Should you delete or silence the breath?

Podcast Center LAPodcasting3 Comments

Editing your podcast file can be tricky. Getting the timing and cadence of the show sounding right are what master sound engineers do best. So how can you edit your podcast file like a pro?

Today, I am going to show you a trick that I use to make the shows we produce sound great. The trick is simple and it works very well. It is this, know the difference between deleting and silencing sounds.

The two biggest sounds that you will most likely edit out the often are ‘um” and the inhale or exhale breath you or your guests make.

First, we need to establish that ‘um’ and taking a breath is different. The ‘um’ is a way to pause and search for the right word. When we are speaking we are trying to get our mouths to move as fast as our brains, which creates the need to pause or think about things. That’s where the ‘um’ comes into play.

Taking a breath is a natural way to prepare the body to speak. Giving your lungs capacity to talk.

Deleting a breath or an ‘um’ can make the podcast sound more professional and make you and your guest sound more intelligent. There are two ways to delete breaths and ‘um’s. How you do it will make your podcast sound cheap and pieced together OR it will make it sound amazing. The two methods for removing sounds are DELETE and SILENCE.

When to delete

Most of the time, you will want to delete the ‘um’ because this is a pause used to search for a word. It is slowing down the conversation in an unnatural way. When you delete the ‘um’ you are removing the space (actually shortening up the audio file) to remove it. This takes out the delay of the person trying to find the right word. It magically makes them sound great.

Here the image shows the ‘um’ which should be deleted.

Now after deleting, you can see that the space is shorter and the ‘um’ is gone.


When to use silence

Silence, on the other hand, does not shorten the audio file length. It simply takes the existing sound and reduces it below hearing levels. Meaning it takes the breath and drops the portion of the file to zero dB or below. Since taking a breath to speak is natural, the silence leaves this natural break in the conversation intact, again making the person sound great.

Here the images shows the breath and we want to silence it.

After silencing it, you can see that the space is the same, but their is no audio.  We did this by reducing the dB.

Now you may be asking yourself why you should even care about removing a breath if it is natural? And you would be right to ask this. The reason that you want to remove the breath is that your microphone picked it up when it shouldn’t have. During a normal conversation with another person, you most likely won’t hear them take the breath unless they are doing it with dramatic purpose. In those cases, you want to leave the breath in the audio file. What happens during the recording process is that the microphone picked up this breath. This could be due to poor microphone quality, hot settings, lack of other equipment and the like. The issue is that you want the podcast to sound as great over the air as if the person were listening to the conversation in person. Silencing the breath leaves the natural state of the conversation without the annoying air sucking around the mic.

Hope that helps and if you need assistance on using silence and deletion, give us a call.

3 Comments on “Should you delete or silence the breath?”

    1. I had acoustic guitar and vocals recorded on one mic, at the end I liked the way the acoustic guitar faded out but there was a breath on top. Where the breath was I used automation to decrease gain gradually at about 2.1k with a broad curve, and then I had a high shelf as well to make a big wedge, worked for me – the breath is barely noticeable but you can still hear the guitar quite nicely.

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