This article aims to help voiceover artists with the much-complained-about problem of mouth clicks on voiceover recordings.
People think that mouth clicks are the same as having bad looks – you just have to deal with them. But it’s not true! Very, very few people have physiological problems which affect their mouth noise. The vast majority of people are just not doing it right!
You can edit mouth clicks from voiceover recordings after the event quite easily once you know how, but this is time-consuming and a pain in one’s posterior.
So, I’m going to show you how to get rid of mouth clicks, once and for all.
What are Mouth Clicks?
Mouth clicks are often referred to as clicky mouth, dry mouth or mouth noise in the voiceover industry.sites They can occur for a number of different reasons. They are also incredibly off-putting.
Having bad mouth clicks can stop you getting hired at auditions and can most definitely stop you getting re-hired.
“I myself have even re-recorded an entire 5-hour session with a new voiceover artist …because the original lady was too noisy. It would have cost us more to edit her than to pay another VO. That’s the detrimental effect mouth clicks can have. “
Mouth-clicks sounds like little clicks or pops that are during, before or after speech. Almost all human beings have some kind of mouth noise when they talk. It’s caused by the tongue, teeth and saliva creating little bubbles, clicks and pops as the speech is made.
Normally when we talk to people we don’t hear their mouth clicks, unless they are exceptionally prevalent or they are very dehydrated (usually hungover)! Our ears tend to filter out the little clicks that we do hear as irrelevant.
Paying Attention to Dehydration
Typically, smokers of 200 Marlboro’s a day are more clicky than others, but then so are those who drink a lot of coffee in the mornings. Again, this is all down to being dehydrated; both cigarettes and caffeine are diuretics, meaning that they effectively sap the water from your body!
In point of fact, the reason that being dehydrated makes you clicky is that your natural saliva is less wet. => Less water in the mouth means your mouth is drier and stickier. => Sticky saliva means mouth clicks.
So that’s being dehydrated. But it’s not all just about dehydration. Ironically though:
Being Over-Hydrated Can Also Cause Lots of Mouth Clicks!
Of course, this isn’t actually true, but it isn’t as silly as it sounds. Voiceover artists who are dehydrated tend to gulp down as much water as they can in a short space of time. Having lots of water in the mouth is going to make the action of the tongue just as likely to make mouth noises as a sticky mouth.
If We Don’t Normally Hear Mouth Clicks in Speech, Why Do We Hear It On Recordings?
Mouth clicks are emphasised as part of the recording & post-production process.
The audio signal is recorded and then the post-production process of compression is applied to the voiceover recording.
“Compression effectively reduces the ratio between the loudest parts of the speech waveform and the quietest parts of the speech waveform. You can think of compression like putting the waveform in a vice and squashing the loudest bits closer to the quietest bits.”
This has an interesting net effect: the overall volume becomes quieter so you need to turn it up for it to be as audible as it was when you delivered it into the mic. (Normally done either through volume increase or normalisation)
(It’s imperative to understand here, that all vocal recordings must be compressed or they cannot be mixed with any other audio. So before you say it, no you can’t miss out the compression step!)
Confused? Ok, let’s use pictures to help!
Take a look at this image of a speech waveform with a click in it (highlighted in white) before compression is applied:
Now take a look at it after compression – the click is the same size, the rest of the waveform is ‘smaller’:
And finally let’s turn the whole waveform back up to the same audible level:
You can clearly see that the mouth click is now much louder than it was before, relative to the original recording. Not only have we raised up the noise floor with compression, we’ve made the mouth clicks louder too.
So the Voiceover Recording and Post-Production Process is Making Mouth Clicks Worse?
Yep – that’s right.
So now you know that in advance, it makes sense to try and eradicate the problem at source. For every mouth click you accidentally perform, you will end up with a much louder and more audible mouth click on the finished recording.
“Yes, you can edit out mouth clicks after the event, but it’s a pain in the arse and time-consuming – so get it right at source!”
Ok, well that’s all well and good, but how do we get it right during the recording process??
