What’s that noise? VO Tech Guru Tim Tippets joins us again for our BOSS Audio Series! Listen as Anne and Tim talk about those annoying extraneous sounds inside the booth like mouth noises and tummy grumbles, headphones, and fans. Learn about booth ventilation and how to keep cool while keeping quiet. You don’t want to miss this fun, informative episode of VO BOSS!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Sometimes your headphones can cause noise in the booth – it’s not always mouth noise
You should record with fully over the ear headphones to avoid audio bleeding into your mic and recording
Your mic will pick up sounds that you do not hear with your ears
Whether you record with headphones on is a personal choice – but they are a must for directed sessions
When you’re stressed, your mouth noise might increase
Room temperature water will help reduce mouth noise
Try adding some lemon juice or throat spray to your water to reduce clicks
Don’t record on an empty stomach – but also don’t record while digesting
If your computer fan makes noise during a live session, it will be a big problem
If you try to blow a candle out with your mouth completely open, it will not work. In a similar way, if you distribute the airflow of your ventilation system properly when building a booth, the air will not be picked up by your microphone
The goal is to have airflow distributed over a wide area (in Anne’s case a plenum above her booth ceiling), so it is never concentrated enough to make any nois
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Learn more about audio by taking Tim’s Courses!
Follow Tim’s Instagram where he posts all of his builds
Find out more about RX Elements
Get some of your own VOcal Spray
Find out more about ReaLemon Juice
Learn about the Vornado Fan
Here are the headphones Tim uses!
Recorded on ipDTL
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my very extra special guest co-host, Mr. Tim Tippets. Hello Tim!
Tim: Hello Anne, how are you?
Anne: I’m doing good, but you know, I got a question for you. [laughs]
Anne: Yesterday I was in booth, recording a job, and I kept — normally I don’t have clicking noises. I mean I’m fortunate where typically either I’m well hydrated, or I don’t know what it is, but I typically don’t have mouth clicks. I have a few, but not like everybody else that always says, “oh my gosh, how do I get rid of them?” Well, all of a sudden, I noticed all these clicks in my waveform, and I was like going crazy trying to figure out what it was. And I finally realized that it was actually noise from my headphones moving around on my head.
Tim: Ah yes.
Anne: So what, I mean, what — that’s like crazy. [laughs]
Tim: Yeah. Well, it may not be as crazy as it sounds, because a lot of headphones are actually made with plastic parts, ok?
Tim: And where these joints meet, these plastic parts, will become non-lubricated, if you will, over time, or they wear, etc. And so as a result of that, when those plastic parts are moving against each other, they can end up causing these clicks and pops. And you know, some, I’ve heard —
Anne: Yeah, because it never did that before, and my headphones must be getting older then.
Tim: Yeah, that’s typically what it is. Usually people come to me, and they say, “hey, I’ve developed a click in my jaw,” you know?
Anne: Mmm yup.
Tim: And I say, “try talking without your headphones,” and sure enough, the click in their jaw goes away. If you think about it, when you have headphones on, they are in an area — especially fully enclosed headphones that are larger than on ear — when you are moving your mouth, you are moving those headphones. It’s inevitable. You can’t help but do that.
Tim: Now — yeah. When your jaw is moving, and it’s going up and down, the joints of those headphones are moving in and out and up and down, ok? So I had the same problem at one point before I switched to my current favorite headphones, which I can tell you about here in a minute. But I had a pair of headphones that are very well known. They’ll go unnamed. And I kept getting the same click, and I had determined just through trial and error by holding them next to the mic and moving them around, that they were in fact causing the clicks. So I went on this every two week maintenance thing where I was dropping in graphite powder, which is something that I tried that worked well and then also lubricating silicone. So if anyone is experiencing that, take a look at the joints. Move them around in front of the microphone, and see if you’re having — or if they’re the culprit. If they’re not, and it’s mouth noise, well, then that’s a different story.
Tim: But my favorite headphones are the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm, with an emphasis on 80 Ohm. I get a lot of people asking me about 30s, about the 250s — I believe it’s 250. But the 80 Ohm, that’s the answer. They are, as I like to say, they’re fully enclosed headphones that feel like kittens hugging your ears, right?
Anne: [laughs] I like that. “Kittens hugging your ears.”
Tim: Yeah, and they really do. When people put them on, it’s just kind of this “ahh” type of thing, right?
