Adobe's Project Awesome Audio turns the worst audio into professional sounding recordings

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Editing recorded audio can be a real chore. Unwanted noise and microphone artifacts can ruin a podcast. Fortunately, a lot of that can be cleaned up with audio editing software like Adobe’s Audition. However, each problem requires a specific tool and knowledge of how to adjust the parameters to eliminate the noise. It makes the editing process complicated and time-consuming.

Zeyu Jin, Adobe’s head of research for Audition, has developed what he calls “end-to-end audio enhancement.” Instead of using several different tools for various situations, Project Awesome Audio cleans everything up with one click. It can even remove reverb and studio echo, which is virtually impossible to expunge with traditional methods.

The tool does this by using Sensei to extract only the speech from the recording and use it to create a new file. It is not just a script that runs a bunch of audio clean-up tools. It is a whole new technology that does not use any existing Audition functions.

“First, we want to make everything much simpler,” Jin told Engadget, which got a sneak peek of the “sneak” before tonight’s presentation. “No need to learn which tool to use in each situation. We want to reduce degradation in one go.”

Jin demonstrated an example using a file where someone had “forgotten” to switch their input settings to an external microphone, so the whole recording was captured with the laptop’s internal mic. As you would imagine, the audio was terrible, with a lot of noise and barely audible voices.

Once it was run through the Awesome Audio routine, “the result sounded like it was recorded with a professional microphone."

Another scenario where the tool works wonders is in situations where a recording has to be moved to another physical area. Room acoustics and ambient noise can make it clear that a session was relocated to a different location. However, after running it through Awesome Audio, it sounds like it was recorded entirely in a professional studio. It is not perfect, basic volume adjustments still need to be made, but all the noise and artifacts are gone.

As with all Adobe sneaks, there is no guarantee Project Awesome Audio will make it into Audition. The company often uses feedback and audience reaction to experimental features before planning to go forward with them. However, with the magic-like capabilities of the tool, it is hard to imagine audio editors not screaming for it to be added.

For more about the technology, check out Jin and his colleagues’ research paper "Perceptually-Motivated Environment-Specific Speech Enhancement" published by Princeton University. You can also see it and other surprises during Adobe’s MAX live stream today at 10am PST.

Image credit: MikolajS via Shutterstock

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
OK, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a purest. Having these kinds of capabilities seems to be as an encouragement for people to be a lot less precise and professional in their work. What it's telling me is that "it doesn't matter how bad a job you do, we can clean it up for you anyway". We have certainly seen more than enough of that over the past century .... I fear that we will get to the point that without all this technology we simply won't be able to perform at a high degree of craftsmanship ......
 

Ravalo

TS Booster
Sooooo its autotune but for potato mics?

I don’t think I’ll need this because my mic sounds decent once I eliminate the background noise with audacity (I don’t use my mic very often in my videos so its good enough for me) but some people who use a low end mic (a.k.a worse than a mid range headset mic) and want to start on youtube might need this sort of program.

For background noise you could always use a blanket if your mic isnt attached to your pc (usb mics, headset mics, xlr mics, etc.) but most people wouldn't feel comfortable doing that lol
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
.... I ]....don’t think I’ll need this because my mic sounds decent once I eliminate the background noise with audacity (I don’t use my mic very often in my videos so its good enough for me) but some people who use a low end mic (a.k.a worse than a mid range headset mic) and want to start on youtube might need this sort of Subscription.....[ ].....
FIXED..!!
 

Ravey

TS Addict
OK, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a purest. Having these kinds of capabilities seems to be as an encouragement for people to be a lot less precise and professional in their work. What it's telling me is that "it doesn't matter how bad a job you do, we can clean it up for you anyway". We have certainly seen more than enough of that over the past century .... I fear that we will get to the point that without all this technology we simply won't be able to perform at a high degree of craftsmanship ......
What I take away from this though is that this new technology will clean up the majority of the time consuming work, freeing up more time for professionals to work on quality and fixing any of the more stubborn sound "bugs" that this software can't fix.

This kind of technology can also pave the way for active noise cancelling on live calls!
 
