Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from a signal. Noise reduction techniques exist for audio and images. Noise reduction algorithms tend to alter signals to a greater or lesser degree.
All signal processing devices, both analog and digital, have traits that make them susceptible to noise. Noise can be random or white noise with an even frequency distribution, or frequency dependent noise introduced by a device’s mechanism or signal processing algorithms.
In electronic recording devices, a major type of noise is hiss created by random electron motion due to thermal agitation at all temperatures above absolute zero. These agitated electrons rapidly add and subtract from the voltage of the output signal and thus create detectable noise.
When using analog tape recording technology, they may exhibit a type of noise known as tape hiss. This is related to the particle size and texture used in the magnetic emulsion that is sprayed on the recording media, and also to the relative tape velocity across the tape heads.
Four types of noise reduction exist: single-ended pre-recording, single-ended hiss reduction, single-ended surface noise reduction, and codec or dual-ended systems. Single-ended pre-recording systems (such as Dolby HX Pro) work to affect the recording medium at the time of recording. Single-ended hiss reduction systems (such as DNL or DNR) work to reduce noise as it occurs, including both before and after the recording process as well as for live broadcast applications. Single-ended surface noise reduction (such as CEDAR and the earlier SAE 5000A and Burwen TNE 7000) is applied to the playback of phonograph records to attenuate the sound of scratches, pops, and surface non-linearities. Dual-ended systems have a pre-emphasis process applied during recording and then a de-emphasis process applied at playback.