How To Stop Mic From Picking Up Background Noise For Better Audio?

This article provides information about ambient noise and 8 basic tips on how to stop mic from picking up background noise for recording.

by itsaboutmusic | Updated: May 13, 2021

Are your jobs related to audio? If yes then I’m pretty sure this question is the crucial issue arising at your workplace: How to stop mic from picking up background noise for recording?

Who doesn't want the perfect sound quality? But some people have a studio, some only record in a regular room. Some people record vocals, others record musical instruments sounds.

That’s why many different types of noise get into your microphone. Hence, the tips and tricks to get rid of these noises also vary, depending on how you want to improve the audio output quality.

What are major solutions to stop mic from picking up background noise?

  • Make sure the surrounding space or studio is noise-proof
  • Pay attention to your mic sensitivity
  • Equip your mic with at least one of these tools: pop filter, windshield, shock mounts, ground lift adapter, mics isolation shield. Remember to stabilize the attachments.
  • Use computer software to remove noise

What Is Background Noise?

Background noises are unpleasant sounds getting into your mic while recording. They’re usually annoying to our hearing.

Experts classify the characteristics of noise based on the length (duration) and level of these sounds. There’re 3 main types of unwanted sounds as below:

  • Broadband Noise: includes continuous noise like hiss or static noise. The acoustic energy is transmitted over a variety of frequencies and picked up by a microphone.
  • Narrow Band Noise: the acoustic sounds are distributed over a limited range of frequencies. This category consists of constant audio level noises that stay stable over time, mostly caused by improper grounding and poorly insulated cable connection to microphones.
  • Impulse Noise: has a short duration and high frequency. They’re loud and short bust, mainly sharp sounds like pops, clicks, or sounds created by construction equipment.

What Is Background Noise

Other types are noises come from random sources of sounds that vary in frequency and volume.

Therefore they’re quite difficult to determine and completely remove. Some examples are background conversations, traffic, or the weather (rain, wind, etc.).

Among the 3 types, the broadband one is the most annoying since they’re loud and long-lasting. The narrowband noise has a lower frequency and the impulsive noise lasts shorter than continuous noise.

Although they cause less damage to our ears, they’re still disruptive and must be eliminated. They happen all of a sudden and you can’t help but notice them in your records.

How To Stop Mic From Picking Up Background Noise?

1. Make Sure Your Room Setup Is Noise-resistant

The first step is to create a closed, quiet environment and minimizes noise entering (or leaking). That’s why many performers or even Youtubers invest a huge amount of money into their own studios.

The simplest solution is to close all the windows and doors, helping to minimize sound from outside and make sure that everyone in the house knows that you need a quiet time to record.

Besides, you should rearrange the position of stuff inside the room so that your mic can’t pick small noises like mouse clicks or key presses up.

Get a microphone isolation shield can help you filter all the unnecessary background noise and minimize sound wave reflection.

2. Use Noise Reduction Software To Cancel Ambient Sounds

To make the audio production more professional, you can install one or some specialized software on your PC/laptop.

These tools will complete the audio noise suppression, which means removing background sounds from the audio signal. They’ll isolate the clean signal and take out the annoying signal.

There are several audio process plug-ins available on the market to cancel noise. These softwares operates on the same principle: noise print and application.

The biggest difference between them is the additional parameter settings. There’re some softwares that even offer full-scale DAW (digital audio workstation) for the sound restoration.

We can list a few names as below, you can take it for recommendations:

  • Audacity: one of the most famous free audio tools. It supports you in recording and audio procession with any equipment. The features are quite basic, best for beginners.
  • iZotope RX7/8 Audio Editor: best for post-production, offering a wide range of significant possibilities to achieve perfect output quality.

3. Choose The Right Microphone Sensitivity

Choose The Right Microphone Sensitivity

Depending on the type, manufacturer, or purpose of use, each microphone has a different sensitivity. A premium mic doesn’t need to be more sensitive than others.

Sensitivity is the amount of analog output voltage/ digital output value for a given input pressure. It’s the very first factor you need to check when buying a microphone.

Based on this specification, you’ll know the right sound source’s input level to set and connect balanced audio to avoid unwanted sounds entering the microphone.

The sensitivity ranges from –46 dBV to –35 dBV (5.0 mV/Pa to 17.8 mV/Pa) for most MEMS and electret condenser microphones (ECM).

This level is a reasonable balance between the minimum noise floor (can reach 29 dB SPL for the ADMP504 and ADMP521 MEMS mics) and the maximum acoustic input (usually about 120 dB SPL).

4. Try A Pop Filter For Studios Use

If you want to seriously pursue singing then you should invest in a pop filter. It's indispensable in recording studios and it looks like a small round-shaped racket.

The pop filter, as its name indicate, is a barrier between the singer/speaker mouth and the mic to filter out as much pop and background noise as possible. This equipment prevents or eliminates plosives so that the microphone doesn't capture a sound blast.

It also helps to avoid dirt or moisture that adheres directly onto the mic's surface. So it’s ideal protection for your expensive mic, too.

Try A Pop Filter For Studios Use

It always comes with an adjustable boom to mount firmly on the mic. Therefore you can place the filter at a flexible position on your mic so that you can record comfortably.

