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How To Make Your Mixes Clean And in Turn Sound Much Better

Updated on February 2, 2013

The Answer

What I have found to work great for my home studio are Waves restoration

plugins (specifically the X-Noise and X-Crackle tools). These are two very

powerful tools in the quest of clean sounding mixes. In today's digital world

plugins have become the norm. Especially for home studios which are pretty

much always very budget limited. But with modern computers increasing power

and great plugin designers we now have some plugins that can give you incredible

results. At the same time you have much more flexibility than analog gear.

Waves has really shown that with their X-Noise and X-Crackle plugins. There

very intuitive really good at what they do. I use them on the master bus for every

song I mix. X-noise takes out all of the white noise I tend to get from all the plugins

and it can get rid of a lot of headphone bleed. It has a great adaptive mode that

actually adapts in real time to the noise floor of your music. For example your

playing the hook of a song and everything is really loud so the threshold would

be higher up to catch the noise. But then a quiet more intimate part of the song

comes up and in turn the level drops. If you were in regular mode the threshold

would still be high so the noise reduction would kick in full force on most (if not

all of the audio playing) and it will sound really bad. But with the adaptive mode

the threshold adapts to the level change in the song saving you from the nasty

artifacts. However the adaptive mode takes a lot more cpu to run than the regular

mode so if your cpu isn't fast enough to run it then another way to achieve this is

automation. You can enable write automation on X-Noise and adjust the threshold

yourself as the music lowers and raises giving you the same effect. Now X-Crackle

takes out just that, crackle, before using it my vocals used to sound really....nasty

specifically in words with a ch, s, etc. I tried using de-essers to fix the problem but

it didn't really work. Then one day I was looking through my list of plugins and saw

X-Crackle so I figured hey let me put that and see what happens. Just like that

problem solved, I was amazed when I heard the result. It makes the vocals sound

much cleaner and professional and it also gets rid of crackle that can happen in

the instrumental which can result from all the processing (especially if you don't have

a great cpu in your computer). I would recommend using the normal crackle

reduction preset as a starting point. Do not use the extreme crackle reduction preset.

Every time I tried that one it made the sibilance sound much worse. Also another thing

to take note of if you don't know already is its very important in which order you place

the plugins. For example its best to put X-Crackle before X-Noise. I would always do the

opposite until one day when I found out that wasn't correct and when I switched them

around I noticed a difference. Its not super big but definitely a difference and each bit

helps right?

Another way you can have cleaner mixes (specifically vocals) is by having a properly

treated vocal booth. Auralex has some great products I personally use their 2x2" wedges

and during the installation of them I could immediately tell the difference in acoustics with

just part of the total amount of pieces I ordered. I'm using my walk-in closet as my vocal

booth it's a decent size at approx. 4 feet long and 5 feet wide. Its not a great idea to use

something too small and cramped as 1. it makes your vocals sound......well cramped and

2. its just not comfortable. There's plenty of places that will help you with figuring out the

best kit or combination of acoustic foam pieces for your space (such as

You can tell them your room dimensions and they'll tell you what's best for you (a very

great resource for those starting out). Once you know what you need you can get to

making yourself a great vocal booth free from nasty reverberation, slap echos, etc.

Which makes for a much cleaner and easier to use vocal.

As you can see this is my first hub and I hope you really learned a lot of useful info

from it. I'm planning on doing much more please post your comments and questions and

follow me for more tips and tricks. Audio engineering is a great hobby/career. It isn't for

everyone though you need to have really great ears for it and you need to train yourself

to hear the most delicate subtleties. But after all the hard work it really pays off to hear

masterpieces you've sculpted.

P.S. For more detailed tutorials on how to use X-Noise and X-Crackle check out YouTube.

I've seen some great tutorials there that go into much more depth. Also if you have clicks

and pops in your music then X-Click is great for that.



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    • Passion4music profile image

      Passion4music 6 years ago

      Thanks for the support. Yes trecords your right about silencing out the pauses that helps to keep the noise floor down. Which results in cleaner sound and a lot of plugins will work much better that way. Pro Tools has a way to do that easily called strip silence. I believe its cmd+u/control+u. But if your like me and you use cubase it also has a nice technique for this. Just select the region of audio, click audio in the top bar, scroll down to where it says advanced something, and one more menu will pop out that says detect silence. A nice window pops up with the audio and its auto computation of where the silence is (that is if auto calcute is selected). Its a really useful tool. Hopefully I should be posting another hub this week been really busy with sessions but if you would like to know anything feel free to request and I'll do what I can to answer it. Thanks again

    • profile image

      er 6 years ago

      Good layout advise very helpful.i agree with a lot you said keep it coming

    • trecords0 profile image

      trecords0 6 years ago from DeLand, Florida

      Just a side note: the fades are added just in case the zero crossings were missed.

    • trecords0 profile image

      trecords0 6 years ago from DeLand, Florida

      I agree about using Waves X Noise. I also use noise reduction in Adobe Audition from time to time, but if your noise is heavy it can add a kind of reverse reverb or a warbler effect noise to the ending result. Another editing tip that just came to mind that I like is to completely go through the waveform and add silence during pauses (fading out and in the transients). Although this won't correct for noise while the instrument is playing, it ensures that when it is not you have a clean signal and not noise compounded.