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Unusual Kmc

TS Enthusiast
OK, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a purest. Having these kinds of capabilities seems to be as an encouragement for people to be a lot less precise and professional in their work. What it's telling me is that "it doesn't matter how bad a job you do, we can clean it up for you anyway". We have certainly seen more than enough of that over the past century .... I fear that we will get to the point that without all this technology we simply won't be able to perform at a high degree of craftsmanship ......
Sorry, but I don't quite agree with you. This doesn't say "hey people, stop working as hard, start relying on technology". This is an audio cleanup tool, it doesn't do the work for you. You still need to write a script, think of what to say and go ahead and do it. All this does is make you sound even better and allows people who can't really afford good mics to start recording their voice for use in YouTube, etc.
What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't reduce the need to work hard to produce something interesting to listen to, it simply makes the recording cleaner.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
...[ [ ].... All this does is make you sound even better and allows people who can't really afford good mics to start recording their voice for use in YouTube, etc.....[ ]....
Well, some wanna be youTubers might be over thinking the need for a "really good mic" The Shure SM-48 routinely sells for $39.95, and many people compare it favorably with the much more expensive Shure SM-58 a widely used vocalist's stage mic.

If forty bucks is too much to spend on a mic for a how-to project video IMO, you're in deep trouble.

Jus' sayin'.

(Although I will grant you, there are some videos on the Tube, where the audio quality is horrendous).
 
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Mugsy

TS Evangelist
I've been working with audio/video clips & samples for decades, and I still have 20-30 year old digital audio files that sound as bad as the technology available at the time, so the ability to clear up those old audio samples is intriguing.

Now if they can just do the same for pixelated video recorded at much-too-low resolution and low fps, I'd be in heaven.
 
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Rhythmattic

TS Rookie
Well, some wanna be youTubers might be over thinking the need for a "really good mic" The Shure SM-48 routinely sells for $39.95, and many people compare it favorably with the much more expensive Shure SM-57 a widely used vocalist's stage mic.

If forty bucks is too much to spend on a mic for a how-to project video IMO, you're in deep trouble.

Jus' sayin'.

(Although I will grant you, there are some videos on the Tube, where the audio quality is horrendous).
I think you mean the SM58.... 57's are generally used as an instrument mic.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
I think you mean the SM58.... 57's are generally used as an instrument mic.
You're right. I stand corrected. I thought something was amiss when the last digits didn't match, but it was late. It's even more embarrassing since I actually own an SM-48.
 
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Rhythmattic

TS Rookie
You'ree right. I stand corrected. I though something was amiss when the last digits didn't match, but it was late. It's even more embarrassing since I actually own an SM-48.
All good.. Best to correct info if someone reading can benefit from the info...
Cheers!
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
All good.. Best to correct info if someone reading can benefit from the info...
Cheers!
Well, since somehow we wound up on the topic of YouTube videos, there are too many people out there who believe that an iPhone is all you need to become "an influencer"/. Perhaps that's true in some cases, but to advance in production quality, eternal mics will eventually be needed.

The Shures, (including 57, 48 & 58) are cardiod pickup patterns, and would help with rear noise rejection. The imitation (?) condenser studio style mics I see sometimes might be omni-directional, creating more, "oh crap, the baby's crying", ambiance to the video.

While you obviously need pro studio gear to promote your symphonic metal band, there is a lot of decent gear available at low, (or reasonable ?), cost.

Berhinger has a fairly extensive line of mixers with a variety of different feature sets for under $100.00. Some are as low as half that. Along with, of course, the lower priced Shure mics, and some house brand mic stands, an enterprising duo could be well on their way to becoming the next Simon & Garfunkel.


Then I suppose you can hit up Goodwill for some blankets to hang on the windows and doorways. (Of course that should happen even if you are using your phone).

Presumably you might not even need yet another subscription to this new Abode product to get your sound right on the first take, so to speak. (Just wanted to keep this somewhere close to on topic).
 
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Rhythmattic

TS Rookie
Ive done entire albums with a $50 mic and a Tascam Portastudio.. and honestly, Its sounds half decent... moreso than a lot of youtube audio....

point is, use what you have, and learn how to use it...
And as you say, Blankets from goodwill.....great advice for those that need an affordable solution....

Actually , my room is draped in removals felt..... 2 x 30 meters at the time ($50 ? memory fading...something like that ) Works a treat...