farss wrote on 10/8/2006, 2:13 AM
Some of the ones that come with SF are a bit more usefull.
I've dabbled with the iZotopes plugs and they're more reasonably priced. I think you get some of them with Ultimate S from VASST.

I thought the Waves plugs were pretty top shelf stuff and priced accordingly.

Also compression is hardly the thing for 'rescuing' audio, quite the contrary in general.

ScottyLacy wrote on 10/8/2006, 11:32 AM
What would be the best remedy for audio with extremely low levels? I figured compression would not only lift the output levels but smooth them out as well?
Bill Ravens wrote on 10/8/2006, 1:12 PM
Izotope Ozone is a mainstay in my audio workflow. Low volume can be corrected very well with the Loudness Maximizer in Ozone. Set the margin to -.2 dB and the Threshhold to the center of the peak on the histogram. Ozone will perform a suitable compression to raise the RMS values. MBIT+ dithering is also a very nice option. You can brickwall limit the signal or apply an intelligent limiter, which sounds much better than an average brickwall limiter.

These days, in music, while the volume wars rage, the Ozone Loudness Maximizer is a really valuable tool to enhance your audio. I use it in every music video I produce.
jaydeeee wrote on 10/8/2006, 4:44 PM
>>>These days, in music, while the volume wars rage, the Ozone Loudness Maximizer is a really valuable tool to enhance your audio. I use it in every music video I produce.<<<

Yikes. That doesn't HAVE to be. Stop perpetuating this is all I would suggest (and Ozone is nearing one of the LAST tools I'd choose). You can still have adequate volume without gunning for the sky.

A seasoned mastering professional knows the difference between focusing on slamming output levels and masterng for a quality overall sound (and a sound geared for all styles of music).
They also will let you know why and how the MIXDOWN is just as important.
Those are they guys worth their weight in gold...but sadly, today's crappy mixes and various artists are bludgeoned with a new mastering laziness breed with today's releases.

if you want "decent plugins" (and waves are just that, "decent"...nothing more, nothing less) then ante up.
ScottyLacy wrote on 10/8/2006, 5:01 PM
Can anyone here provide a quick opinion/recap on the spectrum of audio plugins as viewed through the cost/benefit lens? Seems Waves is pricey but respected. Izotope presumably less expensive but without so much hype.

What do the pros in here use to generate the best quality mixes out of Vegas 7? I've got a live music video to sweeten up--the audio came from a third party source and has fairly low levels and limited dynamics due to the microphone not being as close as it could/should've been.
Spot|DSE wrote on 10/8/2006, 8:38 PM
WAVES are great tools. iZotope tools are just as good. I'm a plug in freak, owning just about every plug you can imagine for our various systems, ranging from UA to WAVES to cheap Bomb Factory to New Blue (audio) etc.
The reason we chose to have iZotope build a custom set of plugins for Ultimate S is because I love their tools, have used them on documentaries and major motion pictures, television shows and training videos. They aren't the top of the world, but they surely perform exceptionally well, particularly for the price they ask.
In some ways, Ozone is far better than the WAVES package, and for virtually any video editing situation, they will more than suffice.
mrBun wrote on 10/8/2006, 9:32 PM
Well my needs are a little different to those of us working in Pop music and film.
We are a game manufacturer, and deal mostly with animation.
We are based in Sydney, (but have plans to build a Second Studio in Fort Lauderdale in '08).
I have quite a few pugins, but for mastering use Waves LinEQ, LinMB, and L3Multimaximiser,in a chain, and place the IRx Convolution Reverb on a second bus. (As a matter of course I delete the fx that Vegas loads before I drop any audio on the timeline)
Further to that, for repairing low levels I reach for Adobe Audition, (because I grew up with cool edit), but Sound Forge is just as useful.
These tools are purpose built for mastering.
We also use a bit of outboard, because I am old school, but IMHO the Waves Plugins are a fine investment and well worth the money.
jaydeeee wrote on 10/8/2006, 10:11 PM
>>In some ways, Ozone is far better than the WAVES package, and for virtually any video editing situation, they will more than suffice. <<

What ways are those?

I agree that almost any plugs out there will meet the basic needs for video editing (few/limited audio tracks, premade audio tracks (not tracking). Even the sony plugs can suffice.
But when we get into some situations and the extreme, Ozone can leave it's own odd "coloring" to the audio (particulary the MB comp and maximizer - which are awful to me).

The EQ isn't too bad though (ozone) and the imaging "can" be useful I guess. The verb is to run from.
What about track plugs? Still using sony's only? A Waves bundle will fit that bill as well (and better if you're discerning).

