Working with Waves DeBreath

Once upon a time, I used to be big into customization of the computer kind. Custom wallpapers, fonts, bitchin’ red LEDs on my tower…But those days are mostly gone. Except for the bitchin’ red LEDs. Because they’re still bitchin’. Anyway nowadays, I tend toward as vanilla a setup as possible. It’s just less work frankly. And that extends to my audio software. Generally speaking, I’m not huge into tweaking my sound, so I prefer not to use plugins. However, the one thing that I haven’t quite mastered technique-wise, is my diaphragmatic breathing, so I splurged on the DeBreath plugin from Waves Audio. I’ve been using it for probably four months or so, and I do actually find it really useful.

Here’s how it works: it scans through your audio and finds “breaths,” and reduces them by a specified amount. You can either dampen them, eliminate them completely, or eliminate them and replace them with the plugin’s room tone. Which option you choose will depend on your setup and how you perform. I personally use the default thresholds and dampen breaths by 10dB. Most of what I do is conversational, so I want to hear breaths, but taking 10dB off just helps them fade into the background. In fact, I run those settings on Use Your Voice.

If it sounds like something you might be interested in, here are some important things to note:

First, the DeBreath plugin is often on sale, so definitely DON’T pay $99 for it. I got it for $39. And yes, that sounds like a lot, but before I bought it, I was spending hours toning down unruly breaths by hand, so it was effectively paid for in my first project.

Second, DeBreath can be used with a wide variety of audio software, but it’s still probably worth checking the specs that yours is supported, before you buy. Just for a start, it definitely works with Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton Live, and Garageband, as well as a whole bunch of others. Audacity doesn’t appear to be officially supported, but some users have reported that it does work just fine.

Next, you may need to train your breathing. DeBreath works best when you take short breaths rather than long drawn out ones, because of the attack and release of the process. I try to take short breaths just before the start of a sentence. But be wary that you don’t breathe in too loudly, or the plugin will mistake it for an intentional sound.

And finally, prepare to spend time testing it out in your normal conditions, before you need it. That way you can be sure you’ve got your levels set and there’s no weird artifacts, before you publish.

Hopefully, you find this little rundown useful…and of course, if you decided to try it for yourself (or if you already use it!) please drop me a line to let me know how you got on. The address for that is info@alisonpitt.com.