Step 1 – Make Sure You’re Properly Hydrated Before The Session
Why? As I’ve mentioned before…
Lack of hydration = less water in the mouth = sticky saliva = mouth clicks.
The problem with hydration though, is that the body can only take in water at a certain rate. Downing two litres of water 10 minutes before a session is of no use whatsoever. Your body will not have enough time to distribute this evenly around the body and into the mouth consistently. The result of this is that you have too much water in your mouth as you’re always drinking to catch up. Alas, then, you are still dehydrated at the start of the session.
The secret is that you need to start hydrating at least two hours before your session starts. Take in enough water to make sure that you are properly hydrated.
Water – The Giver of Life! (And Click-Free Recordings)
I had a chap say to me in our Elite Voiceover Mentoring Program recently that he was confused, because he regularly drank two litres but was still dehydrated. It turns out he was drinking two litres of Coca-Cola. Which is a diuretic, so of course…he would stay dehydrated.
When we talk about hydration – we mean water – water is all you need.
Being properly hydrated not only means that you won’t have as clicky a delivery but it also means that you are protecting your vocal cords. Your vocal cords are two pieces of vibrating mucous membrane that vibrate and rub together at high-speed. If your mucous levels go down (due to dehydration) the cords cause more friction when they rub together and you end up with a sore throat. Your voice will get deeper and more gravelly.
Cue George Best on any given morning….
So avoid any diuretics – coffee, caffeine, Coke, dairy, tea, Red Bull and so on – and just drink water.
Incidentally, if you have an early morning session, it’s important to start your hydration the night before as we lose a lot of water when we are sleeping. Proof of this is the fact that we always need a wee in the morning. If you have an early morning session and are dehydrated, the chances are you won’t have enough time to hydrate fully before the session. On my long-form projects, we start at 9am and so hydration the previous night is drilled into my voice-artists!
Step 2 – Sort Out Your Placement and Projection
Your distance to the microphone and how loud you project are key components in fighting the mouth-noise battle.
If you consider then the extreme example of me shouting at you from 30 feet away, the relative balance between the volume of my dialogue to my mouth noise is going to be huge. You will never hear my mouth clicks. Delivering dialogue louder does not increase mouth noise as well, as mouth noise is just the tongue, saliva and teeth working together.
Likewise, if I put my mouth next to your ear and whisper to you, you are much, much more likely to hear my mouth clicks.
No matter how loud you shout, or how soft you whisper, the mouth noise and clicks will remain the same volume…
Both Position and Projection are Linked
This is replicated in the same way in front of a microphone. We have to control the input gain (input recording level) so that you are recording at a nice, appropriate level which isn’t too quiet/loud and isn’t clipping.
If you are close to the mic (say 3 inches) and whispering, you will need to turn up the input gain to record at a suitable level. Therefore, the dialogue is quiet, and the noise floor and your mouth noises are louder, comparatively.
If you are further away from the mic (say 7-8 inches, use a ruler, don’t ask your husband) and projecting slightly louder than normal speech, you will need to turn the input gain down. Therefore, the dialogue is nice and loud and the noise floor and your mouth clicks are quieter, comparatively.
So the headline here is – back off the mic, and project more = less mouth noise.
Incidentally, if you are wanting to do that close-up and personal style of bass-proximity effect commercial recording – you just have to deal with the fact that you will have more post-production editing to do to remove the mouth clicks – simple as that – you’ve just got a nice rich, bassy, commercial sound – you can’t have your cake and eat it!!
Step 3 – Sip During Sessions
Is this Hugh banging on about hydration…again???
Yes, I’m afraid it is. You see, most voice artists forget that while you are speaking during a voiceover session, you are dehydrating. The more you talk the more you’re using your vocal cords, the more your saliva-mucus-balance is reducing, and the more clicky you will become.
“It’s perfectly normal for a voice artist to come into the booth, click-free only to sound like she’s eating space-dust 45 minutes later.”
if you remember, I said that the body can only take in water at a certain rate. You’ve done all the good work in hydrating yourself before the session and now you’re dehydrating. You need to keep up with the water drinking throughout.
