Replacing/Reducing Breaths with Room Tone

Audacity 3.4.2 on Windows 10 Pro

Hello all,

I’d like your thoughts on replacing/reducing breaths with room tone in a fictional audiobook. I’ve searched the forum and read all the prior posts, I believe. I want to meet ACX standards.

Here is my process:

(First, each recorded chapter is exported to a 32-bit float WAV backup.)

  1. Analyze, ACX Check

  2. Effect, Filter Curve EQ, Low rolloff for speech

  3. Effect, Loudness Normalization, Normalize RMS to -20.0 dB

  4. Effect, Limiter, Soft Limit, 0.00, 0.00, -3.50, 10.00, No

  5. Suppress breaths: Select a breath, Effect, Noise Gate

I tried two de-esser plugins (DeEsser.ny & de-esser.ny) with no luck. This worked better:

  1. Effect, Low-Pass Filter, Freq 6300 Hz, Roll-off 24 dB/octave

And finally,

  1. Add room tone back in: Record room tone to 2nd track, fill out to full length, mix down on export to 32-bit float WAV

Disadvantage: adds room tone back over the non-gated portions, which already contain some room tone.
Advantage: automatically processes the entire chapter file.

Maybe the room tone should be targeted with a reverse gate?

A. What are your thoughts on using a gate plus mixed down room tone to avoid manual Punch Copy/Paste of breaths?

B. I suspect it would sound more natural to set the noise gate so the breaths can still be heard (or use an expander/negative compressor), but then I’ll manually remove some of my obnoxious mid-sentence breaths.

C. Is there a better ordering of my items 2 thru 7 above?

Thank you in advance!

De-esser plugins only act on excessive sibilance, and leave the rest of the audio untouched, whereas a low pass filter will act on all the audio making it sound muffled.

There are free realtime de-esser plugins, which unlike “.ny” plugins, can be adjusted while you play the audio, e.g. ToneBooster’s legacy plugin pack has two: a simple one & a complex one …

Techivation T-De-Esser Plus: Free Natural Sounding De-Esser [free version]

Awesome, thank you, Trebor. I’ll try those next week when I’m back. Any thoughts on the rest?