Sunday, 1 February 2015

Tips on How to Get Rid of Plosives in Speech for Voiceover Artists

Audible book narration will sound amateurish if plagued with plosives. A plosive is an explosion of air into the microphone that causes the mic to recoil audibly. Not a pleasant sound. Plosives form part of the proximity effect; placing the mouth close to the mic. The voice will sound deeper and richer, but the mic will also recoil at harsh consonants in speech. How does the audiobook narrator avoid plosives when recording an audiobook?

What is the Proximity Effect in Audiobook Recording?

Pop Filters Help Rid of Plosives
A great, intimate sound to the voice will result when speaking into the microphone from a close proximity – about 6 inches or closer. The tone will be deeper, warmer and rich, ideal for audiobook narration. However, mouth clicks and breaths will also be more audible.

Standing some distance from the mic, say a foot or so or more, will permit a more airy sound. The room tone will be more apparent, as well as sound reflections from walls and background noise. The voice will also have less weight, having a more treble sound. This can be fixed during mastering by adding base (or lower frequencies) to the voice. However, it is always pays to avoid overmastering the recording.

Plosives in Microphone Recording

Plosives in Sound Recording Appear as Hooks
This is why I like to speak quite close to the mic during audiobook narration to get a rich tone first off. However, problems will arise in the form of plosives. Plosives result by a sharp exhalation of air into the mic when uttering such consonants as ‘TH, ‘F’, ‘P’, ‘B’ ‘H’ and ‘V’. Plosives are recognizable in the sound wave as hook-like formations as can be seen circled in red in the image.

How to Rid of Plosives in Voice Recording

Plosives became a real problem for me soon after embarking upon narrating my first book. I tried using a pop filter, but the plosives persisted. I didn’t want to stand far from the mic and lose that intimate tone in the voice.

I found a quick fix during mastering by sloping down the lower frequencies of equalization from about 200Hz to 20Hz (see image). Highlight the offending hook in the soundwave then click ‘OK’. However no one wants to repeat this procedure for every plosive in the recording.

Plosive Repair by Reduce Low Frequencies in Equalization

Plosives Problem in Audio Book Narration

You can also avoid plosives by angling the mouth slightly to one side of the mic so the explosions of air are not directed at the mic itself. This was OK, as audiobook narration is saved as mono files, not stereo, so the direction of the voice will not be detected on the recording.

Voice Techniques for Voiceover Artists

I found an angle of approximately 30 to 40 degrees of just a few inches from the mic maintained that intimate tone but without the plosives. Trial and error helped give me the right formula.

Plosives in Sound Recording

Large diaphragm condenser microphones are very sensitive, picking up every little sound, whereas the dynamics are more directional, in that they will only pick up local sounds but not background noise. Some mics are more susceptible to plosives than others. In such cases, a pop filter will usually cut out plosives. As a harsh blast of air hits the filter, the air is broken up by the mesh. Some pop filters are double layered for extra effectiveness.

Professional Recording of Audiobooks

Plosives are a nuisance of audiobook narrators. One way to rid of them is to stand a little away from the mic, but this will result in a loss of fullness to the voice tone. Another is to use a pop filter, a piece of mesh that is placed between the mic and mouth. A blast of air is dispersed by the mesh. A third tactic is to speak slightly obliquely to the mic to divert the air away from the mic itself. Plosives that happen to blot your recording can be minimized by cutting out the low frequencies in equalization. Trial and error of the sound equipment will help overcome this problem.

Tips on Audio Book Narration

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