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Please help! Can't get rid of room noise! Using USB mic

Discussion in 'Recording' started by animationgrl, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. animationgrl

    animationgrl Active Member

    I bought an MXL USB .006 condenser mic in the hopes of recording voiceover tracks for my animations, and possibly doing some voiceover work. I use a MacBook Pro with Audacity, and the mic is on the "low" setting. No matter what I do, it seems that there is ALWAYS static and noise in the background! I've tried recording in a closet, I've tried covering up the laptop and turning off its fans, I've tried putting a foam mattress and a blanket over my head and the mic, and I even built a homemade studio (Harlan Hogan - Voice overs Narrations Commercials Promos) using audio foam to surround the mic.

    It STILL has noise! My tracks are totally useless. Did I buy the wrong mic? Is it just too powerful for this use?

    Here's an .mp3 of just the mic recording: Long & McQuade - Glyph Technologies 250GB Quad-Port Tabletop Drive
    Here's a track with me talking, after I "normalized" it in Audacity: Long & McQuade - Glyph Technologies 250GB Quad-Port Tabletop Drive

    I simply can't afford to buy a new one or drive out to a recording booth just to record these audio tracks, and I need them soon. Any advice, or anything I can do?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Until you invest in quality gear, you will never have a quality sound. Most usb mics I've heard mentioned are not about sound quality. You are at the bottom of the bin with those and that product from my understanding.

    Hope that helps some.
  3. animationgrl

    animationgrl Active Member

    Ugh, that's what I was afraid of...I did research and asked advice on voiceover forums before I bought it, and was told this was a good one!

    I can't afford a different one, unfortunately.

    Is there ANY way to get rid of the noise with the current setup? It just seems to me that NO ONE would ever buy this mic if you couldn't get clean recordings, so it must be something on my end...
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Don't write it off just yet because I'm not the best guy to help you here. My experience with these and your setup is zero. You posted this in the pro section so I gave you a pro answer but then moved it into budget gear which is more suitable for your question. Hopefully members more experienced with this may be able to help you better.

    You could be having a buffer issue too. Its a very common issue with low end audio interfaces and low end CP. Also, usb is not my favourite method for moving audio but it obviously can be done. Sounds like you may be able to improve things with some optimizing.

  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That noise is coming from the computer itself. Sometimes if you unplug the computer from the power supply it will eliminate the noise. Sometimes if you leave the computer plugged in and remove the battery that fixes it. Sometimes it is the USB port itself that's geeked up. And of course it could be the mic. That mic is made in China with all that implies. Personally I'd return it.
  6. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    Hmmm... How close do you have the mic in relation to the computer itself? I listened to your files, and I would wager that the precise clicking sound heard is the hard drive disc heads at work, of course accompanied by any other sounds that might emanate from it, like fans or interfering EMF's. Any mic will pick up sound directly from the computer if it is mounted close to it. Aside from the noise, I thought your voice was represented reasonably well, and this leads me to believe it is not the mic itself. I'd experiment a bit more before declaring the mic defective.

    Try recording with the mic at least five feet from the computer. Use a USB extension cable if necessary. You can also record a 15 second test section starting with the mic close to the computer, and then proceed to move it farther away. If you are indeed picking up direct sound, it will diminish as you move away. Also watch for stray mic cords passing over DC converters, particularly the computer's power converter, as this will introduce copious amounts of noise.

    Try the distance experiment, and report back.
  7. jmm22

    jmm22 Guest

    I replied before reading your post with enough attention, because it is so easy for mics to pick up sound directly from a computer, but while re-reading and planning to edit, recording.org servers went down last night. :tongue: Actually, it was a google message that the website could not be found, so it may well have been an error somewhere other than ro.org servers.

    Although the sound is very much as one might hear with the mic positioned close to the computer, if you have recorded well away from it, then obviously the problem is not proximity related. Although caution against buying inexpensive gear is well founded, a quick internet search shows that mic seems to have very good reviews, but a defective mic is quite possible.

    Where did you buy the mic? There should be no problem with an exchange or return. If there is, let me know, returns are one of my specialties. :smile:
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    That laptop has something like five usb ports. Does it make the noise on all of them? Have you tried a different usb cable?
  9. TimOBrien

    TimOBrien Active Member

    Do yourself a BIG favor and stay away from usb mics and adapters.
    They are basically made for PODCASTING (radio chat shows), not music recording.

    The analog-to-digital converters in their mini-soundcard are mediocre for music.
    The poor monitoring in them will give you fits trying to overdub new tracks.
    The short cords will introduce a LOT of computer fan noise.

    Get yourself a real audio interface and regular mics. Here's a good guide:
    Audio Interfaces and Soundcards

    (you'll want to bookmark and read through ALL of Tweak's Guide...)

    Dynamic mics are less sensitive and pick up less room noise.
    MD-421, EV RE-20, and Shure SM-7b have been standard radio station mics for 40years for a reason...
  10. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    I just love USB mics !!

    Those USB mics are the best sports equipment you can get for praticing LongThrow
    LOL !!

    Very handy for on-street interviews - not usable for quality audio recording.
    It still amazes me that internal PCI cards like the RME Hammerfall HDSP9652 don't pick up any noise from those ever so much poluting PCs.

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