Removing Breath Noise from Narration
Breathing sounds and lung sounds are, unfortunately, almost unavoidable when recording voices. Humans do have to breathe after all, and content creators are no different. Breath noises can be undesirable in your audio content, especially in more professional settings, but fortunately removing breaths from an audio recording is easy to do.
In this guide we’re going to look at how to reduce breathing sounds via microphone technique, as well as in post within your DAW or video editor using a noise gate, traditional editing, or a more specialised De-Breath effect. Speaking of which, we’ll also show you De-Breath, which is the fastest way to control breath noise in your audio:
When to Keep Breath Noise
The instances where you would keep breath noises would almost-always be for creative effect. If you were recording a horror audiobook or comedy voice over, then the inclusion of breaths may add to the emotional impact of your performance. Plus, a subtle presence of breath is necessary to sound natural.
When to Remove Breath Noise
There are a few cases where you’ll almost always want to remove breath noises, however.
Commercial voice overs are a prime example of this. If you’re making an advert or trailer for a product you will almost always want to minimize breath noises.
In addition, if you want your YouTube channel, Skillshare course or any other form of media to have a professional tone, then removing breaths is a good move.
Of course, you don’t always have to totally remove breaths from voice recordings as we mentioned before. You’ll simply want to reduce them in volume. This could be appropriate for an interview scenario in a podcast, or where you are simply presenting a conversation between people. Breath noises are normal and so they can help to make the interview sound like a natural conversation, but they can also be distracting if they’re too loud.
If you’re a content creator having issues with loud breaths and lung sounds in your audio content and you’re looking for a fix, one of the most effective ways of dealing with the problem is to reduce them at the point of recording.
How do you get rid of breathing noises when recording?
It’s an obvious one, but a sure fire way to cut down the volume of breath noises in your voice recordings is to breathe more quietly when recording. Breath control is part of being a good voice over artist.
Simple things like rehearsing your script and working out the best moments to breathe can be really beneficial. If you’re not totally out of breath towards the end of a sentence then you won’t need to breathe in loud, dramatic ways.
Try printing out your script and making a note at the best points to breath, it will really help with your breath control, and the volume of breaths in your audio recording. Tay Zonday knew when to move away from the mic to breathe in, and so should you!
How to reduce breathing sounds in microphone
You can also remove breathing noises from voice recordings with mic technique. Mic technique is how you speak into the microphone - it’s a subtle art which can be easily used to cut down on breaths in your recordings.
All you have to do to reduce breathing sounds via microphone is to turn your head away from the mic when you need to take a breath. To cut down the breath sound even more you could even step away from the mic when breathing, just like the aforementioned Tay’s famous Chocolate Rain video.
One thing to be wary of when moving to take a breath is knocking your microphone or mic stand. If you do bump into it you may cause even more issues in your recording - bumping into the mic creates vibrations which sound like loud bassy booms in audio recordings.
You will have more success with this method if your microphone is very directional. Omni directional microphones pick up sound from all around the mic so will be more likely to pick up breaths when you move away from the mic.
How to stop mic from picking up breathing
Unfortunately there is no way to totally stop a microphone from picking up the sound of you breathing. If you breathe near the mic it will pick it up. However, as we have discussed in previous sections, it is possible to reduce the volume of these sounds, and they can be totally removed in post production, as we will in the next section.
Breathing noises don’t have to be removed at the recording stage, there are lots of ways that you can remove them from an audio recording, or even from live streamed audio.
Accusonus has a very effective, easy-to-use breath remover which removes breaths from voice recordings in a matter of seconds. It’s called De-Breath and works in every main audio/video editor or DAW, and can be used by anyone no matter your level of audio knowledge and experience.
De-Breath is part of the Accusonus ERA Bundle family and, like many of the ERA plugins, has an intuitive single knob design. All you have to do is turn up the knob until the breath sounds in your recording are quiet enough. If you want to totally remove them just turn it up all the way. Let’s look at an example and run through how you can remove breathing sounds from your recordings using De-Breath:
Step 1: Load De-Breath
Once you have recorded your voice over, vocal recording or dialogue, open it in an editor of your choice.
Open De-Breath on the channel that houses your voice recording as you would any other audio effect. The way in which you do this will vary depending on the program you’re using, so please refer to your workstation’s manual if you don't know how to do this:
Step 2: Turn up De-Breath
Now De-Breath is loaded on the audio track housing your voice recording, it’s time to remove the breaths. All you have to do is open the De-Breath plugin, make sure it’s activated, and begin to turn up the main dial in the plugin.
If you want to totally remove breaths from your recording then turn up the dial all the way. However, if you only want to reduce the volume of breaths then turn up the dial until you’re happy with the level of the breaths.
Gargageband is Apple’s entry level DAW. It comes free with all Macbooks and desktop Macs and, although it is quite limited, you can easily remove breath noises using its stock tools. Here we’re going to look at two methods of removing breath sounds from voice recordings: cutting them out, and removing them with a noise gate.
All of these techniques can also be used by Windows users in the free audio editor Audacity. That means, whilst this isn’t an Audacity tutorial, you can take the techniques and use them with the noise gate Audacity has, and Audacity’s split tool. You’ll find most of these techniques work in any editor.
The simplest and most effective way to remove breath noises is to cut them out of your audio file. To do this listen through to your voice recording in order to find where breaths occur. Every time you find a breath, pause the project.
Position the playhead before the breath occurs. Right click on the audio file and select “Split at Playhead”, alternatively use the shortcut Cmd+T. This will create a cut in your audio file at the point where your playhead is positioned. Now position your playhead after the breath and split the audio again.
Once your breath is isolated you can delete it from your audio file. Repeat this process until every breath is removed.
Whilst this is the best way to cleanly remove breaths from your voice recording, it is very time consuming and I wouldn’t recommend you use it for long recordings. Instead it’s better to use an automated process. A specialised breath remover like ERA De-Breath will work beat, however you can also use the Noise Gate within Garageband.
To find the Noise Gate, open the Smart Controls panel by clicking on the icon shaped like a dial in the top left hand corner of Garageband.
Scroll down on the left hand side of the panel until you reach the Plug-ins tab, open it. Click in the box on the right hand side of the Plug-ins tab and go to Dynamics > Noise Gate.
Now, play through your audio and adjust the threshold of the gate. Noise Gates work by only letting through sounds with volumes that cross a certain threshold. Breaths in voice recordings are normally much quieter than your actual voice, so you need to set the threshold to a point which doesn’t let through breaths, but does let through your voice. There is no “one size fits all” threshold setting here, it’s a case of listening to your audio and finding out what works best.
OBS’s wealth of free tools are really amazing for live streamers and content creators. The free streaming program has a built in noise gate which allows you to remove breath noises from live audio in real time.
To get rid of breathing noise in OBS, first set up your mic as normal. If you don’t know how to do this, read our very quick guide on it.
With your microphone set up, select your audio source in the Sources panel and click the Filters button just above it.
This will open a new window. Click the + icon in the bottom left hand corner and select Noise Gate from the drop down menu.
Now adjust the open and close threshold so that when you talk your voice is let through the gate, but quieter breath noises are not. Setting both the open and close thresholds to the same value is the easiest thing to do here and won’t affect your sound much at all. It’s also safe to leave the Attack, Hold and Release values at their defaults.
Breath sounds aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but they can often be distracting and unwanted. Fortunately, with the techniques discussed here you’ll now be able to deal with breaths and lung sounds when live streaming, editing videos and even at the recording stage. For the most effective and simple breath removal experience, don’t forget to check out ERA De-Breath.