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Tutorial: Fixing Flawed Audio in Adobe Creative Cloud

The three audio problem areas I'll tackle in this entry-level tutorial are as follows: removing transient noises like pops and clicks, cleaning up pervasive background noises, punching up weak-sounding audio.

When I’m recording an event or tutorial, I generally can manage reasonably high-quality video. Usually, it’s the audio that bites me in the rear. The causes are many and not worth exploring here; this tutorial is about what to do when your audio is suboptimal. The three problem areas I’ll tackle in this entry-level tutorial are as follows:

  • Removing transient noises like pops and clicks
  • Cleaning up pervasive background noises
  • Punching up weak-sounding audio

Where to Work

Adobe has done a fabulous job beefing up the audio tools in Premiere Pro CC 2019, so you can now execute many operations in Premiere Pro that traditionally required a trip to Audition. Many operations, like balancing audio from multiple sources, including dialogue, background music, special effects, and ambient sound, are better performed in Premiere Pro’s Essential Sound panel, which is also great for quick fixes to many audio files.

However, if you’re working with a single audio file of a single speaker—say, from a political speech, seminar, or other recording—you get better control and superior visual input in Audition, which typically translates to better results. Fortunately, roundtrip editing in Audition is as simple as right-clicking the audio file and choosing Edit Clip in Adobe Audition (Figure 1, below). This creates a separate audio file, inserts that into the Premiere Pro timeline, and opens the file in Audition. Once you’re done with your work in Audition, save the audio file as normal, and Premiere Pro will update the file in the timeline with the latest changes.

 

Figure 1. Getting to Adobe Audition

Transient Noise Removal via Auto Heal

The first problem I typically tackle is removing transient noises like pops and clicks from microphones (or random camera clicks) from my audio. Though Premiere Pro has an Automatic Click Removal feature, it’s never worked that well for me, so I prefer Audition’s Auto Heal feature.

The procedure is simple:

1. Zoom into the audio file to isolate the click as much as possible. (If you’re not familiar with navigation in Audition, check this tutorial: go2sm.com/audition).
2. Select the transient noise as closely as possible (on the left in Figure 2, below).
3. Choose Auto Heal Selection (Ctrl+U).

Figure 2. Removing transient noises with Auto Heal

As you can see below “After” on the extreme right of Figure 2, Audition removes the noise and preserves that ambient sound beneath it, rather than simply inserting a moment of total silence. It’s an incredibly effective tool.

Fixing Stuff in Audition

Let’s examine the audio file we’ll use to demonstrate the next two steps, shown on the right in Figure 3. By way of background, the audio was captured in a ballroom at Streaming Media West via XLR audio from the soundboard, and I’ll be using it in some online training materials based on that session. Listen to the clips that accompany the article to hear before and after.

A quick glance tells you that there are (at least two) problems. First, there’s a slight bushiness in the midline, which reflects that background noise in the audio file. I’ve definitely seen worse, but the noise would be noticeable to the average listener. The second problem is volume, with levels peaking at about -9 dB. Though producers differ in this regard, I like my peaks between -3 dB and 0 dB.

There are two other issues you can’t see in the waveform that I’ll also address below. Although I used a lavaliere microphone, some reverb crept into the audio, which we’ll remove with a new Audition effect. In addition, because this was the second 3-hour session I taught that day, my voice was a bit weak and indistinct. I’ll want to punch it up with compression to make it easier for online listeners to understand what I’m saying.

Figure 3. Waveform on the right; Step 1 of noise reduction on the left

Related Articles
This video tutorial demonstrates how to restore muffled sections of spoken audio using the Multiband Compressor in Adobe Premiere Pro CC or Adobe Audition.
This tutorial demonstrates how to use Premiere Pro CC's Essential Sound Panel to automate the audio-ducking process in video projects that combine dialogue with underlying music tracks, speeding the process and potentially smoothing the mix as well.