How to remove mouth clicks from audio

Learn how to remove mouth clicks when recording a voice-over and what causes it.

VOICE ACTING

Rafael Botelho

12/8/20236 min read

a close up of a woman's mouth with white teeth
a close up of a woman's mouth with white teeth

How To Get Rid of Mouth Noise When Recording A Voice-Over

As a voice actor, paying attention to every detail is crucial. One of the most subtle yet frustrating issues that may arise is the presence of mouth clicks. Mouth clicks can significantly hinder the quality of a voice-over recording and distract the listener.

In this blog post, I will discuss what causes mouth clicks and provide practical tips to help voice-over artists eliminate them.

Although some people may experience excessive mouth noise due to physical conditions, removing mouth clicks from recordings during post-production is possible. However, this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process.

Therefore, this blog post aims to provide a solution to help voice-over artists eliminate mouth clicks and improve the overall quality of their recordings.

What Are Mouth Clicks?

Mouth clicks, also known as clicky mouth, dry mouth, or mouth noise, are standard in the voice-over industry. These sounds are unpleasant and distracting to listeners.

There are various reasons why mouth clicks can occur, but they can be particularly problematic for voice-over actors.

Mouth clicks can negatively impact your chances of being hired or re-hired for future projects. They sneak into voice recordings and disrupt the fluidity of an otherwise impeccable performance.

These clicks, caused by the contact between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, can be more than just an annoyance; they can diminish the overall quality of a voice-over.

Mouth clicks sound like little clicks or pops during, before, or after the speech. Everyone produces mouth noise when they talk. The tongue causes it, and teeth and saliva create little bubbles, clicks, and pops.

Usually, when talking to people, we don't hear their mouth clicks unless they are exceptionally prevalent or significantly dehydrated. Our ears filter out the little clicks we hear as irrelevant.

What Causes Mouth Clicks?

You hear mouth clicks when the tongue or lips collide with the teeth, resulting in a clicking or popping sound.

Although some people may have medical problems contributing to excessive mouth noise, most voice-over artists experience mouth clicks due to common factors such as dry mouth, dehydration, or improper microphone technique.

Voice talents must address this issue and find practical solutions to minimize or eliminate mouth clicks.

Understanding the root causes of mouth clicks is necessary to deal with them effectively. Dehydration, dry mouth, and certain types of food can all contribute to increased mouth clicks.

For voice-over artists, maintaining vocal health and being mindful of dietary choices are crucial in tackling this issue.

Client Expectations

Mouth clicks can harm the quality of voice recordings, particularly when narrating an audiobook, recording a commercial script, or bringing a character to life in an animation project. These clicks can distract the listener and hinder your performance.

Clients, particularly those in advertising or entertainment, anticipate flawless audio quality.

Mouth clicks indicate a lack of attention to detail, which can undermine your credibility as a voice-over artist. Dealing with and preventing mouth clicks is crucial to meet client expectations.

How to Prevent Saliva Noise

Prevention is always better than cure, and the same principle applies to mouth clicks in voice-over recordings. By implementing the following techniques, voice talents can significantly reduce the occurrence of mouth clicks:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash regularly can contribute to a healthier mouth, reducing the chances of mouth clicks.

  2. Use a pop filter: A pop filter, placed between the voice talent and the microphone, can help to minimize plosive sounds and reduce the occurrence of mouth clicks.

Remove Mouth Clicks in Post-Production

While prevention is the best approach, it's not always possible. In such cases, post-production techniques can be employed to reduce or remove these unwanted sounds.

However, this process can be time-consuming. Here are some post-production techniques that can be used to remove mouth clicks:

  1. Noise reduction plugins: Noise reduction plugins can be applied to the audio track to automatically detect and reduce mouth clicks. These plugins analyze the audio and remove unwanted sounds.

  2. Equalization: Adjusting the equalization settings can help to minimize the prominence of mouth clicks in the recording. By reducing the frequencies associated with mouth clicks, the overall quality of the voice-over can be improved.

It is essential to exercise caution when using post-production techniques to remove mouth clicks. Over-editing can lead to an unnatural sound or artifacts in the audio.

It's always advisable to balance removing mouth clicks and maintaining the natural flow and quality of the voice-over recording.

Dehydration Causes It

Voice actors who frequently smoke and drink coffee can experience hearing mouth clicks in their recordings because both cigarettes and caffeine are diuretics that can dehydrate the body.

