Magic Lantern for Canon T2i (550D)

by Adriel Brunson

Magic Lantern is coming to the Canon T2i (550D).

Magic Lantern – 550D/T2i port from Trammell Hudson on Vimeo.

If you want to shoot high-end video with this camera you’ve had to use a separate microphone and audio recorder to capture high-end audio. That’s all changing.

Magic Lantern is a firmware hack for the Canon 5D MarkII that turns off the auto-gain in the audio recording section of the camera. It adds stereo audio meters, audio level control and other features to make the camera more usable for professional video recording. Now it’s coming to the Canon T2i (55oD).

Here’s what the programmer of Magic Lantern has to say:

I am very proud to announce that we have started support for the Canon 550D / T2i in a branch of the Magic Lantern tree. Thanks to the assistance of arm.indy and an anonymous contributor, we were able to sign an initial Magic Lantern firmware image and port the existing code to work with the version 1.0.8 firmware in the 550D.

The first version will have audio meters, lens data and maybe manual audio gain plus monitoring on the A/V jack. I haven’t found the liveview video ram device yet, so zebra stripes and histograms won’t work for a little while. There might also not be a menuing system initially since there are no “spare” buttons on the 550D in movie mode and we still do not have a way to integrate with Canon’s menus.

Here’s the link to the thread on dvinfo.net.

This is “pre-alpha” – right now he’s demonstrating audio levels only and the installation process is complicated.

Here’s the link to the installation instructions and file download.

I do not recommend installing this version. Wait until the beta version with all the features is ready. You may be wise to wait until a fully tested 1.0 version is released.

Still, this is exciting news and I’ll be giving it a try as soon as the beta is ready.

Leave your comments and let me know what you think.

-a-

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

John August 5, 2010 at 5:54 am

Wow, great news, things had gone awful quiet on the Magic Lantern firmware for a while. Can wait to try it. Cheers Adriel

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John August 5, 2010 at 1:54 am

Wow, great news, things had gone awful quiet on the Magic Lantern firmware for a while. Can wait to try it. Cheers Adriel

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Ariel August 5, 2010 at 11:16 pm

As a Canon T1i , im very jealous for this, if I had buy my camera two months later , i would get Canon T2i, Technically they have the both sensor, i don’t get why we can have the same features :(

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Ariel August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm

As a Canon T1i , im very jealous for this, if I had buy my camera two months later , i would get Canon T2i, Technically they have the both sensor, i don’t get why we can have the same features :(

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Adriel Brunson August 5, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Ariel,
I’m not sure why Canon plays the way the do. If you’re interested in shooting video you may need to change to the T2i.

I started with the Nikon D90. It’s a great camera, shoots beautiful stills and felt great in my hands. But the video just didn’t come close to being good enough.

I sold it and bought a T2i. Not nearly as solid a camera but the video is exceptional.

Let me know what you decide to do.
-a-

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Tay February 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

When I want to transfer any video file more than 650MB from 550D into my computer, it was not successful. For video file less than 600MB it has no problem. Do you know any reason for that ?

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adriel August 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Ariel,
I’m not sure why Canon plays the way the do. If you’re interested in shooting video you may need to change to the T2i.

I started with the Nikon D90. It’s a great camera, shoots beautiful stills and felt great in my hands. But the video just didn’t come close to being good enough.

I sold it and bought a T2i. Not nearly as solid a camera but the video is exceptional.

Let me know what you decide to do.
-a-

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Jonny August 7, 2010 at 6:57 am

I don’t know whether to load the Alpha T2i firmware or not.

Canon locked out Tramm from loading his 7d firmware, so progress has stopped for the 7d. I would hate for Canon to do that with all the models.

Good luck Tramm

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Adriel Brunson August 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I don’t believe there’s enough added functionality with the alpha T2i firmware update from Tramm to justify the trouble. All you get is audio meters and some lens readouts but no additional control.
-a-

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Jonny August 7, 2010 at 2:57 am

I don’t know whether to load the Alpha T2i firmware or not.

