Many contemporary noise-reduction processors employ machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. Based on analyzing vast amounts of data, the algorithms in these products learn to identify the characteristics of voices and background noise, making separation more precise.
The new Waves Clarity VX Pro plug-in ($249, Mac/Win) uses machine-learned Neural Networks to quickly split the source signal from the ambience (noise) on spoken or sung vocals without adding audible artifacts the way many noise-reduction plug-ins do.
Clarity VX Pro features three Neural Network algorithms to process your audio: Broad 1 isolates a voice from ambience. Broad 2 HF isolates both a primary and secondary voice from ambience. Broad 2 isolates the primary voice from the secondary voice and the ambience.
The plug-in defaults to Basic Mode, which has a limited control set for quick, simple operation. The main control knob lets you dial in more ambience and less voice turned to the right of center and more voice and less ambience when turned to the right.
Click the Advanced Controls button, and additional parameters appear. For example, you can access the plug-in’s four independent frequency bands, each with adjustable crossovers and reduction amount. You can solo the full signal of individual bands or just the processed part.
Other Advanced Controls include the Reflections knob, which restores natural reflections that the noise-reduction process takes out. The Process Amount control lets you raise or lower the four bands together. If you’ve set different reductions per band, you can use its slider to change the global reduction level while keeping the same relative distance between the individual bands.
The Ambience Gate allows for a user-adjustable amount of ambience through when the vocal signal is present, but remove it when it’s not.
The graphic FFT display clearly shows the difference between the input and output signals in a gray-colored area representing how much reduction Clarify VX Pro is applying. Waves included two different ways to view the FFT, one showing a series of colorful dots that indicate the input signal and glow brighter to represent more level at a given frequency. The other is a standard FFT, waveform-style display.
Waves simultaneously released Clarity VX, a much less expensive ($29.99) simplified version that offers two of the three Neural Networks—Broad 1 and Broad 2—from the Pro version. If you don’t need the adjustability and automated parameters available on the Pro version, it’s a much less expensive alternative.