In the world of VO, no-one hears you breathe

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What’s your opinion on de-breathing?

It can add some punch to an otherwise pedestrian vocal performance, it can be utterly crucial to enable you to cram all those words into 28 seconds for a commercial read, and breaths are seldom heard in the 8 or 14-bit world of IVR. Some might say that in the world of VO, no-one hears you breathe.

But every breath you take (to quote Sting), also takes a little bit of humanity from the read. It is no accident that in dramatic reads, the breath is celebrated. Indeed a good actor can portray pathos, anger, lust and a whole host of other emotions with a well crafted breath.

So what should we as VO artists be doing with our expelled and inhaled air?

Well, like most things, it’s all about balance and appropriateness.
Too many breaths and the huffing and puffing will distract from the copy; too few and you risk sounding like an automaton version of yourself, a voice-o-matic wordtron.

So go ahead, remove all the breaths from that IVR recording (breaths sound horrible in A-law and μ-law anyway), but spare a thought for anything conveying emotion by going easy with the scissors tool in your DAW.

The results might just take your breath away!