Mic problems

I’ve finished my first four lessons (see Think About It in the English section), but I’m getting a bit frustrated with the quality of the recordings. I’ve chosen a quiet space, bought a new double-noise reduction mic, and experimented with several adjustments to the mic settings. Regardless, I’m getting very low sound and very noisy feedback. Any suggestions for how to improve my mic quality? -.-;

Recording can be really tricky. In my experience, there are a number of possibilities for your problem. Some that I can remember now are:

  • your mic settings are misconfigured. This happens to me sometimes, because my notebook has an embedded mic and not always windows reconfigure automatically to use the headset mic. If you are using audacity, you can manually select the microphone to be used.
  • your recording volume is set too low (verify windows options for volume)
  • the mic is not very good. Is it a usb microphone? for me, this made a lot of difference.
  • the sound card is not very good. Try to test your microphone with another computer.
    Hope it helps.

I echo Ana about the USB mic.

But changing to USB may not be your first course of action since I had pretty good sound even with the normal mic

I played around on a different computer today and had different (slightly better) results. I’ll do a little more tinkering and see what I get. Thanks guys!

how far away the microphone is from your mouth…I though I would get best results with quiet microphone settings and the microphone close up, but it turned out the opposite was true.

I also found that a sofa cushion over the base unit muffled the fan noise. Computer got a bit warm though.

I assume that by “very low sound” you mean a low signal level, and by “very noisy feedback” you mean a fair amount of feedback.
If my assumption is correct than the first problem is likely due to your level settings or microphone placement. The second problem—feedback—is due to the fact that the microphone pics up the sound coming out of the speakers. The solution is simple: turn the speakers off when recording with a mic. Alternatively, use a pair of headphones.

EDIT: Just listened to one of your recordings. I see, by “very noisy feedback” you actually meant “a very low signal-to-noise ratio.” From what I can tell, this is just the consequence of the low signal level. There’s always going to be a fixed amount of noise in your recording path (noisy mic, noisy preamp), which will get amplified along with the signal. The idea is to get as much signal as possible, so that the noise level is low compared to the signal level.

If you’re serious about providing audio content for LingQ, consider investing in a good mic and a decent computer audio interface with a mic preamp. Ideally, you’ll want to do some post processing (EQing, compression, denoising) before uploading your audio. This will take some time, though.

Here’s what can be done in post processing. Note, however, that once noise is present in a recording, there’s very little one can do to get rid of it. I did my best, but the source was way too noisy to begin with (and I’m no magician, either):


Stages involved:

  1. Noise reduction x2
  2. Equalization
  3. Compression
  4. Noise gating
  5. Manual editing

Also, I think an octopus has arms, rather than legs, even though it’s a cephalopod (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Thanks – I’ll try to take a little of everyone’s advice ^-^