In Tape Op #60's "Gear Geeking" column, I discussed
my very positive experience with Wave Arts MR Noise after receiving an email from Thom Monahan that he considers the MR Suite of plug-ins essential for his adventures recording in unconventional locations with questionable electricity and acoustics. As promised in that column, here is a review of the whole suite from our very own Garrett Haines. -AH
Wave Arts Master Restoration Suite is a set of plug-ins for cleaning up noises, clicks, pops, humming, and other associated audio nasties. There are four different applications: MR Noise, MR Click, MR Hum, and MR Gate. A very clever bonus is Master Restoration, which includes all of the algorithms in one window.
Two hallmarks of Wave Arts applications are a clean graphic design and efficient use of your host computer's CPU. Master Restoration Suite maintains these traditions. The GUI for each title is easy to read without being sparse, and I was able to add numerous instances of Master Restoration to a session that was already laden with audio plug-ins. (I tested the bundle on a PC with an older 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 processor with 2 GB RAM.)
In the world of restoration plug-ins, there is a pecking order. At the top of the heap are Algorithmix and CEDAR. These are first-call applications for situations where you need the most advanced tools available. However, they are expensive, with a single title costing from one to several thousand dollars. For dedicated forensic or restoration professionals, these titles are actually a steal. However, for the average studio owner, they might be a little out of budget. So for a long time, there was a middle and lower echelon of restoration tools once you ruled out CEDAR and Algorithmix. However, suites like those from Wave Arts are blurring those distinctions. For example, MR Hum is as good as any other plug-in when it comes to dealing with buzz and AC-induced hum. To make matters more compelling, MR Hum usually works perfectly with the factory presets! There is little tweaking involved. (Of course, it also makes one heck of a cool effects filter for those in the market for wild filters.)
Another area where the Wave Arts plug-ins are great is the monitor button that allows you to hear the signal being removed by the processing. While this would seem to be a mandatory feature for any restoration tool, it's actually not available on some of the CEDAR titles! Needless to say, having the monitor feature lets you make sure you're not taking out "good" signal in addition to the "bad" signal.
MR Gate and MR Noise are also solid performers. Like MR Hum, MR Gate can moonlight as an effect processor as well. MR Noise was able to reduce room noise, ambient noise, tape hiss, and wide-band hum better than other similar products from Waves and BIAS. However, it was not as effective as Algorithmix NoiseFree nor as transparent as iZotope RX Denoiser. But I would still bet MR Noise would work for over 90% of the de-noising requirements in a mixing or tracking situation.
MR Click was, in my opinion, the weak performer in the bunch. Using just presets, I found that it missed some crackles and pops while taking out good percussive information that I wanted untouched. Pulling open the advanced settings yielded better results. Once again, kudos to Wave Arts for implementing a monitor button, which allowed me to focus on noise clicks while letting musical content pass unprocessed. Wave Arts Master Restoration Suite runs on Mac or PC, is easy to look at, and is frugal in terms of CPU requirements. Every mixing or mastering engineer should have a good set of cleanup tools on hand, and with this bundle, you get a lot of tools for the money. Best of all, there is a free demo to hear for yourself. ($99.95 individually, except MR Noise $349.95; MR Suite $499.95; www.wavearts.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.