You Ask, We Answer: Dealing With Vocal Plosives - EMusician

You Ask, We Answer: Dealing With Vocal Plosives

Can you get rid of plosives with plug-in de-essers?
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I DO A LOT OF CLOSE-MIKING OF VOCALS, AND PLOSIVES OFTEN RUIN THE TRACK. POP FILTERS DON’T REALLY HELP MUCH. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET RID OF PLOSIVES? IS THERE SOME SOFTWARE PLUG-IN LIKE A DE-ESSER FOR PLOSIVES?

DON MACKENZIE
DES MOINES, IA
VIA E-MAIL

The screen shot shows a plosive before (left) and after (right) reducing it by adding a fade-in. Start by reducing plosives as much as possible at the source. If your mic has a low-cut filter, enable it. Also note that some pop filters are more effective than others; at $299, the PaulyTon Superscreen (paulyton.de) is expensive but extremely effective. Moving just a bit away from the mic or angling it slightly can help, and many swear by rubber-banding a pencil vertically in front of the mic element to deflect a plosive’s “direct hit” on the mic element.

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For recorded plosives, insert a steep lowcut filter to take out frequencies below the lowest frequencies you want to keep. At that point, multiband compression that affects only the lowest frequencies might be enough to do the job. This is similar in principle to a de-esser.

For a more surgical option, split an audio clip immediately before the plosive, then fade in over the plosive. By varying the fadein’s shape and duration, you can remove as much or as little of the plosive as desired. Generally, you’ll want to retain a little of it in the track—you just need to keep the level well under control.
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