)
  • Common Tools including: Gain, Phase, Normalize, Azimuth Correction, Panning, Resampling, signal Generator, etc
  • Batch Processing (this is key if you have a lot of bad audio on a consistent basis)

Needless to say, iZotope’s flagship software can warrant an entire blog series on its own. If you are an indie filmmaker, video editor, sound engineer or sound designer, this software surely has a handful of tools that will be immediately useful in your everyday work. The advanced version will cost you a pretty penny, but if you can afford the standard version, you still get most of the available tools, minus just a few awesome ones.

Standard RX: $399

Advanced RX: $1,199

 

  1. Adobe Audition CC  – The Editor’s Go-To Sound Tool
    screenshot of Adobe Audition being used to remove noise from an audio file

Many video editors will be quite familiar with Audition, as it comes bundled with the Creative Cloud suite (meaning many of you already have this available to you without spending an additional dime).

Audition is not just a noise reduction software, but a complete digital audio workstation, capable of multi-track editing, mixing, sound design, mastering and spectral audio editing. While the noise-reduction tools are relatively bare-bones compared to some other options, it likely has the tools you need the most:

  • Noise Reduction
  • Click Removal
  • Pop Removal
  • Hum Removal
  • Sound Removal (for odd, random sounds)
  • Adaptive Noise Reduction (for constantly changing sounds, like an airplane fly-by)
  • Hiss Removal
  • Volume Leveling
  • Pitch Correction
  • Plus the entire suite of tools and plugins that Audition has to offer

These tools, along with their spectral editor (complete with photoshop-like selection tools), give you the ability to clean out most common sonic problems.

If you are a Premiere Pro editor on a budget, this is a no-brainer. Learn to use Audition as well as you do Premiere or After Effects, and you are golden. If you don’t have the Adobe CC suite, but you want Audition, it’ll cost you $19.99 per month.

 

  1. Cedar Studio  – Serious Audio Restoration
    image of Cedar's promotional banner for their Studio 7 noise removal tools

Cedar is the grandfather of noise-reduction, the first major competitor in the industry, and what most of the professionals use when lives are on the line, like in the case of forensic investigations.

Cedar’s tools are available in both software and hardware, with different tools for different purposes, such as live event noise-reduction where a zero-error and zero-latency solution is absolutely necessary, or in server setups where huge bulk processing must happen 100x faster than real-time to keep up with the huge amount of audio that needs to be processed.

But most studio professionals on this level would rely on Cedar Studio; their comprehensive set of software that works inside DAWs like Pro Tools. Of course, this bundle of tools will cost about $13,000, with each module costing no less than around $3,000 each. While many of the benefits of these tools can be found in cheaper software, the added top level of quality, speed and efficiency is a need reserved for a select few.

It’s likely that if you need Cedar, you aren’t reading this article, but it’s good to have knowledge of the software by which all the others will be judged in terms of quality and reliability.

 

  1. Waves (WNS/W43/NS1/X-Noise/Z-Noise) – Quick Audio Cleanup
    screenshots of Wave's noise reduction tools

If you are an audio engineer, you likely know all about Waves plugins. They’ve been around a long time and have been a staple in every major music and post house all over the world. In that time, they’ve released some pretty great noise reduction plugins, which I’ll parse into 2 categories:

Intelligent:

  • NS1
  • W43
  • WNS

Manual:

  • X-Noise
  • X-Hum
  • X-Click
  • X-Crackle
  • Z-Noise

The manual plugins are their older suite of tools and have parametric features to dial in the threshold, band control, and more after you’ve taught the plugin what the noise print looks like. 

The intelligent plugins are their newer tools that use advanced DSP logic to differentiate between signal and noise, allowing you to dial in the threshold and, in the case of W43 and WNS, adjust that threshold for multiple bands to dial it in a bit more.

The greatest part of their intelligent plugins is that they work really fast, with almost zero-latency. This means you can throw it on your audio track and not lose sync, which can be a huge time saver.

Of this toolset, W43 may have the best bang-for-the-buck, only costing $49 (depending on the day, as Waves is always having sales) and giving you a 4 band control. If you are in need of not only noise but click and hum removal, those plugins are priced around $89, or you can buy the entire intelligent set for $399.

