...do you like to play the clip downward expanded and have the noise pop through when the dialogue comes up?


do you like to keep it all the same level and not downward expand it?


I only ever use expanders on dialogue tracks when I'm trying to reduce reverb in the recording. And in those cases I try to use a multiband processor like Waves C4. Otherwise, I'll use noise-reduction software and EQs to handle noise problems.

Sometimes, there's only so much you can do. I just finished working on a project where the dialogue was so bad that I added a "noise track" to the session. I needed it for fill, as there were sections where necessary cuts left holes in the dialogue/production track. The noise was dropping out completey. While adding noise is not something I'm fond of, it's required sometimes. Consistency of audio quality is critical, because the brain will start to filter it out as it becomes accustomed to it. The moment that changes occur, the brain takes notice and it becomes a distraction. That's the danger that Rob mentioned with regards to expanders and pulsing.

  • I'm doing dialogue editing at the moment for a film 90% shot outdoors (mainly forest) so there's quite a bit of noise. Some scenes have very few words, but its not really possible to fill the dialogue with production sound. Do you (or anyone else) ever find yourself 'hard' cutting around dialogue (with appropriate fades) and hoping the added BG will mask any bumps? It feels wrong to me but I don't really see any other way without ADR (which I'm trying to keep to a min). Is it always the case that you try and completely fill the dial tracks, esp. with difficult noise probs? – Andy Lewis Dec 21 '11 at 20:48
  • @Andy Lewis - I don't ALWAYS try to fill the DX tracks. Yes, there are definitely times where I have to make hard cuts (because of ridiculous noises where there is no dialog) and use fades. You have to spend more time matching the background track and filling in the holes so that it remains seemless, but it can be done. It goes back to what I mentioned about consistency and distraction. As long as there's logic to a change in the background sound/noise level that works with the picture/story...I'll go with that. Otherwise, I will fill all that needs to be filled. – Shaun Farley Dec 21 '11 at 21:21
  • Thanks for your comment, Shaun. I don't feel quite as bad now lol Hopefully we'll have enough good BG tracks that'll match the dialogue to cope! – Andy Lewis Dec 22 '11 at 13:51

For me, depends on the situation. Generally speaking, I try to avoid using expansion on Dial tracks, as I find the pulsing in and out of noise to be more distracting/unnatural than a consistent noise floor. That being said, in certain instances I will use a multi-band compressor/expander (such as waves c4) to expand certain bands out in the silence between dialogue.

All in all, i really only use expanders when my BG stems are able to mask the noise "pop" (as you described) on my dial tracks.


i usually put just a little expansion on dialogue tracks. try a pretty big knee and a small floor of about 6-8 db. I find that it helps clean it up without too much pumping.


If there is too much noise that I feel I cannot mix to standard, I reject it and demand ADR. I have been blessed the last few movies I have had to do this on where the director fully backs me up and makes the producer pay for it.


My experience says that it's really much better to do it by hand on fader. Noise track is nice idea, but still it depends on source noise character you are dealing with.


After some critical listening of the Bourne series and other, I hear the bg noise come up during the dialogue.

  • What people don't realize is that noise happens and is everywhere. Go outside - you hear noise. It's natural. Some noise on dialogue isn't bad - ever seen a scene with no ambient noise and only crystal-clear ADR? It's more disturbing to my attention than a dirty track - but when it hinders the ability to hear the actor or is just too distracting, I ADR it or find an alt take. – Utopia Dec 24 '11 at 8:05
  • 100% agree with you but still...critical listening doesn't lie – Chris Dec 25 '11 at 1:19

Really depends how much noise you're talking. Agree with Shaun though I tend to use boise removal software on low levels of noise. But for heavy noise add noise tracks in the gaps. And I also only tend to use downward expanders on dialog I'm reducing reverb levels in.


I'm really interested in the responses here. I'm editing and mixing the audio for a short at the moment that a friend just didn't have time to deal with.

There's very bad wind noise throughout as it was recorded in a very exposed area. Also, some of the dialogue was clipped during dramatic moments. A mess overall! My inclination was to use expansion, but I may remove it and follow Shaun's philosophy of consistency.

Two of the three characters are going to be ADR'd, but the third isn't available anymore due to a falling out. Has anyone any experience mixing ADR alongside very noisy outdoor dialogue?


It depends on the type and loudness of noise and whether it belongs in the scene. The "Royale With Cheese" scene in Pulp Fiction has a lot of traffic noise but it's fine, and is probably all from production. I've stressed over noise on dialog only to hear it's fine when I watch the movie playing on TV. But, it really depends. If it's even moderate a/c or fridge, or generator noise, for example, in a quiet interior dialog scene, you're probably in trouble. Start by trying to EQ out the offending frequencies. If it's not enough, use noise redux plugins like Cedar or WNS and see. If it's not enough, then it's obviously a big problem and the producer should pay for an ADR session, or sessions, because it's due to sloppy production and out of your control. Hope this helps.

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