Say No To The M60 – Noise Reduction Special

On Friday last week I went out to Clifton Country Park near Manchester for some field recording bits and bobs. It’s a lovely location, but despite it’s rural looks it’s within a few miles of the M60 and there is an audible bed of motorway noise pretty much everywhere. It’s a shame too, since it’s a great location for recording a variety of outdoor sounds and foley.

One of the things I was after on the day was some watery footstep / movement sounds. I’d tried recording some at home but my apartment’s concrete walls provided way too much reflection and I was having trouble getting the right sound so off to the woods I went! After a few hours on the day I came home and listened back to the recordings and was not surprised to hear the M60 (along with lots of wildlife) all over them, not ideal of course.

I’m always slightly dubious about noise reduction processing, but lately I’ve had some good results in Adobe Audition and thought it was worth trying it out on these. Listen to part of the original recording below.

 

 

As you can hear, there is a lot of noise on this clip and although it’s clear and offers a nice capture of the sound of the area, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Below you’ll see a screenshot of Audition in action, after capturing a short noise print from the file, I used the built in noise reduction processing to try and remove the sound of the M60. After a short while (mostly trial and error playing around with settings!) I was happy with the results.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 13.25.04.png
Noise reduction processing in Adobe Audition

I’ve also been using SPLs ‘De-Verb’ plugin for some time now, mostly for processing of indoor sounds to remove reflections but thought it might be beneficial on these as well.

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 13.25.24.png
SPL’s De-Verb plugin

I dialled in a small amount of ‘reverb reduction’ and the resulting clip is below. You can hear that some artifacts are audible, and left over from the original, but I was surprised at how much I could remove using these tools.

 

 

I was pretty happy with the outcome, and since then I’ve been using this combination a lot more for processing foley, footsteps and outdoor sounds. If anyone has any more tips or suggestions I’d love to hear them.

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