 

  1. MAGIX Spectral Layers Pro  – The Photoshop of Sound Editing & Repair
    screenshot of the interface for Spectral Layers Pro with a sound being viewed in spectral 3d

A completely unique tool, Magix (who bought this software from Sony) offers what some may call the ‘photoshop-for-audio’. The software gives you a spectral view of your audio, advanced selection, brush, clone (yes, clone stamp for audio!) and erase tools, and the ability to extract separate items into ‘layers’ and process them individually.

While Spectral Layers Pro gives extreme granularity to editing your audio that no other software really offers (even RX doesn’t offer some of these features, like drawing in frequencies, pitch shifting a single selected harmonic, or spectral casting/molding), this tool hasn’t quite caught on yet with professionals.

Of course, they also include tools for noise ‘fingerprinting’, but you won’t find the number of intelligent algorithms available for noise removal like you see in iZotope RX. Spectral Layers is all about manual control, and if you know how to view the spectrogram to find sound, and use the tools to manipulate it, you may be just as well off with this software.

For $399, Spectral Layers is an impressive tool that offers features unique in their own right and makes itself a valuable component in a sound editor’s toolkit.

 

  1. Antares SoundSoap – Legendary & Simple Sound Cleaner

    screenshot of Antares' Soundsnap interface

Soundsoap from Antares (yes, the auto-tune company) has come a long way since it was owned by BIAS (pre-2012) and has made itself one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest options for noise reductionDespite BIAS no longer being around, the genius behind BIAS’ legendary tools is now CEO of Antares, so you can trust that the development of the software is in good hands.

With its most basic version starting at a one-time fee of $74.50 (none of that subscription nonsense), you get an intelligent noise reduction solution that will work in any professional audio or video editing software environment. While their $250 Soundsoap+ software offers some better algorithms and more fine-tuned control, for a down and dirty solution in the middle of a fast-paced video editing project, Soundsoap might be all you need.

 

  1. Zynaptiq ‘Un-Series’ Repair Tools – Unique Sound Fixes

    screenshot of Zynaptiq's audio repair plugins

If you are looking for a more specific set of repair tools, you might want to look into Zynaptiq. Since their inception, this company has been focused on making tools that nobody else has made before. For their audio repair products, they offer the following tools:

Un-Veil: learn and reduce the effects of natural reverb in recordings

Un-Chirp: remove ‘watery’ artifacts caused by low bit-rate encoding and noise filtering

Un-Filter: ‘un-EQ’ your audio from things like resonances, comb-filtering, roll-offs and more.

If you don’t know much about audio restoration, know that these tools are making strides towards capabilities previously unseen in the industry. While not perfect, they do work surprisingly well considering the mathematical engineering feats required to create tools like these. Worth checking out if you have the money. The bundle for all 3 will run you about $799.

 

Additional Noise Reduction Tools

If you haven’t found something in your price range, you’re in luck! There are lots of noise reduction plugins available. Many are similar to ones we’ve listed, but just didn’t make the cut, and are likely capable of doing what you need. Many others (usually bare-bones basic plugins) are also often included in software already, like Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, and Audacity (a free audio application).

Do your research and find what works best for you in your price range and what is compatible with your software and your workflow. Know the difference between what intelligent reduction, manual noise-print reduction, and gating have to offer your sound. And keep in mind, not all of these plugins will work equally as well. Use your ears and listen for when you’re reducing too much noise. Nothing sounds worse than over-filtered audio files.

Remember, if you pick the right gear from the start, like low-noise microphones and recorders with low-noise preamps, your likelihood of needing noise-reduction will probably decrease a substantial amount. Check out our guides on buying a budget microphone or recorder to get you started.

 

Soundsnap

Chances are that if you work as an editor, sound designer or the like, you’re in need of a great source for sound effects for your projects. Soundsnap has 250,000+ professional sound effects (and music loops) across every category and is used by companies like HBO, Pixar, Vice, and more. We make purchase options flexible, allowing you to buy a few at a time or to pay for an entire year of unlimited downloads for just $199.