Okay. Pardon me if I sound ranty.

I promised myself I would not ask this question, but frankly, I am fed up with it.

I record narration as a main part of my job in sound.

I have recorded possibly over 3,000 hours (final product, edited down) of narration, ADR, overdubs, etc. etc. etc. in my career.

I have still not found how to lessen someone's mouth-noise in the recording.

I have searched and searched and searched for a remedy to this.

I have read Randy Thom's article about it.

Many people's answer is MIC POSITION. This is utter rubbish of advice. I know well that the moment you add that top back on a voice that you lose by going off-axis that those clicks are just clear as day in the recording and have to be edited out, so I know for a FACT that doesn't work. Not to mention the recording sounds horrible in the end because you have a U87 pointed at your ear. Sure, you can even move the mic 4 feet back from the talent, you're going to have one thin recording and a lot of room to battle then - especially if it's supposed to be narration.

Lemon water. This has had mediocre results for me...

I've tried grapefruit juice,

I've tried having the guy suck on lemons,

I've had the guy put vasoline on his teeth,

I've had the guy eat so many green apples he was hypnotized into thinking he was Johnny Appleseed,

I have forbidden the consumption of all coffee,

I have forbidden the consumption of sugar,

I have forbidden the use of honey and other saliva-producing foods,

I have told the guy to drink water - funny, everyone asks the talent to do this when he gets mouthy and IT JUST MAKES HIM MORE MOUTHY, Surprise!! You're just putting more wetness in his mouth!!!!!

I have also tried Izotope RX and I personally think it adds digital artifacts to the recordings and makes the voices sound dull and processed...

I have tried everything I could possibly find on the internet or from other professionals about this and they all have had no avail.

I personally think it's an awareness thing. I think that the talent just has to know what it is and learn for himself how to fix it.

But, what have you used in the past that has actually worked?

Is there a "magic pill" that someone can take and MAGICALLY he has NO mouth noise and won't need ANY editing at all?

I highly doubt it, but I'm working on 20 seconds of narration right now and getting it clean as a whistle and I've spent the last hour on it.

One hour for 20 seconds of voice...

My standards are pretty high for this sort of thing as you can probably tell...

But besides that, what have you found that has worked for you.

Has it ever been a problem with your production and has a project ever been rejected back to you saying "It's got too much mouth noise in it"?

Sorry for ranting but I just don't think 20 seconds an hour is very viable.

Thanks - Ryan

  • Hehehe, wow, thanks for everyones answers here, I haven't had any experience doing proper voice over recordings and the info here was interesting to see! The most I have had to do is "Wild Lines" on a commercial shoot... Dec 27, 2010 at 8:19
  • I don't have an answer. I am an audio book narrator and I cannot stand having the mouth noise in a recording. I am very motivated to NOT RECORD IT IN THE FIRST PLACE, and was hoping that someone might just specify the techniques an artist can work on to minimize the tongue swishing around noises. I tried clamping a pencil between my teeth and reading aloud....and then removing the pencil, but am not sure how this is supposed to help. If I understand correctly the aim is to learn to speak and articulate without moving my tongue? This just adds another layer of crazy on top of narrating, charact
    – user4179
    Aug 25, 2012 at 21:53
  • Is there a way to edit the mouth clicks by cutting a certain frequency or using a de esser? I produce music, and I have track where my artist has a really dry mouth and clicks are everywhere but I have only three takes of his verse and all do that. Just curious
    – user4300
    Oct 10, 2012 at 8:08
  • I do voice over for safety training videos and have periodically struggled with clicks and mouth sounds, so I've found all of these answers helpful. One thing I do not understand is that I never hear mouth clicks or saliva sounds when listening to DJ's on the radio. How is that possible? especially since they are live and it is not edited. Any thoughts?
    – user4359
    Oct 20, 2012 at 0:20
  • @mydasha, It's usually a combination of the voice talent's control over the voice (I've worked with some actors in ADR and in production dialogue who naturally don't create these noises at all), and likely the mic as well. Radio DJs usually use something like the Electrovoice RE20, which is a dynamic mic. It's less sensitive than a condenser, so it usually won't pick up a lot of these artifacts as easily. Oct 20, 2012 at 7:54

32 Answers 32


The only way you're ever going to eliminate mouth noise is with an experienced, professional, voice actor.

