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How to Remove Breath and Mouth Sounds from Voice-overs

Learn how to enhance your voiceovers and get them sounding as clear as possible in this example

Take a look at the video below, which features a clip from a documentary on recycling. The narrator is speaking over a graphic, but unfortunately the audio has been recorded with some annoying breath and mouth sounds that make it a little unpleasant to listen to. In this article we’ll show you how to use the audio repair plugins in the ERA Bundle to clean up these common audio issues. Read on to find out how!

What’s wrong with the video?

The voiceover for this documentary has been recorded with a condenser mic, which generally does a good job with the human voice. The main issue with the audio in this video however is not the tone of the voiceover, but the breath and mouth sounds throughout.

Any unwanted sound that is produced through the act of speaking or singing is referred to as mouth noise. These sounds may be subtle, but they are often picked up by sensitive condenser microphones during recording sessions, as was the case with this project. Nobody wants to hear the sound of saliva or dry mouth played back to them in high resolution audio, so it’s your job to prevent mouth noise wherever possible by preparing for a recording session properly, or reducing it afterwards in your DAW.

How to Remove Breath and Mouth Sounds from Voice-overs

Breath sounds, on the other hand, are almost unavoidable. While speaking or singing, you need to refill with air, so your mic is bound to pick up something while you record. All the same, the heavy breaths that have been recorded directly into the microphone in our audio sound unsettling and unnatural, and need to be reduced as much as possible.

Repair strategy

The best way to start off the repair process is to load up ERA Audio Clean-Up Assistant on the audio track in your DAW. Rather than switching back and forth between multiple plugins, you can house each of your tools in the same workspace by pulling them into one of the Clean-Up Assistant’s five slots. 

The Assistant listens to your unedited voice track, meaning you don’t always have to decide what plugins you want to use yourself. By analyzing audio content and characteristics, the Assistant can then automatically generate a plugin chain in seconds.

Removing breath sounds

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. We’ll push it to 70%, to get as much of the breaths out as possible.

Check out our guide to removing breath noise from narration for more helpful tips on de-breathing!

As well as this, we’re going to load up Noise Remover in the ACUA chain, to knock off some of the subtle noise that’s coming through while the person is speaking. This plugin should be your go-to when it comes to targeting hisses, hums, or pretty much any unwanted artefact that’s muddying up your recording. We only need to apply a little bit of noise reduction to the recording, so we’ll set the Processing knob to 40%

Cleaning up mouth noise

The second part of this audio repair job involves targeting those annoying mouth sounds that are coming through in the recording. Mouth De-Clicker is part of both the ERA Standard and Pro bundles, and gives you a useful tool for rescuing audio that’s been corrupted by mouth clicks and saliva sounds. It has two modes: Normal (for continuous, repeated mouth noise and saliva crackle) and Broad (for big, individual mouth noises such as lip smacks or tongue smacks). We’ll go with a light 20% processing in Normal mode.

We can enhance the track further by reducing the sibilance of the voiceover. De-Esser targets ‘ess’ sounds in your recordings and allows you to remove them by simply turning the Processing knob. It’s as simple as that! For this recording, we’ll set the plugin at 70% processing, which will smooth out the sibilance in the voiceover and make a big difference to the audio.

Final result

Thanks to the good quality recording equipment, and the simple yet powerful plugins in the ERA Bundle, we’ve managed to get a clean, smooth voiceover. Considering it was littered with breath and mouth sounds before, we think you’ll agree that there’s been a huge improvement in the overall quality of the audio. Check out the video below, with processed audio attached, to hear for yourself.

If you’ve recorded a voiceover that you aren’t quite happy with, or you’re just looking to optimize your content in general, make sure to use the ERA Bundle for audio enhancement and repair. With Standard and Pro options available, both including a host of powerful plugins like the ones we used in this example, you’re sure to find everything you need for your projects.

January 03, 2022
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