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Best Mic Settings for YouTube


Ensuring you have the best mic settings for YouTube can instantly elevate the audio quality of your live streams and audiovisual content for your channel. With the high standards of today’s audience, this upgrade in audio quality could mean a successful YouTube channel from your end that can capture thousands more views and subscribers.

If that is your end goal, then read further to learn the best mic settings for YouTube. In this article, we will focus on tweaking mic settings using OBS Studio as this is one of the most common free open-source, cross-platform screencasting and streaming software used for the best studio-quality results.

Knowing the OBS Mic Filters

Best Mic Settings for YouTube

Before adjusting the mic settings using OBS, you will first need to be properly acquainted with the tools and filters found in the studio. Later on, these filters are what you will be adjusting so you can improve the sound quality and performance of your mic for streams and YouTube content.

The compressor is the mic filter setting that can help to make your microphone’s audio levels more consistent. This setting can make loud sounds quieter so the overall audio can be consistent with the loudness of your voice.

The noise suppression is the mic filter setting that will eliminate or reduce any background noise that can be picked up by your microphone. On the other hand, the noise gate is the mic filter setting that can block out any unwanted noise and sounds in the room that may be picked up by your microphone.

Lastly, the gain is the mic filter setting that will boost your mic’s volume level. This is helpful for when your voice is too soft or quiet and you would want to amplify it further.

Mic Settings in OBS

After learning the main four filters you will be using, we can now dive deeper into how to adjust your mic settings using OBS for your YouTube streams.

Adding the Mic Filters to OBS

Once you properly set up and connect your microphone, you now need to open OBS and add in the mic filters you will be using. To recap, the four mic filters you will use for your mic settings are the compressor, noise suppression, noise gate, and gain.

  1. Right-click on “Mic/Aux” and click on “Filters” from the menu display.
  2. Add the aforementioned mic filters by clicking on the “+” icon.
  3. Select from the OBS filters or add filters via plugins.

Adjusting the Compressor

The compressor filter will show five settings options for you to adjust and tinker around with. According to preference and the audio quality you want to achieve, you can adjust these however you deem fit. For general purposes, we will be explaining what these five settings are and how they can affect your mic’s audio quality.

  1. The Compressor Ratio is the amount of compression you will apply to the microphone. Since all audio on YouTube is compressed to approximately 126 kbps AAC and .MP4 format is their recommended format for high-quality uploads, it’s best to adjust your compressor ratio between 1.5:1 and 10:1. The magic number for most is a ratio of 3:1.
  2. The Threshold is the point when the compressor will be activated. For this, learn what is the sensitivity limit of your microphone and equipment as this can vary per user. You can do this by reading up on your microphone’s model or monitoring the input level of your microphone. Generally, the input level should reach about two-thirds of the way before it reaches the top before you determine if you should raise or lower the volume. For many, a good threshold mic setting for YouTube is -18dB. Another tip is to opt for low-sensitivity mics if you plan on recording isolated and loud sounds. If you want to record ambient and quiet sounds, then go for high-sensitive mics.
  3. The Attack is the setting that will show you how quickly your compressor activates when it’s triggered. This will help you hear clearly if your compressor is working. It’s best to start with a medium attack time of around 15ms and adjust from there. If you want a fast attack for a thick and heavy vocal sound recording, then opt for a 5ms. Should you want your voice to sound punchy and aggressive, then adjust it to a slow attack of 30ms. However, for YouTube, an attack of -1ms is preferred by many.
  4. The Release is the setting that will show you how quickly your compressor deactivates. The common practice is to place the release at a medium time of 40ms and adjust from there. For YouTube and streaming settings, many users opt for a -60ms release time.
  5. The Output Gain is the amount of boost to be applied to the output. Many users choose -9dB as their preferred output gain setting as this gives a good audio effect to one’s voice.

Adjusting the Noise Suppression

If your mic tends to pick up background noise and unwanted sounds from any equipment or the environment nearby, then you can configure your noise suppression filter to minimize this. While microphone accessories such as a pop filter or windscreen can help prevent this, using a software tool is one sure way to block this out entirely. Within OBS, you can choose from “Speex” and “RNNoise” to adjust the noise suppression level. Opt for a -30dB setting and adjust from there based on your preference.

Adjusting the Noise Gate

If you still hear unwanted sounds and noises in your recordings even after adjusting the noise suppression settings, then you may want to configure the noise gate of your mic. This will eliminate any background sounds that may be in your area of recording.

When adjusting the noise gate settings, you will have to first make sure that nothing else is being picked up by your microphone so you are sure that you can block out the specific audio signal you want to be eliminated later on.

The Close Threshold level of your noise gate settings will block and mute any sounds with audio levels below what you have indicated while the Open Threshold level will only pick up sounds reaching the audio level you have placed. In short, anything lower than the audio level you have placed in the Close Threshold setting will be blocked and anything within the Open Threshold level will be recorded.

In that case, you should opt to make your Close Threshold level a bit higher than your Open Threshold so that your mic can eliminate background noise while still recording your voice. The audio levels will depend based on your environment, preference, and volume at which you plan on recording.

Adjusting the Gain

If you find that your voice is being overpowered or cannot be heard, then the volume of your mic is too low. In this case, you will need to boost the volume by adjusting the mic’s gain settings. If it’s the other way around, then you can also reduce the gain as needed. With a mic audio setting between -20 and -9 dBFS, below are some good audio gain levels to begin with:

  1. In the 1st class, adjust your input level to somewhere between -50 and -20 dBFS
  2. In the 2nd class, adjust your input level to somewhere between -20 and -9 dBFS
  3. In the 3rd class, adjust your input level to somewhere between -9 dBFS and -0.5 dBFS
  4. In the 4th class, adjust your input level to somewhere larger than -0.5 dBFS

Final Note

Even if you already own the best microphone for YouTube or for streaming, configuring your mic’s settings can further improve its performance for said application. You can adjust the settings of your mic by reading the manual or browsing through the mic model’s website. However, opting to download and use studio tools can give you the best studio-quality results for the overall audio quality of your stream and audiovisual content.

Ash Burnett

Hailing from Chicago, IL - Ash made his break into journalism at the age of 23 writing music reviews for a local website. Now in his late 30's and after being pulled closer towards the technical side of the music and live gig industry, he founded Shout4Music to write thorough microphone reviews.

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