The clicks don't eminate from the teeth, and rarely from the lips. They all come from the tongue. That means it's an articulation/enunciation issue. A pro will learn the correct tongue positions that allow them to cleanly pronounce the sounds they want, but it takes years. Even then, you're still gonna have some; but probably not so many that it will take an hour to clean up 20 seconds. That's rough, man. I sympathize with you entirely.

The best thing you can do is educate while you're in the recording session (or maybe right afterwards). Sure, it's not really going to improve your situation that day, but it may pay off in a future session.

The most extreme example I can think to give them is the character Boomhauer on "King of the Hill," voiced by Mike Judge. If you do an impersonation, you'll find that your tongue ends up in a tightly held position, with very little movement. Obviously that's not the delivery most of us will be looking for; but if they can identify the feel of the tongue there, it will at least teach them to be aware of what the tongue is doing (which is probably half of your problem). Then send them home to practice.


Ha! No problem Ryan, it's a rant worth having.

Working with on-camera host talent who perform VO for the rest of the show, this is a standard gripe of mine. They're great on-camera, lively, engaging, funny, and interesting. But put them in a room by themselves with a mic in their face and it's clear they've never heard of a diction class let alone taken one. It falls into the same camp of having a $6,000 guitar doesn't make you a better guitarist, a U87 doesn't give you pro VO talent.

Like you, I have a series of tricks to attempt to lessen mouth noise at the recording stage. But regardless of what I do, I find the most reliable way to reduce mouth noise is with the pencil after the recording's done.

It used to make me crazy going through narration trying to clean it all out. It wasted a huge amount of time and, you're right, it sounded too clean. Recently I've turned to ignoring the mouth noise (as much as possible) and putting it off until after I have at least a dialog and music stem together as well. It gives me a bit of perspective on where the mix is headed and how much the mouth noise actually sticks out.

My most recent show had such a small budget and tight turn around with such awful mouthy narration (recorded somewhere else) that I turned to Waves' X-Click and X-Crackle. Using it very lightly, it turned out a passable result. Didn't catch everything, but also didn't sound artificial. I don't know if I'd lean on it when I have the time to draw clicks out, but in a pinch it was very useful.


But how do you really feel about this? Haha. I totally get it, it drives me crazy too! As a plus to us, you've compiled some cool tips during your rant. Thanks.

You are talking about those clicks right? I don't think it's the "wetness in the mouth" but rather the dryness. So I find that making them sip on water prior to every take (or when it's a problem) helps a lot. The main thing I noticed is that it happens when the talent is nervous and his/her mouth dries up, so I really put some effort into trying to relax them.

  • Thanks, Andrew! Really? You find it's helped you a lot? The guys I have take sips before just get super-clicky because they have that water in their mouth making noise...
    – Utopia
    Jul 28, 2010 at 6:06
  • Water is what I always ask people to use, works for me and does reduce the "clack".
    – ianjpalmer
    Jul 28, 2010 at 9:54

No coffee or milk based drinks. Apple or watermelon helps stop mouth clacks.

Izotopes RX plugin is very good in the spectral mode to remove all the problematic mouth noises


Granny smith apples.. One client at the studio swears by em. He does a large amount of narration.


"Hire" an intern and teach her/him how to draw out all the clicks using Pro Tools' pencil tool.