Anne: Well, I think that I should probably mention, because I have a feeling people are going to say, “well, Anne, why are you wearing headphones,” right? A lot of times, people are like, don’t wear headphones so you can sound natural, and you know, you’re not listening to yourself in your headphones. But there are certain obviously times when you need to have your headphones on, like right now, because I need to hear you, or in a directed session. So that is one reason why I had the headphones on. And you know, I mean, I couldn’t get away from not having them on. I needed to be able to hear.
Tim: Right, well, this one’s almost like religion to people. It’s unbelievable.
Tim: Usually they’re in one camp or the other. And that’s fine. If you’re more comfortable voicing with headphones on, great. If you’re not, great. I’ve done both for various reasons, mostly experimental stuff. But for me personally, I like to monitor in real time, because I like to be assured that nothing is going wrong, nothing has changed.
Tim: But I also don’t mind the sound of my own voice in the cans. It doesn’t seem too — I know that there are —
Anne: It doesn’t distract you?
Tim: No, it doesn’t distract me, and I know that there are theories out there — maybe they’re proven theories, I don’t know — that it takes away from your performance. So far it hasn’t taken away from my performance, that I can tell.
Anne: It’s so interesting. I’m glad that you brought that up, because for the first, I’m gonna say, year after I built my booth when I was in my other location, I had to have the headphones on, just like you’re saying, because I had to do real-time monitoring because they were working construction outside my home. And so I needed to know if any of the vibrations were coming up and were going to affect, and you know, “when do I start recording and when do I stop?” [laughs]
Anne: So yeah, that was one of the reasons why I would record early on with the headphones, and then of course, we’re recording right now, and I need to be able to hear you. Now I have a question. What about — ok, because I mean, yes, I have the headphones that go over my ears — is there a certain amount of sound, that’s coming back from obviously you talking in my ear, right, because I’m fairly close to the microphone, that’s coming back into the microphone?
Tim: Ok, so that depends on a few factors. One is how loud your headphone are turned up. Some people will turn them up louder than others. I don’t turn them up very loud when I’m speaking. What I try to do is emulate what I would hear for myself in real life at that volume level, so there’s that. There’s another factor: are they fully-over-the-ear headphones, and if so, are they high quality fully-over-the-ear headphones? Will they not leak what’s happening out into your microphone? And then they have what are called open-back, which are typically for monitoring music, etc., which I have here. I have a different set of headphones for when I’m monitoring music at certain times. Usually I’ll still wear the Beyerdynamics. But those are the various things that can cause, you know, anything, any audio coming from your headphones to leak into the microphone. Now we also have to remember that the microphone itself is like a superhuman ear, ok? It’s going to pick up sounds that we don’t hear with our ear, because we are putting something on our heads that is going to magnify what it is that we would otherwise hear in the real world. So for instance, when I’m voicing, and I have some sort of sound outside of my room that kicks on, I’m gonna hear it more than likely. And if I’m not wearing headphones, it’s highly likely that I wouldn’t have heard that.
Anne: Oh right, mm-hmm.
Tim: So ok? So then I go back in my editing session, and now I’ve got to deal with this mess, because this thing got recorded that I didn’t hear the whole time. And that’s just a personal choice for me. You know, I’ve actually heard some people say “I just feel claustrophobic with headphones on, and I feel like I can’t perform.” And if that’s the case, that’s fine.
Anne: I’m wearing them all day, personally.
Tim: Me too.
Anne: Because not only am I recording, I’m also, you know, I’m also coaching students, and I’m wearing headphones when I’m doing that, because I’m coaching them online through ipDTL. I constantly have to have — well, I have to have a really comfortable pair of headphones. But I always have them on. And interesting enough, when I swing my microphone on the boom arm, you know, away from me, I do hear like every single bit of like room noise and outside my window, if I happen to have it open. And it’s funny, because once in a while, I’m like, “wait, where’s that noise coming from?” It’s like, it’s, the microphone is picking up everything. So I’ve gotten like a new sense of awareness about noises that are happening through my headphones. But Tim, what other noises have you heard, let’s say when you’re evaluating a file, that have come from inside the booth that affect our recordings?
Tim: Ok, well that is one of the reasons that I wear headphone all the time that may not apply to a lot of talent, ok? So I just wanted to clear that up. Some of the things that we have in play is mouth noise, right, mouth clicks.
