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Earlier this year I wrote about the release of Todd-AO’s new noise reduction software Absentia DX. The app was designed by sound supervisor Rob Nokes to eliminate the manual labour he found his team needed to clean tracks on the Hollywood films and television shows they edit.

At that time, I wondered if the app could be used to fix field recordings. Of course, it is designed to clean dialogue. That’s a completely different task than repairing sound fx. However, despite working on sounds for which the software was not designed, DX fared well, especially with its hum removal.

Nokes’ team have not been idle.

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I experienced a series of surprises while browsing my Twitter feed earlier last month. The first was an announcement of Todd-AO’s new dialogue noise reduction software, Absentia DX. The second was that it was produced by respected Hollywood sound supervisor and field recordist Rob Nokes. The third was that it was priced at $49.

Now, I have zero experience editing dialogue for feature films. So, why would this announcement intrigue me? Of course, I didn’t expect to be cutting dialogue. Instead, my first thought was: “can this work on field recordings?”

I emailed Nokes. I asked if it was possible to use Absentia with sound effects. He mentioned that his teams were already using it with Foley tracks. That was all I needed to know. I purchased and installed the software a half hour later.

How well does Absentia work with sound fx tracks? Will it improve troubled field recordings laced with buzz or noise? Does it have potential to rival iZotope RX’s noise reduction software at a tenth of the price? Can “Absentia DX” serve as “Absentia FX?”

In today’s post we will find out. In this “first look” article, we’ll see if a dialogue noise reduction tool can be hacked to help master damaged sound effects captured in the field.

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