The main task was to clean up 15 minutes of voiceover, a recording of Nicola that Antony had made on a Zoom H1, which was quite noisy.
In Audition I manually reduced some big plosives and pronounced clicks in ‘k’ sounds, removed mic handling noises, shortened pauses, and made some louder breathing sounds more subtle, before starting to experiment with noise prints and noise reduction settings. I noticed that the stereo image highlighted NR artefacts so I narrowed it to reduce this effect. To compress the track to mono would have made the job simpler, but as the final product would be mostly the vocal unaccompanied I wanted to preserve as much atmosphere in the image as possible, so I spent time working to find a balance between this and acceptable NR settings. I rolled off low bass and fine-tuned the EQ to suit Nicola’s vocal characteristics, before de-essing, and adding upwards compression and expansion to create a soft-knee noise gate that helped hide any stray artefacts. I finally added back in some subtle brown noise as the sound was beginning to feel too clinical, with the added advantage that it helped to mask any remaining artefacts.