But for a better complimented NLE with more than adequate daw tracking-mixdown setup (*heck, even mastering if you got the monitoring and room for it) , I still must suggest doing a real check and balance of quality and needs for decent daw/NLE package
One might find spending that little extra with possibly waves diamond or Platinum over izotope might fill a wider scope.
Really, you're saving some pennies and getting very little with ozone, some will probably want to think ahead and spend for the right tools.

Now I'm not saying Waves is faultless either, but rather that the price difference is worth it and is far separated from izotope in overall quality.
Besides the Diamond, a few waves bundle decisions are headscratchers.
And as the masses have screamed, the ridiculous copy-protection must be changed (it's 2006, there's gotta be something better than PACE now).
But all in all...they're some of the more "useful/musical" plugins one can use.
Waves over izotope hands down if you're discerning.
DJPadre wrote on 10/8/2006, 11:50 PM
i use waves Pro fx and Beatmodel. I also use TRacks matering EQ and compresison on final masters.. IMO one of the best finishing plugins out there..
DJPadre wrote on 10/8/2006, 11:53 PM
mrBun I just noticed u mentioned sydney.. if ur after outboard gear, im selling afew piece if ur interested.. JP8000, RS7000 blah blah
drop me a line if ur interested..
farss wrote on 10/9/2006, 12:18 AM
There's lots of good advice floating around here but I suspect it's not terribely relveant to your problem. What it's relevant to is takeing a good recording and turning it into a great recording.
In your case (I suspect) you have a bad recording that at best you might be able to turn into a good recording, forget making it a great recording. Also going from bad to good is way, way harder than good to great and that's not the fault of plugins etc. With the best gear money can buy you'll never get from bad to great, that's why so much effort and expense is devoted to good recordings in the first place.

You haven't told us much about what's wrong with this recording, how it was recorded. on what it was recorded etc.

If it's just DV 16/48K that's way too low you'll never get it to great, if it's 24/48K you might have a chance.
But then you say the microphone was too far away. I suspect in that case the mic picked up many, many things that you didn't want in the recording and getting rid of that and correcting the level will be mission impossible stuff. Alternatively if it's just one mic in a multitrack recording then there's a chance to cancel out some of the unwanted stuff from that track. No fancy plugs, just hard work in Vegas. But without knowing specifics I (or someone else) could spend hours typing useless information.
Again I cannot state too strongly that high end plug ins are for sweetening high end recordings, in some respects you might do better in your case looking for forensic plug ins but they're not design for great sound, just to fish as much as possible out of mud.

ScottyLacy wrote on 10/9/2006, 2:38 AM
Hey Bob,

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I'd say it's a fair recording that I'm trying to improve to pretty good. It was recorded by an amateur recordist using a digital recorder that records CD quality audio to SD cards. It has two stereo condenser microphones built into it. I forget the exact unit, but it's similar to one of those Marantz units. The recording was 24-bit, 44.1 khz.

The unit was placed probably five feet away from a singer playing guitar, and the record levels were fairly low. I can barely see the peaks when I pull the audio into Vegas. The only reason I'm using this audio is because my VX2000 recording had problems with dropouts. So I'm synching the audio from the digital unit with my video.

The audio itself lacks vibrance, warmth and dynamics, and the overall sound is a bit distant. I'm just trying to bring up levels and add some dimension to the audio so that it doesn't sound flat and distant.

I downloaded the Izotope Ozone trial, which gives me 10 days of free trial, and I'm fairly impressed with the warmth and vibrance it's been able to produce--despite the fact I have almost no idea how to use the controls.

I guess in addition to wanting information about plugins, I probably need better insight into how to attack problem audio. I'm not sure I totally understand the best way to go about raising levels. I've been operating under the assumption that normalizing audio is generally a crude way to go, so I'm trying to learn how to get a better effect through maximizers and compression.

Anyway, thanks to all for the tidbits. In the final analysis, my questions will best be answered with a lot of trial and error on my part. I suppose there are no shortcuts to becoming facile with sound editing.

ScottyLacy wrote on 10/9/2006, 2:46 AM
for the record, I poked around on the internet and I'm pretty sure the recording was made with the Edirol R-09:

Nothing special, granted, but good enough to grab a decent, clean recording.
farss wrote on 10/9/2006, 3:31 AM
Well thankfully it wasn't recorded using the mp3 option on that recorder, if that was the case, trust me, you'd really have been so out of luck if the levels are too low.