  • Hmmmmmm - I'd say that unless you're paying said intern to do your 'dirty work', that this is the short end of the wedge as far as exploiting those who desperately want to get into the industry as it devalues the work that we all do and also the aspirations of those who want to get work (this also goes for any area of unpaid work within any part of the media, advertising, film etc) but this is all of course imho.
    – soundbird
    Nov 8, 2010 at 11:20
  • ...yeah, I just couldn't bring myself to use a smiley face to indicate that I wasn't being serious. Plus, I thought the notion of having unskilled, unpaid people destructively editing waveforms played for comedy all on its own.
    – AdamAxbey
    Nov 8, 2010 at 14:29
  • heh - sorry - sense of humour failure on my part as it happens far too much all over the industry and there really are people who do that. :o/
    – soundbird
    Nov 8, 2010 at 19:03

Have to say I'm actually pulling back from being overly clinical on the dialog cleanup - it all passes QC etc but after listening back to one show I thought it lacked life or a bit of naturalness because I'd totally overdone it.

As for cutting it out at the recording stage, I've tried most things and some artists really are just 'noisy'. As mentioned above, the good ones know their voice and know retakes are a part of the process. Kids dialog on the other hand are just hard work full-stop ;-)

  • @Dom Lawrence - I totally agree. You definitely can go too far into cleaning if you're not careful. Jul 28, 2010 at 14:08
  • Dom, you're right--some artists are just noisy. There are VO actors I've worked with who just sound clean, and there are equally talented and experienced actors who are click city. Jul 28, 2010 at 17:22

Water has not be helpful for me and coffee makes it worse. Some of the talents I use to record will make this noise and some not. Some are not even conscious that they are doing it and some keep trying to hide the gum they were chewing when they came. But most of them will thank any advice that will help them to improve their performance. So my advice is to keep making them aware of this, I´m sure it can be avoided with practice.

If this doesn´t work, nothing makes my mouth drier than brushing my teeth.


It can take a very long time. I've done one major dialogue editing project. Izotope RX, like mentioned before is great, just like Waves X-noise.

I used to edit all dialogue in sound forge. Using basic stuff like simply cutting out clicks or editing the click away via the pencil tool. Adobe's audio editor features a nice spectral editor and some nice brushes like the stamp tool etc. Both programs are fast and easy.

Maybe the most important thing with dialogue/VO editing is making good decisions and acting on your instinct. Don't waste too much time on things people will not hear. Also: are you working on headphones? headphones will drive you mad ;)


I just read a pro VO talent's advice on this: drinking lots of water is the solution but it has to be at least 2 hours before recording to give your body time to thoroughly hydrate.


Try sucking air into the mouth as if you were using a straw, get them to use as much force as possible. This temporarily dries out the mouth, but you have to make sure that the person is comfortable swallowing their own saliva.

  • I think I'll try this. It's pretty much the only thing I haven't! Thanks for the rapid reply!
    – Utopia
    Jul 28, 2010 at 5:47

I have had this problem both in radio and tv. It helps if the actor or VO artist is experienced and is aware of this problem. It is terrible to get a novice in the booth who is totally unfamiliar with working in such an environment. I have had mixed responses from both experienced pros and new comers. What I find, apart from making sure their mouths are not too moist is to get the right distance to the mic after a few rehearsals to assess the actors voice and potential problems. But clicks will always be a hurdle in the process of recording and editing. Mic placement is silly, I don't understand why people say this.

Anyway, good luck with it and if I find anything else, I will file another answer.

  • Thanks a lot. Yeah - I've battled this problem for 8 years. I think the key is getting a pro who knows about it and has found out how to not make noise...
    – Utopia
    Jul 28, 2010 at 6:28
  • 1
    Also when you work with a pro there's never an issue asking for retakes because of mouth noise either in my experience.
    – ianjpalmer
    Jul 28, 2010 at 9:53
  • @ianjpalmer Yeah - that's exactly right.
    – Utopia
    Sep 27, 2010 at 17:02

I am a voice actor and I am aware of this problem because I am also a sound designer and mixer. It is a major problem because that's just how the mouth works. Before I go to a voice recording, I tend to practice some lines from where ever and hear if some of the words become a click, and I take a note of the word and the movement of my tongue for that those letters, strangely, it is different for me everyday. I also only drink water and soda before I go.