Canon locked out Tramm from loading his 7d firmware, so progress has stopped for the 7d. I would hate for Canon to do that with all the models.

Good luck Tramm

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adriel August 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I don’t believe there’s enough added functionality with the alpha T2i firmware update from Tramm to justify the trouble. All you get is audio meters and some lens readouts but no additional control.
-a-

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Jonny August 7, 2010 at 7:03 am

Ariel,

actually the T2i (550D) and the T1i (500D) do not have the same sensor. The T2i is 18 Megapixel, and the T1i has the 15.1 Megapixel.

The sensor from the T2i is actually more similar to the sensor of the 7D with the exception that it has half the channels (4) out to only 1 Digic4 processor instead of the 7d’s 2 Digic4 Processors.

I have a few friends that are in the same unfortunate position as you. It is crazy how bodies lose value quickly while lenses keep theirs.

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Jonny August 7, 2010 at 3:03 am

Ariel,

actually the T2i (550D) and the T1i (500D) do not have the same sensor. The T2i is 18 Megapixel, and the T1i has the 15.1 Megapixel.

The sensor from the T2i is actually more similar to the sensor of the 7D with the exception that it has half the channels (4) out to only 1 Digic4 processor instead of the 7d’s 2 Digic4 Processors.

I have a few friends that are in the same unfortunate position as you. It is crazy how bodies lose value quickly while lenses keep theirs.

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Rod Guajardo August 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm

So let me see if I have this right….If Magic Lantern is successful in disabling AGC, will I not really need an external recording device like a Zoom H1 or H4? In theory, should I just be able to plug in an Audio-Technica ATR-35S Lavalier Microphone and record to the camera and have the same high quality? Thanks Adriel!

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Adriel Brunson August 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm

That’s right. The quality will not be as good as an H2/4 but good enough for voice.

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Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 4:46 pm

In short, so even if using magic lantern with external microphone, an external recording device such as Zoom H1 gives better soundmaterial to work with in postproduction? I’ve gone trough the web for days trying to find info on the differences in quality concerning mic+magic lant. vs. Zoom H1. Anyone?

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Rod Guajardo August 9, 2010 at 10:18 am

So let me see if I have this right….If Magic Lantern is successful in disabling AGC, will I not really need an external recording device like a Zoom H1 or H4? In theory, should I just be able to plug in an Audio-Technica ATR-35S Lavalier Microphone and record to the camera and have the same high quality? Thanks Adriel!

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adriel August 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

That’s right. The quality will not be as good as an H2/4 but good enough for voice.

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Ariel August 12, 2010 at 12:51 am

@jonny, @adriel:

Yeah bodies lost values really quick, I wonder if Canon thinks in launch a replacement for the T2i in the next 6 months, Im not sure if selling my Canon T1i, or should wait.

Thanks for your response!

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Chung Dha Lam October 9, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Hey I change my from t1i to t2i last month is a great upgrade. Should just sell your t1i now cause any later its worth nothing, cause I had pretty decent money from selling the t1i and just had to add few hundred bucks to buy the t2i.

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Ariel August 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm

@jonny, @adriel:

Yeah bodies lost values really quick, I wonder if Canon thinks in launch a replacement for the T2i in the next 6 months, Im not sure if selling my Canon T1i, or should wait.

Thanks for your response!

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Jonny August 12, 2010 at 1:47 am

I don’t think Canon is going to release anything other than a new 5d mark III for a little while.

The T2i, the 7D, and the 5D mark II have done extremely well for Canon. Last report I saw was that profit for their DSLR devices was 24% above expectations.

That could be good and bad. I think they will continue to reap the profit selling as many of these cameras as possible. I don’t think they will touch the T2i or the 7D price ranged cameras for at least 6 months to a year. I do believe they will release a new 5D and add more “Cinema” style features to it.

Sell the T1i and buy the T2i. The added features are worth the upgrade. I am in my last semester of Cinema / TV school and on a tight budget, and I have a few friends that have the T1i, or the D5000, and I suggest they get the T2i. I would have loved to get the 7D for the added frame rates for sports stills, but it was out of my budget. It is perfect for independent feature productions.