Obviously mics more than a couple of feet away from the guitar and the vocalist are not the way to record this kind of material. I have heard in done but in a selected acoustic space with care taken over where the performer and mics were placed.
In your case I'd suspect you've got a lot of 'room' and possibly background noise in the recording.
Normalising audio simply dials in enough gain so the peaks don't go over. Yes it's crude but in effect no different than simply dialing in the same amount of gain by other means, all that it does is add a bit of hand holding. Given your situation with how the recording was made compression works by decreasing gain above the threshold which is another way of saying making the quiet bits loader. Normally this is fine however if lurking down in the bottom of your recording is things you don't want then compression is going to make them relatively louder. This is why clean recordin in the first place is so vital, many of the techniques used to sweeten audio can make bad recordings worse.

But here's a thought, how hard have you tried to get rid of your audio dropout problem? First step is to clean the VCRs heads and try capturing again. Second step if that doesn't work is to try a different VCR, preferably a better one, DSR 45, DSR 2000, moving up the scale. If that fails try playing the tape and recording from the analogue outputs of the deck. Sounds wierd I know but it does work, I've done this and it works. Defies logic but if it saves the day I'm happy. Also keep every capture, sometimes you'll find the dropouts can be half a frame or so in different places and can be patched, SF is good for this. Also if they're only in one channel SF has tools for cloning small samples from one channel to the other, can save the day.

Hope some of this helps.

TorS wrote on 10/9/2006, 4:06 AM
By SF Bob means Sound Forge, a Sony audio tool that compliments Vegas perfectly. It appears as a plug-in in Vegas menus. SF includes some plug-ins you don't get with Vegas, one of which is Wave Hammer, a great compressor/maximiser.

You probably ought to have SF before you start investing in mastering tools like isotope.

Also, NR (Noise Reduction, another Sony great) is excellent for removing background noise when you have to increase levels.

If you capture the recording twice, the audio might not drop out at the same places each time, so it should be fairly easy to fix.
Bill Ravens wrote on 10/9/2006, 8:29 AM
I've been playing, and learning to use, a new tool called HarBal. The naysayers amongst you can pooh pooh all you want, but, IMHO, harbal has done wonders for me to fix poor recording ambiance. Harbal is an EQing tool that allows me to carve away annoying environment resonances dring recording. It takes some learning to use, but, well worth the time. I don't think there's another tool available, at any price, that can do what HarBal does. While I'd much rather record in a well designed recording studio, this is, generally, impossible. Harbal sure mitigates that problem. Even Waves, has a limited number of bands in their multi-band compressor plug. Harbal is unlimited...and well worth the $99 bucks. Future versions promise Mid/side controls.

As for the perennial complaint, re: the volume of audio tracks these days, hey, I'll admit to being customers define what i provide. I'm not in business to tell my customer what he wants. I'll give him my opinion, if he asks, but, otherwise, I'm not here to preach the morality of low volume listening.

And just as a sidebar note: a perfectly damped recording studio won't ever sound as good as a recording studio with some small amount of resonant reflection.
ScottyLacy wrote on 10/9/2006, 1:19 PM
I definitely went the heads route. Took my VX in for a head-cleaning and $80 later I had the same result. The technician said it was probably a problem with the audio circuit. So it appears the audio was DOA.

Along those lines, I'm going to upgrade my video camera and plan to sell the VX. Anyone who's facile with electronic repair and wants a VX2000 at a discount (haven't fixed the audio circuit and wondering if I'd be better off just putting it in the hands of a more capable owner), let me know.
ScottyLacy wrote on 10/9/2006, 1:22 PM
Thanks for the other suggestions, fellas. It may be time to pop for Sound Forge. Sounds like it's integrated welll with Vegas and, while it's not Pro Tools, sounds like it does a perfectly good job.

Come to think of it, is Pro Tools "all that," or is this just another case of an industry standard getting a reputation that exceeds its actual performance and utility?
TorS wrote on 10/9/2006, 1:38 PM
I do not know anything about ProTools. Sound Forge was the product that gave Madison the reputation upon which the success of Vegas was built. Vegas started as an audio tool - multitrack, while SF was (and is) stereo.
farss wrote on 10/9/2006, 2:59 PM
Like many things Pro Tools didn't get to be an industry standard without some fire behind the smoke. Double blind tests reveal it's mixing algorithms sound better than Vegas but then again Vegas's video engines seems to produce cleaner output than FCP. A lot of this is 14th coat of wax stuff. Unless you've got zillion dollar mics, preamps, monitors, converters and studio space I can think of better things to lie awake at night worrying about. From what I've heard Pro Tools has also earned the moniker of "Slo Tools" amongst its users. But then again I wonder how many of us change the audio rendering quality in Vegas to Best?

