Reducing Record Wear Distortion

I am digitizing some old 45s and LPs that don’t necessarily have lots of surface noise but the fidelity has some distortion due to wear and/or prior use of bad needles. I’ve been futzing with the Low Pass Filter on these records but would appreciate any tips in reducing the distortion. Thank you.

May benefit from expanding the dynamic range.
Audacity does not come with an expander
There are 3 free plugins I know of which can expand …
Cramit | Free Multiband Compressor With Distortion (compresses & expands)
La Petite Excite - Free Exciter VST/AU Plugin By Fine Cut Bodies - Bedroom Producers Blog (expands only)
TB FlX v3 by ToneBoosters - Compressor Dynamics EQ Plugin VST Audio Unit (compresses & expands)

Thanks - I checked those sites and am unclear how they would help. Any further insight?

Dynamic-range expansion can help separate signal (music) from the noise-floor.

(Dynamic-range compression does the opposite).

Wear is going to increase noise & reduce dynamic-range.

Expander plugins increase the dynamic-range:
they make the loud audio louder and the quiet audio (like hiss) quieter.

Got it, thanks again. I’ll give it a try.

Hey Trebor, so I downloaded and installed Cramit, watched the demo video and still find a it a bit daunting. If you use it where would you begin?

Distortion is always hard (or impossible) to fix. :frowning:

45’s generally had worse quality than LPs, even without the wear. I heard they sometimes used “regrind” (recycled viny records) but I’m not sure that would hurt the quality unless they were grinding-up the label with the rest of the record… And I think 45’s were victims of the analog loudness war. But mainly, I suspect they just didn’t care. Theoretically, you should be able to get better quality with higher seed.

You said noise isn’t necessarily a problem, but Audacity has a noise gate, which is a downward expander. It makes quiet parts quieter, or completely silences the quiet parts.

Audacity also has a noise reduction filter which can work on the constant low-level background hiss or hum.

For the clicks & pops Audacity has Click Removal (automatic) and Repair (manual). Or there are special-purpose applications like Wave Corrector (automatic and free) or Wave Repair (manual, $30 USD). I’ve had Wave Repair for a long time and it can do an audibly perfect job of removing most (but not all) clicks & pops and since it’s manual it only touches the audio where you make a repair. But it’s VERY time consuming.

Low pass filtering will reduce harmonic distortion but of course it also reduces the highs. And, I’m not sure if “record distortion” is harmonic distortion.

I haven’t tried is… You could low-pass filter and then run the Harmonic Enhancer to bring-back some highs. I have used the Harmonic Exciter on some “dull sounding” recordings and it helps. (It’s similar to the old Aphex Aural Exciter.)

That sounds like a plan, thanks. Again, this a used 45 I bought that sounds as if someone played it on a worn stereo console needle or perhaps a 78 needle. I think Low Pass Filter then using the Harmonic Enhancer plug-in could help.

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