Studio Tips:


Do you take the breaths out, or not?

This is the source of common debate worldwide in recording studios that specialize in spoken word production. The problem is that often the sound of the announcer sucking in air for the next sentence become loud enough to be distracting. This is aggravated by compressors, limiting amplifiers, and various other signal processing gizmos typically used to make the voice cut through any background noise.... like in a car's dashboard at rush hour, for example. While giving the voice more power, and elevating even the more subtle tones to a higher volume and prominence, this signal processing also tends to boost the gasping effect of the announcer's normal breathing, causing distractions. The common cure is to simply edit out the breaths... Just take 'em out, leaving only clean voice sounds. This works just fine as long as there is music or sound effects or always some kind of noise where it is going to be played.

But if there is no background... no music... no other sound but the announcer's voice, the listener may start to turn blue after a minute or two! We tend to want to breathe sympathetically, and will often mirror the respiration pattern of whoever is speaking to us. When there are no discernible breaths, listeners become uncomfortable. They may even catch themselves holding their breath, waiting for the sound of breathing. An uncomfortable listener is not a good thing in advertising and promotions.

Since we can't always know if there will be background noise when the narration is heard, there is a safer alternative that is not much more difficult than removing the breaths. And that is to isolate each breath as a separate file in the digital editor, and knock the volume of the sound down about -12 db. The breaths are still there, but very faintly. There is enough for the human brain to discern and accept as normal breathing, but it's low enough in volume that compression and other signal processing effects will not make the breaths jump up to the level of the voice itself. No distraction... Natural sound. What could be better? It doesn't matter what's going on in the background... you're going to sound great!

Of course if you don't have a digital editor, you're going to have to teach the announcer to talk without breathing. Good luck!