Here is how to fix a p-pop in a recording using sound editing software. If you do any voice recording at all, you’ve probably noticed this. No matter how hard you try, your “P” sounds (called “plosives”) will sometimes sound like small explosions in the audio.
These plosives sort of distort the audio recording for a second, sounding a bit like a low-frequency “splat.” Not pretty.
What causes it?
It’s what happens when a burst of wind hits a microphone. There are things you can do to minimize or prevent (shya!) them (like a pop filter), which is the best medicine. But when they do get recorded, you’ll want to know how to fix it after-the-fact. For this we use editing software.
One of the wonderful things about audio editing in the computer age is that you get to use your eyes as well as your ears. I have edited so many p-pops (caused by what linguists call “plosives”) that I can recognize what they LOOK like on a computer screen even before I hear them. For my voice, the come out looking like a capital letter “N” in the waveform.
How to fix it once it is recorded?
Since the plosive problem is basically caused by a rush of air from your lips hitting a microphone capsule fast and hard, what you have is a problem of volume. The plosive was too loud compared to everything around it. Not only that, but most of the too-loud bits are in the low end…the bass frequencies. So the fix would be to turn down the volume of your voice when it is hitting the “P.”
In an audio editor, like Audacity (which is open source) you zoom in on the plosive and select everything right up until the voice actually becomes audible. In other words, if the word was “pot,” try not to get any of the -“ah” sound in your selection. You only want the “P” sound. Then you just use a volume reduction tool to turn down JUST the “P.” You may have to experiment (“undo” is the magic-bullet of computer audio editing!) with how much you turn it down, but that may be all you need to do.
What if changing the volume doesn’t work?
If adjusting the volume doesn’t get you there, you might just need to reduce the volume of PART of the plosive, the bass part. You do this using equalization (EQ). That is basically the same thing as volume, only you control what frequencies get turned up or down. Try reducing volume of frequencies below 200 Hz and leave everything else alone. Again, you may need to experiment.
Now you just lather, rinse, and repeat for every bothersome “P” pop, and you’re done. It’s so easy to fix that I am baffled that some voice-overs still have them. At least you don’t need to anymore.
See the video below for a way to do this using Reaper software. The idea is exactly the same. But the method is slightly different because Reaper is a digital audio workstation (DAW) which edits its audio in a “non-destructive” way.
Learn this technique and more audio editing in our video tutorials at Home Brew Audio!