Anne: Oh yeah, the dreaded. [laughs]
Tim: Some of the — and RX Elements has a declicker in it. There’s also the standard version that has mouth declicker in it. I’ve found that RX Elements works with — in most cases, it works just fine. Some people declare that mouth declick is better. Whatever. The point is this. I’m not a very clicky speaker for two reasons. One, when I started out in VO, I was pretty clicky, and I realized that that was a physiological problem because I was nervous.
Anne: Mmm, interesting.
Tim: And yeah, when you’re nervous and you’re under stress — I shouldn’t say nervous. I should say stress. It was a very stressful time for me. And plus I was dealing with getting into, going from audio engineering from a music perspective and getting into VO, which are two completely different animals. And so I’m dealing with this, and I’m under a lot of stress, and I start working, and then the market starts telling me, “hey,” you know, it’s responding well. “We want to hire you more and more.” I’m getting my tech game further and further down the line, and before you know it, I’m not clicky anymore, and that’s because I’m not under stress.
Anne: Hmm, interesting.
Tim: If you think about it, if you catch a kid in a lie, what happens? Their mouth becomes all watery, they start swallowing.
Tim: If we’re doing the same thing, and we’re not remembering to clear all of that stuff out, because after all, we’re voice actors, so we already suffer from Imposter Complex, right? So we kind of feel like, ok, we’ve got to fit ourselves into this role that may not necessarily be our forte, right?
Anne: I think that, even if people say, “well, I’m not nervous when I do auditions,” I think also they have to take into consideration that it might just be that, I think, any type of heightened adrenaline will affect your performance and your mouth noise, and —
Tim: There’s zero question — yes, there’s zero question about this. There’s a saying in golf: if I could only take my range game to the course.
Anne: Yup, exactly.
Tim: Because when you’re on the range and practicing, it’s easy. All day long, you just can’t miss. And then you get to the course, and it’s like, what happened? The wheels came off the bus.
Tim: Something happens mentally to us. For those that do not have this problem, I’m going to tell you plug your ears right now, but something happens when you hit record, because it’s official. Right? And so of course, yeah, you get amped up and all that. And so at any rate, we’ve had a lot of discussions that we hear about green apples and gum, and do this, and do that, throat sprays, etc. One of the things that I’ve found most effective, and this comes from my singing days, whether I was singing myself or producing singers, the best thing that we could find that worked really, really well was room temperature water with Real Lemon juice, the brand Real Lemon. And what I will do is I will take a quart of water that I have here. I drink about four of those per day, and I put a good couple of ounces of that stuff in that entire quart if I’m voicing. Because if I drink it, and I swish it around in my mouth, think about this. All of that viscosity of that built up saliva is going to pop. It hides in the nooks and crannies, under our tongue, in between our teeth, between our teeth and our cheeks, etc. And when you swish around that lemon, it naturally — you know, it’s citrus. It’s going to clean all of that stuff out. And then I simply swallow it. For those of you who have heartburn issues with lemon —
Anne: That’s what I was going to say. People are going to say citrus is not good. Some people say citrus dries out your cords, but I don’t believe that myself.
Tim: As long as you’re staying hydrated, that’s not a problem. And also people make the mistake of, “oh well, I drank plenty of water this morning or an hour ago, so I’m going to head in.” That’s not hydrating. Your body doesn’t work that way. You need to stay hydrated so that the next day, your body is hydrated. Think about this. When you wake up in the morning, if you’re going straight for coffee, that’s not hydrating. Your body has had —
Tim: Your body has had eight hours without water, and if you went during the day eight hours without water, how do you think you’d feel?
Tim: Without any liquid whatsoever?
Anne: I will admit in the morning when I’m drinking coffee, I chase it with water, because I’m not giving up my coffee, I’m sorry. But if I do have to voice, I’m chasing it with water for sure.
Anne: And you know, I do have to put it, I do have to put a little plug-in for — I totally get the lemon water. But of course I also have a vocal spray that I really — it was actually, originally designed to help singers, and I kind of based it off a recipe for that. I have a throat spray that I think works really well, but it has lemon in it.
Tim: What’s it called?
Anne: It’s my Vocal Throat Spray, which can be purchased on —
Tim: Where can I get it, where can I get it?