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Jonny August 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I don’t think Canon is going to release anything other than a new 5d mark III for a little while.

The T2i, the 7D, and the 5D mark II have done extremely well for Canon. Last report I saw was that profit for their DSLR devices was 24% above expectations.

That could be good and bad. I think they will continue to reap the profit selling as many of these cameras as possible. I don’t think they will touch the T2i or the 7D price ranged cameras for at least 6 months to a year. I do believe they will release a new 5D and add more “Cinema” style features to it.

Sell the T1i and buy the T2i. The added features are worth the upgrade. I am in my last semester of Cinema / TV school and on a tight budget, and I have a few friends that have the T1i, or the D5000, and I suggest they get the T2i. I would have loved to get the 7D for the added frame rates for sports stills, but it was out of my budget. It is perfect for independent feature productions.

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Raspa Alex August 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

is the t2i a good camera for video recording sports …fast motion , and how does sound come out on it ? i read a review somewhere , where someone said the the t2i’s auto adjusting controls within the camera can be heard throughout video playback , is that true ? Also im not to familar with “magic latern ” , and not sure how that would help a new canon t2i owner . Please enlighten me .

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Adriel Brunson August 30, 2010 at 1:02 am

Raspa,
The Canon T2i would be good for recording some sports. You can shoot at 50p or 60p which will give you a beautiful slo-motion effect on a 25p or 30p timeline.

But – like all CMOS sensor cameras – it does have difficulty shooting when panned quickly from side to side. Any vertical lines in the shot will be slanted while panning fast. So I wouldn’t want to shoot an auto race with a T2i!

You would definitely want to add a separate audio recorder as the sound is good for reference only. You have no audio level controls or meters. And the camera has an auto-gain control that can’t be turned off. Look for my blog post comparing a Rode Videomic direct into the T2i versus a wireless lav into a Zoom H2. You can easily hear the problem going direct to the T2i.

Magic Lantern is a firmware hack for the Canon 5D Mark II that allows manual control of audio, displays audio meters on the LCD view finder along with other useful changes to the camera function. Search for it on Google and you’ll find lots of good info. The programmer is working on the same kind of firmware hack for the T2i. When it’s working we’ll be able to turn of the auto-gain and manually set audio levels – and that will make recording good audio directly to the T2i possible.

What kind of sports are you looking to shoot?

-a-

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Chung Dha Lam October 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Beta is now available but havent seen any videos up of someone who is brave enought to test it. Also would like to see also way to get back original firmwave if gone wrong or dont like it. But hopefully if there are more people showing the firmware and testing it , that Canon would notice it and put a safe firmware online with those controlls.

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Anonymous October 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

So when the Magic Lantern update for T2i comes out, if installed I’ve heard it will void the Canon warranty, is that correct? Is that a very big deal?

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Adriel Brunson October 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

The Magic Lantern site for the T2i has this warning at the top of the instructions.

THIS IS DANGEROUS PRE-ALPHA SOFTWARE. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. IT WILL MODIFY YOUR CAMERA. NO WARRANTY. NO SUPPORT.

I believe this is clear warning and you will void your warranty. Whether that’s a big deal or not is your decision. If you only have one camera body and something goes defective you’ll be paying for repairs out of your own pocket that might have been covered by the warranty.

My advice is be careful and wait until the tech is more proven.
-a-

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Sahlan Square December 2, 2010 at 8:07 am

Lets say we need to repair the camera, is there a way to reset it just incase anything happened, just to get back the warranty? Just a though :)

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Adriel Brunson December 3, 2010 at 12:05 am

Sahlan,
I’m not sure as I haven’t hacked my T2i. I’ll check out there and see what the word is.
-a-

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Anonymous December 13, 2010 at 9:13 pm

I’m trying it now stay tuned…….

