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How To Reduce Background Noise on Mic


If ambient noise is interfering with your microphone’s sound quality or your audio recording, there are steps you can take to minimize mic background noise and static. While you may not be able to get rid of ambient noise completely, you can cut back on interference. You can figure out how to reduce background noise on mics by understanding what type of microphone you’re looking for, what environment you’re recording in, and what software or hardware can help you get rid of unwanted background noise and get the most out of your audio recording.

Whether you’re working professionally on stage, recording music at the studio, or just at home, there are different steps you can take to make sure that your recording and sound are crystal clear. Ways you can reduce microphone background noise involve changing your setup, improving your hardware, or downloading additional software. Here are some tips and tricks on how to reduce background noise on a mic effectively whether you use dynamic mics or condenser microphones.

Types of Mic Background Noises

Before attempting ambient noise reduction, it helps to know what exactly causes them so you can more effectively suppress them. These are the main types of microphone noise you should know.

Impulse Noise

This kind of microphone noise includes sharp sounds like clicks and pops in a mic. It has a high frequency and short duration.

Broadband Noise

Condenser microphones are very important for properly recording vocal audio for films, music production, and the like, and are the best option to go for in a quiet room. Using a condenser microphone will help you pick up and reproduce the sound waves more naturally.

Narrow Band Noise

This background noise type is limited to a narrow range of frequencies. This kind of noise has a constant audio level usually caused by incorrect grounding and poorly shielded cables connecting microphones. This ambient noise is any unwanted signal that remains steady over time.

Ways to Reduce Background Noise on Mic

Use a pop filter

Pop filters are great for studio or home recordings if you want to avoid plosive and sibilance from your microphone recording. A pop filter eliminates or reduces plosives so the microphone will not pick up an explosion of sound or pop noise and will help against picking up background noises and other unwanted sounds.

Understand and adjust your microphone sensitivity

Some microphones are more sensitive than others and their audio quality is not really related to their sensitivity. Once exposed to the same sound source, various microphone models might generate totally different audio output levels. Understanding how your microphone interacts with its environment will help you know whether or not a microphone may be a good fit for a specific use.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that your end result will depend a lot on microphone quality. The noise persists with a poor-quality microphone with limited noise suppression abilities from the start, so not a lot of filters or processing can help you reduce background noise and get rid of static.

Don’t run microphone electrical cables next to a power cable

It’s always best practice to cross a mic cable and a power cable at a single point rather than running them together because the power mains emit electromagnetic noise. The closer the power cable is to the mic cable, the more likely the mic signal is to pick up this noise.

To reduce the likelihood of power mains hum, try crossing your mic cables and power cables as few times as possible. This will reduce the microphone signal level.

Use a shock mount

Mechanical noise is a major type of noise that affects microphones. This type of background noise is defined as any vibrations through solids that reach the microphone capsule and cause noise in the mic signal. This can include handling noise from holding the microphone, vibrations from the instruments on a stage, or footsteps on the floor of a studio.

A shock mount helps isolate the microphone from these mechanical noises, thus reducing the noise in the mic. The mechanical isolation provided by shock mounts can greatly reduce the strength of the vibrations that reach the microphone capsule through solids.

The two main types of shock mounts are internal and external. Internal shock mounts are built into the microphone itself and help to mechanically isolate the capsule or cartridge from the body of the microphone. External shock mounts are basket-type microphone clips you see in studios. These hold the microphone in place while connecting to a stand and act to mechanically isolate the entire mic.

Use a microphone windscreen to suppress outdoor sounds

This ambient noise reduction tool is great for blocking wind noise and other outdoor sounds. Placed over the microphone’s head, This accessory will prevent wind interference as well as heavy breathing and pop noises. 

These windshields offer up to 12dB wind noise rejection, but keep note that windscreens will slightly reduce the total level of the microphone volume as well as selectively lower the level of higher frequencies. However, they achieve this with less audio interference from the ambient air and reduce background noise, so any microphone you use with a windscreen will deliver a cleaner sound.

Equalization to remove unwanted sounds and remove background noise

Equalization optimizes frequencies of sound. Because every sound has its frequency and certain frequencies are louder than others, we use an equalizer to balance these high and low frequencies. Through the equalization process, we can increase or decrease the volume of the selected frequency such as mic noise.

For live performances or live sound recording, microphones and recording equipment placed wrongly on a stage will cause feedback issues and audio signal problems and you may also have certain sounds that are more noticeable because of acoustic echo and background noise. However, this can be resolved with acoustic echo cancellation. Acoustic echo cancellation is achievable when you’re knowledgeable about equalization.

Use a mic preamplifier

A mic preamp is a type of amplifier with the purpose of bringing mic level signals up to line level for use with professional equipment. Your microphone device needs preamps if they are to be used with mixing consoles, devices for audio recordings, or a digital audio workstation.

A mic preamp gives your audio track or recording better sound quality, and is one of the best options for noise suppression.

Reduce ambient noise and excess noise with headphones

If you’re using a headphone microphone, you can take several steps to reduce any background noise. Check to make sure that your headphones are fully plugged into their port. If the microphone jack is exposed, this can largely be the reason for background noise introduced in your recording.

If you can still hear static noise, try switching the power socket you are using. Your power socket may be producing a lot of feedback, and while all electrical circuits make some level of noise, some can be a lot louder than others.

Reduce noise with your computer

If you are using a laptop or desktop computer to connect your microphone and record sounds, one noise suppression option is to manually go into the device and control the level of background noise that your device picks up and get a clear audio recording. You can suppress intermittent background noise this way by adjusting the sound volume, enabling noise cancellation, and enhancing audio quality through your computer’s control panel.

If you have a Windows system, you can use the Control Panel to go to Hardware and Sound. After selecting sound, you will go to the recording section, then right click on the microphone bar. In the “properties” section, you’ll find the “levels” tab which will contain the Microphone Boost tool. To reduce sound, turn the dial on the microphone boost all the way down, and make sure to turn the microphone dial all the way up as well.

Download noise reduction software

While adjusting the microphone settings is an option, using a Noise reduction plugin for noise cancellation will allow you to use any microphone without worrying about background noise. 

Noise cancelling software is one of your best options for reducing noise if you’re using a dedicated microphone or if you’re on a budget and can’t afford a physical noise reduction tool. There are a lot of free noise reduction software at your disposal online, so this is definitely one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to remove background noise.

Final Note

Unwanted background sounds are a big deal for both professional and amateur recording as they can be disruptive, annoying, and affect the overall sound quality. Being able to remove background noise is very important, but it can be confusing when you don’t know what’s causing it.

Luckily, there are different forms of noise suppression and noise reduction that makes recording so much easier and worry-free. Whether you’re using your laptop or a professional microphone, you can remove background noise thanks to various physical and online tools that effectively reduce background noises and make noise suppression and noise cancellation a breeze.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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