This…is the mark of a pro. I’m always terribly pleased when I see a VO come to a session armed with a bottle of water. I’m also disappointed when they aren’t.
A Bottle a Day Keeps the Voice Director at Bay
So, constant sipping of water is essential – I usually get my VO’s to sip a little every 10-15 lines or so. Yes, you will be on the toilet in every single break, but you will be re-hired because your voice sounds delicious.
If you don’t do this – especially in modern air-conditioned studios – clickyness will ensue! You have been warned!
Just remember though:
- Sip the water
- Wash it around your mouth
- Properly swallow the water – otherwise, you will be clicky from too much water in the mouth!
Step 4 – Forget the Green Apple Myth!
Ok, so look, everyone knows that if you eat half a green apple, your clicky-mouth will cease almost instantly. In fact, this works with anything that has that sharp, citric acid. This cleans through the mouth and eradicates the nasty, clicky, dehydrated saliva.
But…I am here to tell you that:
- Eating green apples to stop clicky mouth is a temporary fix only. It never lasts more than five or ten minutes before the clicks are back
- Eating green apples is a last resort and most certainly isn’t a substitute for steps 1-3.
You want headlines? I got headlines – concentrate on steps 1-3 and you won’t need green apples.
Unless you’re terribly hungover. Which does happen. And sometimes can’t be avoided.
You’re an artist after all.
And in that case..
You’re on your own.
Dwight Stickler says
I have been a fan of yours since I purchased a course through groupon some time ago. Always spot on as far as advise goes and wonderfully informant, I enjoy your posts thoroughly. Please keep up the good work.
Hugh Edwards says
Thank you! Kind words indeed. Glad we are being useful. 🙂
Bob Madi says
Thanks for the article, I will try that the next time since i am having lot of clicks recently at the studio 🙂
Colin McLean says
To misquote Tony Blair .. Hydration, hydration, hydration. Sometimes time pressures mean that I’m submitting auditions (for one or other P2P site for example) first thing in the morning. They are invariably not my best efforts. I drink about half a litre perhaps, but then medics tell me I’ve just ‘lost’ a litre overnight. Still in deficit. But thank you for this, particularly the pictorial evidence. I’ll redouble my efforts to eliminate the clicks, and save all that precious editing time … Colin
Hugh Edwards says
Yep – that’s the key – and don’t forget the placement. 🙂 Glad you found it useful!
Patricia Corkum says
Thank you for the VERY thorough explanation, Hugh! My coach always said it was ESSENTIAL to HYDRATE at ALL times, which made me think – if fish could talk they’d be at the top of the VO foodchain! I appreciate the background behind all of the points – it all makes good sense. Take care!
Hugh Edwards says
You’re welcome Patricia. I’m glad it was of some use! 🙂
Thanks for all the good info, Hugh (and the humor!) I have another question though, for me, it seems like I actually have too much saliva rather than too dry a mouth, any ideas or suggestions?
Hugh Edwards says
Yep. This is also relatively common believe it or not. The analogy is kids playing computer games who forget to blink….essentially you’re not allowing yourself to relax and to swallow as you normally do; tempered with professionality. It takes a little bit of work, but you just wait for a normal paragraph break, take a pause, swallow, and then ‘inhale, pause, deliver’ to start the next paragraph. A good way to learn to do this and to relax with your deliveries (by which I mean, relax in terms of your approach, not style’) is to open a book, read for half an hour out loud while recording yourself, and pay attention to it – you’ll forget about it after a while…and you will learn to take swallow breaks normally. 🙂
We tackle this kind of thing in our mentoring program if you’re interested. 🙂
Trevor Croft says
Good advice, Hugh, as water pooling under the tongue is a major cause of clicks.
Here’s another idea for those of us who can’t wait until the paragraph to swallow: instead of punching-in when we make a mistake, many of us clap our hands, snap our fingers, or make some sort of intentional pop with our mouths when we flub a line. We keep rolling, back up to the last breath, and repeat the flubbed phrase, getting it right the second time. The clap, snap, or whatever creates a vertical spike in the wave form, allowing us to see where the error is on the first pass of editing.
