Avoiding artifacts with sibilants and breaths

When you are correcting intonation or stretching and squeezing notes, you will find that artifacts appear earlier in the case of breaths, sibilants and certain other consonants than with vowels.

In the interests of achieving the highest possible audio quality, it is therefore advisable:

  • To section off sibilants and any breaths from the vowels, so that they appear as separate blobs
  • To refrain from applying pitch-shifting to sibilants and breaths (which is pointless anyway from a musical perspective)
  • When making timing changes, move sibilants and breaths sideways in their entirety, but without stretching or squeezing them

Visually, sibilants and breaths are easy to identify because they have no pitch curve running through them. Look, for example, at the words “it simplifies” in the following passage:

The two “s” sounds have no pitch curve (1), nor do the breaths (2), nor does the consonant “f” (3). In this example, you would implement the advice given earlier as follows:
Since the “f” in “simplify” is not clearly isolated from the rest of the word, begin by inserting a note separation to section it off.

To make pitch changes, select all possible notes but no “s” sounds or breaths and exclude also the “f”.

To make timing changes, move the notes in question laterally without squeezing the “s” sounds or breaths, using the "s plus one" method:

  • Select in addition to the “s” (or breath) the blob that follows
  • With the Time Tool, click then in the center of the “s” (holding down the Alt key in most cases as you do so) and drag the two blobs to the right or left until you are satisfied with the timing

The same rule applies whether the “s” comes at the beginning or the end of the word: In either case, select it and the syllable that follows. This ensures that stretching and squeezing is confined to the blobs either side of the “s”, whilst the length of the “s” itself remains unchanged.

What if you have a breath and an “s” side by side? The same “plus one” rule applies, only here it’s “breath plus 's' plus one” i.e. you select the breath and the sibilant and the following syllable.