6 Tips for Removing Breaths from Audio Recordings
Do you struggle with editing audio tracks?
Audio Daily reached out to industry experts to get their advice on the best way to remove breaths, pops, and other unwanted noises from audio recordings.
From the technical perspective to the performance-based point of view; audio engineers, musicians and voice actors offer up their professional advice on editing the breaths out of audio tracks.
The absolute most effective way to remove breaths is with automation. Though time-consuming, manually turning down or removing breaths leaves no chance for error and you have control over how natural the end result will be. Breaths have a distinct shape when looking at the waveform so it can often be done quicker than real-time.
Apart from this, Waves has a plug-in called De-Breath which automatically reduces breaths by a set number of decibels based on level settings in the plug-in. While it works decently, it can take time to set it up just right and if the program material changes, it is either going to miss breaths, or reduce actual words.
Side note: often times voices are compressed, which effectively limits the dynamic range of the voice, which makes breaths appear to be much louder, sometimes as loud as the spoken voice.Scott Horton
Online Music Mixing and Mastering
On the Vocal, track you can either insert an EQ or automate out the low freq that is the issue. Or set a high pass filter from 100 hz and down, for every time the breath or Pop happens, automate and reduce the gain (DB) enough to remove the breath or pop.
Set up a new track with an EQ inserted on it, set the same values and find all the breaths or pops and drag them down to the processed track. Plus this way you can also adjust volume of the pops also.
In Protools, you can use the “audiosuite” drop down menu select an EQ, use same settings and process the audio file (waveform) in order to get rid of the breaths & Pops. But this way will make it harder to go back and make small adjustments.Phil Magnotti
Grammy award-winning audio engineer
An engineer can listen through the recording and manually automate the volume of a track to dip wherever there are loud or distracting breaths. This is probably the most effective and natural sounding method, as each breath is listened to and worked on individually by the engineer.
An experienced engineer can go through an entire recording rather quickly using this method, simultaneously reducing the volume on all of the breaths and increasing the volume on quiet words. With this method, there is no danger of ending up with an unnatural sounding recording (at least there shouldn’t be). Any engineer worth his pay should be able to produce a very smooth vocal track with very gentle and virtually invisible attenuation of breaths.Christian Deane
I am a sound engineer by day and VO by night and I use Adobe Audition CS6 for removing or reducing breaths. It’s a very simple process by simply adjusting the level or volume of the breaths between words to your desired taste. There are other programs out there that can perform this task but I find Adobe Audition to be the simplest and most effective in my everyday work.Oliver Dukcevic
Voice Over Artist
Breathing through your mouth as opposed to breathing through your nose will help reduce the presence of breaths in the recording. The air that is pulled through the nose creates a higher frequency than that through the mouth, which will stand out in the recording. A studio musician must be aware of breathing noise constantly and must practice breathing in a silent matter in preparation for a recording session. Finding the right balance is the key, and these tools will make the mixing process much easier.Anthony L. Ybarra
As a voice-over artist myself, I know the pros usually breath naturally to avoid taking an audible breath on mic. Less experienced speakers who practice upper-chest breathing often lapse into taking big gasp-y gulps of breath (because they are nervous and not breathing efficiently) and that is what the mic picks up. So the best way to remove those breaths is not to have them recorded in the first place!Ann Timmons
Do you have editing tips of your own to share?
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