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How to reduce loud background noise when recording with Audacity

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Justin H., Jun 25, 2015.

  1. Justin H.

    Justin H. Active Member

    Hello. I just bought/set up my MXL 990 Condenser mic, and noticed I was getting static noise while listening to the playback after recording on Audacity. I've searched up this problem but found no solutions so far. I thought maybe it was my space being too noisy, so I tried to make it as quiet as I could. It made it slightly better (I think), but I'm still getting the same static noise in the background. Does anyone know how I may fix this?

    I'm using:

    MXL 990 Condenser Microphone
    Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface


    I also added an example of the noise in a short recording I made.

     

    Attached Files:

  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Welcome to the forums. I'm not hearing static but I am hearing background noise. I also do not know anything about the products you use but this could be helpful.
    You could reduce the background by adjusting the gain on the input, then speak louder.

    In a nut shell, this is whats happening:

    http://recording.org/threads/signal-to-noise-ratio.45704/

    which can be the result of your converter, mic, preamp, and/ or gain structure.
    Higher quality products have less noise, better signal. SNR or S/N Or "signal to noise ratio"

    Your gain staging should be set so it sounds like this , starting at 2:55 . I'm guessing you need to reduce the input gain on one of your settings.

     
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    As Chris said, your sample does not have "static", but it has continuous broad-band noise, and this will be made up of the contributions from your acoustic background and also the system noise of your microphone and audio interface.

    You can improve the recording environment, as I think you recognise, and you may also be able to win something by giving careful attention to the position of the microphone relative to your mouth and correctly setting the levels on your equipment. However, there's not a lot you can do about the system noise without spending considerably more money on better-quality gear.
     
  4. Justin H.

    Justin H. Active Member

    Oh I see. Forgive me I'm still new at this. After some adjusting of my Interface's gain knobs (which I noticed pretty late), as well as the Mic's volume itself. I started eliminating some of the background noise, but it still wasn't perfect. I figured it was my PC which isn't too loud and barely noticeable, but since this is a condenser mic it picks it up as well as any slight noise/sound. That's just from what I've gathered. I then tried switching to my Laptop (which makes no noise at all), after shutting off my PC, and tried a recording there. It was better; near perfect.
    So like the guy in the video, should I make some sort of shield of soundproof studio foam to place near the back of my mic? Would it help at all? I'd just prefer to use my PC for recordings.
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It would probably be of very little help. In the cardioid position, the "rear" of the mic is a null to begin with. From 90° to 270°, ( the sides) with 180° being the center of the rear of the mic's pickup pattern, there's very little that the mic is sensitive to.
    In short, the majority of the room sounds you are getting is through the same side that you are singing or playing into.

    In order to get quieter recordings, as Bos mentioned, this requires more isolation, room treatment, and quieter gear as well. If your computer is making that much noise ( cooling fan usually) then you may want to look at locating your mainframe (tower) in a different area outside of your recording space. There are also computers ( I'm talking about the case that the components are housed in) that are made for audio environments, but, they ain't cheap.

    Whatever you do, don't think that you can isolate your computer yourself by putting it into a box or something... it will likely overheat, and if it gets hot enough - game over.

    You could look into a quieter fan, but you need to be sure that whatever fan you get is rated for your computer.

    Acoustic treatment will also help to tame some of the flutter echo and room's "live-ness".

    However, what I would do in this situation, as opposed to dropping money into a custom built computer, the more logical - and cheaper - way to approach this, is to remove/relocate yourself (and the mic) away from your workstation, to an area away from the noises of your computer.
    Pick up some packing/moving blankets, hang them over mic stands surrounding you and the mic, and this "booth" will help to isolate you a little bit, as well as taming some of the flutter echo of the room.

    For further convenience with this method, most popular DAW's have remote control apps available for iPad, iPhone, etc. Most are only a few bucks, and some are even free.
    This would allow you to control your DAW from your position - you can arm/mute/solo tracks, record, rewind, playback, punch in, etc., remotely from your performance position without having to get up and come outside of "the booth" every time you want to try another take or make any changes.

    Gain structure is everything when you are recording. You need to be sure that you are gaining the mic up to its optimal level. Condenser mics require less than Dynamics and Ribbons do, but, they still have optimal operating gain ranges that you need to meet. And, cheaper mics and preamps are notoriously much noisier than higher quality mics and pre's are. Most cheap preamp/ digital interfaces are inherently noisy, especially when you are pushing the gain on them.

    Try this experiment: using headphones, and without having a mic connected, turn your preamp gain up as loud as it can go. If you are hearing what sounds like a substantial amount of "hiss" or noise, then this is a good indicator that your preamp is noisy to begin with.

    A good rule of thumb is this: your recording chain will only ever sound as good as its weakest link. ;)

    FWIW

    d.
     

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