Why not do the same thing to facilitate a swallow? Start a phrase, snap your fingers (or whatever), swallow (or sneeze, or ____), and then pick up the same phrase and continue. All the bad stuff will be deleted in the first pass of editing, and the added benefit is that you will see where the swallow is when editing, eliminating the possibility that one will get by and remain on the final audio (compression brings out swallowing noise, as well as mouth noise).
Paul Cheall says
Yep I agree with this one. I find, for me, a dry mouth is much better than a moist one so whenever I feel a need I pause, swallow, and make two loud clicks at the side of my mouth which makes editing easier later without disrupting my flow.
Thank you so much Hugh!
I am relatively new to endeavors within the voiceover industry.
Thus far I have mildly “wet my whistle” with a few voice-overs and jingles (for radio spots) in the last decade.
(My background experience has been with singing, dancing, acting, and instrumentals for stage shows, tv and recordings.)
I am enthused to have found solid footing for increasing my ability and experience for having signed up with GFTB!
Hugh Edwards says
Ah great – thank you Christi! 🙂
If only I had found you 6 years ago I might have a more active career now. I get so tired of scraping the mud off my rear fender.. Thanks Hugh.
I’ve found that there are several different kinds of pops/clicks. There’s (1) light smacking sounds that occur after drinking water, (2) stronger clicky sounds coming from the mouth, and (3) pressure-related vacuum pops further back in the throat, sinuses, or vocal cords.
I have dry mouth because of Sjogren’s Syndrome and that undoubtedly affects all these pops and clicks. But I’ve finally been able to reduce most of the “vacuum pops.” I noticed that these pops almost always occurred when using certain kinds of sounds. If I said the word “straightforward” several times in a row, it would eventually cause a loud “pop” sound at the end of the word. This kind of pop sounds kinda like a billiards ball gently hitting another ball. While the pop frequently occurred in the middle of words, I could always force it to happen when releasing my breath after words like “straightforward”. I could continue holding my breath after saying the word and the pop would only happen once I released and took another breath. Essentially any sound that would close off the vocal cords (and create a vacuum) would cause this pop. (Like the “d” sound.) I had a camera down my nose twice, and my doctor thought my problem was because the thick mucous caused by dry mouth would cover the closure (vocal cords or epiglottis or wherever…I can’t remember for sure) and then pop once it’s reopened.
The most important thing for me to do is relax my abdominal muscles and/or diaphragm. While I’d been taught that using more diaphragm helps protect my voice and keep it from drying out as quickly, I was apparently overdoing it with so much tension that I created a vacuum in my airways or sinuses. That makes the largest difference. I’ve also been using singing exercises called Singing for Snorers (I have mild sleep apnea) that seem to help some. And standing up may play a small role as well.
Hopefully this helps other people!
Meg McNaughton says
Thanks for that. What about mixing a drop of lemon juice with the water? Would that help?
Hugh, I am increasingly impressed with the quality and depth of advice from GFTB. I think this is the first time someone has explained so thoroughly the click issue. I do Hydrate (and as a consequence have to run to the loo frequently) but had not appreciated the effect of compression and the impact 7 inches can have! I have a couple more things to purchase for my new studio audio chain but becoming a member of GVTB is working its way up my priority list. Thank you for what you and your colleagues are doing for the VO industry. Ian Russell – The British Voice
Hugh Edwards says
Hi Ian – ah that’s very kind of you – thanks Ian. Hope to see you inside GFTB soon. 🙂
Howard Ellison says
Yes, always best to fix things at source: you can get a good 5dB more voice relative to clicks simply by throwing away the cans whenever practicable, or turning down the volume. Try it!
Here’s a tech query: do most studios apply lookahead, or at least a very fast attack, when they compress voice? Software or hardware, some compression is too slow to catch a millisecond click.
That’s okay on music or singing, it might add some wanted ‘punch’ to consonants, but it’s not nice on narrative.
Hugh Edwards says
Hi Howard – I’m not 100% sure what you mean as the clicks are usually much lower in db value than the surrounding waveforms, so the compressor wouldn’t be working on them anyway. But lookahead isn’t really necessary on VO – a normal, good quality compressor is fine, and the norm.