Anne: You can get it on the VO BOSS website. [laughs]
Tim: Ok, I’ll try it out.
Anne: Absolutely, it’s ood stuff. All essential oils. But yeah, I use it in the booth. It really helps me. Now, does it get rid of mouth clicks? Honestly I think it just keeps my mouth healthy, and I think that’s super important. Like you’re saying, you have to be able to hydrate. And one of the best things I think is room temperature water too. When I was taking some medication, it was affecting my voice a few years back that was, you know, I would notice that my mouth was a lot drier. And ever since I stopped taking the medication, I’m good with room temperature water. Every once in a while, if I have an allergy day, I’ll do this throat spray, but lemon water too works for me really great.
Tim: Yeah, and it does for a lot of people. And also getting the things that are concerning you, whether it’s vocal performance or it’s tech, I’ve heard many, many people, after handling their tech, that their mouth noise has reduced substantially, because they’re not sitting there recording going, “do I sound good?”
Anne: Mmm, interesting.
Tim: It’s pretty stressful when you think about it, right?
Anne: Well yeah, ‘cause you’re constantly evaluating if it sounds the way it needs to, and that’s stressing you out.
Tim: Yeah, who needs that? So there’s that. Another quick thing that I want to touch on is you shouldn’t do VO on an empty stomach, or at least where you’re hungry.
Anne: Oh I’ve had that. [laughs]
Tim: Now to qualify, yeah, to qualify that, don’t eat and then immediately go and do your VO, because your stomach is going to immediately go into the mode where it starts digestion, and it’s going to make all sorts of noise. For those of you who have large diaphragm condenser microphones, like let’s say a TLM 103, which is incredibly sensitive, you guys are going to hear that the most. Now also don’t voice if you’re hungry, if at all possible, because your stomach does the same thing.
Tim: It growls. Right? So that’s another thing we can do to get noise out of the booth. Now one final thing that I wanted to talk about that’s really important, because I get asked this question all the time, “can I keep my computer in the booth?”
Anne: Ahh good question.
Tim: That is very much a “it depends” conversation. When I hear someone has a MacBook Air, sure, keep it in the booth because the fan’s not going to kick on. Then I have people who say, “well, I have a new MacBook Pro, and this thing is ‘supposed to,’” in quotes, “be quiet.” And I have a 2019 fully loaded MacBook Pro that is just, I’m just gonna say it, it’s kick-ass. And if I’m in that booth in there, and I’m having a long session with someone, where a lot of the resources are being used up, because I might be using Zoom, plus I might be on ipDTL like we are right now, or whatever, and if it gets hot enough in there, sorry, that fan’s coming on.
Tim: That fan’s there for a reason. Now if that fan comes on during a live session, and it’s being picked up through my microphone, to where I’m going ipDTL to the other end, and they’re recording on their end, that’s a problem. So what do I do? I don’t have any sort of laptop or computer in my booth whatsoever. I put that stuff outside my booth, my HDMI out to my monitor, which costs me — it’s 27 inches and it cost me $127. I’ve got a wireless keyboard. I have a wireless mouse. And another thing that I have in there that a lot of people don’t think about, when we have internal noise inside the booth that causes nightmares for us is, is I have a fan — I believe it’s call the Vornado. It’s about a $45 fan, and I have that on a switch, and when I’m not voicing, I flip it on and let that air flow on my back. It cools me down.
Anne: Cools the booth down.
Tim: Exactly. Ventilation problem, you know, is a simple matter of opening the door once in a while, but staying cool is actually a lot easier than people think. You could just turn that fan on for a little bit, let it cool off your body, stop the fan, and start recording. There are a lot of things that we can do to get ahead of these things, so we’re not in the editing bay driving ourselves nuts, trying to grab noise prints —
Anne: Get rid of noise.
Tim: Yeah, which we shouldn’t be doing, right? Because if you don’t know what you’re doing when you’re grabbing a noise print, it could introduce all sorts of chirps, and beeps, and alien noises and things in the background that we might not even notice, but then we send it in, and it’s rejected. But here’s another thing. If you’re taking a noise print and saying, “hey software, this is what noise is. Remove it from my voiceover,” here’s the problem. If that noise shares a lot of the same frequencies with your voice, those frequencies are now going to removed from your voice, and that could end up sounding really, really bad.
