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Distortion without clipping?! Stumped... :(

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Mary Hazuka
Distortion without clipping?! Stumped... :(
on Nov 11, 2015 at 4:17:11 am

Hi Everyone,

So here is the situation. I work with a pastor who posts his homilies online. They are very popular, and so I want them to sound the best possible. Right now we have too many episodes posted on the podcast are in need of a revamp so I am starting at square 1 and trying to restore all of the files a bit. This recording that I am linking to was recorded in 2007. My pastor attached an iTalk microphone (I don't even think they exist now) into his iPod (whatever the most current version was before the iPod Touch), and he would place his iPod on the podium where he preached Now, in 2015, we are using a way better system, a Sennheiser wireless setup. But I am trying to fix up these old recordings especially, and Adobe Audition has helped me jump some hurdles, ie background noise and a high pitch heard throughout all of the files. But now that I've stripped all of that away, you can tell that there is some distortion there, but when I look at the file in Audition there is no clipping present, but there are certain moments where it sounds like there is.

Here is a link to the file: We Trust Him.mp3

22050 Hz and 32 bits
listen around the 3:50 mark, it's right at 3:54. When you listen to it with earphones, as many of our listeners do, it just sounds so "harsh"....any help would be greatly appreciated!!

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Richard Crowley
Re: Distortion without clipping?! Stumped... :(
on Nov 11, 2015 at 12:06:43 pm

The quality is remarkably good considering the dodgy recording methods. There are more kinds of distortion than clipping. Just because THIS "generation" of the waveform isn't clipped doesn't mean that distortion didn't get "baked in" at some previous step.

There are "clipping restoration" functions now available in Adobe Audition which are made specifically to attempt to "restore" flat-top peaks by "rounding off" the sharp edges. There appear to be MANY demonstration videos on YouTube how this works, here is one picked essentially at random:

HOWEVER, you have done a great job to create a reasonably clean track. The main distraction that I hear is the reverberation and bit of "boominess" from the casual mic placement. You can't do much about that without spending thousands of $$$ and lots more time which doesn't seem worth it, IMHO.

Remember that the more processing you do to remove all those noises, etc, the more "metallic" and almost "crunchy" the remaining audio becomes. IMHO, you have reached the "happy medium" between "just enough" processing vs. becoming annoying to listen to.

I would leave it as-is and pronounce it "good". But certainly you should experiment with the clip restoration function just so you are familiar with what it can do for you.

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John Fishback
Re: Distortion without clipping?! Stumped... :(
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:05:44 pm

I agree with Richard. Another app to explore is iZotope RX. It will De-clip as well as De-verb, although, De-verb won't do miraculous restorations. In my experience it can "help" with controlling room boxiness, but rarely eliminate it. You can get a trial version here.

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