Jules Horne says
This is really helpful. Explains relative volume of clicks in the sound mix, and how mic proximity and projection are the first thing to look at.
Also great comment above about perceived volume in the speaker’s ears, which may cause them to drop their projection.
I have a quiet female voice and have tried all the hydration etc tricks. Still having issues.
backing off from the mic
not using cans
standing up for greater projection energy
Am also trying a ribbon mic which seems to smooth some of the highs.
The crucial aha moment for me was:
close-miking and clicks go hand in hand.
Think of those AMSR videos, which are an extreme illustration of this.
If you can’t shift them through hydration and better voice technique, you need to back off the mic.
Hugh Edwards says
J. Christopher Dunn says
Hugh- Great post and worth its weight in water. I’ve started working with kombucha as my mid-morning break voice re-fresher. It seems to have a soothing affect and does an incredible job of cleansing clicky-mouth. I stumbled upon this when a friend of mine offered me to try the fermented tea beverage he’d home brewed. The tart/sweet taste was delicious and then I noticed how well my mouth and cords felt.
Thanks for the post!
Hugh Edwards says
You’re welcome Chris!
Tony Reeves says
Just one small point (from a self taught but mildly sucessful VO) is that surely, parhaps 80% of the time or more, you can hear a click as soon as you make it, so just read that bit again. Yes, it’s still an edit, but it doubles your chance of a good outcome.
I learned long ago to visually recognise what my clicks looked like in the waveform, so it’s quick and easy to delete them. Does everyone do this?
Hugh Edwards says
We do Tony, and once you get used to it, it’s not hard to spot – but it does take a little practice!
Thank you, I’d always been curious about this, not least because it doesn’t happen to me. Seems my continual massive water consumption has yet another benefit! (This one really unlooked for, I was just focused on the health aspects!)
Now, Please, how do you stop hissing Ses? That’s my major problem! A change of microphone (completely different type) helped but I’d love to stop doing it entirely.
Hugh Edwards says
It’s actually very similar Juliette. You project more and back off slightly. Volume is denoted in your vowels and you want the ratio of vowels to sibilants higher = lower sibilants overall. 🙂
Wes Super says
Rock solid, from top to bottom, gratitude everyone! kinda like a lesson of life eh? Annoyances will always be there, but if you keep things balanced, you can cope with them a lot easier-
I’m working on awareness, currently trying to reduce “pop waves” I apparently produce at the leading edge of certain sounds, curious if this is common, or a result of missing a tooth half way back?
Hugh Edwards says
It’s more likely to be your mic position Wes, i.e. facing the mic rather than projecting across it, and therefore not hitting the diaphragm. 🙂
Wes Super says
…and the dance continues… 😉
Debra Stitt says
I found this to be very helpful. I’ve been trying a lot of different things, including dry mouth sprays. One thing I need to ask … will learning to deliver with less mouth and tongue movement, reduce the clicks?
Hugh Edwards says
Hi Debra – there is that train of thought but down that route madness lies! Just sort out the hydration, distance and projection and you should be ok!
Hi Hugh, not sure if my last message got through. What do you think of the iZotope RX-Plug In. It advertises itself as a way to reduce clicks and other mouth noise.
Hugh Edwards says
Hi Tug. Izotope is one of the better ones to be sure. However like all de-clicker plugins you can inadvertently *add in* clicks and bumps so they aren’t a good idea to do in batch processing. 🙂
Hi Hugh, I’m thinking of getting iZotope RX Plug-In which advertises that it can reduce clicks and other mouth noise. Do you have an opinion on it?
serena scott thomas says
Great article and funny too! I’m having quite a lot of issues with clicks right now. I have been very vigilant about hydration which is tricky for me as I am am an avid long distance runner living in Los Angeles. Very hard to stay adequately hydrated here at the best of times. I have cut down on my coffee intake also. A friend says that my mic may be overly sensitive for the job at hand. I am using a Neuman TLM 102. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Hugh Edwards says
No, that’s not the issue. I mean, the TLM 102 does have a little presence on the top end, but it’s really about projection and the ratio of sibilants to vowels – and distance from the mic. ):
Yep, Not to mention, your brain and motor skills are WAY impaired if you are dehydrated, so reading and speech decline as well ! Drink Water !!
