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I do some voiceover work at home and have been experimenting with mics for a while.

I've had background noise with 5 of the 7 Mic I've tried. And it's not the same noise. The spectrum for each is very different.

The bad ones sound as bad (or worse) than a $5 cheapo PC mic. The bad ones range in price from $30 to $100.

I guess I could be getting bad mics, but this is just really surprising.

WHAT I HAVE TRIED

Update: forgot to mention I disabled AGC (sometimes called Mic Boost) before I started all of this.

I reduced room noise

  1. My PC has a SSD drive and the fan doesn't normally run (I can't hear it or feel vibration in the PC)
  2. I turned off the lights (Flourescent overhead), the CRT (leaving two Lcs on).
  3. Turned off the secondary computer (server).
  4. Changed Mic Properties, Advanced, from CD Quality to DVD and even Studio quality. Made little difference (and in fact the vocal s got quieter in the Studio quality but the noise didn't get much quieter)
  5. I have tried another room in the house with no devices (using a laptop on battery power (hey, could be weird ground-loop problem)
  6. This all made a tiny difference.

Mics have tried:

  1. somewhat expensive D.R.K. MXL Mic and it has noise. (uses a 3.5m jack) enter image description here

  2. a CAD U1 mic (cheaper but well rated) and it has noise (see this question (uses a USB connection). enter image description here

  3. What worked well is a rather generic Logitech USB Mic (and also, a $20 generic (but powered) Radioshack mic (no sample of that) enter image description here

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It could very well be related to windows audio settings. Windows can artificially boost the gain of an audio input device within software. This setting is located in Control Panel>Sound

Click the "Recording" tab, then click on your desired audio device to highlight it, then click the "Properties" button

Under the "Levels" tab you may have settings for input level and/or microphone boost. Try turning these up or down to see if they have an impact on your noise performance.

I'd also look into installing ASIO4ALL. This ASIO driver bypasses the windows audio mixer and gives you a more direct path to the actual audio hardware. Your sound editor software of choice needs to support ASIO for this to work.

  • The ASIO4ALL worked for me. Was using DirectSound. Thanks! – Rorok_89 Nov 23 '14 at 13:07
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Unless you get a proper input device (and I'd have to recommend external sound cards here) you will never get your noise floor down to what I'd class as an acceptable level.

Internal sound cards, even prosumer ones, just don't have the voltage and isolation to give you a decent signal to noise ratio. A sound card that runs off 5v internal power inside a PC with all the other devices in there is noisier than an externally powered sound card in a screened box with smoothed power.

And then, as Magoostus said, ensure appropriate drivers and settings.

  • It's a USB Mic, so doesn't that mean it digitizes the sound at the Mic and it then becomes a digital signal? That would make it fairly immune to noise after digitization, and if there were noise, it would by crazy random (not just a small noise signal but random changes in the binary data stream) – Clay Nichols Nov 5 '14 at 20:29
  • I.e., if the USB mic digitizes the sound, wouldn't that make it essentially an "external sound card" (for recording sound)? – Clay Nichols Nov 5 '14 at 20:42
  • USB power is pretty rubbish - you only get 5 volts. Typical phantom powered microphones use 48 volts. Significant difference. – Rory Alsop Nov 5 '14 at 20:50

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