Regular readers may have noticed that I have added two recently remastered CD projects to the recent posts, with older ones posted concurrently. Ostensibly, mastering CD-Rs from vinyl is my raison d’être, but in all candor, the usual pressures of time and money have pretty much done me in on that front in the last several years. Just eking out the time to record vinyl to hard drive is time consuming enough. Considering that my audio hard drive is now full, there exists the need to buy into a NAS solution, or at the very least, a 4TB external drive to contain my archives.
Most of my audio projects were archived onto DVD-R after completion and stored in the best possible way. I have CD-Rs nearly 20 years old that are still readable, so one hopes that these more recent audio file archives are as well. Where it gets positively Monastic, is in the de-noising of these files. Specifically, click and pop removal. For over a decade, my methodology has been to manually use the interpolate filter in Sound Studio to target the offending noise and remove it utterly [in 90% of the cases] with no crude footprint stamped onto the face of the music itself. I’ve tried broadband noise reduction software. I have two in my toolkit, but I have rarely used them except in extreme cases, because they really impact the sound quality of the music.
The fallout of that approach is the enormous investment of time that manually targeting such noise engenders. A 12″ A-side of six minutes might take 2-3 hours and upwards to 1200 manual edits to satisfactorily clean up. It will sound much better afterward, but the work is time consuming and tedious. This factor, more than anything, has served to limit my engagement with the vinyl in the Record Cell for archival purposes. In good years, I might generate a BSOG [4-6 CDs worth of music] and another half dozen single disc projects over the course of a year. And that was in the best of times!
Since 2012, I have only done three CDs; two of which have recently featured here. The third was another birthday gift and even I don’t have a copy of that one since I ran out of MAM-A printable gold archive media a long time ago. A spindle of 100 is about $220, but trust me; gold media is far more bulletproof than garden variety CD-Rs! I learned that the hard way. I currently have half of the cost of a spindle saved up. Other things keep getting in the way.
In recent months I have made efforts to reconnect with my self, the archivist and curator since I was beginning to turn into an automaton. I find it ironic that the tedious and laborious manual de-noising of sound waves on a computer could paradoxically enliven my spirit, but there you are. The crux of the problem lay in the time factor necessary to take the end products up to the level that I’d prefer. I just don’t have that much free time. Thus, the output of my vanity label, REVO, withered on the vine in recent years. Until now.
Last night I followed up on a blog I was reading as I ate my lunch yesterday. I was reading up on Underworld and found this page on Burning The Ground about them. The owner posted meticulously restored files from vinyl for all comers, and while I don’t roll that way, I did have a [semi] professional interest in his methodology. It seemed he used a program called ClickRepair. Maybe I should investigate it? So last night I did.
Words cannot describe the experience. It uses an interpolation methodology just like I do, with the exception that it automatically performs the results many thousands of times faster than I can! Just as carefully, within reason. I am currently working on a long-stanging RM of an LP title which will never get a legit CD and had one 7″ B-side left. I used ClickRepair and was rewarded with an immaculate file at the end of a minute. No high end or bass frequencies were affected since the interpolation method targets only the noise, just like I did.
I quickly realized that this was a game-changing technology that could see my efforts multiplied significantly. Best of all, ClickRepair is a cross platform Java-based app that runs in all mainstream operating systems. Its creator, Brian Davies, is an Australian mathematician and audiophile who is a one-man perfect storm of coding an app for this most delicate of problems. The manual is more than generous with some of the theory behind the tool, but your ears will tell you the difference with no mathematics needed. The download for Win/Mac/Linux has a three week free preview period and I daresay that only one usage with presets will convince strongly. The price? A mere $40. How much was my time worth? I wish I could travel backward in time and save myself hundreds of hours. If anyone wants to step into the garden of vinyl remastering, they could hardly do better.
– 30 –