Aside from that I don't think Pro Tools and Sound Forge are competing products. SF is a DAW not a multittracker. Vegas and Pro Tools is a more valid comparison. Sound Forge gives you tools that let you work easily right down to the sample level, trying to do that in Vegas is nigh impossible. In SF you can draw / edit a waveform with a pencil tool. You can select regions with snapping to zero crossing. Basically it's audio microsurgery.
It has another great feature, auto Start / Stop recording based on level.
Thing to watch with SF is it's built for speed and it's destructive. Getting your head around how to use it optimally can take some time.

Coursedesign wrote on 10/9/2006, 4:00 PM
Vegas's video engines seems to produce cleaner output than FCP

The "video engines" are actually better in FCP because they can handle higher bit depths than Vegas (which is 8-bit only). You are right about certain effects though, such as page peels, etc. which are cleaner in Vegas than in FCP (but not as clean as in say AE Pro).

Pro Tools got the nickname "Slo Tools" because when people piled on oodles of tracks and oodles of effects on old PowerPC machines without pricey ProTools hardware assist boards, things got real slow. With the hardware assist, the performance rocks (because it is not weighed down by your wallet :O).

I like SF too, have been using it since three versions back, but there are still a few features I wish they would steal from ye olde Cool Edit Pro (now Adobe Audition).
mrBun wrote on 10/9/2006, 4:48 PM
DjPadre regarding your kind offer
JP8000, RS7000
The JP8000 is a fat, clean beastie to be sure, I was briefly sponsored by Roland back in the day, and still have quite a bit of Roland kit kicking around. These days my Triton is the go-to Synth…fantastic for those days when the creative juices need a bit of a nudge to get going.
The Yammie RS7000 is a great vintage sampler/sequencer. These days I use plugins for my sampling sequencing (whatever gets the job up and out there).
The hardware I was referring to was things like my tcElectronics Finalizer 24/96, some Focusrite compression, an old Aphex Aural exciter which I still use for voiceover work, An ancient Lexicon Reverb, and a graphic eq …they just sound fat, warm and friendly, and I can’t help but fiddle with them at every opportunity, such is my affection for these old beasties.
But hey, thanks for the heads up.

Pro Tools vs Sound Forge?
The TDM version of Pro Tools is the de-facto standard in the industry for a reason. It was originally designed for people like me, who come from a background in analogue tape recording, so some of the conventions may seem a bit arcane.
(As for the forum “fanboi” flame wars,…some people just need to get on with making their own success without worrying about whether or not their app of choice is winning some sort of imaginary race).
Make no mistake, Pro Tools delivers a professional broadcast quality result. But is probably overkill for the needs of the original poster in this forum.
Sound Forge is a wave editor… that is it allows you to do everything from minute inspection and tweaking, to delivering a Stereo Master.

As I said in my previous post I use Adobe Audition.
I recently had a director come to me with a short film, a two hander. In one of the scenes the girls voice was a bit far off mic, and he needed to raise the levels considerably. Redoing the VO in post was not an option.
The audio was on a DAT tape, and fortunately (because I am a bit of a bower bird) I had an old Tascam deck at home.
Using Audition, I took a sample of noise floor, (Capture Noise Reduction Profile) and applied Noise reduction, then Normalised the track. This solved the problem for them.
However… let me say that this method is pretty brutal, and unless applied with care, can strip valuable information from your audio, and introduce some nasty artefacts… this is especially true if you are working with a blend of voice and instrument.
If the audio track is critical to the success of the artist, a better option may be to re-record the performance and splice it in… Or bite the bullet and bin it.
Sorry to say it, but better to release a killer track, than have it come back and bite you years down the track.
ScottyLacy wrote on 10/9/2006, 5:32 PM
So if I'm understanding this correctly, Pro Tools is the tool you want when you already have a bunch of audio in good condition and simply want to mix and deliver a program? Whereas SoundForge is more of a surgical tool to fix audio before it gets to the mix stage?
ibliss wrote on 10/9/2006, 5:48 PM
well, Pro Tools is a tool you can use, not the tool, despite 'industry standard' status.

But that's pretty much the idea.

Pro Tools is a DAW in the way that Vegas used to be, and still is (except people will keep calling it an NLE...).

I don't use it, but was shocked to see that you have to render a mix in realtime. So if you have edited a 30min radio show (for example), it will take 30 minutes to output a stereo WAV. (correct me if I'm wrong here).