Regular readers will know that we generally tend to focus on free software because we enjoy supporting small independent publishers. However every so often we come across a piece of commercial software which offers such great functionality that we have to cover it. Such is the case here.
Magix Audio Cleaning Lab 2013 (ACL) is a software suite which is designed specifically for editing and cleaning up audio. Think of it like a Photoshop for audio and you’re close. The German company has been producing this kind of product for around 20 years, and it’s gained a reputation for producing solid products.
We were recently hunting around for a way to tidy up some audio tracks, and stumbled across a recommendation for ACL on a forum, so we thought we would give it a try, despite the fact that we’re long time Audacity lovers. The results astonished us, and so we decided to review it and let others know. You can see our video review below, which outline just a fraction of the functionality of the program, focusing on audio cleaning, rather than generic editing and conversion.
There are a number of standout points which make this product so compelling in our opinion. For one thing it’s very fast and remarkably easy to use. While Audacity is very powerful in expert hands, for the general beginner it can be a real chore to try and find out how to do something, for example remove noise.
The simple very graphical interface of ACL really lends itself to experimentation, and so anyone should be able to get to grips with the software fairly quickly, especially if they have some knowledge of audio editing in general. There are also handy wizards, which guide the user along certain tasks, and in fact the whole program starts up with a wizard to make the setting easier to get to.
The main thing though, is it works. Extremely well. We struggled for a long time with Audacity to remove some buzz from a narration track, but in ACL it took literally two clicks and as many seconds to remove almost all of it from the track, without severely impacting the audio quality. Outstanding. Further experiments with different aspects of the program also yielded similar results, way outstripping any other programs we had tried.
In one test we tried to clean up a very old video tape audio track which was barely intelligible at times, and managed to restore it amazingly well using a couple of the 300 presets which come with the software, including one to Emphasize Voice. The key to using the software is to experiment with different combinations of cleaning and mastering presets until you get the results you prefer. It doesn’t take long, and it’s very intuitive once you get the hang of it.
In fact there are probably far too many options for most people to get to grips with, which is probably why the developers offer the wizard functions, but for those with the time and inclination to tinker, there are definitely enough options to get the result you need.
As you’ll see – and hopefully hear – from the video, the program really does an admirable job of cleaning up audio on demand. The sheer quantity of options, and low level tweaking you can do to every aspect of an audio track is mind-blowing, as is the breadth of functionality for doing more conventional tasks such as converting audio formats, and creating different soundscapes.
While we still adore the free Audacity program, we have to say that for general day to day use, ACL has it beat in just about every way, from user friendliness to functionality, but then again, we are talking a commercial product vs the product of free audio software enthusiasts. So really our conclusion remains. If you’re serious about doing anything with images, you’ll choose Adobe Photoshop, and if you want the same level of power for audio editing, you will definitely choose Magix Audio Cleaning Lab as your tool.
Windows only (Mac- Audio Cleaner Pro), DVD or download purchase options available.