- Created on 24 May 2010
Reviewing ‘Audio Cleaning Lab 16 Deluxe' released by ‘MAGIX' would have been a pleasure had it not been for the lack of straight forward information about configuring sound cards, audio codecs, line ins/outs etc.! Our reviewer was grinding their teeth with frustration by the time they managed to get the whole thing up and running. Try and go to the online help section and it seems non-existent for this programme. Then again when you have finally managed to get the whole system configured correctly, what happens? Well, the default setting for the ‘monitor input signal', is set as ‘off'. This means that when you are trying to input your music you can't hear it playing, so that you can't easily tell at once where or when it needs ‘cleaning'. Watch out for this one! We would recommend that you set it to ‘on' as your first priority each time before you start recording. It's found on the screen when you have pressed ‘Record',
Then ‘Sound Card Settings' on the ‘Advanced Record' screen.
One more grouse. When you first load the programme you are invited to load up the ‘Ask Toolbar'. ‘Audio Cleaning Lab' isn't freeware! Maybe as the programme can be bought for about £25.00 this helped to subsidise the cost.
Ok. The complaints are over.
The programme is quite easy to use if you are new to this type of software, and opt for the simplified controls which will do a pretty good job of cleaning up average tracks that you might want to restore. You can also add a pretty good depth to recordings that were not too good in the first place, editing out unpleasant hums, turntable throbs, and general background ‘noise'. Also, you can give an impression of ‘stereo sound' to old ‘mono' recordings.
If you want to go to town on your tracks, this programme really delivers, but you will really need to spend a great deal of time getting to know all the range of gadgetry included in the software. Probably this will appeal to those members of our online community who wear anoraks!
We expect most users will want to use the ‘fastrack' method to record and edit their music and won't have the patience (or time) to fiddle for perfection!
So a quick overview.
We have complained before about the lack of ‘flagging' in MAGIX software. This seems to have been remedied. There are very helpful notes available in the ‘info screen' and all over each screen. Also pretty useful notes are included in the accompanying .pdf manual. (Although not enough to set up the programme in the first place)!
The new user interface is clear to understand (see previously).
You choose an option from ‘Audio Files', ‘Record' or ‘CD's. Whichever you choose , the ‘info box' displays helpful information so that you know that you have chosen the right option.
This is your first choice taken under the ‘Input' heading.
We chose to test the programme to the full by using a very old (1935 or thereabouts) recording of an opera singer with full orchestral backing. It was on an old ‘78' record which had been well used and was dusty and worn.
First of all we tried the automatic settings for the recording but they were not sensitive enough. Then we tried ‘dabbling' a little more deeply ourselves and were amazed by what the programme could ‘pull back' from the original recording. Although there was still just a little bit of ‘noise', the depth and warmth that was available was impressive.
Be warned though. Every time you work on the project it saves the thing in a different file- which is just a little bit irritating. It does give you the option of deleting old files though, and you can recoup your old original file if you ‘over edit' and find you have deleted the whole thing - as we managed to!
You have a number of suites of tools at your disposal when you come to editing, too many to list here, but they are mainly to be found under the headings of ‘Cleaning' and ‘Mastering'. Dependent upon how deeply you want to edit etc. you can open more options under these sections.
The ‘Export heading' offers you the option of ‘Burn Audio DVD's/CD's, ‘Burn audio files as data onto disc to archive your MP3 collection',‘Save the project as several MP3 files' or you can ‘export files in WAV,MP3, WMA or OGG format. Most other formats also seem to be supported.
You have the ability to print matching covers and labels.
So, for £25.00, to get all these tools placed at your disposal, we reckon you're onto a pretty good thing here.
MAGIX allows you to activate the MP3 encoder for free, but if you want another type you will have to go online and purchase it from them!
So, a plea to MAGIX to sort out the instructions for those of us who ‘plug in' our USB record decks directly into our PC's. Please give some good online instructions that are clear and illustrated.
Also, could they have the default for ‘monitor input signal' set as ‘on'? This would make things more user friendly.
It's a good programme though, and good value for money. Have fun with it and be prepared to spend a long time ‘backing up' your collections'!
Amazon: Magix Audio Cleaning Lab 16 Deluxe (PC)