How to Fix Audio: Breath Noise
Our sentences are naturally punctuated by breath. Words and sounds are carried out as we exhale, and we have to pause to fill our lungs with air before speaking again.
When recording voices, this breath noise can cause issues that need to be resolved. Breathing directly into a microphone sounds unsettling and unnatural – unpleasant for anyone to have to listen to. It’s a tricky balance, because subtle breathing sounds are natural, but loud breathing is distracting.
Fortunately, repairing audio is an area we excel in, which is why we‘re introducing De-Breath in the newest update to the ERA Bundle: ERA 6. Read on to find out more about breath control, editing, and how our easy-to-use plugin can help you out!
The decision to remove breaths from vocals is quite often a matter of preference, and will largely depend on the type of content that you’re recording.
For long-form content creators like podcasters for example, it’s unusual to completely remove all the breath noises from the recording. Most podcasts put the host’s voice front and centre, without much else around it, so sharp cuts or heavily edited sections can be very noticeable.
In other cases, breaths are removed from audio to create a more polished final product. Studio engineers often remove breath noises from vocal tracks, as singers have to breathe more deeply in order to get enough air to produce the sound they want. Again, the amount of breath noises that gets removed is a stylistic consideration, and they often get left in to some extent for a more raw, natural effect.
As is the case with many audio issues, the best strategy to avoid picking up breath noise in your recordings is prevention.
When speaking or singing into a microphone, be conscious of the space between you and the mic. Unless you’re Liam Gallagher, it’s very unlikely that you’ll ever need to be right up close, nor should you be too far away either.
Before you hit record, it’s worth doing a test run with the mic in a couple of different positions to hear how you sound – speak or sing a phrase at a suitable volume level, and try out a close, middle, and far option. The best choice will be the one that sounds the clearest and has the least breath noise.
Once you’re recording properly, try and avoid taking big gulps of breath, but if you do have to take them (for instance, if you’re singing) point your face away from the microphone for a moment. Practicing good microphone technique in this way can save you from having to constantly deal with breath noises in your recordings.
A pop filter is a screen that’s placed in front of a microphone to protect it from sudden blasts of air from plosives, vocal sounds that are caused by the lips smacking together to result in a rapid rush of air from the mouth. Say the letters “p” and “b” as loud as you can and you’ll get the idea!
A pop filter’s main use is to soften the sound of a plosive – the fine mesh of the screen intercepts and breaks up energy of the incoming sound wave before it can hit the sensitive diaphragm of the microphone. Breath has a more diffuse envelope of sound energy, meaning it’s more spread out, and as such pop filters will only provide slight protection against breath noises. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to solely rely on a pop filter.
If you’ve set up your microphone and equipment with the aim of avoiding breath noises in your recordings, and still managed to pick up some gulps and gasps, don’t worry – the perfect solution is right at your fingertips!
We’ve updated our audio repair plugin package to include De-Breath, a rescue remedy that targets and removes breath noises from your recordings. De-Breath saves you from having to spend a long time in post production editing your audio, by making the process as simple and effective as possible. As with all of our plugins, De-Breath uses a single knob that tells the plugin how much of the breath sounds to remove. Simply adjust the dial to a point that sounds right for your recording!
It’s important to make a decision about your own approach to breath removal for each project you take on, and once you do, to stick with it. An inconsistent approach where there are loud breaths in some instances and absolutely none in others will come across as lazy and half hearted.
If you do decide that the breath noise in your recording needs to be adjusted, be wary of over editing. Although de-breathing can help to make things sound slick and smooth, you can also affect the original tone of the audio so much that it’s almost unrecognizable from the raw file. Take each recording case by case, but as a general rule: the shorter the format, the more likely it is that you will need to edit the breath noise in some way.
If the unwanted breathing crops up in just a few places in your recording, you can go through the clip in your DAW to locate and adjust those instances using volume automation. This manual editing technique involves reducing the volume of the breath noises to eliminate the distractions and keep a natural feel to the recorded audio.
However, when you have a longer recording this technique can be incredibly time consuming and boring! With De-Breath, our plugin does the analysis of your audio itself in just a few short moments, identifying the breath noises that are present in the recording. From here, you can choose whether you want to completely remove them from the recording or just control their volume.
Now it’s over to you! Why not take a deep breath (sorry) and dive into a world of professional-quality audio by finding out for yourself how quickly and effectively De-Breath can improve your recordings. You can get De-Breath and much more as part of the ERA Bundle, the fastest audio clean-up solution for creators today. The ERA Bundle is available in two packages Standard and Pro, and you can find further information on all the other fantastic plugins and their uses here.