I often curse at myself in the booth when I hear it and redo the take. I recently did a 7 hours narration from home and there were some clicks, but I found that there is a click remover in adobe audition that works. It doesn't produce any annoying sounds.

  • Really? Adobe Audition? I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the reply! Voice actor? What types of things do you do besides Narration - or is that mainly what you do?
    – Utopia
    Sep 21, 2010 at 5:23
  • I do mostly character acting, I actually hate doing narration to be honest. It got that "reading" feel no matter how you spin it. Unless you do a character narration, like Treasure Island. In Adobe audition there is a feature called click/pop eliminator that works wonderful for me, also for sound recordings I've done which turned out with a click or two. Sep 21, 2010 at 22:39

Voice clicks are a royal pain in the arse!

Artist awareness is the main part imho.

Anyone who is aware that they may have this problem should steer clear of milk and dairy products, sugary foods and drinks, coffee and alcohol before they have sessions. Harsh but fair. If you're a pro athlete, you don't eat an entire cake the day before a race, so, if people want to do their jobs well, then they should look out for it.

We have a sign up in our reception by the coffee pot asking voice artists to think twice as coffee can create voice clicks and therefore cost us engineers time and their (and our) client money cleaning it up.

I agree that it's more to do with the dryness of the mouth and I have found that green apples and also good apple juice help, and you can also get products like Thayers dry mouth spray which I have seen used and working well. Don't just ask your artist to have a sip of water - get them to have a good ole swill around!

It also seems to be worse in some older artists.

I would also like to point out that some artists simply aren't aware as they think that they're 'hearing more' in their cans. If you feel that an artist has a problem, then pull them to one side away from all clients and have a quiet word. Failing that - it might even be worth a call to their agent. Sometimes engineers will tell the client that the voice is really clicky without the voice artist actually knowing - therefore the client may not hire them again as they're deemed 'hard work' meanwhile, the artist is oblivious!

I tend to edit in protools and have become expert in pulling clicks out - a pain in the arse as it is, but I would also like to recommend Adobe Audition as you can program quick-keys as de-clickers.


Oddly enough, with all this talk of the pencil tool, I'm surprised no one has suggested an actual pencil. I've actually seen some engineers (who I really trust that have several Grammy's on their wall***) have the singers practice with a pencil or pen in their mouth. What it does is it teaches them to enunciate without using their tongue. Stick a pen in your mouth and try speaking for a while. Pay attention to what it does when you try to get things to sound right. It teaches you to speak with your diaphragm, vocal chords, your lips and mouth.

* Not that I trust them because of their honors and awards though. I trust them because they're actually good. These are the types of engineers that can tell if you tuned up with a different guitar tuner the day before.

  • I'm not telling my actor to put a pencil in their mouth. Performance first. It's our job to fix it. Apr 7, 2011 at 6:10
  • @David - Well, it really depends on the voice "talent" and how you bring it up to them. There are delicate ways to get them excited or willing to improve their performance. On the other hand, just as much as it is sometimes our job to clean up sub-par recordings and performances (and sometimes it's not), It's also their job to deliver a proper performance. There are too many factors involved here. I was simply making a suggestion I know to work. The semantics of whether and how they are implemented is a different story. Apr 7, 2011 at 9:35

I haven't dealt with VO, so my suggestion may be moot, but have them use their stage / outside voice. More projection on the stuff they intend may allow you to record at a lower volume, and reduce the clicks.


I have only recorded Voiceovers a handful of times. One actor used a apple to help with his performances in addition to drinking water occasionally.


One more very useful tool for editing I did not see mentioned here before is the Click and Crackle Remover plugin included in Sony SoundForge versions 9 and up. I've edited a hell of a lot of dialogue lines for games, and even though most clicks you can work out quickly by hand (as the waveform display in Sound Forge is very accurate for this sort of work), there's always some you just can't get rid of and drive you up the wall.

I've mapped the Click and Crackle Remover plugin to a shortcut key so when I press it the plugin window pops up, I quickly adjust the sliders/settings (or not) and hopla, job done. Works like a charm - big headache saver!

