Background or 'ambient' microphone noise can be a real pain, but there are tricks to help reduce it. To some extent, any sound recording will generate background noise, but there's a lot that you can do to minimise interference. Follow the steps below for tips on how to minimise background noise from an audio recording.
On laptop recordings
This is how to minimise background noise on laptop recordings.
Windows 10, 8 and 7
- Go to Start.
- Select Control Panel
- Open Hardware & Sound.
- Choose Sound.
- Choose Recording.
- Find the Microphone bar.
- Right-click on the Microphone bar, and then select Properties.
- Find the Levels tab, and look for the Microphone Boost tool.
- Move the dial all the way down on the Microphone boost.
- Move the dial all the way up on the Microphone.
- Next, go to the tab marked Enhancements.
- If they aren't already ticked, tick the following boxes: Noise suppression and Acoustic echo cancellation. Press OK.
- To test the noise, go back to the Recording menu.
- Go to Listen to this device, then click OK.
Macbooks running OS X 10.4.6 and newer
- Go to System Preferences.
- Find Sound preferences and look for the Ambient Noise Reduction tool.
- Check the box marked Use ambient noise reduction.
- Move the dial up and down until you find the right balance of sound volume and background noise.
- Check for nearby devices which might cause interference
- Switch off anything noisy, like ceiling fans, televisions and so on
- Speak directly into the microphone
- Close any doors and windows
- Make sure that the mains electrical cables are not running across any audio cables like your headphone wires, because the electromagnetic force which surrounds mains cabling can cause interference
- Use the right sort of microphone. A general-purpose mic won't pick up quiet instruments or subtle sounds, so make sure to get a microphone suitable for your needs. The microphone built into your laptop can also pick up a lot of unwanted noises
On headsets and headphone mics
- Make sure your headphones are securely plugged into the computer, and that it has been plugged into the microphone jack - not the audio input jack
- Try a different power socket - all electrical circuits can produce noise, and some are louder than others
- Listening through a laptop computer? Unplug the power cable and switch to battery power for less audio interference
Noise reduction accessories
There are some accessories that can help reduce
- There are several good free online software downloads for editing video and audio recordings.
- Audacity is a free online tool which is designed to isolate and remove unwanted background noise. Other good alternatives include WavePad, and Wavosaur, but you can search for 'free noise reduction software' on Google and experiment with different software downloads.
- When you start searching, make sure that you choose a download for sound editing software and not a noise reduction tool for photography .
- Mac has a feature called GarageBand which is an sound editing package designed for musicians - it comes with most OS X packages but is also available as an App on iTunes.
Use a Mic Preamplifier. This eases the transition between your microphone and other equipment.
Invest in a ground lift adaptor for your laptop power supply - these do an excellent job of reducing static noise, particularly if you use multiple sections of recording equipment.
Fit a shock mount to the mic stand to reduce background noise caused by tremors and vibrations.
Use a wind shield - this fits over the mic's head and cuts out unwanted wind interference - as well as heavy breathing!
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