Audio Class With Professor Hoffman:

Lesson 5: Noise Reduction

What about those computer systems like CEDAR and No Noise that can take those old noisy recordings and clean them up?

On the record: the person who invented No-Noise should be drawn and quartered. Noise is like a part of life. We're in this room and we're hearing the air conditioner through the vent. We're hearing the phones. If suddenly all that were gone, we'd go insane...

Are there ANY positives to using those systems? And, if your answer is that there are more negatives than positives to the process, why do these remastering engineers use it? Don't they listen for the positive and negatives of any given process upon the completion of their work?

Speaking candidly, there are no positives, only negatives, in my opinion. Now, I'm not speaking of 78 RPM disc transferring, only recorded tape mastering.

I've said this many times: Tape hiss is our friend. If we don't hear it, something's wrong... If we hear too much of it, something's wrong. In either case, operator error would probably be to blame... Some engineers use it because they can. They can charge extra. Goodie, more money (about three times as much in some cases). Maybe their monitors are lying to them about the amount of tape hiss that is actually on the tape. Maybe the RECORD COMPANIES are insisting that it be used. Who knows? Some mastering engineers use it FOR EVERYTHING, regardless of type of music, or age of recording.

I've used it one or two times in 10 years, and that was just with disc dubbing, and even then, just to remove tics, etc. Never straight noise reduction. Used gently, it still sounds terrible, and used improperly (what I call "overused"), it sucks the very life out of the music, kills dynamics, makes everything sound false and weird, and drives me CRAZY!

The worst thing IMO, is when a mastering engineer no-noises the music to death, and then attempts to restore some kind of life to it by boosting the top end. Geez, I hate that sound. It has kept me from buying many, many Capitol/EMI CD's in the past 10 years. (You see, I'm speaking quite candidly today)...

Another thing I hate, is the sound of BREATHING, when the air is being sucked in and out of the music depending on the volume. This is tampering with music in a big bad way, my friends!