Does your microphone pick up on any annoying background noise? In addition to being irritating, background noise can cause you to lose focus and ultimately affect sound quality. While each recording generates some level of background noise, there are ways to minimize it and enhance your experience.
Different things can cause background noise. Although unavoidable, you can take action and keep it to a minimum by following simple steps and guidelines.
Types of unwanted sounds
Before we try to minimize unwanted noise, we must first try to understand it better. Various types of background noise can affect sound quality and interrupt recording:
- Impulse noise – High-pitched sounds that involve pops and clicks are called impulse noise. These sounds are usually short and high frequency.
- Broadband noise – Continuous sounds that involve a wide range of frequencies are called broadband noise. Buzzing and whistling fall into this category.
- Narrowband noise – Continuous sounds that involve a narrow range of frequencies are called narrowband noise. These sounds remain stable and are generally caused by improper grounding or cables connected to the microphone.
- Irregular noise – unwanted sounds like traffic, rain, thunder, speech, etc. Since these sounds vary in frequency, duration, and volume, they are generally difficult to eliminate.
How to avoid unwanted sounds
There are different steps and measures you can take to reduce unwanted sounds. Please note that it is not possible to remove them completely.
- Check your surroundings: devices such as televisions, radios, air conditioners, fans, etc., can produce a significant amount of noise that can interrupt your recording. Turn off electrical appliances in your immediate surroundings to eliminate noise from them. Also, be sure to check the cables. Running other cables directly over the audio input could interfere with your microphone.
- Speak clearly – Speak clearly and directly into the microphone to create a recording where you can easily correct for ambient noise through a program.
- Choose the right microphone – If you are looking for a new microphone on the market, make sure you choose the one that best suits your needs. Look for a low self noise rating that cancels microphone noise. Also, keep in mind that different microphones have different levels of sensitivity. For example, dynamic microphones tend to have low sensitivity, while condensers have higher sensitivity.
- Microphone Windshield: A foam or leather cover for the microphone cancels out noise produced by wind or heavy breathing. If you frequently record outdoors, this is a must have if you want to produce clear, quality recordings.
- Pop filter: If you want to prevent explosives from appearing, you need a pop filter for your microphone. This lollipop filter eliminates exploding sounds and is excellent for reducing background noise. Some microphones come with the built-in filter, while others require you to purchase them separately.
- Shock mount: depending on the type and model, microphones can be very sensitive to different sounds. A shock filter is a great way to prevent shocks and vibrations that come from handling the microphone. If you keep your microphone on a stand, a shock mount will efficiently reduce noise and vibrations that come from the microphone and the people around you.
- Filters: You can use various filters to emphasize the sounds of one frequency and reject the sounds of another frequency:
- Band pass: used to separate a signal within one frequency from signals within other frequencies.
- Band Reject – Used to remove an unwanted frequency with almost no effect on the other frequencies.
- Low Pass Filter: Used to cut out high frequencies and allow only low frequencies. Rejects frequencies above its cutoff.
- High pass filter: used to cut out low frequencies and allow only high frequencies. Rejects frequencies below its cutoff.
- All-pass: used to change the phase of the signal.
- Equalizer: Using equalization, you can play around with the frequency levels to remove unwanted noise. You can reduce the frequency of the predominant sounds and increase the frequency of the missing sounds.
- Make sure the headphones are connected correctly. Headphones must be plugged into the headphone jack, not the audio jack.
- Change the outlet – some outlets may be louder than others. If the noise persists, try changing the outlet.
- Let your laptop run on battery, although you may not notice it, if your laptop is connected to the power cord it may produce more noise. If you want to reduce sound interference, switch your laptop to battery.
- Check your surroundings – turn off unnecessary electrical devices. Check the cables to make sure there is no magnetic interference. Also, close windows, stay away from vents, close programs that make your laptop noisy, etc. All these tricks will help you reduce the noise coming from your environment.
Noise reduction in Windows
Windows offers built-in options to help eliminate background noise from the microphone. The options available depend on the hardware and audio drivers you have installed in Windows. If you want to reduce background noise in Windows, follow the steps below:
- Open the Start menu.
- Start typing “Control Panel” and open it.
- Touch “Hardware and Sound.”
- Touch “Sound.”
- In the “Recording” tab, select the microphone you are using and tap “Properties”.
- Go to the “Levels” tab.
- If you experience a lot of background noise, reduce the “mic boost”. Try reducing it to +10.0 dB. The microphone will now be more sensitive to your voice, but it will also easily pick up background noises.
- Increase the “Microphone Array” to 100. This will allow other people to hear you easily.
- Tap “Apply”.
- Test your microphone to see if the sound has improved.
- Depending on your audio hardware, you may have the “Enhancement” tab. If so, open it.
- Enable the “Noise Canceling” or “Noise Suppression” function.
- Once you’re done, tap “OK.”
Noise reduction on Mac
- Press the Apple icon.
- Tap “System Preferences.”
- Touch “Sound.”
- Look for the “Ambient Noise Reduction” feature.
- Check the checkbox next to “Use ambient noise reduction.”
- Move the slider until you find the right balance between volume and noise.
How to use software to reduce background noise
Nowadays, you can find different programs to edit recordings to reduce the level of background noise. Here are some of the most popular programs:
- Audacity – This is a free online tool that you can use to reduce background noise. It is ideal for reducing constant sounds such as the hum of a fan and noise produced by electrical appliances or equipment. To make it work, please follow the steps below:
- Add a few seconds of silence, this means no voices, no keyboard, not even breathing. This helps the program control the room and surroundings.
- Highlight the silent part and tap “Effect.”
- Tap “Noise Reduction.”
- Tap “Get Noise Profile.”
- The software will offer you your default options. You can change them if you want, but they have proven to be good at canceling out the background noise mentioned above. If you try to customize the settings and it doesn’t get it right, you may end up with an even worse recording.
- Once you’re done, tap “OK.”
- Give it a try to see how it sounds!
- Krisp – This is another popular program with a noise cancellation option. It is a software based on artificial intelligence that cancels unwanted noise and acoustic and environmental echo. It is ideal for conference calls as it eliminates background noise at both ends.
- GarageBand – This is a program available only for iOS devices. It is usually built into the package, but it can also be downloaded from iTunes. It is an excellent sound editing software that allows you to customize your recordings and enable noise cancellation.
In addition to these, there are numerous noise reduction programs available on the Internet. If you want to try some of them, just type “free noise reduction software” into your browser and start experimenting.
How do I make my microphone input louder?
You can make your microphone sound louder by following the steps below:
1. Open the Start menu.
2. Start typing “Control Panel” and open it.
3. Tap “Hardware and Sound”.
4. Touch “Sound”.
5. On the “Recording” tab, select the microphone you are using and tap “Properties”.
6. Go to the “Levels” tab.
7. Use the slider to increase “Microphone Boost”.
8. Test your microphone to see if it worked.
1. Touch the Apple icon.
2. Tap “System Preferences”.
3. Touch “Sound”.
4. On the “Input” tab, select the microphone you are using.
5. Adjust the “Input Volume” slider.
6. Speak in your normal voice to test it.
Background noise is not your choice
You have now learned how to reduce background noise from a microphone. Unwanted sounds can be disturbing, annoying, and affect sound quality. Although you may not be able to get rid of them completely, there are a number of ways to keep them to a minimum and produce high-quality content.
Have you ever had a problem with background noise? What was your solution? Let us know in the comment section below.