Here are some examples of Restoration and Repair work done on pre-existing recordings.
Click on each Title below, to open a player.
Click on each Title below, to open a player.
Restoration and Repair
- Set I - 1. Quixano (2012) by Ryan Choi
- Ryan Choi, baritone ukulele[+]Ryan Choi is a composer and baritone ukulele player from Honolulu, HI. He recorded this performance himself, using an iPhone and an iPad to capture the two channels, combining them into a two channel recording in Audacity. The first mix he sent me had quite a few problems, so I asked him to send me the original recordings, which came as two channel files, with the sources hard panned left and right.
While the added reverberation is the most obvious change, there was much more that was changed. There were several digital "overs" in the original files, and so de-clipping was the first process applied. Next came the removal of the background hiss. The frequency response of the built-in microphones on those iOS devices is optimized for speech clarity and as such, the pick-up emphasizes a lot of unwanted sounds, fingering noises and string buzzes. The background hiss was removed first, and then the lengthy process of removing or reducing each unwanted click, buzz and other intrusive short-term noises, one by one. A fourth process enhanced the tonal aspects of the sound while reducing the harsher, noisier components.
The spacing between the two iOS devices was nearly a meter and a half, and so the stereo image created by simply putting one on the left and the other on the right resulted in a hazy to non-existent centre image, with two puddles of sound on either side. Collapsing them to mono only served to reduce the high end due to inter-channel cancellation. After several attempts, I finally came upon a process which preserves most of the original sound quality, while creating a clear and stable centre image of the instrument.
Now that the sound quality had been recovered, the next stage was to do the actual Mastering. The dynamic range was tamed slightly by a Compressor/Limiter combo, and the frequency balance was altered by Equalization. The final stage was to apply some reverberation taken from one of my own Impulses taken from a local church in Toronto. I found that by doing this, it added a sense of seriousness to the performance, as it no longer sounded like a hobbyist at home in a bedroom, but rather an experienced performer playing a difficult and intricate work in a convivial concert venue.
- Seven Old Aquarelles by Blago Simeonov
- Antonín Kubálek, solo piano[+]Composer Blago Simeonov approached me to see what could be done for some older recordings of his compositions, some of which are on analog tape dating back forty to fifty years. In my estimation what was most in need of restoration was this recording of "Seven Old Aquarelles" for solo piano, which was commissioned and recorded by the C.B.C. This delicate and transparent performance by Antonín Kubálek was recorded in the Gerrard Street, Toronto studios in 1975.
Mr. Simeonov did not have the master recording, but rather a copy, which is evident from the amount of hiss. Making matters worse is all the electronic interference: hum, a high frequency whine, and crosstalk from other radio programming which can be heard clearly in the quieter sections (you can hear an announcer's voice and several jazz performances, particularly between 1:40 and 2:00 in the example above). In those sections where the playing is louder, there is clipping distortion, and there are several clicks and pops, including one rather loud one at the end of the first phrase of the seventh movement, the second of the two heard here.
I removed the whine and hum, and then addressed the clipped sections in the louder parts, especially in the sixth movement. I removed the clicks and pops, especially the big one mentioned above (2:17), and then set about removing the hiss. I found that I had to compromise to some degree as too much noise removal resulted in damage to the piano tones, so while some hiss remains, it is greatly reduced. Once the masking from the noise was removed, the interference from the crosstalk, as well as pre-echo of louder piano notes due to tape print-through, became more audible. So, one by one, each instance of these noises was reduced or removed. The final stage was to restore the ambience lost during the noise removal, and to apply equalization to restore some of the upper midrange frequencies while providing some additional hiss reduction.
- Dialog from the Movie "Joy" [+]Alan Hardiman of Associated Buzz Creative was mixing the independent film "Joy" and encountered problems in some of the dialog tracks. As is typical of productions like this, the pickup was achieved through a combination of a boom microphone and lavaliere (clip-on) microphones worn by the actors. Often the best pickup for a line will come from one source, other times, from another, yet the finished product should betray no hint that multiple sources were used, as any sonic shifts could distract the viewer from their involvement in the story.
In these examples, all the dialog tracks picked up noise from the camera operation, a whirr which changes in tone and intensity depending on which signal is prominent at any given time. In addition, there is the clink of jewelry worn by one actor, a sound which normally would be unnoticeable, but is unnaturally loud due to the microphone's close proximity. Finally, there is the intrusion of unwanted traffic noise from outside the building where filming was taking place.
I was able to reduce the camera and traffic noise, and remove many of the individual clinks from the jewelry. Once these tracks were cleaned up, Alan had much more freedom to move from one source to another, creating a soundtrack which allows the viewer to remain engaged with the story and its characters.