How to Get rid of Pops & Mouth Clicks in Audacity
Mouth noises, pops, clicks and other unwanted sounds in our audio can irritate and distract the audience. This guide explains how these problems occur, and demonstrates how to remove mouth noise in Audacity, and how to make your own Audacity declicker.
Audacity is a free audio editor that can record, manipulate, and repair digital audio. There are many tools within Audacity for editing sound in different ways, including traditional effects such as reverbs, delays, compressors and filtering.
Audacity also contains specialised audio restoration tools including spectral editing, noise removal, and click removal, for fixing common audio problems and glitches. These effects and audio editing tools can also remove annoying mouth noises and remove pops.
For free software, Audacity tools are pretty good, however they are relatively basic, lacking features and fine-control in contrast to alternatives. If you want some professional tools check out the Accusonus ERA Bundle, a suite of incredible audio clean up tools.
De-Clicking is the process of digitally removing nasty clicking noises from audio by repairing the broken waveform. This process is performed by a De-Clicker tool.
As an audio technique it falls under the category of Post-Processing/Restoration.
The exact mechanics differ between each algorithm design, but they generally work by replacing the damaged samples with predicted values. These predicted values are generated based on the undamaged sections of the audio. The break in the waveform is reconnected, smoothing out the click and making it unnoticeable.
De-Clicking can remove annoying mouth noises. It also removes pops and clicks from audio, which are sharp transients caused by inaccurate sample values. These clicks are unpleasant on the ear, as the sudden jumps in the waveform creates an unnatural motion in the eardrum.
We hear these clicks when there are anomalous and irregular sample peaks in a recording.
These transient waveform disturbances are targeted and removed by the de-clicking process.
When zoomed in, it becomes obvious how these clicks interrupt the destined flow of the audio wave.
As the waveform line represents how the speakers and listener’s eardrums are vibrating, it is important to have a smooth, stable wave to produce natural audio physics.
These clicks usually originate in either the recording or editing phases of audio production.
They can be caused mechanically (a hardware fault), digitally (a software fault) or organically (a human/source fault).
Organic clicks originate inside the mouth, too much saliva can create lip smacking and tongue pops. These annoying mouth noises go unnoticed in day to day conversation, but are exaggerated to the point of nuisance by microphones and amplification.
Problems in recording machinery can cause clicks, common sources include:
audio interfaces, microphones, degraded cables, loose connections, bumping plugged in cables.
Digital clicks can be caused by computer glitches during recording, sample rate mismatches, driver issues, electrical disturbances, and improper editing technique.
There are several methods to remove clicks and pops in Audacity, some work better with different disturbances.
Fortunately, Audacity click removal is pretty easy, however the sample limitations and minimal controls of the “Click Removal” and “Repair” tools are sometimes inefficient. For more advanced audio clean up tools, check out the ERA Bundle Pro.
Method 1: Cut and Join
This method uses manual audio editing to simply cut mouth noises, audio pops and clicks from your waveform.
- Step 1 - Locate the click, zoom in until the irregular sample is visible at sample level.
- Step 2 - Highlight the irregular sample.
- Step 3 - Press “Backspace” to delete the error.
- Step 4 - The clips should automatically be rejoined.
Method 2: Audacity Click Removal Tool
”Click Removal” in Audacity is a smart tool which automatically detects and removes clicks from audio.
- Step 1 - Highlight an audio clip with clicks. With this method the selected area must be larger than 4028 Samples.
- Step 2 - From the top menu bar click “Effect > Click Removal”.
- Step 3 - Change the “Threshold” value to adjust the sensitivity so that it detects the clicks.
- Step 4 - Change the “Spike Width” control so it covers the length of the click.
- Step 5 - Use “Preview” to check the processing.
- Step 6 - Click “OK” to render the processing, hopefully removing any clicks detected by the tool.
Method 3: Audacity Repair Tool
There is a Repair tool in audacity which repairs short sections of audio (up to 128 samples) by interpolating from surrounding samples. This is the most effective tool for repairing clicks if you manage to find the tiny sample.
- Step 1 - Highlight the broken sample with a small area either side.
- Step 2 - Zoom in until the sample dots are visible. You may need to reselect within the 128 sample limit
- Step 3 - Select “Effect > Repair”
- Step 4 - The audio will be repaired, Use Undo if repaired incorrectly.
One method to remove annoying mouth noises in audacity is using the Draw tool to manually repair broken waveforms. This is a relatively fiddly and detailed process but once mastered it can be a powerful audio repair technique that works can fix more than just mouth noises.
- Step 1 - Activate the Draw tool by clicking the Pencil Icon or pressing F3.
- Step 2 - Zoom into the waveform until the sample dots are visible.
- Step 3 - Navigate to any areas with pops and clicks, or mouth noise. There should be large peaks visible in the waveform.
- Step 4 - Click and draw to flatten these peaks out, try to mimic the flow of the original waveform to remove any mouth clicking noises.
Master and implement the various de-clicking techniques at hand to create audio with a professional and polished sound. These tools can save a damaged interview or recording from rookie recording mistakes. Audacity is a good place to start learning these methods, but there are specially designed third party tools that are more efficient at the task with more powerful features.