Distortion has a way of disrupting your recordings when you least expect it. Even when you’re extra careful with your recording equipment and pay attention to the recording environment, you may have to spend hours removing unwanted sounds in post-production.
Distortion is a change in the audio waveform’s shape caused at any point in the recording process: during the recording, mixing, or the final stage, mastering.
Distortion has many causes: it can be due to faulty audio equipment, poor cable quality, interference during recording, overdriving mic preamps or audio interface, and post-production errors due to plug-ins affecting the audio quality or increasing gain volume and causing the audio track to clip.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid distortion or fix it in post-production, and professional audio editing software like Logic Pro make fixing distorted audio fast and intuitive.
While re-recording is always a valid option, when that’s not possible, we need to use professional post-production tools to adjust our recordings. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to repair distorted audio and ensure the problem won’t happen again even the next time you have to re-record your audio.
The first step is to ensure you’re not dealing with a malfunction in your recording gear.
Verify that your cables are in good condition with no scratches or broken parts. If there’s no visible damage, try with different cables if you have others. Change the input and output cables to test them, and try connecting your audio interface to other USB ports in your computers.
If your audio interface has multiple channels, try plugging the microphone in different inputs and do a test recording. If you have a second microphone, try using it to ensure it’s not a microphone issue.
If you’re not using an audio interface, consider getting one, as built-in sound cards can add too much interference and self-noise from the computer.
Before recording, check that your preamps or audio interface’s gain knob is not too high. Most audio interfaces come with a clip indicator that will turn red if the gain is too high, causing the audio to clip.
Connect your microphone or instruments and do a test by playing or speaking into the microphone. If the led indicator turns red, decrease the gain until it turns green or off (depending on your audio interface).
If your audio interface does not have a clipping indicator, you can still monitor the levels inside Logic Pro X.
Watch out for the bars in the level meters keeping them under 0dB. When the bars turn red, it means your audio is clipping. Turn down the gain volume in your audio interface until the level meters in Logic Pro are back to yellow. It’s better to keep the level meters under 0dB, around -3dB, to give some headroom to add plug-ins and other effects that may alter the overall volume of your audio track.
Another cause for audio distortion is that your project’s sample rate settings do not match the one set on your interface. Usually, this is automatically adjusted when you connect your external audio interface. However, it’s worth double-checking.
First, verify your interface’s sample rate and then go to File > Project Settings > Audio and check that your project’s sample rate settings match your audio interface’s. You can select the correct one from the Sample Rate dropdown menu if it doesn’t. If it does match, try choosing a different one and then changing it back to reset the settings to see if that was the cause of the issue.
When none of the previous solutions worked, and you cannot re-record the distorted sound, you’ll have to fix distortion in Logic Pro, which has a professional set of built-in tools to enhance audio quality, but it’s also compatible with the most professional audio editing plug-ins.
To import your audio media in Logic Pro, go to File > Import > Audio File. Search your audio file from the finder window. You can preview your audio files to ensure you import the correct one. Click Open when you find the file with the distorted sound you want to fix.
Adjusting the gain is a quick solution when your audio is distorted due to clipping, and you don’t intend to edit the sound further. Go to the Tool menu in the Track area and select the Gain Tool. Click on your audio track and drag it up or down to increase or decrease the gain. You should be able to see the audio waveform changes. With the Gain Tool, you can select only the distorted parts to adjust gain and reduce the distortion sound.
EQ can help you make achieve better-sounding mixes by reducing or boosting frequencies to change the sound of your audio. Occasionally, only specific frequencies will overload your mix, causing distortion. If you can identify them, you can use an EQ to reduce specific frequencies without affecting the rest of your audio track.
Add an EQ from your Effect Audio Inserts or click on the EQ display on a channel strip to add the Channel EQ. Hit the Analyzer button to get a frequency curve from your audio track, displaying the frequencies that are louder and quieter. This will help you find the distortion and what frequencies to cut.
Compression can be helpful to fix distortion caused by loud peaks in your audio track by reducing the dynamic range of your track, i.e., the difference between the loudest and quietest parts, making your audio smoother and more uniform.
Start by adding the compressor to your channel strip. You can use the Logic Pro built-in compressor or any external compressor plug-in. Adjust the threshold to tell the compressor when to start compressing the audio. Listen to the audio as you adjust the settings, and avoid using too much compression, as excessive dynamic range compression might compromise the natural features of your recordings.
A limiter is another way to reduce distortion caused by clipping. The difference with the compressor is that a limiter limits the signal to the threshold level by bringing any peak beyond it down to level. During the mastering process, limiters are used to boost your mix’s overall volume without distorting it.
Add a limiter as an audio effect in your channel strip. Choose Dynamics > Limiter. Adjust settings and preview your audio. Limiters are helpful for adjusting audio after you have used impactful plug-ins like saturation in your mix, which may distort your track more than desired.
Besides helping you mitigate distortion, limiters will maintain the quality of our mix and let it be ready to playback on any digital streaming platform.
CrumplePop audio plug-ins are designed to help you get the best audio quality possible in your music production, offering a wide selection of tools to target different sound-related issues like noise, wind, rustle, pops, and clipping, among others. They’re available for multiple audio editing platforms such as Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Audition, and many more.
Since distortion can be caused by different sources, such as overdriven audio that clips, background noises, microphone bumps, rustle from lapel mics, and other interferences, you can pick the CrumplePop plug-ins that best suit your needs and make the necessary adjustments to remove the unwanted sound.
Sign up and download CrumplePop and install the plug-ins on your computer. CrumplePop plug-ins are available in different formats, including AU, AAX, and VST, to use with any audio editing software.
Go to your Audio FX, select Audio Units, and search for CrumplePop plug-ins. Select the one most suitable to your audio problem. If you want to fix distortion caused due to clipping, then select the ClipRemover plug-in.
ClipRemover, as well as the other CrumplePop plug-ins, use advanced AI to restore your audio.
The ClipRemover interface is simple and easy to use. When you apply it to your audio track, it automatically identifies and restores your clip audio. Most of the time, you won’t need to adjust anything else.
However, if you want to fine-tune the plug-in, the control knob allows you to adjust the threshold to set the level where your audio starts clipping. You can adjust the output slider to remove the clipping.
Distortion is a common issue that can give us headaches during recording and post-production sessions, which is why mastering tools that allow us to save distorted audio files is so crucial.
Most digital audio workstations and video editors offer enough tools to correct audio issues, but sometimes having multiple audio tracks to fix can make the process long and exhausting.
CrumplePop plug-ins can make fixing distorted audio and other audio-related issues quicker and less stressful, even when multiple audio tracks are affected, so give our professional plug-ins a try if you want to achieve studio-quality sound in your productions.