When the body is dehydrated, the mouth gets drier and stickier, leading to sticky saliva that causes mouth clicks. However, drinking too much water can also be a culprit of mouth clicks.

Voice-over artists who consume large amounts of water can experience the same issue because too much water in the mouth can make the tongue's movements as likely to create mouth noises as a dry mouth.

Drink Water Before and During Sessions

Staying hydrated is one of the simplest yet most effective strategies to reduce mouth clicks. Adequate water intake keeps the mouth moist, reducing the likelihood of friction between the tongue and the mouth's surfaces, which is particularly important for voice talents.

Lack of hydration means less water in the mouth, leading to sticky saliva and daunting mouth clicks. It is important to remember that the body can only absorb water at a specific rate.

So, chugging one liter of water 15 minutes before a session is not a solution, as your body will need more time to distribute the water evenly throughout the body and into the mouth. Instead, start hydrating at least two hours before your session.

Drink enough water to ensure that your body is properly hydrated. If you have an early morning session and are dehydrated, you will likely need more time to hydrate fully before the session.

During the recording session, the more you talk, the more your saliva-mucus balance decreases, which generates more mouth clicks. Therefore, it's essential to keep drinking water throughout to maintain your hydration levels.

Remember that even if you hydrate yourself well before the session, you will continue to lose water during the session.

A water bottle is a voice talent's best friend, so drink plenty of water before and during recording sessions to keep your mouth lubricated and minimize mouth clicks.

Microphone Placement and Vocal Projection

It's important to understand that speaking louder doesn't necessarily increase mouth noise. Mouth noise occurs when the tongue, saliva, and teeth work together and are present regardless of how loud or soft you speak.

It's crucial to adjust the input gain when using a microphone to make the recording appropriate. If you're speaking softly and are close to the mic (around 3 inches away), turn up the input gain to record the dialogue at a suitable level.

However, be aware that the noise of the floor and your mouth may be louder in comparison.

If you're further away from the mic and speaking slightly louder than usual, turn down the input gain to ensure the dialogue recording volume is reasonable while minimizing noise.

Remember to position the microphone correctly, as proper placement can prevent mouth clicks. Keep an appropriate distance from the microphone and position it slightly off-center to reduce the impact of mouth sounds.

You can also reduce mouth noise by backing off the mic and projecting your voice more.

Mindful Diet Choices

Certain foods and beverages, such as dairy products, caffeine, and alcohol, can increase the likelihood of mouth clicks. Being mindful of your diet, especially on recording days, can make a significant difference.

Avoid consuming these items before recording sessions. Opt for hydrating and voice-friendly snacks to keep those clicks at bay.

Vocal Warm-Ups and Exercises

Incorporating vocal warm-ups and exercises into your pre-recording routine can help minimize mouth clicks. These exercises prepare your vocal cords for performance and promote a relaxed and controlled delivery, reducing the likelihood of unwanted mouth sounds.

Audio Editing Software

Investing in audio editing software can be a game-changer for voice-over artists. These tools often have features to reduce or eliminate mouth clicks during post-production.

A meticulous edit can transform a recording plagued by clicks into a polished, click-free masterpiece. Utilize digital audio workstations such as Adobe Audition, Audacity, or Pro Tools to identify and manually remove mouth clicks from the waveform visually.

Breathing Techniques

Proper breathing techniques can significantly impact the quality of your voice recordings. Shallow breathing causes mouth clicks, while deep, diaphragmatic breathing can create a smoother and more controlled vocal delivery.

Incorporate breath control exercises into your routine to enhance your vocal performance.

Key Insights

Learning to eliminate mouth-clicks in your recordings is essential as a voice actor. Mouth clicks can be an obstacle to delivering professional performance and an even more significant obstacle if you are dealing with a more demanding client.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or eliminate them. Understanding why they occur and how they can impact your performance is essential.

By staying hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene, you can take preventive measures to reduce the frequency of mouth clicks.

If they are unavoidable, you can use post-production techniques to remove them, but be careful not to compromise the natural quality of your recording.

It's crucial to be patient and persistent when you eliminate mouth clicks, but with practice, you can overcome this challenge and deliver high-quality voice-over recordings.

two glasses of water and a jar filled with water behind them on top of a wooden table
two glasses of water and a jar filled with water behind them on top of a wooden table
a woman with her hands on her throat and vocal chords
a woman with her hands on her throat and vocal chords