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Recording acoustic guitar - hear my breathing etc

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by DogsoverLava, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    So I cut a track of acoustic guitar using a stereo pair of RODE M5's .... And I can hear my mouth sounds and breathing. My room is not ideal - there's noise anyway but the mouth sounds.... Bla! I'm about 2 feet from the mics and about 18 to 20 inches above them and have my head cocked to the side breathing away from them. (So maybe 36 inches away).

    When the other tracks are playing the noise is fine.... But there's a few softer or acoustic only passages. What do the pros do here? It's a 6 minute song - can't hold my breath that long.

  2. Reverend Lucas

    Reverend Lucas Active Member

    Until the pros chime in...

    How loud are the mouth sounds in comparison to the guitar? Have you tried an expander? That might bring them down in the absence of an audio repairer like Izotope RX. Or, you could look at it as an element of humanity and leave it as is.

    Also, is there an "I don't really know what I'm talking about, so probably shouldn't be offering advice" button on this forum?
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I had a "problem" guitarist in the studio a year or so back. He wanted to sing and play at the same time, but could not really keep it together musically. So we planned to track the guitar and then dub the vocal on top. Musically, it worked much better than both at once, and it also should have been simpler from a recording technique point of view, but there was a problem. The guitar track had so many vocal and other mouth noises on it that they intruded on to the vocal track when we put that down.

    After many unsuccessful microphone positioning trials, the solution turned out to be a knitted scarf tied a couple of times round his head and covering his mouth. He could breathe through it sufficiently, and it completely cut the mouth noises out of the guitar track. Try it.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Chalk it up to being human. ;) If you listen to the acoustic guitar intro to Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, you can actually hear Gilmour cough and clear his throat. LOL

    As opposed to looking like an Al-Qaeda terrorist as Boswell suggested - LOL - You might consider putting a pop filter in front of your face while you are recording ?... it's just a thought, truthfully, I've got nothin'.
    I do quite a bit of acoustic guitar recording and I've never encountered the problem you are having. Maybe I'm just a light breather. ;)
  5. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    maybe not use a condenser, try a dynamic, they arent so sensitive.

    or try putting on a gate so the silent parts stay silent?
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    But... if this breathing noise is happening while he's playing, then expansion won't do him any good. I'd agree that you could try a dynamic, but I'm really puzzled by how loud your breathing must be to be heard over the performance... I track acoustic all the time using condensers - in mono, XY, MS... and I've never had a problem.

    2 feet off the mic, while not abnormal, is kinda far... you might try bringing the mic(s) in towards the guitar more. I commonly place my mics between 6"-10" off the body. If recording in mono, depending on the sound I'm after, I'll point the mic more towards the bridge if I'm looking for a brighter sound, or, more towards the neck if I'm looking for a warmer, richer sound. If you are using a stereo pair (which stereo array are you using?) then you can do both... I guess I'm suggesting that regardless of mono or stereo, 2 feet off the guitar might be too far away, and in turn, the mic(s) may be picking up more extraneous noise than you want - or need.

    kmetal likes this.
  7. Josh Conley

    Josh Conley Active Member

    im imagining darth vader right now... :)
    this technological terror youve constructed is insignificant to the spl level of my breathing
  8. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    You can hear me breath and swallow - complicated by a deviated septum. I'll solo the whole track and see how bad it is. I'll also retrack and experiment with mic placement. I can't imagine recording say a string quartet with these and hearing 4 mouths...
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    With figure of 8 mics you could use the side rejection to have less breathing.
    That said, there are heavy breather. If you record and mentally try to make less noise it should be better.
    turn your head away from the mics, breath from an wide open mouth is a good starting point.

    Also, if you use too much compression, it will get the breathing worse. Try to automate the volumes and use less or no compression.
  10. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    I tried wide open mouth with head turned recording and better mic placement for a new take (using different guitar) and then I blended the two tracks -- much better but still surprised at how much they pick up.
    pcrecord likes this.
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    +1 on that, sounds like the culprit. You could cover your mouth too, but it shouldn't get that crazy.

    The only time I had this problem was an acoustic thing that went from quiet finger picking, to full out strum, and breathing noise was a bit annoying. I compromise w a decent middle of the road gain setting and some compression. Close micing and average/light breathing was a prob in all but the quietest parts, where I held my breath lol.
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "complicated by a deviated septum."

    Ahh. That explains a lot. That and the mic distance you are using sounds like the real source of your issues. I'm sorry to hear about your deviated septum; I never had to deal with it but my dad did, and I do completely understand that it must be a drag for you.
  13. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I've been lucky enough to record several singer-songwriters with this very problem. Mostly guitars but also a couple of keyboardists especially pianists who hum along with their playing. A couple of drummers too.

    It complicates things even when you record the guitar separate and the artist is singing the parts under their breath. Its then that the engineer really starts to hear how much of the environment the mics are privy to.

    The only thing that helps at all is the artist themselves being made aware of it and having them buy into creating a better technique and practice solving the problem themselves. One pianist brought his snoring appliance and would use that when he recorded. There was still some breathing sounds but they were mute compared to the all-out noises he cut loose with prior.

    Maybe you don't have the time with a paying customer to deal with this, but if this is a serious artist with a goal of having a quality recording, this is something that the engineer needs to step up and say something about.

    Mic placements can lessen the impact of these noises but cannot get rid of them entirely. I hesitate to ever add something in the line like a gate or expander to deal with something like this. The timing of the persons breath noises always seems to be in time with the playing , or at least close enough that these tools cannot do enough to really enhance the job. Training oneself to breath totally open mouthed and slack jawed is a great place to start and if this is a problem for an artist then theres no better time than now to get it going.

    Sometimes, especially when its a solo artist playing to their songwriting, it can actually add something to the vibe and humanity of a track.

    I have also found that allowing the artist to sing and play together rather than isolating the instrument, tends to lessen this. Unless they are studio musician quality in how they approach their instrument and can track without the lyric and melody lines, solo artists tend to need the comfort zone of singing their schtick while playing. Capturing a live performance. THEN mic selection and placement and gain-staging becomes a very critical task. Tight hyper-cardioids in close, SM7's for vocals with a brilliant pre.....all these things will enhance a recording of a live artists performance.

    Teaching them to breath in time helps a lot as well as using the open-mouth jaw agape technique.
  14. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    Using the breath-rite strips is a good idea --- the open mouth recording trick will work but it will change my guitar face for sure. I did what was suggested -- I moved my dynamic mic (SM57 & Ev N/D357) much closer to the guitar using a good boom, and then mixed that with a fairly close Rode M5 condenser mic and blended the two -- I also used a gate on the Rode to good effect.... but ya -- wow --- breathing.... it's easy to forget how important that is --- and motion -- those mic pick up stuff that you only hear on playback....

    I've been playing around with this and will do more ---- I also need better tracking phones (the mic was picking up the click through my crappy earbuds)... working on better "source" recording all the time as I develop technique and workflow. Thanks for your advice -- the nose strips are a great idea.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    LOL. In the studio, no one cares about the "guitar face" !!! Its all about tracks....
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member


    A buddy of mine has these, and I like them, they're next on my hitlist. Also you might want to automate the click fader for parts that ring out, editing them out is pita. Lol about "guitar face".

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