Anne: You know, I kind of want to go back just a touch, to say how thankful I am that you, what was really nice about our booth — I say our booth; my booth that you put together — is that you actually had a plan for ventilation in my booth that included my home air conditioning and fan. Can you describe how it is that that doesn’t really make noise in here? Because it’s super helpful on a hot — like right now I think it’s going to be 100 degrees today, so it’s super helpful to have that kind of ventilation and air in here without it really making any noise whatsoever.
Tim: Yeah, so we have you mechanically disconnected from the structure in your home first of all. And we have your air floating around in a big box that we built above your booth that’s called a plenum. And that is, you know, the, you know, complicated way of saying that we have a distribution box where the air can come in, it can move around inside that space and kind of diffuse its energy instead of blowing directly into your booth, and then we have the top of that plenum mechanically disconnected from the top of your booth. However we have this tiny, little 1/8 inch slit or groove, if you will, that runs all the way down the side of your booth that goes to the backside of your booth. And then we have a hole that we put through your booth to that plenum space, or at least the area that the plenum is feeding, so that by the time the air gets there, it’s spread out into this really large area, versus being forced out of a really small area. For instance —
Anne: Which would make a lot of noise.
Tim: Well, it would. If you think about this —
Tim: If you blow out a candle, you don’t blow it out with your mouth fully open. It wouldn’t work very well.
Anne: Oh right.
Tim: But when you purse your lips together, and you blow it out, it’s gonna — there’s gonna be a lot of force, and the candle will go out. So same principle here. We let that, you know, pursed lips version come into the plenum, which is like opening the mouth, and then it swirls around, and then it creeps behind the booth very slowly, and then we have a hole from the inside of your booth to that space that we’re letting it creep into. And then we have a panel over that. And then we have PVC going through the bottom of your booth on the opposite corner down low, and then this hole that we’re feeding is up high, but both are behind sound panels. So what happens is, and you know, Anne, even if you put your ear up against that without the sound panel on there, you’re not going to hear the air.
Anne: Right, right.
Tim: Because it’s so diffused at that point.
Anne: It’s so diffused, right.
Tim: Yeah, it just comes, you can feel it with your hand. It feels fine. But then it spreads behind the panel, out onto the walls, and then it crosses over your body. That was the whole idea was to feed it up high, and then have the exhaust down low on the left side of you —
Tim: — so that that air is consistently crossing your body, and then that’s the exhaust. There’s no forced exhaust, because when we’re bringing in the air, we’re positively charging it with pressure. It’s got to go somewhere, and so we just let it go out that cable, you know, pass —
Tim: — or race rather, as we call it in the industry, and then you know, everyone’s happy. So that’s one way to do it —
Anne: I don’t want everybody — I know you’re jealous out there, BOSSes. I know this was an actual really planned thing for ventilation in a booth, and I know a lot of people don’t necessarily have that luxury, or if they buy prefabricated booths with ventilation in, it’s not handled in such a graceful manner, I would say. But even as what you just said, I mean, when you’re not voicing, a fan, you know, a Vornado can do a really good job at cooling that booth, because I don’t think any one of us is, unless you’re doing audiobooks, right, is really talking for eight hours straight. I think if you’re doing that, you need to take a break every once in a while anyways to take a break physically from voicing as well as cooling your booth.
Tim: Yeah, you have to give your vocal cords a break anyway. If you don’t, eventually over the course of several chapters, if you listen to where you started and then where you finished, they’re going to be two completely different sounds. Because your vocal cords just naturally become strained the longer you talk.
Anne: Right, exactly.
Tim: The more strained they’re going to become, and it’s insidious, right?
Tim: You don’t notice because it’s happening slowly over time.
Anne: Exactly. Wow. Well, I’ll tell you what, I hope this is a really quiet episode —
Anne: — when my editors get to it, because I’ve been very careful, and I’ve got a great — I have to say that I am fortunate to have the booth that I have, but yeah, I still have headphones that might make noise, I still have my mouth that might make noise, and other things in my booth. So thanks for helping us become aware of those things that can cause noise that maybe we weren’t aware of before. [laughs]
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, my pleasure.
Anne: Alright, I’d like to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect in your booths — in your quiet booths — like a BOSS and find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have a great week, and we’ll see you next week! Thanks, Tim.
Tim: You got it. See you, guys.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via ipDTL.