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iZotope RX 3 vs. Adobe Audition, Part 2: Noise and Reverb/Echo Reduction

In this final round between audio editing champs iZotope RX 3 and Adobe Audition CC, we compare the two audio editors in noise reduction and reverb/echo reduction.

Back at you in our second installment of iZotope RX 3 vs. Adobe Audition CC. For those of you who didn’t read the original article, this isn’t a full review of the two programs, just a focus on the programs’ abilities to resolve audio issues that video producers often experience. In the first article, I compared declipping and crackle-and-pop removal, and found that iZotope was particularly strong in the latter. In this final round, I compare the two audio editors in noise reduction and reverb/echo reduction.

Noise Reduction

Unless you’re working in a studio, or have exceptionally good audio recording gear (or both), background noise is a frequent issue. Here, I’m talking about steady ambient noise, like that from fluorescent lights, equipment hum, white noise, and the like. Microphone hum is addressed by other filters and random noise like car horns or telephone rings via pop and click removal-type functions.

RX3 and Audition work similarly when eliminating noise, as do most noise removal functions. That is, first you identify the offending noise in the waveform, which is what I’m doing with the selection in the waveform in Figure 1 (below). Then you launch the appropriate filter (Denoise in RX3), adjust the settings, preview, and process. Though both Audition and RX3 have adaptive functions that theoretically can detect the noise for you, I prefer to manually select the noise so I’m sure what’s being removed.


Figure 1. Denoising in iZotope RX3. (Click the image above to see it at full size.)

Here’s my typical workflow for noise removal, which I followed with both programs.

  1. Identify noise in the waveform. This is called the Noise Print in Audition.
  2. Run the filter. Adjust the settings (typically the reduction slider or similar control) to reach the optimal balance between noise reduction and the introduction of artifacts. Typically, you can remove noise up to a point, after which you start introducing artifacts into the audio file, and the cure become worse than the disease. This tradeoff is highly subjective and idiosyncratic; a point you should make to a client when you first share your work with them. What you find ideal may be unacceptable to someone with a different ear, in which case you should have them in the room to choose the optimal tradeoff for their ears.
  3. Preview while toggling the filter on and off. This is the Bypass button on the bottom left of the iZotope Denoise screen.
  4. Preview the “noise only.” This is the Output noise only checkbox on the lower right of the Denoise screen. When you check this box, and preview, iZotope plays only the noise that the filter is about to remove. If you hear any speech or other audio that you want to keep in the file during this preview, some distortion is likely.

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