MAGIX audio cleaning software review and how I use it.
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Aug 10, 2011
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Aug 10, 2011
Hello fellow audio maniacs/philes! I have been an audiophile most of my life and enjoy car audio and headphones most of all. I have a small collection of vinyl EPs and will add to my collection as I go. I listen to classic rock, metal mostly.
Just a quick list of the equipment I have and I will get to the review of the MAGIX PC software. I have a Dual 701 record player (1972 I believe), Marantz 2270 amplifier (1954 I think), I use a Sony PSP 3000 to play my MP3s with (I will get into that later), IPOD classic 120 GB, Sennheiser HD 570 (I just broke them on accident and couldnt fix), Sennheiser PX100 (Mint cond, but broken in), Koss Portapro 25th ann. edition (I love these), I'll post my car stuff if you guys want to know, it is quite a good system.
I bought my first version of MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab 12 at Fry's for about 30 bucks. I started using it mostly for the great EQs it has. I love the fact you can put any audio source in and EQ it to your liking, and then save that particular sound in 320mbps MP3 format, or a number of other formats. The newer version MAGIX 15 will read FLAC files which is my favorite music download format now. This software has a multitude of "cleaning" abilities as well; if you are recording from an analog source this is very handy. I also have versions 16, and 17. I am not overly happy with the newer versions, but the sound quality seems to be a bit more "mastered" quality in 17 up front, without any tweaking involved. I am using version 15 now and am very happy with it.
I want to talk about the FLAC format for a bit since this is what I mainly use now to tweak/remaster and then save to 320kbps MP3 format. I understand that FLAC is a "lossless" format, but I disagree, since I have found good FLAC files to sound less detailed in the upper freqs than the actual CD format. The upper spectrum becomes a casualty somewhat to the FLAC format, but not anywhere near the loss of a 320kbps MP3. This fact can be negated by boosting the upper freq with the 10 band EQ and or the 4 band parametric EQ. The detail and brightness of the upper frequencies are very much restored using the EQs to your liking.
The EQs:
Like I said, there is a very good 10 band EQ and a 4 band EQ at you disposal and this is my favorite feature of this very good software. The 4 band parametric EQ is pretty much infinitely customizeable since you can type in the gain in Db up to a 1/10 Db increment, freq from 10 Hz to 21,942.3 Hz, and cooler still the Q can be controlled in tenths of a Q, but I usually never use higher than 2.2 on the Q curve. The Q is how sharply your curve slopes if you are using the EQ as a bandpass type filter/booster. For example, I love to use the Q at 2.2 on the first parametric slider for bass and give it a typical boost of 4 Db at 75Hz. This gives the kick drums more punch in my rock music. It is a subtle change, but very noticeable if you turn the Eq off when you are re-mastering your recordings. This gives the bass guitars some added snap as well. You can do this type of thing with 3 more sliders at your disposal. The 10 band EQ is really great. The frequencies are at 60, 170, 310, 600, 800, 1k, 3k, 6k, 13k, 16kHz. The good thing is is that you can use both EQs at the same time, turn one off, both on, both off to make sound impressions as you tweak the sound. The 10 band EQ has a limit at 16kHz. Since my hearing limit is at 18,400Hz, I can use the parametric EQ and set the upper limit to 17,800 Hz if I wish and boost up the freq to hear that lost detail you get when going to the 320kbps MP3 format. I actually can hear the kick drum in my Metallica, Ride the Lightning album now, when before it sounded like a mouse fart! Very awesome!
The multimax:
This is a three band customizeable compressor, which I use from time to time to brighten up certain recordings. This also helps to clean up muddy bass and mid bass sometimes. This can give a certain amount of force, and breathe new life to the recording if used properly. I use it sparingly, since if you overdo it with the settings, it can get distorted.
I like this if I want to take an MP3 that sounds horrible and give it some better detail in the high end, but you can only do so much with a terrible MP3 file! This is customizeable from 0-100%. I typically use 30% and high quality button is pushed to the on setting (this does use more computer power). This feature really does work well.
There are some other mastering effects that I don't use. They are "stereo effects" for changing the soundstage. Then there is the "energizer psychoacoustic processor" and "dynamics processor". I don't use these, but they would be great for a musician who is tweaking electronic sounds and samples. And finally there is a chorus setting.
The audio cleaning features:
I like the declicker/ decrackler feature when using this software to clean up a vinyl recording. You can virtually eliminate those unwanted sounds and customize it so that the strengh is just enough to get the job done. It does alter the actual sound a very little bit, but it is worth using these features to get rid of the clicks and pops of vinyl. I am a big fan of giving my vinyl records a shower in warm water under the sink to get the 40 years worth of grime out of the grooves. I also spin them on my Dual 701 and use a cotton ball with 90% alcohol on it to deep clean the vinyl after the warm water bath. This virtualy eliminates the dirt and subsequent clicks and pops physically from the vinyl.
The De-noiser:
I love this tool for noisy recordings. It has a customizeable "wizard" feature that will take a sample of a certain time of the begining of the audio track. The noise is then used as a template of the unwanted stuff in the recording and you can remove it at different strengths. You can even listen to the removed noise seperately so you can hear the sound you are removing.
Some other features that are great but I dont use these at all are the de-hisser, and de-clipper. There are some other features like certain electronic device noises that are programed into the software like certain camera noises from Sony and Grundig, and tape hiss etc. But I usually have luck just using the de-noiser wizard and using my own tweaks. It takes time but the de-noiser is worth using if you cant stand the background noise anymore.
There is a bunch of other things you can do with the MAGIX software, like zooming in and physically cutting portions and drawing portions of music in, but for my needs, I stick to the EQ and noise reduction. I love this software and I recomend you start with version 15 and go from there. It take some time to master the ins and outs of how to operate this software, but there are explainations on how to use it right on it so you learn as you go. I highly recomend this if you love to EQ your MP3s. You can also burn CDs quite easily with it in any format or just save the data for future use.  
I use a Sony PSP 3000 to play my 320 MP3s. This player has built in "EQ settings" which are not good enough for me. I love the player, and it is easy for me to use. I preffer it over my I POD classic. The I POD software is a nightmare fore me, and it is not user frendly at all. I also hate the round button for moving the selection around. The Sony PSP is strait foward and quick to use, has a bigger screen, replaceable memory, battery, and can get on the internet, not to mention play movies and games! For 130 bucks I love it to death. After equalizing my music, the PSP sounds really awesome to me, but I must Eq it or it sounds too flat for me.
My Eq settings are probably typical of what most people do, but everyone has different sensitivities in the different frequencies. I like to boost my trebble up quite a bit on the 16kHz range first, and slightly lower the DB boost as the freq drops. I usually leave the 1000Hz range alone, and cut a bit off from the 800Hz, 600Hz, and 310Hz, I start to boost the bass at 170Hz a little, and boost the 60Hz up about 5 or 6Db. As you boost signals, you can use the recording volume to stop the clipping/distortion by turning the recording level down as you go. From there I revisit each frequency to find the sweet spot on each one, and re-adjust the recording volume as I go. This is basically how I  re-master my music collection to my headphones and ears. I am currently using the Koss Portapro 25th anniversary edition, and I love the natural sound these make. The sound seems to enter into your brain since the drivers are right on your ears. When th music is properly Eq'd these headphones really come alive and can be driven very good with my Sony PSP.  
In short I highly recomend this software to anyone interested in recording vinyl, portables, and headphone listening. I love it and you can get it for free if you know how! Thanks for reading and let me know what software you preffer. Happy Eq ing.
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