Hugh Edwards says
Good point Mike!
you probably shouldn’t be driving whilst doing voice over though… 😉
Hello and thank you.
Do treatments like Biotene (used for Sjogren’s mentioned above) help in a pinch?
Hugh Edwards says
Hi Teresa – we prefer natural ingredients – water and in a pinch, green apples (although that’s a very temporary fix) 🙂
I m sorry to say that all this article just to say drink water was a bit too much. And not even one mention over apple juice…
Hugh Edwards says
Hello – I think you’ve skimmed it then – it says a lot more than that, projection, distance etc. You will hear a thousand different remedies, old wives tales and more misinformation about how to prevent mouth clicks. For the record, Apple Juice does work with green apples due to the acid, however it is a band-aid and doesn’t last long, and not a proper replacement for properly hydrating in the first place. 🙂
Dan Bolivar says
Great article! It’s also good that you clarified the ‘green apple’ myth… quick fixes seldom persist.
Hugh Edwards says
Thanks Dan! 🙂
Marie Élaine Roy says
A long time ago, I had the very unpleasant experience to discover constant clicking sounds after recording an entire audiobook. I thought that my voice was incompatible with highly sensitive microphones and I am still itchy whenever facing a Neumann. I am so happy to read this article Hugh!
Hugh Edwards says
You’re welcome Marie! 🙂
Walter Williams says
Great advice as always Hugh.
This is why I always have a bottle of water at my mixing desk and another one in my sound proof booth. And as u pointed out always carry a water bottle into a recording studio for a session, but NEVER chilled water it’s not as good for the throat. My other secret weapon is Fishermans Friends Originals and between the two you can record voice overs for hours.
If anyone says “I wish I had a deep, heavy voice!”….hit them with a water-balloon. There are various problems created by that….cruel waveforms that are irreparable, ….mud as thick as… mud, ….and artifacts that defy understanding (and mics that just back away, waving a white flag). I will work on the distance factor. Thanks for this.
Adrian Bell says
Enjoyed this article Hugh. Thanks for the reminders.
One aspect to add, if I may, is support from your diaphragm!
Don’t forget that good support there can help reduce mouth clicks. And of course, its usually good practice to support from the diaphragm, anyway.
Another item to make note of is: the sinus cavity. I’ll ask my ENT doctor (he treats folks like Steven Tyler, Sting, Celine and hundreds of other artists) about noises generated by our sinuses that aren’t clear enough. Im pretty certain this is also in unwanted noise ‘culprit!’
Angela Peters | Acting B.A.B.E. Network says
This is a brilliant post. And I’ve just learnt a new trick about the mic placement.
And not only an insightful post, funny too – the coca cola drinker example was excellent 🙂
Don Poremski says
Haven’t yet done any lengthy projects, but read this article aware of clicks and intakes. Scanning through the material beforehand to locate good breathing spots has helped. I am apparently blessed with few diction bad habits and have attributed that to Russian language instruction.
Thanks for your knowledge and instructions.
Donna Fraser says
Cannot emphasize it enough – learn your craft. This, is an important part of it. Keep drilling it home!
William Huntsman says
Excellent article! I have just spent 8 straight months working in a call center, speaking to 30 to 40 clients a day, I used this time to listen to my voice, and found many things that helped me to sound better, and yes, hydration is HUGE!! this is all in preparation for my launch into this new career. I have all the equipment I need, with plenty of practice using it. Now it is time to get real and , with lots of patience, hopefully, successful!
Charles Kelly says
This is useful advice for all speakers. Great article.
I’ve noticed that BBC News readers, one with a very similar name to yours, have an irritating habit of making a clicking noise before they start speaking, particularly after the video clip.
Izotope RX6 (not the elements version) have a NEW:
MOUTH DE-CLICK filter!
Works like magic. Check youtube for that.
