Clipped/Bad audio refers to audio distortion that occurs when an audio signal’s amplitude exceeds the maximum limit that can be accurately represented in a digital or analog system. This causes the peaks of the waveform to be “clipped” or “flattened“, resulting in a loss of information and a harsh, distorted sound.
In digital audio systems, clipping happens when the audio signal goes above 0 dBFS (decibels relative to full scale), which is the highest level that can be represented digitally. In analog systems, clipping occurs when the audio signal exceeds the maximum voltage capacity of the recording or playback equipment.
Clipped or bad audio is generally considered undesirable because it can create unpleasant artifacts and reduce the overall quality of the recording. To avoid clipping, it’s essential to monitor audio levels during recording and ensure that the signal stays within the acceptable range.
If clipping does occur, for example, in DaVinci Resolve, some audio repair techniques and tools can be used to reduce distortion and improve sound quality. Although the results may not always be perfect, there are several different methods & fixes you can utilize to help you with any clipped audio.
In this post, we’ll show you a few easy steps to fix clipped audio in DaVinci Resolve. Read on to learn more!
Locating your clipped or bad audio in DaVinci Fairlight
- Open DaVinci Resolve and load your project.
- Switch to the “Fairlight” tab at the bottom of the screen. This tab focuses on audio editing within DaVinci Resolve.
- On the Fairlight page, you’ll see a list of your audio tracks on the left side of the screen. If you can’t see them, click “Index” towards the top-left side of the software. Locate the track with the clipped audio.
3 Main methods to fix clipped or bad audio in DaVinci Resolve
Method 1 – EQ Adjustment
Use the built-in equalizer (EQ) in DaVinci Resolve to remove unwanted frequencies or to enhance specific frequencies. To access the Equalizer, click or double-click the “EQ” button on the audio track in the mixer panel. Clicking on it will open the Equalizer window.
What is the equalizer (EQ)?
The built-in EQ in DaVinci Resolve features a 6-band parametric equalizer. Each band can be adjusted by clicking and dragging the corresponding control points (dots) on the EQ curve. The frequency bands are:
- Low Cut: Removes low-frequency content below a specified frequency.
- Low Shelf: Adjusts the gain of low frequencies, either boosting or attenuating them.
- Low Mid: Adjusts the gain of a specific low-mid frequency range.
- High Mid: Adjusts the gain of a specific high-mid frequency range.
- High Shelf: Adjusts the gain of high frequencies, either boosting or attenuating them.
- High Cut: Removes high-frequency content above a specified frequency.
Fixing clipped audio using the equalizer
- You might want to start by cutting the extreme high and low frequencies, as they often contribute to distortion. Use the Low Cut and High Cut bands to achieve this.
- Next, you can focus on the Low Mid, High Mid, and Shelf bands. Listen carefully to the audio and identify any harsh or unpleasant frequencies. Adjust the gain and frequency of these bands to either boost or attenuate the problematic frequencies.
- Continuously play back the audio while making adjustments to ensure that the changes are improving the sound quality. Be cautious not to overdo the equalizer adjustments, as it can lead to an unnatural sound.
- Once you are satisfied with the equalizer adjustments, close the equalizer window and continue working on your project.
Method 2 – Audio Repair Plugins
DaVinci Resolve has built-in audio repair plugins that can help fix common issues like clipping. You can find these in the “Effects Library” panel under the “Audio FX” section. Look for plugins like “De-Esser” or “Noise Reduction“, and drag them onto the affected audio track. Adjust the plugin settings to reduce the clipping.
De-Esser: This plugin helps to reduce excessive sibilance (harsh ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sounds) in vocal recordings, which can be exaggerated by clipped audio. Adjust the frequency, threshold, and other settings to achieve the desired de-essing effect.
Noise Reduction: This plugin reduces background noise and hum which can become more noticeable in clipped audio. Adjust the noise reduction amount, smoothing, and other settings to achieve the desired noise reduction.
Method 3 – Volume Adjustment
Lower the volume of the clipped audio track by clicking and dragging the volume fader in the mixer panel. Keep an eye on the audio meters to ensure that the levels stay below 0 dB.
Volume adjustment can be used to lower the overall level of an audio track with clipped audio. However, it’s important to note that reducing the volume of an already clipped track will not repair the distortion itself.
Instead, it helps prevent further distortion during the mixing and exporting process by keeping the overall mix level below the maximum limit.
After making these adjustments, play back the audio to see if the issue has been resolved. If not, continue to fine-tune the settings until you achieve the desired result.
Once you’re satisfied with the audio quality, switch back to the “Edit” or “Color” tabs to continue working on your project.
Remember that fixing clipped audio can be challenging, and sometimes the results might not be perfect. To avoid this issue in the future, try to record audio at an appropriate level, ensuring that the audio signal does not exceed the maximum limit.
Clipped audio can significantly impact the quality of a recording, resulting in distortion and unpleasant artifacts. Understanding the causes of clipping and taking proactive measures to prevent it during the recording process is essential for capturing clear and professional audio.
In the event that clipping does occur, DaVinci Resolve offers an array of audio repair plugins within the Fairlight page, including “Soft Clipper“, “De-Esser“, and “Noise Reduction“, which can help mitigate the effects of distortion and improve overall sound quality.
It’s important to remember, however, that these plugins may not entirely restore heavily clipped or damaged recordings. To ensure you have the best possible audio quality, monitoring and adjusting audio levels during recording remains the most effective approach.