How to Get Better Microphone Recordings on your PC

It can be tricky to record voiceovers for your videos. You might think that all you need is to speak clearly and a decent camera to get a voice-over that sounds professional and also conveys authority to your audience, but there is more to it.

After a couple of takes, people start getting disappointed because they are getting audio sounds that are not that good compared to their favorite podcast host or YouTubers. Maybe your voice is too quiet, or it is being drowned by background noise that you thought the microphone wasn’t going to pick. 

If you are looking for ways of improving the quality of voice records, worry no more because you are going to learn about them. The tips below will go a long way in helping you get better sounds for your videos. There is no magic trick that is going to make your 20-dollar headset sound like a $1,000 microphone used by your favorite Youtuber and podcast host, but it doesn’t mean you cannot get a sound that is professional.

You need to know that the tips below are going to work whether you are using Flixier for recording for your voice or other programs like Adobe Audition or Audacity. The most important thing when you want a high-quality recording is preparation. You have to do most of the work before pressing the Record button.

Below are the 7 tips that are going to help you get better voice recordings:

  1. Turning off anything noisy in your room 

Because of how brains work, you tend to ignore or dismiss background noises automatically. Microphones are good when it comes to picking such noises, especially when using condenser microphones such as HyperX Quad Pro, Blue Yeti, or the AT2020+ (this has become a favorite for budget-conscious creators)

The background is a distraction for your audience, and it can make it hard for them to understand what you are saying and this will make it hard for them to listen to what your video is saying. This makes it important to get rid of any noise sources. To ensure no outside noise is leaking in, close the windows. Shut the door if you have people in your home. Turn off any fans or air conditioner running in your room.

Keep in mind that your audience is not going to care whether you are comfortable or not, all they want is to hear what you are saying. This is why you should make sure they can easily hear and understand what you are saying.

There are ways of removing background noise using a digital method, but it is not going to be covered in this article. Using such methods might not be a good idea because it can degrade voice quality and your voice comes out sounding tunny and robotic. The best way to offer your audience the best possible audio quality is by keeping noise levels in the room very low.

  1. Keeping the microphone OFF your desk 

A common issue that you will notice with entry-level microphones is they usually come in short, tripod-style stands that are used when placing them on the desk. 

While this looks nice and practical, having the PC microphone close to the mouse and keyboard means that every click and keypress is going to be picked by the microphone and can overpower your speaking voice. This is not going to have a big effect when making short videos where you don’t use a computer, but for those doing tutorials, live streams, or playthroughs, it is important to make sure the keyboard sounds are low.

Another problem with placing the microphone on the desk is that even if the keyboard and mouse are silent, you are going to make bumps on the surface of the desk (like placing down a cup of water, lifting the keyboard, and putting it down again, moving the mouse). The microphone is going to pick up this sound and your viewers are going to hear it.

You can easily fix these issues by getting a boom arm and placing your microphone on it instead of using the stand it comes with. You can clamp the boom arm to a desk or furniture and your mic is going to be suspended close to your mouth. You don’t have to worry about noises from your noise and keyboard when using a boom arm.

A boom arm can seem intimidating for those who don’t want to turn their grooms into a recording studio, but there is no need to worry. You can find cheap and spring-operated booms arms for about 20 dollars. They are going to take less space than you think and it is good enough for its purpose.

  1. Keeping the mic with the back turned towards the noise source 

Even if you have followed the tip above and turned off noise sources, there might be some that you can’t turn off. Things such as laptops and computers have to be on when recording for most people. If you are using it to record audio, you can choose to turn down your fan to a minimum but be careful so that the computer doesn’t end up overheating. If you are making gaming videos, you have to deal with this problem because there isn’t a safe way of keeping the computer from making noise.

What you can do is minimizing the amount of noise that is getting picked up by the mic. Microphones today come with something known as a “cardioid polar pattern”. This term sounds a little fancy, but what this means is the ability of the mic to pick up sound coming from its front and ignoring any sound coming from the back. 

The name of the pattern came from the fact that the charts resemble a heart in an upside-down position. The upside-down heart icon is usually used for indicating a cardioid polar pattern on a mic. Make sure to look out for that icon when buying a microphone.

Most condenser mics come with a cardioid polar pattern by default (like the AT2020). If you have a HyperX Quadcast or Blue Yeti microphone, then ensure you have selected the cardioid polar pattern. Use the physical slider on the mic.

Once you have enabled this, place the microphone so the source of the noise is behind the mic (for example your computer or laptop) and you are in front. While this is not going to completely get rid of the noise from your audio, it is going to reduce the volume of noise in your final recording. The audience will have an easier time hearing and understanding what you are saying. 

  1. Keeping your microphone a couple of inches from your mouth

Dynamic mics usually don’t pick up anything unless it is close to your mouth. This advice is more applicable for people using condenser microphones.

Just because the microphone is able to pick up a voice from the end of the room doesn’t mean you can have it three feet away from your mouth. The best distance to have the mic is going to depend on the microphone you have and the gain setting. If you have a condenser microphone, then it is best to make sure it is 6 to 10 inches from your face as you record.

When you do this, your voice is going to sound natural and crisp. When you are far away from the make, the sound on the podcast or recording is going to sound tinny and echoey. When you are too close to the mic, the sound is going to be distorted and clipping, which makes it hard for your audience to hear and understand what you are saying.

  1. Making sure you are using the right side of the mic 

This might sound silly, but it is important to keep in mind that mics usually fall into two main categories: side-address mics and top-address mics. When you use a top-address mic, you should speak into the top of the mic (the same way you do with a handheld microphone during karaoke), while a side-address requires you to talk to the side of the mic.

Blue Yeti (this is the most popular mic used by Twitch Streamers and YouTubers) is a side address. This means the voice is going to sound best when talking to the front of the mic and not on top of it. 

If you watch a lot of Youtubers and Twitch streamers, then you might have seen some using Shure SM7B. This is a front-address mic, and this is why it is pointing directly at mouths instead of being in front of the streamer’s face.

How can you know whether the mic is front-address or side-address?

If you are not sure if the mic is a front address or side-address, then refer to the instruction manual. Another option is googling the make and model of the microphone. This is an easy option because the information is easily found online.

  1. Don’t move around when recording 

Once you have used the tips above to find the best position to have your mic, you need to avoid moving too much as you record your audio. This doesn’t mean you have to stand completely still as you record the audio.

Gesturing and simple movements are not bad when talking, but make sure you don’t change your position too much because it is going to affect how close or far you are from the mic.

When you move far from the mic whether to the left or right, it is going to result in audio that has weird fluctuations in sound quality and volume. This can end up being unpleasant for your audience.

  1. Setting the gain to an appropriate level

There are many ways of defining gain, but to put it in simple terms, it means how “sensitive” the mic is, or the loudness of the final recording. If your gain is set too high, the recording can be “clipping”, which means the voice is going to be too loud that it gets distorted.

If you want to prevent such an issue, make sure you dial back on the gain, instead of having it at 100%, which is the default value. To lower the dial gain, use the gain slider on the mic (for those that have it) or use the best tablets the Device Properties in Windows.

The ideal gain is different from one mic to the next, but it is recommended to dial it to at least 75%. When you put a higher gain, the final audio is going to clip and there is nothing you can do about it. if you have a lower gain, then you can easily amplify the sound during post-production and not lose audio quality.

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