Tips for Removing Clicks

Cleanup Audio - Tips for Removing Clicks

To get the best out of VinylStudio's click repair tools, especially on badly damaged recordings, you have to be prepared to put a bit of time in. On the plus side, VinylStudio provides powerful tools which, when correctly applied, can give excellent results. Also, because your original recordings are not changed by the repair process, you can always come back later, have another go at the affected area(s) and then burn a new CD.

Automated click repair is always a compromise between false negatives and false positives. False negatives are, of course, undetected clicks and scratches, while false positives cause unnecessary and potentially harmful changes to the original waveform. VinylStudio's default settings aim primarily to do no damage to the sound quality of your original recordings. While this catches the majority of clicks, it inevitably means that some slip through undetected; with a bit of manual intervention, these can be removed too.

VinylStudio provides a number of presets designed to work with differing types of source material but it is worth learning more about how to use the settings themselves if you want to get the best out of your vinyl (or shellac).

VinylStudio's primary setting is sensitivity. We recommend that you perform your initial scan with the default settings and then focus in on any problem areas. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that sound quality will be adversely affected at these settings. If it is, you can rescan the affected section at reduced sensitivity or, if appropriate, increase the percussion protection setting; ensure also that brass protection is enabled. It is more likely however that a few clicks will remain. Rescanning an affected region with a higher sensitivity setting usually gets rid of any residual clicks, bit with an increased risk of introducing distortion or other artifacts into the sound.

Be particularly careful when using the 'turbo' settings as these can cause distortion and take longer to complete the scan. They are intended for use on difficult material with a large high-frequency content, such as modern jazz, but as VinylStudio has an undo facility we encourage you to experiment. The turbo settings are often best used just to scan particularly badly affected areas ('Scan selection').

VinylStudio has three other settings which affect the click repair process:

Percussion protection helps prevent the 'dulling' of percussion sounds that declicking can cause, especially at higher sensitivity settings. The problem is that percussion bursts, especially the initial 'thwack', look a lot like clicks and therefore VinylStudio wants to fix them. The downside of having Percussion Protection enabled is that, on occasion, it prevents a legitimate click (or, more likely, a 'scrunch' comprised of several clicks close together) from being repaired. If you think this might be happening to you, you can either re-scan the affected area with percussion protection turned down or you can refer to the corrections list to see if percussion protection is operating in the region in question (if you select the region first, it will be highlighted in the corrections list with a yellow background). For an example of percussion protection in action, click here.

Brass protection prevents distortion of brass and horn instruments by the declicking process, again principally at higher sensitivity settings. In severe cases, this can be quite unpleasant, and mainly affects sounds with a buzzing or rasping quality like trombones, saxophones, trumpets and some synth sounds (and even, occasionally, gravelly vocals). Low frequencies are generally affected most. Brass protection usually detects sounds such as these and temporarily reduces the sensitivity of the click detector to protect them. However, like percussion protection, this can let the odd click through and the same recommendations apply. We do not advise turning off either setting routinely, however.

The number of passes controls the number of times VinylStudio scans the source material. One pass is usually enough, but if a recording is in very bad condition (particularly if it is badly scuffed) you might find that a second pass helps. You can achieve the same effect by scanning again with the 'Keep existing scanned repairs' box checked.

You can also repair or adjust clicks manually. While this might sound like a tedious procedure, it is sometimes the only way of eliminating a particularly severe click. Like other declicking software, VinylStudio sometimes fails to detect something which is (a) annoyingly loud and (b) usually obvious (fortunately) in the waveform display as a large spike. Finding and repairing such a click manually is quick and easy. Please refer to the manual click repair help page for more details.