But yes - I do agree: it's also important to see your lines of dialogue within a larger context, and to not obsess over clicks. I've always felt I'm mainly taking out clicks for myself... and other audio people perhaps :)

Sorry - I have not enough experience with actually recording VO to give tips on how to prevent clicks in the recording stage, although I've been told once that giving an actor Listerine or similar mouthwash should help... No idea if that's true though!


I have two sugestions. First try using a click removal tool that is usually used for cleaning up vinyl records. It will identify and remove sounds with fast transients such as tongue clicks, and leave other sounds with slower transients. Also try a different mic. You don't have to record everything with a U87 (which has an enhanced HF peak - right at the click frequency) A mic wth a less pronounced HF will sound fine - it will just sound like the mic was a little further away (as air absorbs high frequencies more than mids).


I just found this thread after recording about an hour of voiceover and driving myself crazy trying to reduce my clicks. I do a lot of narration that then gets sent to a producer for cleanup and final production. But it's annoying and embarrassing to send out a file filled with clicks! So I end up doing a fair amount of manual cleanup before i send it out. I've tried several filters in Audacity,but so far, no magic bullet.

I do find that the granny smith apple idea works pretty well, at least for a few minutes into recording. But the discussion about better articulation is interesting. I've found that the more I articulate, the more clicks I hear. Perhaps because the tongue is working hard to be clear, and that can cause some freezing up or something. But I'll play with that further.

I also find that if I can humidify my studio before I start, that helps a lot, too -- just using a room humidifer. Obviously can't leave it on for recording, so the usefulness is limited. But that also reminds me that this problem seems worse in the dry winter months.

Thanks for all the ideas! MT

  • Thanks for the answer and welcome to SSD! Good point on the articulation. I also like the humidifier idea, but is that going to be good for microphones? The main VO mic I use has a large price tag on it and I don't want to endanger it's life.
    – Utopia
    Dec 30, 2010 at 2:43
  • Thanks, Ryan! And good point about humidifiers and mics. Maybe not so smart...or at least, maybe the point is to humidify the speaker--either by sitting them in a humidified space for a while to prep, or having them to a quick neti pot session (I'm also a new fan of that), then send them into the safe dry sound booth for a stint. I'm also trying something else new today: Breathe Right strips. Very glam -- not, but I think it's helping to just keep the nasal passages nice and airy, so there's less chance of disgusting noises making their way to the mic. cheers, all! MT
    – user774
    Dec 31, 2010 at 16:51

Pencil tool, null point editing and high pass filters. There isn't such thing as a mouth noise, wind or p-pop that can't be cleaned with skill.

  • I mainly do dialog for animation, games, and commercials, but I've done audio books too. You get pretty quick at it with some practice and a kensington turbomouse in protools. The trick is to draw as little as possible, mostly the transients near the null point. As far as talent tricks, the best thing is for the talent to be well rested. I believe it has something to do with the salivary glands, and I notice fatigue is a factor as well. I've used a spray for dry mouth to great effect, but the talent has to use it a lot. The apple or apple juice is BS. Airflow is also important. Apr 7, 2011 at 6:09
  • I don't remember this being as big a deal when recording to 1/4". I think this wasn't as big an issue with analog tape because it didn't capture the transients like digital does. I wonder if a tape simulation plug in would help mitigate it? Apr 7, 2011 at 6:13
  • @David, ah, pencil tool, not trick... •pulls foot from mouth and shuts up•
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 8, 2011 at 17:41

X-Click and x-crackle work wonders. They rarely get rid of the entire click, but they do a lot to soften it to where it's no longer much of an issue. Perfect if you doing hours worth of VO.


Like some have said X-Click/Crackle works wonders. I personally love WaveArts restoration package as its low cpu usage.

However, each VO artist is different.

However as you're opposed to practical advice, I can only say what has worked good for me.
Use a boom mic and point it at the persons chest / diaphram. This should eliminate MOST of the mouth noises while retaining the majority of the clarity of sound.