Kind regards, Christiaan
Gina Stack says
thank you so much Hugh! This was a great reminder, I needed that.
Suni Mayo-Simpson says
I went to sleep with a headache. I’m still sleepy now. My cuticles are peeling. My throat is rough. My husband says, “you’re dehydrated”. I had no clue that it would also affect (or is it effect? I always get that wrong) my VO work. All I knew was that the clicking was maddening. Which led me here. Thank you Mr. Edwards! I’m fairly new to voice acting with only one published book to my name and am currently recording my second, but am wondering now if I’ve been turned down for other auditions because of the clicking. I just had to rerecord several sections. It’s frustrating, especially when the book is 28 chapters long. I will hydrate and get back at it. Thanks again!
Dan V. says
Wow I’m glad I found this and I hope it works for me. I’ve been getting extremely frustrated with editing my voiceovers. Then of course, I became self-conscious during my narrations and anytime I heard my mouth clicks, I would read the passage again in an attempt to improve it…it just adds to the editing nightmare. I live in dehydration – have for years. I don’t drink much water at all. I drink coffee – about 20 oz. that I sip throughout the day. That’s way down from the amount of coffee I used to drink. I already had the thought that water would help my voice, so I’ve tried to drink more – then became the guy that tries to hurry and drink a lot of water before my sessions. Everything you said makes sense here and I like how you backed it up with clear explanations and further details. This ties it…I finally have to get serious with my hydration. Strange thing is (or maybe I just don’t understand it), I salivate…A LOT. I’m sure my dental hygienist cringes every time I show up for my dentist appointment. I always end up nearly drowning at the dentist. I’m always having to swallow excess saliva when doing my narration, which makes me wonder if being more hydrated will work for me. I think, in an odd way, perhaps my over-production of saliva is maybe caused by the dehydration? Anyway, sorry for the long post, but like I said – I’ve got to give this H2O thing a serious try. Thanks so much for the advice.
I like your tips in this article. They seem pretty easy to get in the habit of doing, and are multi-beneficial. I did, however, notice you didn’t mention the use of “click screens”. Are they not what they’re cracked up to be?
Darrel Harris says
Very informative piece, I will apply the principles of staying hydrated.
Emily Lepore says
This was the most entertaining article I’ve read on mouth clicks. Thanks for the laugh and the advice!
Eric Ekwueme says
Hi Hugh, Could missing teeth be a cause of mouth clicks? The amount of mouth clicks have increased over the years and I feel it’s because I had some of my back teeth removed. Could it really be the case?
Wonderful advice. I hydrate before sessions, but to be fair probably not 2 hours before – must work on that!
My problem – possibly linked – is taking in water partway through sessions, my mouth doesn’t seem to clear of water properly, so I get too hydrated clicks!
Bruce Bowden says
Another great tip that can reduce or eliminate mouth noise is to keep your mouth slightly open as much as possible. This is because it is the opening and closing of the lips that causes most mouth noise and clicks. The popular Voice Actor Bill de Wees recommends this technique.
Michael Clark says
Found an effective remedy if one is not properly hydrated. Beer! Take a sip, swish around the mouth, gargle a bit. Swallow if you like. Lasts for 10-20min. Repeat. Must be a fresh beer, not effective if all the alcohol has evaporated. Helps relaxation too!
Glen Allsopp says
For years I thought the clicks I heard in recordings were some super annoying computer set-up. I’ve even changed microphones because of it. Only recently did I learn they were being made by my own mouth.
This is an incredible guide. Thank you for writing it!
Tuggelin Yourgrau says
Hugh, as usual, terrific advice articulated clearly and with wit. So useful.
Rob Swanson says
Also, scrape your tongue. Take a look at your tongue, gross right? It should be pink, hopefully not with a lot of cracks. When it’s white, yellow, or green (!), use a spoon and scrape the junk off your tongue. Rinse, SPIT (not swallow), repeat, then drink about 8 ounces of water over a 15 minute period, rolling the water over your tongue.
Simon Blood DeVay says
*says in Dalek voice*: “Hydrate! Hydrate! HYDRATE!”
