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Logic 9 Cleaning Vocal of Breaths

Discussion in 'Logic 9' started by ekalavyadas, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    Hi. Newbie here.

    I worked on a song project in my home studio in logic and then brought it to a pro studio for mixing.

    We spent a substantial amount of time "cleaning the vocals". Mostly selecting the space between singing and deleting. Especially, the breaths.

    It took a long time.

    Any tips for speeding up / improving this process?

    I searched "breaths" on the forum and found some good tips, but I'm hoping for more.


    -- eka
  3. michaelo

    michaelo LUG Emeritus

    The first thing to consider is why you would need to remove every breath sound. Its common to delete maybe a few breaths that sound intrusive but unusual to go through an entire performance and remove every one. Some breathing sounds in a performance are often considered desirable, they add intimacy and are part of the natural character and expression of the vocal. Taking them all out can make things sound very clinical.

    However, if those vocal breaths are somehow objectionable then perhaps there is something in your vocal technique you could improve.Give some thought to where you are breathing in each phrase. There will be natural points to take a deep breath and places where there is only time to take a quick, shallow breath. When you breathe, remember you are singing - not running a marathon. Try to inhale more slowly making less sound. Also, experiment with singing across the mike at different angles and make sure you use a good pop filter.
  4. georgelegeriii

    georgelegeriii Senior member

    Waves makes a plug-in that can really help this stuff: Debreath. I have used it to decrease breaths in music and voiceovers in the past. It is a great tool, and can be figured out pretty quickly.

    There is a 2 week demo, I suggest you might want to download it an see if it can do what you want.
  5. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    Thanks George, I'll try Debreath by Waves.

    Thanks Michael, I'll try to be more conscious of my breathing techniques.

    Thanks for your help.

    -- eka
  6. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I would rather automate the volume, preferably using a plugin like the Gain plugin or Free-G, than removing the breaths. Like Michael pointed out, there is a human beeing singing and humans usually need to breath. Furthermore, there is always a little noise in a microphone signal. If you cut those pieces out, you alter the overall sound quite a lot.

    But think about the style of your music and mix. Many engineers today have a rather "mechanical" approach. Make the drums impressive, cut all pauses, apply perfect autotuning to the vocals, boost the heights, isolate everything by high- and lowcuts and put a limiter across. Everything sounds the same because it is done always the same way. You may want this or not.

    Another point:
    Heavy compression brings the breath noise up. Instead of the volume, you can also automate the compressor. And generally, if your vocals contain too much breathing and if you need too much compression, there is something wrong with the singing or recording technique or both.
  7. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    Thanks very much Peter. Food for thought.

    The mix was done very much as you describe. It's a trance tune, so I guess it's ok.

    The other tunes on the album are more acoustic, so I will consider your points carefully.

    Automating the compressor, means bringing the threshold up during the breaths so that the breaths are not compressed?

    -- eka
  8. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, or set the ratio to a low value, whichever works best. Often you can start before the pause. Unless you are after a special effect the target is to hide your moves from the ears of the listener.

    You can however run into a problem: If you emphasize the last syllables of the text by automation to make them more dramatic, the way down to reduced breath is longer. Needs good feeling to make this natural.
  9. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    Thanks Peter for further details on the art of invisible and natural engineering.

    I'm looking forward to trying this out.

    -- eka
  10. musiclab

    musiclab Member

    I agree with Michael over all, breath often helps contribute to the emotional performance on the recording, if someone is removing all of them, I'd find a different engineer. Now sometimes you have a bad edit, or the breath was a bad sound, part of my vocal editing procedure is to go thru the vocal and look for this. It doesn't take that long and the result is going to be better than any plug-in. Also I would slap a compressor on the vocal track while you're doing this so that you can hear what a compressor will do. If you're going into a real studio to mix, the odds of a mix engineer wanting your automated plug-in compressor on the vocal track are slim and none. And honestly if you take the time to make the track right all of that automating and the waves plug in should be unnecessary.
  11. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    Thanks Musiclab for your input.

    I agree that if I start adding plugins, it's going to make life more complicated if I go somewhere else to mix.

    Making a good performance without the need for all the cleaning up is worth shooting for.

    -- eka
  12. musiclab

    musiclab Member

    doing clean up is a fact of life, but if you can do it at home it can save you some money
  13. ekalavyadas

    ekalavyadas New Member

    That's what I was thinking when I started this thread.
  14. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    Create an audio track directly underneath your main vocal track. Set it's level to taste - maybe somewhere between -9db to -12db or so. Then use the marquee tool to select the breaths, and then drag them down to the track below. This way you get the best of both worlds. You can reduce and control the level of the breaths; and it still sounds relatively "natural". The breaths aren't completely absent.

    PS: Little side note here for those who may be interested - this is what I do when I am editing my Groove 3 instructional videos.
  15. smeet

    smeet Member

    Eli, that's a good idea. How do you prevent sudden level changes? Is there an automatic way of creating a little fade out/in on each track as you drag the breaths?
  16. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    The whole idea is that I _want_ sudden level changes. But just on the breaths. I occasionally need to put little fades in and out on the borders of the vocal regions. But 95% of the time, the sudden level drop on just the breaths works perfectly. Try it - you'll see! And hear!!

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