Purging Plosives with Logic Pro

Plosives in your vocals can make or break the recording. Even with a pop filter, they still have a tendency to sneak their way in! Darren Burgos uses Logic to pulverise them out of your mixes.  

“Plosives” in your vocals can make or break the recording. Even with a pop filter, they still have a tendency to sneak their way in! There's a letter in the alphabet that puts fear in the hearts of home recording engineers ...P! The other is B to a lesser extent. 

In this article, I'll show you two ways to remove them without simply stripping away the lows with a high pass filter. I've included a vocal sample so you can experiment with it, or just load up a track you know that has them. If you'll be listening to these samples through an iPad or mobile phone speaker, you most likely will not hear the difference between the samples. Plosives are almost always in the low frequency range, and most of these devices built-in speakers can't replicate frequencies low enough. Use headphones.


Download: audio sample “Plosives Before”


Step 1 - Multipressor: Set band 1 frequency range

Let's first try a method using Logic's Multipressor. This is a multi-band compressor. I'm using this instead of a single band compressor because I want to dynamically lower the volume on the low frequencies only. By default, the Multipressor's band 1 crossover is set to 100Hz, but we need to pull in some higher frequencies. I'll do this by pointing my mouse directly between band 1 and band 2, then clicking and dragging to the right. I’ll set it to around 200Hz.

Set Multipressor's band 1 crossover to 200Hz


Step 2 - Multipressor: Raise threshold on bands 2, 3 & 4

Since we only want to lower the volume on the plosives, set the other three bands' threshold settings all the way up to 10.0dB.

Other threshold settings are set to 10 dB



Step 3 - Multipressor: Peak/RMS, Attack & Release

We want the compressor to respond as fast as it can. Plosives happen very quickly, so set the Peak/RMS to 0ms, the attack to 0.0ms, and the release as far down as it will go to 2.0ms.

Peak/RMS, Attack & Release settings


Step 4 - Multipressor: Threshold & Ratio

Set the Ratio all the way up to 30 so the plosives will be lowered as much as the Multipressor possibly can. Start to drag band 1's threshold down now. For my sample file, about -21.0dB seems to work fine. The idea is to set the threshold high enough so the areas without plosives can play out naturally, but low enough to capture only the plosives. You’ll be able to “see” that it’s working too. Watch the graphic on the band. It should drop only when the plosives hit.

Threshold & Ratio


Step 5 - Multipressor: Lookahead

Push the Lookahead as high as it will go (20.000ms). It’s subtle, but this will anticipate the plosives slightly before they actually happen so the compressor responds even quicker.

Lookahead is set to 20.000ms


Here’s a before and after sample in case your not following along:


Audio Sample “Plosives Before” :


Audio Sample “Plosives After Multipressor” :



This method works pretty good for medium to light plosives, but for more extreme ones, we need something better...


Step 6 - Sample Editor: Make a backup

Let's fix the plosives in Logic's sample editor now. Double-click the audio file you'll be editing, or select it, then press W on your keyboard. Either way the sample editor will open. If you're editing your own recording, make a backup now. You can do this easily by clicking on the file menu and selecting "Create Backup." If you've edited the file beyond your undo steps and want to revert back to the saved copy, simply go back to the Audio File menu again and select Revert to Backup. 

File > Create Backup


Step 7 - Sample Editor: Pencil Tool

Scroll to the area with the plosive. Hit the escape key on your Mac's keyboard and switch to the Pencil Tool. 

The Pencil Tool


Step 8 - Sample Editor: “Erase” the plosive

If you haven't zoomed in far enough, the Pencil Tool acts as the Zoom Tool. Once you've zoomed in far enough though, you'll literally be able to draw out the plosive. Try to follow the natural curve of the waveform before and after the plosive for the best result.

Follow the natural curve of the waveform

Corrected plosive

Here’s the final result with both the Multipressor and the Pencil Tool:



Hope this quick tip helps you get control over you’re P’s and B’s!


Darren started making music on computers when he was a teenager in 1987. His first computer was an Amiga, and when he realized the power of computer-based production, his addiction for making electronic music began. Darren switched to Mac in 1994 and started using Logic Pro. He's been involved in many music projects over the years incl... Read More

Discussion

matde007
I have problems with the last audio file. It cannot be loaded.
Rounik
Thanks matde007,

The final audio sample is fixed.

Enjoy :)
matde007
Great! Thank you!
redlogic
Another method similar to the "pencil tool method" is:

1. Select the plosive in the Sample Editor.
2. Choose Functions > Change Gain and lower the gain of the selected plosive.
LargerLife
And there is another method, specially in Pro Tools, when you HighPass only the plosive section of the sample, with AudioSuite EQ, but its worth process a sample longer than the actual plosive section, to trim and fade it back naturally. I us this and the pencil tool.
LargerLife
And this latter method works also in Logic, with the bounce in place function and the Channe EQ.
flash
Thank you so much. Using this method has really made a difference to the track.

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