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Terran’s Cleaner 5 Raises the Bar

Terran Interactive is making hay of its new position as a co-subsidiary — along with Digital Origin — of video giant Media 100. Cleaner 5 — a renamed and updated version of Terran's venerable digital video processing workhorse, Media Cleaner Pro — has a big set of new features that attest to Terran's long experience in the field.

Right out of the box, Cleaner 5 scores with the bundled Digital Origin MotoDV — one of the better DV capture programs — and its ability to read an MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 bit stream and encode it for streaming in Quicktime, RealSystem or Windows Media format. On the flip side, Cleaner itself encodes MP3 audio, and supports RealSystem 8's latest codecs and two-pass variable bit rate encoding, as well as Windows Media's five-stream Intelligent Streaming. Terran claims that Cleaner 5 produces the highest-quality MP3 available and does it faster than anything else, and nothing we saw or heard during testing contradicted that claim.

The program processes video files faster than earlier versions, supports dual-processor (Mac and Wintel) machines, decodes files faster using native YUV processing and Digital Origin's DV codec, and offers more options for setting the always-challenging balance between image quality and decoding speed. It filters video fields independently to improve the looks of interlaced formats like MPEG-2, and uses a new Adaptive Deinterlace Filter to improve output quality when converting interlaced source material to streaming and MPEG formats.

Other new items include faster-working adaptive noise reduction and dynamic range audio filters, and more flexible ways to name files and specify destination folders in the batch processor, including uploading files to a remote server.

MP3s, Fast and Clean

We tested the application's MP3 claims with an audio file containing some elements that can boggle encoders: sounds carefully placed throughout the stereo field and a broad range of high and low frequency instrumental sounds. We compared Cleaner's performance to that of Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge, a popular audio processing application.

The results were complex. First of all, the source file was an AIFF file that we'd brought to a PC from a Mac via a Zip disk. While Sound Forge read and opened the file with no problems, Cleaner didn't see the file in its Add Files dialog, and when we dragged the file into Cleaner, it put a question mark in the batch window, and couldn't play or process the file. After we converted the file to .wav format with Sound Forge, Cleaner was able to open it (see Figure 1).

We encoded the file as an MP3 in each application. Cleaner did the job blazingly fast, turning the 8397K .wav file into a 1404K MPEG file in a scant 25.27 seconds, compared to Sound Forge's 48.30 seconds. The only noticeable difference in the quality of the converted audio was that the Cleaner MP3 had slightly better definition than the Sound Forge file, but stereo imaging seemed preserved in both.

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