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Anonymous December 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I went to canon and the 1.0.9 looks to be a official update. I was also able to get magic lantern 1.1.9 to run on my camera. The only down side is I am unable to get into the GUI menu. The instructions say to hut the erase button to enter the menu, but it does not work. It does however get rid of the auto gain.

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Arm von Stelling December 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I have the same problem, with the GUI.
How do you get it working?

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Anonymous December 13, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Ok everyone I have a audio test available on youtube. Enjoy! =)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU1vBMDrlVs

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Adriel Brunson December 14, 2010 at 12:14 am

Tyler,
Thanks for testing this, the sound is great. Hopefully the menu will start working.
-a-

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Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 5:10 am

Adriel,
No problem I’m going to put my $60 Azden smx-10 through a series of test this week. (same one in the video below) I will post a video up as soon as I’m done. I just did two tonight and I am very impressed with the quality so far. I was able to boost the gain in post. I run it through a compressor and EQ with very little noise. Stay tuned….

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Anonymous December 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I was looking in the read me file associated with the magic lantern hack. This is important sounding….
If you encounter a “locked up” camera, quickly remove the battery.
Otherwise the ARM might be in a tight-loop and get very hot, very quickly.
Your battery will run down and your LCD might show some discoloration.

* When in doubt, remove the battery and reboot.

I had a hang up several times but the camera seams fine =) Just a warning

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Anonymous December 18, 2010 at 12:20 am

I did some more test with the Magic lantern software enjoy =)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SsTy7a9GkM

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Anonymous February 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I need my t2i to be able to shoot continuous video for up to an hour. Unfortunately, it shuts off automatically at 29:59. I have been told that Magic Lantern will solve this, but Canon says installing Magic Lantern will definitely void the warranty. It’s looking like my only option is to keep turning the t2i off and on after each piece – a real drag when one is performing. Any ideas?

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Adriel Brunson February 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Unfortunately, the time limit for continuous shooting is one area where DSLR are much worse than traditional camcorders. The only way around that I know of is to shoot with more than one camera and stagger the recording so you can edit a continuous piece from the clips.

When I’m shooting a long live piece I use a traditional camcorder for one of the cameras. You’ll also want to use an audio recorder to capture continuous audio. Actually, if you have continuous audio and a few audience shots you can cover your edits from even just one camera and make things work.

But for capturing a live performance I like two cameras because you never know when you’ll lose one. Backups are always recommended. Also, the Panasonic GH2 will record until you fill up the card.

Hope this helps,
-a-

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Anonymous February 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I bought a t2i in November, primarily to videotape concerts by my trio. I selected it because a friend had gotten some great concert video of us using his t2i. I’ve just discovered, though, that it can’t record more than 29:59 minutes consecutively. After that, it shuts off automatically. I was told Magic Lantern could solve this, but Canon says installing Magic Lantern would void the warranty. Suggestions, anyone?

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Adriel Brunson February 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I believe I answered this on another comment but just in case…

Unfortunately, the time limit for continuous shooting is one area where DSLR are much worse than traditional camcorders. The only way around that I know of is to shoot with more than one camera and stagger the recording so you can edit a continuous piece from the clips.

When I’m shooting a long live piece I use a traditional camcorder for one of the cameras. You’ll also want to use an audio recorder to capture continuous audio. Actually, if you have continuous audio and a few audience shots you can cover your edits from even just one camera and make things work.

But for capturing a live performance I like two cameras because you never know when you’ll lose one. Backups are always recommended. Also, the Panasonic GH2 will record until you fill up the card.

Hope this helps,
-a-

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Tay February 14, 2011 at 7:51 am

When I want to transfer any video file more than 650MB from 550D into my computer, it was not successful. For video file less than 600MB it has no problem. Do anyone of you know any reason for that ?

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Adriel Brunson February 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Tay,

That’s very interesting. I’ve transferred very large files from a T2i/550D into various computers with no problem. Large as in more 1 GB.

Something is not right. How are you transferring the file?
-a-

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Adriel Brunson February 23, 2011 at 2:06 am

Tay,

I’m not sure what’s going on. I regularly transfer files of more that 4 GB from my T2i to my computer. I pull the card and use a built-in SDHC reader but I’ve also used a USB 2.0 plug in reader with no problem.

