How to filter out breathing

Hello Audacity Support Team,

Context: Newbie trying to do voiceover audiobooks for ACX.

Issue: Noise reduction/noise gate gives my breath a subdued, echoing quality. It’s just audible enough to be distracting, but not loud enough to flow with the script. Using Audacity’s Beast formula (6, 6, 6).

Objective: Remove breathing, without creating noticeable “drop off’s” and dead silence.

Background:

  • Higher noise reduction undermines audio quality.

  • Noise gate doesn’t do the trick, unsure why.

  • Notch filter only works when the breath is consistently at a mid-range Hz level e.g.: 1700 (which has worked for some recordings, but not when I happen to be breathing louder, and thus hitting multiple Hz levels). In the case of the latter, I end up having to apply the notch filter at multiple Hz levels, which similar to noise reduction, undermines the audio quality.

  • Using the amplify feature to suppress the dB level of the breath has the most success, but can create noticeable “drop off’s” throughout the recording.

Open to any and all suggestions.

Thanks,

I edit the audio of the sermons recorded at my church, for posting on the web. I’m not trained at this and have learned by trial and error, but I manually edit out the loud breaths that are in the sermons. I’m sure the breaths are amplified after I run compressor or “level speech” to even out some of the volume. I don’t even try using noise reduction for them because the breaths sound too similar to “s” sounds, so I’m afraid noise reduction will take out sounds I do not want to remove.

I read somewhere to use “fade out” for the breaths instead of abruptly deleting them. This is supposed to sound more natural. So I use “fade out” a lot. I also just “silence” the breaths when they are not at the end of a word but are in the middle of an otherwise quiet section of audio. Sometimes, when there’s a very long breath sound, I may use a combination of silencing and fading out. If you don’t want to take the breath out completely, I guess you could lower the volume where appropriate, along with fading out when the breath is right at the end of a phrase.

Also, you might consider microphone placement when you are recording and see if keeping it closer to or farther away from your mouth makes a difference (adjusting the record volume appropriately, of course). Also, perhaps having it down below your mouth instead of right in front of it may minimize the breaths it picks up, the same way it minimizes “plosives” (when Ps and other consonants “pop” because they are too loud).