Because pop filters are so popular and the demand is soaring, manufacturers have offered a wide range of mics with built-in pop filters under the metal casing.

This design can reduce the explosion of sound, but since the filter is now attached to the mic, it cannot be completely separated like a filter sold separately. An advantage of this integrated design is you can save storage space and money for a 2-in-1 item.

5. Attach A Microphone Windshield to ‘Block’ Wind

Unlike a pop filter, a windshield is used for outside recording instead of in-home studios. It looks like cat fur covering the head of the microphone.

This design helps to prevent wind interruption, block heavy breathing and pop noise getting into the mic. Hence you can’t hear any noise created by the wind and air.

Because it works like a thick shield so it will lower the sounds at high frequencies and reduce the volume of the microphone. Instead, you will get a cleaner sound and hear your voice clearly with less ambient air distortion and less background noise.

A regular windshield can withstand up to 12dB of wind noise.

6. Insert Shock Mounts to Minimize Vibration

Stabilize All The Attachments

Normally, a high-quality microphone is so sensitive. A shock or vibration impact and your mic can pick up even a small background sound your ears can’t notice.

Shock mounts can help the mic stand stably in place without shaking. As a result, the mic handling noise will decrease.

We recommend buying this equipment when you have recording issues with tremors, mic vibrations caused by the mic itself, or by people walking/doing things around you.

7. Stabilize All The Attachments

The pieces of equipment like windshield, pop filter, shock mounts, equalizer, ground lift adapter are all attached to the microphone to block or reduce ambient noises.

If you equip these attachments too much, they’ll make the microphone bulky and hard to work with. They can also make more noise when fitted inappropriately.

When installing the equipment, you should carefully read the specs and instructions for use. Then depending on the size, shape, and functions to attach them to the microphone so that the noise entering is minimum.

8. Equip A Ground Lift Adapter For Your Mic

Ground Lift Adapter

We highly recommend a ground lift adapter for stand-alone microphones. This device opens the power circuit connection and minimizes the buzzing sound created by the electricity.

In other words, this adapter removes the sound and shielding conductors from the cables connected to the audio-producing equipment.

However, using this device can be risky in some cases. The misuse of a floor lift adapter can damage your microphone and even injure you.

When you use the incorrect lift adapter, it causes fault while energizing the microphone and the mic will electrocute you.  So be careful with electricity!

Read more: How To Connect A Microphone To Laptop Or Computer

 

FAQs

1. Do I Need To Buy And Attach All Of The Recommended Equipment?

Too many attachments result in a cumbersome and expensive set of recording equipment.

You should consider your recording quality demand, as well as determine which noise problems you mostly encounter. It’s better to choose some suitable solutions out of the 8 ways we recommend.

For example, if you regularly interview outdoors, you should invest in a windshield. If your studio has many people, you can buy high-quality pop filters and shock mounts.

As we mentioned above, an improper ground lift adapter can lead to dangerous situations. Don’t use it if you’re not a professional audio producer or at least you must know how to handle any arising fault.

2.Does My Mic Already Have A Built-in Pop Filter?

When the manufacturer creates a microphone with a built-in pop filter, they write down the full information on the package or in the specifications.

If you don't know the model name of your microphone, you can try pulling out the microphone head to check it out. Pop filters are usually detachable so if you can remove the foam on top of the mic, it’s the filter you’re looking for.

3. Does My Laptop/PC Have Any Standard Function To Reduce Noise?

From Window 7, Microsoft has supported users with some background noise reduction options. The features available on your PC might vary depending on the sound hardware installed on the PC and the default audio drivers.

  • Access Control Panel from the Start Menu
  • Go to Hardware and Sound section
  • Click on Sound -> the Sound dialog box will appear
  • In the Recording tab, select your device (choose Microphone with the name of your mic displayed below)
  • Click Properties to open the Microphone Properties dialog box
  • In the Levels tab, drag your mouse to 100 for the Microphone option and set the Microphone Boost at about +10.0 dB. Lowering the boost level from +20.0 dB (default setting) to 10 will make the mic more sensitive so you can hear your voice clearer
  • Click Apply
  • Go to the Enhancements tab (still in the Properties box)
  • Tick to enable the Noise Suppression/Noise Cancellation option
  • Enable the Acoustic Echo Cancellation (if any) when your recording space causes echo.
  • Click OK to save your custom settings and close the box
  • Test your microphone to see if it improves in noise elimination

Note: This tutorial is done on Windows 10. The Enhancements tab might not be available in some drivers or audio hardware.

Conclusion

Any artist can face audio problems while recording with any instrument, even if it’s a guitar amp, drums, acoustic guitar, or just singing.

Blocking sounds from the background is a difficult and high-cost process to commit to optimizing the noise reduction for a better records quality.

And we hope this article is a helpful guide to answer the question How to stop mic from picking up background noise for recording?

You can prevent unpleasant noise from entering the mic by using attachments to block or filter the noises out. For cleaner and clearer audio, use specific noise reduction software. Paying attention to the mic quality and brand or the setup inside is also a crucial step.

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