Analogue Tape Hiss?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by absolut_mac, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. absolut_mac macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    Someone on the iPod sub-forum recommended that I post my question here as well.

    I have about 30 compact cassettes of music that I compiled from my long gone LP collection that I would like to convert and transfer to my HD. Fortunately I still have an excellent player to play them with, but that still leaves the problem of tape hiss.

    Any recommendations for software that will remove as much tape hiss as possible but without degrading the sound? The only ones that I'm aware of is Sound Soap, Toast's Spin Doctor (I'm not sure if it's still available or works with ML 10.8.3), and recommended from the iPod forum is Audacity - surely there's got to be more and better options out there than these?

    Or have they stopped upgrading this software because everyone assumes that there no more analogue tapes to be transferred?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. gannonsamuel macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2012
    Check out Izotope RX.

    The denoiser in that is reasonably transparent, I think Waves do one too, there might even be something similar in audacity (don't quote me on that) which is free. Though if you have a particularly large collection that needs processing it might be easier/less time consuming to not worry too much about the hiss unless it's particularly irritating, personally I don't really mind a bit of hiss.

    But of course it's your choice, different strokes for different folks and all that.
  3. cheekypaul, Mar 18, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013

    cheekypaul macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2005
    RX2 by izotope is very good, and works standalone, if expensive. What's your budget?

    One tip i would offer, is don't wait for the NR software. Get the cassettes recorded, and as well, and at as high a resolution as you can afford to go. 24, 32 bit, lossless. 44.1, 48,96k etc etc

    How bad is the hiss?
  4. absolut_mac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2003
    Dallas, Texas
    No set budget, but I'd obviously like to get the highest quality I can for the smallest outlay because this is only a one time thing for these 30 or so tapes. I figure $200 to $300 should suffice for my needs.

    The tape hiss is not the worst, but it's easily heard. I recorded all my tapes without dolby noise reduction because other than the extra hiss, the results sounded a whole lot better - much more dynamic and more and better controlled bass. Unfortunately dolby improved one aspect and degraded many others so I preferred not to use it whenever possible.

    Thanks to you and gannonsamuel your help.
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    i've found that going from cassette to digital, you want to boost the outputs (in the analog realm). iirc, i'd apply some 18dB of gain.

    i use an FMR RNP for that task, which has some neutral gain. in doing so, i found hiss to not really be an issue.

    obviously, buying an RNP for this is overkill, but maybe you can borrow a mic pre from someone.
  6. cheekypaul macrumors member

    Apr 22, 2005
    you're welcome.
    I should have also asked, how much material? 30 or so hours?

    Download and demo both of these.

    much cheaper than RX but as good as any plug in from anyone else (apart from the super high end people) from a very nice man indeed. never met him but followed his progress and listened and read his promotions for the software. i got into it via the click repair, but he makes a decent noise reducer too. you may want to use his eq app also to cut out higher and lower frequencies that don't exist on tape, but that might a stretch for a layman (are you?). the denoiser works very fast indeed.

    A very good noise reducer

    There is a knack to using these products correctly, so give them a fair crack at the job.
    Typically, you'll get excited at dropping hiss -18db, then think it's too dull, then turn it up to -12bd (much more realistic reduction) and then start to notice hiss elsewhere! I won't insert the worn out audio engineers maxim concerning keeping your rag clean.
  7. gannonsamuel macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2012
    I'd say that so long as you get a healthy signal going in (average about -18dbfs) then you're probably going to get cleaner gain in the digital realm (assuming you're running 24 bit), though to be honest chances are if increasing gain, even quieter signals, in the digital world increases noise it's more then likely going to be analog noise already present in the recording then digitally introduced noise.

    make sure the volume is up on the cassette player and you should be alright, i'm guessing it'll be a healthy line level anyways
  8. D*I*S_Frontman macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2002
    Lombard, IL
    From a music producer's perspective, this thread is amusing.

    I have two plug-ins I like to use when mixing projects, PSP's Vintage Warmer 2 and Nomad Factory's Magnetic 2, both of which ADD analogue tape hiss to digital recordings to make them sound more "vintage."

    UAD sells a very nice Studer A800 emulation for $299. To ADD tape hiss and saturation! Oh, and you'll also need one of their dedicated accelerator cards to run it as well.

    Granted, those plug-ins are emulating professional 2" studio reel-to-reel tapes (in the case of the UAD and Nomad Factory plugs, you even get to choose the oxide formulation, tape speed, amount of wow/flutter, etc.) and the effect is intended to be subtle, but you'd be surprised how familiar and pleasant a slight bit of tape hiss is for classic rock recordings.

    My advice would be to record the tapes to digital and enjoy them, hiss and all. Revel in the vintage mojo of it!
  9. gannonsamuel macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2012
    I'd tend to agree with you tbh, i normally let noise go where other's wouldn't...

    the noise inthe Waves Kramer MPX plugin doesn't seem like just noise, it's like super noise, i've had it at ridiculous stupid levels on the 2buss before and it just seems to work somehow... (To be fair this wasn't exactly an easy listening track ha)

    Though Cassette tapes can get a bit OTT... all a matter of preference i guess

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