- : Easy to use
- Good features
- Advanced editing could be more intuitive
“Friendly” is the key word for audio editing and restoration utility Magix Audio Cleaning Lab, which delivers average results.
Magix Audio Cleaning Lab MX ($60, seven-day free trial) is the friendliest audio restoration, editing, and rendering program I’ve ever used–at least for the basics. It’s especially easy for those who want to record and import audio from CDs, vinyl, and cassettes. In fact, much of the interface is dedicated to making that task easy. But what counts in audio restoration is how the audio sounds after the noise removal process. In that regard, Audio Cleaning Lab MX does a good job–roughly equivalent to the free Audacity.
Audio Cleaning Lab MX has a sophisticated interface and features given the price. It displays audio as mono, stereo, surround, as well as spectral analysis. You can cut, delete, trim, draw volume curves and perform other relatively advanced tasks.
Audio restoration tools include a de-clicker, de-crackler, de-clipper, de-rumbler, de-hisser, and direct spectral editing, i.e., grabbing certain frequencies at a specific time and deleting them. The latter is very difficult to do well without a scrubbing (auditioning) tool, which is not provided.
Audio Cleaning Lab MX also has a number of what it calls mastering tools, including a stereo expander/narrower, harmonic enhancement, reverb, and chorus. All work well–however, the feature I find particularly brilliant is the Inverse function found in the de-clicker and de-crackler. As all filters and FX are applied in real time, selecting Inverse allows you to hear only the sound that’s being removed. It’s a great way to hear if you’re losing material you want in addition to defects.
For all my audio restoration testing I use an analog recording of “Manoir De Mes Reves / Daphne” from Afternoon in Paris, a 1971 vinyl recording by violinist Stephane Grappelli. Jazz violin is an especially good test for the task, as the bow noise and attack from the instrument is very much in the same range as clicks and crackles–of which there are plenty of in this recording.
The job Audio Cleaning Lab MX did restoring audio was roughly equivalent to the results I get with Bias SoundSoap 2 and Audacity. Like those programs, you can get better results if you make multiple passes. That is, remove noise, save, then remove noise again. That said, in no way can it match Izotope RX 2 in results, but then again it’s only about one-sixth the price.
If you want something that’s super easy, and does a very good job of transferring audio from cassettes, vinyl, and CDS then Audio Cleaning Lab MX is a good bet. And, it’s a full functional trial for seven days.
–Jon L. Jacobi