A microphone is one of the most versatile pieces of hardware. It is widely used in the music industry for tasks like mixing/mastering & recording, to perform basic communications. Furthermore, you can tweak and modify it accordingly to cater to your needs.
Many factors go into how a microphone sounds, things like the room acoustics and also noise pollution are some of the major ones. Due to this, even the most expensive microphone can sound different. Similarly, you can do different things to better the sound that comes out of your microphone.
Let’s go over ways you can improve your microphone sound, whether it be for recording professionally or for casual use.
How to Make Your Mic Sound Better?
When it comes to tweaking your microphone for better sound quality, there are a lot of options. Simple things like increasing the volume level and such can be helpful but it is not everything. Let us look at some of the ways you can improve your microphone’s quality.
Setting the Room Acoustics
Your room’s acoustics play a major role when working with a microphone. The room acoustics determine how the sound inside your room bounces around. Usually, rooms with bad acoustics have a high echo (reverb), which diminishes the mic’s sound quality.
Using foam panels is a great way to reduce echoing and excessive sound movement. Installing them on your walls massively improves the overall sound flow in your room and helps with the quality of your microphone recordings.
Shutting off any form of ventilation also helps, the panel of glass on your window causes the sound to bounce around bringing in issues like an echo. Try to cover them up with a sheet of cloth.
Having a separate room designed specifically for recording also helps. The room can have different furniture which promotes better dry sound. Also placing your microphone against a foam panel installed wall helps enhance the sound.
Changing the Gain Level
Gain is simply how much you increase or decrease the level of your microphone’s output signal. Having the gain set to just about moderate is ideal, having it high can increase the amount of echo. Therefore setting it to just about medium works best to eliminate echo and background noise.
You can either change the gain through the microphone themselves or with the help of software. Refer to the microphone’s manual to get things clear.
Compression is a way of reducing the highest part of the audio input. When used properly it can make the microphone’s audio balanced and professional. But you will have to do some tweaking, as compressing the highs also decreases your vocal audio.
It can be a very useful tool, more so when producing music. Using compression on different elements of the tracks to even out the mix is often done by professionals. This makes sure that the final track comes out as a well-balanced mix and that no sounds are sticking out and interfering with others.
Microphone Compressors can be found sold separately in the market or you can utilize audio software to set it for your microphone.
We will show you how you can apply basic compression using Audacity, which is an excellent digital audio platform software. You can tweak the different settings throughout the steps to your liking.
- Run Audacity and load in your choice of recording or sound.
- Select the audio.
- From the top menu bar select Effect and Compressor.
- Audacity will prompt you with a graph depicting the sound level for precise compression.
There are four main settings that you can go through when working with compression: Threshold, Noise Floor, Ratio, Attack & Release Time. All these serve different purposes and you can change them accordingly. A quick rundown on what each one does.
- Threshold: Threshold is the exact place or point you want to apply compression. You usually want to compress the louder bits of the sound. Therefore, you want to compress anything more than -10 to -12dB.
- Noisefloor: Levelling noise floor is basically telling the program where the spaces are between the audio – so it does not boost up the wrong part of the sound.
- Ratio: Ratio in simpler terms is adjusting how much compression you want in your sound/audio. This is arguably one of the most important settings and can determine the overall outcome of the sound.
- Attack and Release Time: Levelling attack time means changing how fast you want the program to respond to a sudden sound shift or change. Whereas release time is telling it when to stop the compression in the sudden audio change.
Using Pop Filter
If you are using the microphone professionally then we suggest using a pop filter. A pop filter works to eliminate the high and the low ends of the audio, they also cut down ‘plosives’ which are the popping sounds caused by air moving fast on the microphone.
Furthermore, plosives can also create a small thud-like sound which can create disturbance talking over the microphone or let’s say recording tracks. A pop filter diminishes those thuds and clears up the path for a clear audio flow.
EQing is done to improve the quality of your audio and the mix. It is basically done to balance frequencies between the audio signals to get a more smooth and clean sounding audio.
There are tons of audio tools and software in the market for EQing sounds. When EQing for better sound quality, go over these things.
- Reducing Low-end Frequencies: Lowering low-end frequency eliminates a lot of background noise and rumbling that are otherwise produced by things like the air from the fan or any physical movements.