Accept no substitutes, I always have water in the booth, and demolish at least 2½-3L a day.
I am a tea-drinker, a lot of tea; and I mean A LOT! But, on recording days I do only have tea for my very, very first drink. Then it’s water until the job’s done.
Jason Felisbret says
This is a great article chock-full of good information. I suffered from amplified mouth clicks at the end of engineering an audiobook and was quite unhappy with painstakingly going through the entire book to make corrections. An ounce of prevention will be worth a pound of cure!
Such useful pointers – especially the projection and distance from the mic. Another thing I have found is certain letter combinations tend to lead towards me clicking. I find that if I am being very clicky some tongue twisters will help cut that down. (I usually just throw them into my warm-up as a matter of course.)
Peta Taylor says
Just went to the tap again. I realise I don’t wash water around my mouth when I sip. So useful. And funny.Thank you
I just received the “back off a bit and project” advice from my mentor, responding to a recording sent for his evaluation. Between that, the tongue clean and the water consumption tips, can’t wait to get back in and try the new techniques. By the way, I’ve found that keeping the mouth slightly open also cuts down on the clicks that happen when lips meet and part. Thanks to all for the insightful feedback.
Angela B. Spragg says
I just wanted to share two things:
1. Thank you for the great blog and tips.
2. I have been hydrating during reading and studying this blog.
RICHARD CROXFORD says
Sage and useful advice yet again! Many thanks.
Steffen Gammelgaard says
I just wanted to share my experience, since it is a bit different and might help anyone in the same situation. I have been dealing with clicking sounds for half a year now which did not go away with the above mentioned solutions. The clicking sounded like it came from just behind my left ear but an ear doctor had a look and told me that nothing was unusual about my ears.
Luckily I found by accident how to create the click sound which suddently seemed to come from behind my soft palate.
I bought a “Nosebuddy” which is designed to pour saltwater from one nose opening to the other to clean it. Then I closed my other nose opening while pouring water so the water rolled down my mouth through the canal, sounds a bit discusting I know, but it cleaned the area and removed my clicking sound! The clicking still comes back once in a while but the trick works every time so I just keep doing it. I add a few drops of oil in the water to help the canal from drying out, it seems to keep the clicking away for a longer time.
This has been helpful. After struggling to get clicks out of the way when recording my podcast, I finally noticed that I was too close to the mic (slaps in the face). Thank you!
Valerie O"Neill says
I read the news (from newspapers) for a radio station for the visually impaired. I’ve just started and have been listening to myself (cringe, wince). I know the administrators are happy with my reading (I have quite a clear voice and read unrehearsed quite well) but I heard my voice click and had no idea what to do. I really appreciate your advice here – and that on sibilants, which I also feel I have an issue with.
Sam Hairston says
These are great tips to follow and I agree 100 %. I have found this example to be very true. Thanks for your professional advice.
Thanks! Drinking a little water every minute or so has made a huge improvement! Thanks again!
Wonderful article. I seem to have an additional problem, though, that I hope you or someone can help me solve: namely that in addition to mouth noise I also seem to have jaw noise that I doubt hydration will help. It sounds like clicking immediately after certain consonants. There is no pain, and I really never noticed it until I heard it on one of my first recordings one day. I’m a new voice artist, and I’m feeling a little devastated that I may not be able to do this after all. I’m hoping somebody has a fix!
I found that staying away from eating any dairy foods, like cheese or yogurt, for example helps prevent mouth clicks. Too much mucus in the mouth and throat from eating those foods especially before a recording session, can build up causing those extra sounds.
Kate Ashton says
I’ve never seen on this or any other advice/guide about mouth clicks etc advice about brushing your teeth! I find one of the best things ever if/when my mouth is getting a bit gungy is to brush my teeth – gives an instant mouth clean (?maybe like the green apple trick) – followed of course by the sips of water!! Never seen anyone else give this tip so am I misleading and there’s a good reason for this never being advised by the professionals?
Thank you so much, Hugh. Since the Pandemic I’ve been recording and producing myself more than I ever expected and your advice has been really helpful.