Audible Breathing on Acoustic Track

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by osq_122, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. osq_122

    osq_122 Member

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    At the risk of sounding like a moron, I have what's probably a stupid question. After doing some acoustic tracking, I listened back and noticed that throughout the whole track you could hear me breathing. Full disclosure, the song is a quiet, delicate sound so the sound of my breath may be more exaggerated than it is in other songs. I'm currently CAD GXL2200 positioned around the 12th fret, angled slightly down, and probably less than 12 inches away. Is this a problem that can be fixed by changing the mic position or is this simply a wake-up call that when I concentrate I breathe harder?
     
  2. phazersonstun

    phazersonstun Member

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    I'd say classify it as a wake up call to control you breathing.

    I ran into the same issue recording myself years ago.
    You just need to be aware of it & control it.
    Curreny I frequently track an amazing classical guitarist who ruins his own delicate solo passages by breathing loudly. I keep telling him that he should consider breath control when recording something so quiet as part of the technique of the instrument.
    I have one mic in about the same position you mentioned & a 2nd mic about the same distance from the guitar's bridge.
     
  3. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    The last thing I would do in a session is tell a player who's playing well to do something about breathing. It's hard enough to play well!

    Glenn Gould, who was one of the most highly regarded, famous, and recorded pianists, used to breathe, groan and hum. You can hear it on his recordings. I've read that recording engineers tried all kinds of things to reduce it, but there it was.

    While you can try wearing a surgical mask, or use something like a hypercardioid mic on the guitar, put a foam block between you and the mic, or EQ/software tricks, you can also choose not to worry about it. That's the path I'd take.
     
  4. Scott Whigham

    Scott Whigham Member

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    It would take you an hour to learn this 100% guaranteed for yourself. If five of us respond by saying "Nope, mic technique has nothing to do with it" but four others respond by saying, "Yes, if you back the mic up, that will solve it" - what then? Just try it - take the time to learn your gear and to answer these types of questions for yourself.

    Chick Corea is famous for his extraneous sounds - but he's Chick frigging Corea. I'd suffer through a lot worse to listen to him!

    We're in the age of "perfect" though so make your own call here. Stupid question: could it be that you are having allergy trouble or sinus infection issues that may clear up next week? Or is it a weight/fitness issue? If it's a weight/fitness issue, that can likely be solved with a solid two weeks worth of good cardio.
     
  5. osq_122

    osq_122 Member

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    Thanks guys! Based on what you're saying, I think for me it really comes down to breath control. I figured it was probably that, but it never hurts to ask... "it could have been a common symptom of stupid mic placement" was my thought process. I still am gonna play around with the placement to see if I can minimize it a little, but I'll likely end up working on my breathing instead.

    Basically, what I'm going for with this song is something like The Civil Wars or [For Emma era] Bon Iver; very stripped back (basically just an acoustic and my voice). I think if I weren't doing vocals, I wouldn't really mind, but with close feel of the vocals and guitar, the extra breathing takes away from the feel I'm going for. I'm not looking for a "perfectly clean" acoustic take, just something that doesn't mess with the vocals by making it seem like I'm breathing and singing at the same time. Then again, I may be a little too picky about that stuff, as you've pointed out about other artists.
     
  6. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I had to cancel a session because the guy showed up in a tracksuit, and the fabric noise of his classical guitar rubbing on the pants was destroying the track.

    I've also done 3 records with a great banjo player who has a nose-whistle when he breathes. It's all over all three records and it's fine.
     
  7. 2leod

    2leod Re-Member Gold Supporting Member

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    When the recording is intended to be up close and personal some breathing and extraneous noises lend to the realism, but if the sounds are jarring or counter to the flow of the song then they sound out of place. I tell people to breathe with the song, like it is part of it - I think it is what makes this recording so intimate (even though it's part of the vocals).

     
  8. NBarnes21

    NBarnes21 Member

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    you could use a downward expander plugin to reduce some of the breathing noise
     
  9. whitepapagold

    whitepapagold Member

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    Super simple-

    SINCE its YOU, can you control it without having your playing and concentration suffer? If so- great.

    BUT the last thing you want to do is put it in your head you should be paying attention to your breathing when you are tracking- it will be counter productive.

    Mic position can ABSOLUTELY help- but it won't eliminate it. Mic polar patterns can help- hyper cardioid- BUT again, it won't necessarily eliminate it.

    I tracked a record for an amazing acoustic finger picker. He huffed and puffed through his nose like a whale's blow hole.

    Did I stop him- no freakin way. Did I even mention it- no freakin way. I just played back the first take where he HAD to have heard it and asked him what he thought- any issues? All he cared about what his playing.

    It is what it is, but never sacrifice the performance for ANYTHING. Unless it 100% inarguably RUINS the performance.
     
  10. WaterBearOne

    WaterBearOne Member

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    I listened to the track you posted, and I'd have to say the guitars and overall arrangement are actually fairly dense, so there isn't much distracting noise protruding into the overall presentation. If you are listening back to individual recorded tracks solo'd out and you're hearing yourself breathing, then try to minimize it, but I wouldn't sweat it too much if you're going to end up layering in a bunch of guitar tracks as you've done on this one.
    In fact, if you are going for a more stripped down, intimate feel for this track, I'd suggest easing up on the compression and the maximizer, pull some of the additional guitar tracks back a bit and allow the primary guitar track and vocal to have some greater dynamic range and space to sit in - just my 2 cents. However, that may make some extraneous noises in the recorded tracks more prominent, so...