I don’t think it’s the camera or the card but check it all on another computer and see what happens.
-a-

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Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm

In short, even if using magic lantern and an external mic, does an external sound recorder such as Zoom H1 give you better material to work with in postproduction? I’ve searched the web for days without finding a any info on the differences of quality in using external mic + magiclantern vs. Zoom H1 (or H4). Anyone tried?

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Adriel Brunson February 23, 2011 at 1:59 am

An external microphone and sound recorder such as the Zoom H1 has the possibility of capturing better sound than the same microphone going straight into a T2i using Magic Lantern.

It could also sound worse. Here’s why.

The Zoom H1 can record a .wav file at 24 bit resolution with a sample rate of 96 kHz. The T2i records at 16 bit resolution with a sample rate of 48 kHz. Add another 8 bits of resolution and double the sample rate and you’re going to capture a significantly better audio signal.

Of course, the Zoom H1 will also record a .mp3 file at a 48 kbps and 44.1 kHz which will sound much worse than the T2i. Or you could set the Zoom to match the T2i at 16 bit and 48 kHz. But the Zoom would likely still sound better because it has better microphone preamps.

The most expensive and important parts of a digital audio recorder are the preamps that take the signal from very low mic levels to a recordable line level. And the A/D converter that takes that analog signal and converts it to a digital stream.

While the H1 is not remarkable for either the preamps or the A/D converter, both are likely better than those in a T2i. Canon doesn’t publish their specs but common sense says that a dedicated audio device costing $100 from a company that makes their living on audio recording is likely to be higher quality that the audio components in an $800 DSLR.

When you step up to the H4 you not only get better mic preamps, you get XLR connectors which mean you’re working with a balanced mic, which means lower noise.

Lower noise, higher quality mic preamps and A/D converters, more bit depth and higher sampling frequency all add up to better sound.

Will you hear the difference?

That depends on many factors, including the quality of the sound source, the recording environment, and your ability to discern audio quality.

But, just as you can do much more with an uncompressed 10-bit 4K video clip when it comes to grading and special effects, you can do much more with a 24 bit, 96kHz audio clip when it comes to fixing problems or sweetening the mix.

I hold to my position that for the best sound you should use a high quality field mixer, a good selection of microphones, good head set for monitoring, and a quality audio recorder. Feed the output of the mixer to your T2i (or feed the output of your Zoom H1) to your T2i to get the best reference track. It makes a great backup or safety track.

The moment the sound hits your system is starts to lose fidelity. All steps in your post production can degrade it further. You need to start with the best quality you can get so ensure the final track holds up.

Sure, I spent many years in the audio recording and music production business so I may be a little biased.

Go direct to camera if that’s all you can do. But if you’re shooting something serious, then match your images with a great sound track and you’ll never regret it.

-a-

PS – when I get the time I’ll run some tests and see if I can show you what I mean.

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Arun October 17, 2013 at 8:07 am

I have an external mike to use with my T2i, but it is a low-end wireless mike with an RCA minijack. I need to record interviews indoor in controlled situations. Is there a software I can download to my Mac to which I can connect the mike and record manually controlled sound?

Many thanks for any help- awaiting the Magic Lantern hack, but meanwhile need desperately to make my T2i give some basic controlled audio!!

Arun

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Adriel Brunson October 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

Arun,

Many people use Audacity – a free audio editing program – to record, edit and improve audio on their computers. Go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ and download the version for your computer. 

You’ll need to setup the preferences to record the mic input on your Mac. I’m not sure which Mac you have but most will take an 1/8″ mini plug from the mic. If you have an RCA connector you’ll need to get an adapter.

The mic input preamp on a Mac is average quality but it will be better than the one on your T2i. Plus you can control it manually. Check youtube for Audacity tutorials so you can learn to use it to clean up your audio tracks for better videos.

Thanks for stopping by, let me know how it goes.

 -a-

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