- Remove Muddiness: When there are multiple sources of audio coming in, it can result in the frequencies clashing and creating a muddy sound output. Try cutting -3 to 5dB around 250 to around 300Hz.
- Emphasizing Vocals: The most important part is to improve the voice clarity of your microphone. Usually, the range starts from around 100 to 250 Hz with vocals. Try cutting frequencies below 40 – 80Hz to clear out any additional noise.
Keeping the Right Distance
The way you position yourself in front of the microphone is very important. The distance between you and the microphone is very crucial when trying to sound better. Being further away from the microphone results in really low voice levels while being too up close can cause your microphone to pick up noises like breathing and such.
As a starting point, try moving 10 inches away from the microphone and check the quality. Then move according to the results and how you want it to sound. Ideally, you do not want to go further away than 10 to 12 inches, this can cause your voice on the microphone to sound weak and out far, resulting in poor audio quality.
Use Microphone Stand and Boom Arms
Having your microphone positioned away from the desk is ideal. It can detect and pick up each and every sound from the desk. Use something like a microphone stand or boom arms which helps elevate the microphone away from the desk and away from unnecessary disturbance.
If you are using a headset, try positioning the microphone to the side of your mouth, this helps in getting rid of the breathing noise.
Changing Microphone’s Input Levels
A Microphone’s input level also depicts how the quality of sound comes out. Having it too low or too high depletes the sound quality. Therefore, having it just in between is the sweet spot.
It is advised that you have the input level set around 70 to 80%, going higher than that can cause distortion and muddiness. You can further adjust the level and volume of the microphone through Settings.
Here’re the steps for adjusting Input levels.
- Press Windows Key + R, type in
controland hit Enter.
- Click on the Sound option from the list.
- Under Recording, right-click on your microphone and select Properties.
- Then navigate to the Levels section and make adjustments accordingly.
- Next, hit Apply and Ok.
- Press on the Apple menu, from your home screen and navigate to System Preferences.
- Next, click on Sound.
- Now, under the Input tab, you can adjust the input volume according to your preference.
Using Noise Cancelling Software
Noise canceling software is really useful for reducing background noise. It eliminates any background interruption and puts emphasis on your voice. This works magic if your living space has noise you cannot avoid.
Some microphones naturally come with noise canceling features, while there are various different tools and software(DAW) that have the feature in-built. Since they cancel any background noise coming in, using it is perfect for recording music, attending calls, and so on.
Additionally, you can work on other things to furthermore improve the quality of noise cancellation. Things like closing down windows, doors that can bring in outdoor noises, and using foam panels to control and narrow down the flow of sound in your room.
A preamplifier increases the microphone’s input signal. This either makes or breaks the sound of your microphone. Normally, a microphone’s audio level can be really low, a preamplifier boosts such audio to a level that can be utilized by other musical tools or software.
It is recommended that you use a decent preamplifier if you’re recording audio on a professional level. There are two different types of preamps mostly used, one that is found in simple audio interfaces/mixing desks and the other being a standalone physical preamplifier.
For starting, if you already have an audio interface then the built-in preamplifier should do the job just about right. Since they also come with the basic features of an amplifier like a high-pass filter, EQ & Compression.
But, if you want to go that extra length, getting a stand-alone is a viable option. Stand-alone can bring in more options for better audio enhancement and recordings.
Getting the Right Microphone
This may sound obvious but investing in a good microphone is always better. There are different types of microphones in the market, and choosing the right one for your needs is important.
- Dynamic Microphone: They are generally used to output live sound. Although they are preferred for tasks like live performances and such, they do not have many options when it comes to improving sound.
Although in most situations, basic tweaking like the volume and the gain level are achievable, it may not be ideal for something like recording music, or any other sound-intensive tasks.
- Condenser Microphone: From recording music to basic tasks like communications, condenser microphones are preferred. They tend to be more expensive than dynamic microphones but for a reason. A condenser microphone can fully utilize various tools and technology like mixing, EQing, and many more to get the best sound quality possible.
- Bluetooth Microphone: If you are looking for a Bluetooth microphone, make sure the built quality is decent and they are running on Bluetooth 5.0 for uninterrupted usage.
- Directional Microphone: They are also an ideal option if you have problems like hearing loss and such. Since they pick up sound only from a specific direction, they avoid other noises from getting mixed with what you want to hear.