I have never had mouth click problems when I was using tape and really working close to the mic. If they were there I never heard them. This clicking thing is amplified in the digital format and you can see the clicks very clearly when looking at the wave file. I wind up lowering the volume on the clicks or deleting them unless the noise is over speech and then you can't do anything but re-do. I've tried working farther away from the mic and even talking across it and still those clicks appear. It was recommended that I buy a compressor and run my mic through it. The various settings will squash any clicks for a smooth voice track. Any and all comments welcome. It's the only way we're gonna find out what really does the trick.

Ed [email protected]


Even I am not as experienced with VO recordings as some of You are, I would say: try a different recording chain. A ribbon mic with a different preamp.

And any drink without sugar.

That helped me quite some time.

BTW, this site is sooo great.´was living under a stone for Not finding it earlier.

Good luck!


I had a very famous Danish director in the studio once, who took some anti-depressive medication which made his mouth dry out and make a lot of clicks.

I was prepared and asked around on the internet and the answer was to make him eat apples.

It worked!

We had two sessions of voice over for a feature film, and the click noises were greatly reduced by the apples...


I want to thank you for this posting which I found in my desperate search for HELP!!! I am a novice audiobook narrator and, as such, must also act as my own audio "engineer." I'm finding my biggest hurdle is my own biology, specifically in the nasal and oral cavities -- not to go into too much gory detail. The editing of my pieces has been tortuous, to the point of making me question why I'm entering this field. I've tried all the "potions" and suggestions regarding eating and drinking and nothing seemed to work. The comments here regarding elocution lessons got me thinking about what's actually going on in the oral cavity, with the structures interacting in a viscous environment. Since attempts at adjusting the viscosity have failed, I figured maybe I should reduce the mechanical interactions when speaking as much as possible through control over the movements within, by keeping the inner cheeks close to the teeth, with only as much tongue and mouth movement as necessary. It takes some practice, but my initial results are very promising! Vocal instructors may take issue with this, but I am so aware of the agony you engineers are experiencing, that this is a direction that I really want to explore to the fullest. It's my job to make the raw product as easy for you as possible. Thanks!


wow Utopia you really tried them all but i do understand your frustration, i personally deal with this issue everyday and i haven't found a magic solution yet however here what we do:

  • educate the talent ( we have many pro voice actors but also non pro and by explaining them the issue makes them more clicks aware when speaking as a result we get better takes, even with people who have piercing on their tongue and believe me those guys can sound like alva noto music when speaking)

  • i may be totally wrong here but we noticed that using those spongy pop filter/wind shield and positioning the mic not right in front of their mouth attenuate those sounds, there are still there but not so prominent

  • we simple use water and apple ice tea or juice, but ask them to swallow more often to keep their mouth neither too wet nor too dry, i think with the apple or anything containing apple i got the best result.

  • lastly... well, we actually clean the mouth clicks by hand using spectral frequency view, which is very time consuming.


Clicking often comes from the palette at the top of the mouth, so I usually find that tilting the mic at a downwards angle helps reduce it. This doesn't eliminate the clicks completely but does noticeably reduce it.


Jrock, mouth noise can be easily removed by zooming into the waveform at the sample level - i.e. the highest zoom your DAW can manage. It will look spiky at the top as opposed to the usual rounded off waveform of regular audio. The important thing to do is to remove it at the start and end of the cycle or cycles if it's more than one revolution long. Always cut at the zero crossing and do a tiny crossfade if need be. But, if you cut at the zero crossings, most times you won't even need to crossfade the edit.

The easiest way to find the mouth noise is to scrub across the audio. You'll hear the regular audio as low end-ey and warm, the mouth noise will sound like a click or tick. Zoom in and look for the few cycles of the waveform that don't look like the rest of it, this is your mouth noise. I work in audiobooks and music too and you can completely remove 100% of mouth noise without it being noticeable, tedious as hell but do-able

  • This is how I do all my dialogue edits actually, they get a full pass of this type of cleaning. Truly the only way to get rid of every last one of them unfortunately. Oct 20, 2012 at 7:56

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