    If you want to tame breathing noises there are a few things you can do aside from just trying to be quieter, although that's obviously the best place to start. I keep a few spare pieces of 1" wrapped O/C 705 of various (small) sizes around for occasions just such as this. O/C 705 is a standard type of rigid fiberglass acoustic panel used for sound treatment in studios - it looks like drop ceiling tile but is more stiff and dense, and is designed to absorb sound energy fairly evenly across the frequency spectrum, so it works way better than any sort of foam. It is light and thin, & easily positioned around a performer by clamping to a boom mic stand or something similar. Positioned correctly, you can place an appropriately sized piece of 705 (or something similar) somewhere between the player's face and the capsule of the mic on the guitar without obstructing the player's vision too much. This usually tames most breathing noises that can't be eliminated by the player's breathing technique. There is the potential for it to have some effect on the recorded tone on the instrument since this material absorbs sound, so I use the smallest possible piece that will control the offending breath noises, and then listen carefully while adjusting the mic position on the instrument. it's a bit of a trade-off, but I find that you can get a better overall recorded tone this way, since you have much more freedom in getting optimal positioning of the mic on the instrument if you don't have to try so hard to eliminate extraneous noises by angling the mic unnaturally.
    If focusing on this is distracting to the player and is affecting their performance, then you (or the producer) have to make a judgement call as to how much noise is acceptable, what the track calls for, and how it will appear in the final mix. I tend to be more upfront and honest with a player, since I am one myself - if something I'm doing is ruining a recording, I'd definitely want to know about it...most decent players aren't going to fall to pieces if you're honest with them, so long as you are respectful and don't present your comments as judgmental or harshly critical. As an engineer, part of your role is to ensure the recorded sounds are as good as they can be, and to let the people involved in the recording process know about problems that are preventing that - most players are perfectly willing to accept any help or reasonable advice you can provide to assist them in getting the best results for them and their project.

    Playback is always the ultimate judge - if the extraneous noises are distracting to the point where they will affect the listener's enjoyment of the recording, or they are going to present the artist in an unprofessional manner, then you have to take reasonable steps to correct the problem. Good recordings are always a balance - don't sacrifice a great performance for a few nitpicking flaws, but always try and do whatever you can to capture the best overall sound in a given situation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012
  11. AD_

    AD_ Member

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    I am much more a 'listener' of music than a musician right now. I play guitar a little bit, but I've been listening my whole life. I say that to say, as a listener and enjoyer of music, hearing faint breathing noises in music is not detrimental at all. In fact, it lends an intimate, realistic element to the song. In a world of overproduced and effects-laden music, that can be enjoyed. Just a thought.
     
  12. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I had this exact same problem when I started recording myself.

    I trained myself to look up while playing. Once I did that, no more breath sounds :)
     
  13. kenneth

    kenneth Member

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    I had/have the same problem.

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=834394

    Since all the good input from that time (thanks), yeah, the best solution I found was to gradually work on controlling my breathing when it is a problem. I did try different mic pickup patterns, but just found it was best to work on controlling breathing.
     
  14. jbltwin1

    jbltwin1 Member

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    Worst case, dump it into something like audacity and sample the sound and use the sound remover. You nedd at least a couple of seconds of just the noise for it to sample and then don't try to remove everything. Turn it down.
     
  15. rockitcity

    rockitcity Member

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    Eh, that's not going to work very well. Every breath will have a different tone underneath and the breaths won't be consistent enough to just filter them out. Besides, most of the noise reduction software introduces artifacts that would be highly objectionable in a musical context.

    I've worked a lot on dialog mixing for film and TV, and usually noise reduction software is only successful with constant bandwidth noise. If you try to cut too much, you'll sound like you're underwater. That's why there's still a lot of ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement) in TV and film. And with delicate sustains and ring-outs on guitar, you won't be able to edit out the breathing either.

    Mic technique and voice control are going to give you the best results.
     
  16. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    Learn to live with it or breathe softer...not much else you can do. Sure there's talk about mic technique and different mics and what not, but if you're recording soft acoustic guitar and you want to get that extra detail, all the niggling sounds in the room become a part of it...personally i had this problem at one stage as well, though being a singer, i learned how to breathe properly at the time as well, so for me personally its just second nature now.

    I guess it all just comes down to common sense, you have to expect certain things will make it to tape, you can do what you can to minimize them, but if you're then uncomfortable playing in the process, then your listeners are more likely to pick that up than if you were breathing along and playing in the moment. Do what you can, could even make it part of the performance, just don't let it destroy the feeling in your playing, once it does that you've gone too far.
     
  17. jbltwin1

    jbltwin1 Member

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    "Eh, that's not going to work very well. Every breath will have a different tone underneath and the breaths won't be consistent enough to just filter them out. Besides, most of the noise reduction software introduces artifacts that would be highly objectionable in a musical context."




    Quite true. I've used it for getting rid of tape noise but never tried it on breath. I just don't breathe!
     

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