Mouth Noises: Why your mic isn’t the problem (or the solution)

Deb here! Whenever we at the Voice Recording Bootcamp teach a class, when we get to microphones the topic of mouth noise is sure to come up. It usually goes something like this, “I got this new mic, it’s better than my old mic, but now it’s picking up all of my mouth noises. How do I get that to stop?” Unfortunately, the answer does not lie with the mic.

 
Frankly, a good mic should pick up your mouth noise! It should pick up everything coming out of your mouth, and at a good level too, to minimize the noise floor (that pesky “shhhhhh” sound from your recording chain). The goal is to have the “noise floor” so quiet as compared to your voice, that it is barely noticeable to the listener.

 
Unfortunately, this means all the pesky sounds your mouth makes (jaw, teeth, tongue, lips, cheeks, saliva) are picked up by the mic. And alas, new gear won’t fix it. For better or worse, the answer lies with you. If you want to eliminate as much mouth noise as possible, you need to get to know yourself.

 
Take me, for instance. Before writing this blog, I was about to record a quick narration for a realtor. As I was getting ready to start, the dogs next door started barking, mine was scratching at the door, my fiancé popped in to see if we wanted to go out tonight... The pressure to get this recording done before more interruptions came my way was stressing me out.

 
And for me, stress leads to mouth noise (talk about stressful!). My mouth goes dry and suddenly my speech is overlaid with those twinkling little pops of saliva. The kind that can’t be edited out. So, I decided to shift gears and work on something else until I had calmed down.

 
Experience has taught me that powering through my stress-induced mouth noise only leads to more mouth noise and stress. Reducing my coffee and dairy intake, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a couple servings of fruit a day also seems to be helping a lot (no citrus before recording, though! For me, that’s a noise-inducer).

 
So, take some time and get to know yourself. Experiment with different times of day, different foods, different moods, whatever. Find out the root of your mouth noise and eliminate it. But don’t blame the mic. It’s only trying to help.

Questions? Ask away!

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