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With an easy plug-and-play setup and affordable price tag, a USB mic is the recording device of choice for many content creators down to amateur users. Their ease of use and convenience are perhaps the major advantages and main reasons why people choose them for simple applications and recordings.
While these benefits are certainly appealing, the microphone sound is still important. With that, we’re here to share some tips on your make your mic sound better so you can make the most out of it!
Considering their low price points and despite limitations, a USB microphone sounds good and can reproduce an impressive audio recording. USB microphones also sound better compared to built-in microphones.
Although USB microphones are actually condenser mics or dynamic mics, they do not necessarily produce the same audio quality or broadcast quality sound as them. Unless we are talking about the higher-end models of USB microphones, the sound quality of these recording devices will perform slightly lower than your usual condenser mics or dynamic mics due to the lack of hardware outputs.
However, there are still ways to improve mic quality to help make your USB mic sound better!
There are several ways how to make your USB mic sound better. By following these easy steps, you can surely maximize the use of your USB microphone and even achieve professional sound recording quality to a certain extent.
When it comes to using USB condenser mics, it is important to take note of their specific polar patterns as these will tell you the direction where your microphone is picking up sound. By knowing the polar pattern of your USB microphone, you will be able to properly situate yourself so only your voice or intended sound source will be picked up.
While it is not usually the case, some USB microphones have multiple polar patterns. For example, the Blue Yeti Pro USB Microphone has four pickup patterns; cardioid, bi-directional, omnidirectional, and stereo. This means that the Blue Yeti can change its polar pattern depending on the situation. You can switch it to cardioid mode if you want the microphone to only pick up sound in front of it or switch it to bi-directional if you want it to record sounds from the front and back.
Given said situation, knowing the pickup patterns of your microphone play a major role in the overall sound quality of your mic because it affects how the sound source will be recorded.
One of the best and easiest ways to make your microphone sound better is by simplifying following optimal mic placements. Sometimes you just need to move your microphone a few inches, which will make all the difference.
As in most cases, a USB microphone comes with a desktop stand. If you’re using such a mic, then you should ideally position it 6-12 inches away from your face or the sound source. It’s also best to angle the microphone slightly upward so that plosive sounds won’t be picked up as much.
If you have an omnidirectional USB microphone, then you should place it away from possible sound sources that can drown out your voice. Placing it directly in front of your monitor or near an open window will make it susceptible to recording unwanted noises, which will ultimately make your output sound bad.
Make sure to place your microphone far from appliances such as electric fans and directly below an air conditioner as it may also pick up noise from them.
Where you record affects at least half of the sound quality of your recordings. With that, it’s important that you set up your room properly and reduce any possible sources of noise.
If your recordings sound thin and hollow, then the number and placement of your furniture may be affecting this. The more furniture and items you have, the more dense your recordings will be because the objects will block the sounds that are being transmitted. By simply rearranging them, you can adjust how sounds bounce and make recordings sound better.
Consider setting up your recording space facing the shortest wall of the room and having the longer walls to your sides. This will help prevent any echo build-up and reduce reflections. If this is not feasible, then you can opt to decorate your room with soft furniture such as a couch or throw pillows to soften echoes. Alternatively, a bookcase and shelves can also work.
Lastly, it goes without saying that you should record in a quiet place so your voice can be loud and clear and no other background noise can be picked up. This will also help in the time spent on post-production since you won’t have to worry about removing noise pickup.
One of the best ways to achieve good audio quality is by using microphone accessories. These help in minimizing noise and make your microphone sound professional.
Pop filters are the most common microphone accessories people buy. Thanks to its permeable screen, a pop filter will prevent the popping of “p”, “b”, and other consonants that one can often hear in recordings. If you’re one to conduct live streams, then you should consider using a pop filter so your audience won’t hear much noise as it can get distracting after a while.
Windscreens can also be used to help prevent any plosives, blocking wind, and breathing sounds in your recording. For the clearest audio possible, you can use pop filters and windscreens at the same and will even provide added protection for your microphone.
Since USB microphones have an integrated analog-to-digital converter, you technically won’t need an audio interface for them. However, you can still use an external audio interface and recording software to help improve the sound quality of your mic.
One of the most popular audio editing recording software is Adobe Audition because of how great it is in noise reduction. By using this plugin, you can reduce the hissing sound that can be heard from your mic. Similar to Adobe Audition is the Sony Soundforge, which also helps in minimizing noise pickup.
Depending on the model of your mic, they will also sometimes come with their own software. The Blue Yeti Nano for example will allow you to equalize your mic and give you control in finetuning vocal effects. This is particularly helpful if you intend on doing voiceovers and want to avoid distortion.
The most common and easiest way to remove background noise is by making use of noise reduction accessories such as a pop filter and windscreen. A pop filter will help minimize ambient sounds and plosives while a windscreen will help minimize wind and breathing sounds.
If you are looking for more in-depth ways how to effectively block out ambient noise, then you can check out our article dedicated to reducing background noise.
There are various reasons why your USB microphone can sound muffled. It may be due to poor placement of the mic, hardware issues, software issues, or you’re using it for the wrong application. You can troubleshoot audio issues of your mic by going through the mentioned possible issues one by one so you can figure out the best course of action.
The quality of your audio will depend on the model of your USB microphone. High-end mics will give you great sound while lower-end models will give you a comfortable balance between quality and price. As requirements and applications will differ per person, one should properly research the best USB microphone there is for their needs.