How to use Adobe Audition to remove plosives in audio

Plosives are common problems found in dialogue audio. There's an easy way to fix it with Adobe Audition.

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Ant Pruitt

Some people assume that editing audio for creative projects is a daunting task. They're right. It is. Well, some of it is. 

I'd like to share one of the easiest ways to correct a common problem in dialogue audio—plosives, which can be fixed within a few seconds quite easily in Adobe Audition. Here's how. 

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What is a plosive? 

Plosives are specific sounds in speech, which comes from saying letters such as "t," "k," or "p." When speaking these letters, you naturally expel a quick burst of air as you enunciate. Think of the word "pickles." When speaking this word into a microphone, you'll record the word, but just as you're saying the first letter the microphone will capture that burst of air as sounds. Typically, it is a deep bass sound with high amplitude. This can be disruptive to your listeners or viewers when they hear it. 

How to fix plosives in audio?

There are a couple of ways to fix plosives. The best fix is to be mindful of how you or your talent speaks into the microphone. A windscreen or pop filter is also an easy way to reduce plosives from being recorded. Pushing the mic away from the talent can help, but you risk the audio levels being too low. Or, depending on the mic, you can put the mic right onto the talent's lips to disrupt the burst of air. Ever noticed musicians on stage singing into a mic with their lips on the mic? There's a reason for that. 

However, if you have to fix the plosives in post, Adobe Audition makes it easy with the FFT filter effect. Audition allows you to view the audio waveform. In most cases, the plosive will be easily visible as it spikes the waveform. See Figure A as an example.

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Figure A

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Once you identify the plosive, you can play it back just to be sure. Again, it will sound like air being rushed into the microphone. 

Now, let's remove the plosive. First, use the time selection tool ("t" on your keyboard) and highlight the problem area of your audio. If you have a hard time selecting the range of audio, you can zoom in on the timeline by scrolling your mouse wheel to get a better view (Figure B). 

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Figure B

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Navigate to the FFT filter via the Effects menu and select Filter and EQ, then select FFT Filter (Figure C). 

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Figure C

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The FFT filter has several built in presets. Specifically, there is a preset called "kill the mic rumble" (Figure D).

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Figure D

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This is the perfect preset to use to fix plosives found in your dialogue audio. After you select the preset, simply click the apply button. You'll notice your waveform will change, and the peak will be reduced (Figure E). Upon playback, you'll hear that the plosive is minimized.

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Figure E

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There you have it. Removing plosives from audio is as easy as a few clicks of your mouse or keyboard shortcut. Of course minimizing plosives prior to recording is the key, but if they are captured, you can work through them with Adobe Audition. 

What tips do you have for removing plosives in audio? Are you using Adobe Audition? Let me know in the comments below. 

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