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Magix Rescue Your Vinyl & Tapes review

Seth Barton
26 Feb 2009
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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
37
inc VAT
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This software and hardware bundle consists of Audio Cleaning Lab 15 Deluxe and a phono preamp.

Magix previously marketed this combination as Audio Cleaning Lab 11 XXL. As long as your PC has a microphone input, you can use these to capture your old records and tapes to digital formats. Once it's finished, you can enjoy them more often - by exporting them to audio CD or as MP3 files - and the originals won't suffer from further wear and tear.

The software's interface is straightforward, with four tabs that deal with importing, cleaning, mastering and exporting your music. The in-application help is simply excellent. The InfoBox window in the bottom right-hand corner provides instructions and hints for every step of the process.

The preamp helps you get the best possible signal when capturing music. It's a small metal box with stereo phono input and output. It comes with all the cables you'll need to connect a turntable or tape deck, via the preamp, to your PC. A small screw lets you connect a record deck's ground terminal, helping to reduce the hum inherent in mains power. It's battery powered, but Magix has thoughtfully included a 9V battery in the box.

Importing music is easy thanks to a gain control that lets you know if the input level is set correctly. There's also automatic track recognition, so you don't have to mark the beginning of each track manually. We found that this worked perfectly during our testing, though we suppose that some more unusual tunes might cause it problems.

Once you've imported your music, it appears as a waveform in the upper window. From here, you can use the simple editing tools to make quick changes. You can tweak the track markers, adjust the volume of individual tracks or sections, and create fade ins and outs. We found all this very useful when archiving tracks from old audio tapes, which included blips of previous recordings.

Clean up your act

The next step is cleaning your audio with tools that reduce crackle, clipping, noise, clicks and hiss. You can auto-clean your tracks with reasonable results. Alternatively, there's a step-by-step mode that lets you apply each tool in turn, with before-and-after examples provided. There's a range of useful presets too, including ones for noisy audio cassettes and scratched vinyl. These tools work well, and are just the thing for sprucing up old recordings.

Fine-tuning can be achieved with the Spectral Cleaning mode. This removes unwanted noises in the original track. You get a colour-coded visual representation of the track's frequency, which makes it easier to pick out noises that don't fit. Tools are provided to remove these while barely affecting the rest of the track.

Special effects

The mastering tab lets you add extra effects to try and improve your audio further. For example, the equaliser can help balance the recording, and the Brilliance filter adds back high frequencies that can be lost on old vinyl. There's support for the popular Virtual Studio Technology (VST) standard, allowing you to use innumerable freeware plug-ins within this application.

Finally you can export the finished product as a file in a popular format such as WAV, MP3, AAC, FLAC or OGG. You can also burn audio CDs and DVDs or data discs. There's support for Dolby Pro Logic, and a visual tool allows you to set up how your recordings will sound on surround-sound systems.

Little has changed since the last time we saw this software. There are improved tools for adjusting the length and speed of tracks, which is useful when capturing from DJ mix tapes that have pitched up tracks. The spectral and waveform displays also look much crisper and the overall presentation is improved. However, we doubt that any of these will persuade current users to upgrade. Some problems persist from previous versions too, such as the inability to name tracks within the software. This is a great piece of software for archiving or giving a fresh lease of life to your old recordings. However, it's also capable of doing a lot more thanks to a good set of basic editing and audio processing tools. These could be handy if you're looking to put together mix CDs for friends and family. Best of all is just how easy it is to get good sounding results with no knowledge or prior experience.

Details

Price£37
Detailswww.magix.com/uk
Rating*****

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