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How to Make Your Computer Microphone Sound Better



Ever wondered how radio and podcast hosts get their signature sound? While some of it comes from their better hardware, it often comes down to post-processing, where the audio is edited after recording (or sometimes while it's live) to make it sound much better. You can use the same techniques to make your microphone sound better.

The two apps we'll use to post-edit our audio are Adobe Audition and Audacity. Audition is a great tool with a clean interface. Audacity is free, but it lacks some features and it's a bit harder to use, but both are sufficient for our purposes.

Buy a Standalone Microphone

While post-processing may help make your microphone sound much better, you still want a good starting point in the form of a decent microphone. The main problem here is noise. While audio post-processing apps like Audacity are great at equalizing your voice and making a flat audio sound professional, the noise is not well removed. Built-in microphones are usually small and pick up a lot of noise from your device. Large, stand-alone microphones are generally much less noisy.

A great microphone could easily cost hundreds of dollars, but if you're not an audio professional, you'll notice a diminishing effect on sound quality, because even something like the TONOR BM-700 sounds incredible at just $ 30 Your laptop or phone built-in microphone.

Noise Reduction

Most microphones, even high-end microphones, are not very quiet, and removing the annoying background noise is one of the first steps to cleaning your audio.

The spectral frequency display in Audition is useful for visualizing noise. It shows noise levels at each frequency over time. Before the noise reduction, you can see here at the end of the audio data (while I was not talking), there is still a lot of data left. If you look closer, these noise lines extend over the entire tone.

There is still noise after the noise reduction, but there is much less.

Because it cuts When you filter out these frequencies, it distorts the sound a bit, and this is a place where a less loud microphone is useful because you can only do so much without it sounds like you're talking through a tin can.

You can perform noise reduction in many different ways, but one of the best uses so-called noise pressure to selectively suppress noise, and is useful for all kinds of noise. There are many other effects, such as: Hissing remotes, which allow you to reduce various frequencies, and adaptive noise reduction, which does not require noise printing.

In Audition, you must first print a noise capture before you can use the noise reduction feature. Select a quiet audio bit and choose Effects> Noise Reduction> Record Noise

Next, select "Noise Reduction (Process)" in the same menu. This will open a dialog box where you can configure the reduction settings.

The default settings are usually good, but you can adjust the noise floor if you want. This display shows you how much noise is being picked up at each frequency. You can preview the sound using the Play button in the lower-left corner before applying your changes. You can also select "Output Noise Only" to preview all sounds being removed. Try to keep the main recording out of the noise to minimize distortion.

In Audacity, simply choose Effect> Noise Reduction. From here you can adjust the noise profile and some other settings.

Audacity is not as fully equipped as Auditions noise removal, but will do the job.

Equalization

Equalization, or EQing, controls the volume of various pitches in the audio. For example, you could turn up the bass or cut it out altogether. In practice, however, the art of EQ is much more subtle and revolves around minor optimizations to make the sound sound good. If you prefer a low-pitched radio voice, you may think that you should just crank up the bass, but in fact this will make your voice booming and not produce the desired effect.

The "Vocal Enhancer" preset in Audition will probably be the best. This preset cuts off the very deep bass and amplifies the frequencies where voices are usually present. You can open this window under Filter and EQ> Parametric Equalizer. As with noise reduction, you must set some of the audio to EQ, and you can see your changes with the Play button.

You can also set EQ in Audacity under Effect> Equalization

CONNECTION: How to: EQ and Mix Your Microphone Without Any Hardware

Compression and normalization

A problem you can have with your microphone is how loud it is the closer you get to it. You may see something like the image shown above, with parts of the sound very soft and parts very loud in a clip that you would like to have consistent.

Compression solves this problem. This type of compression is different from traditional digital compression, which reduces file size. Audio compression attempts to make the clip more even in volume. Here's the same voiceover from above, but with a compressor applied:

Note that this also increases the background noise level during pauses and on quieter parts.

This is actually what most of the songs on the radio is called "Loudness Wars". Take a look at this waveform of the Metallica song's radio editing process compared to a downloadable version:

The radio editing process is compressed and normalized to 100%, while the downloadable version drops off in volume levels. However, this is an extreme example and you would never really compress your audio in practice. Sometimes this extra information is useful for "loudness," as in music, but for things like voiceovers, it should be fairly consistent.

Normalization is similar to compression and is usually the last step you perform. It takes the whole clip and makes the loudest part 100% volume. This is useful to maintain a consistent volume between different clips. Compressing makes the volume evenly within clips, and evenly through the normalization between clips. Taken together, your audio sounds a lot better.

Doing it Live

Both Audition and Audacity work primarily with recorded audio files, so they are not particularly useful for live streaming. To record the output into something like OBS, you need to route the audio in your computer.

For this we use Virtual Audio Cable from VB-Audio, a completely free program. VAC creates a "virtual output" that you can select as a speaker. It sends your system audio to another virtual input, which you can set as a microphone in any application. You will not hear the output if you use the virtual output, which is good.

Audition has a monitor function under the Multitrack section that allows you to apply some effects in real time and then output them to your headphone for monitoring. Usually you can listen to your microphone while recording. However, if you select the virtual cable input as the output device, VAC forwards the signal to a microphone input that you can capture in OBS. A pretty hacky solution, but it's the only way to run audition effects live on your audio.

They can not use all the features like noise reduction noise reduction and other things that need to be recorded beforehand, but many features will still work. Keep in mind that this is CPU-intensive with many effects and could affect the performance of your system during operation.

If you do not have an audition or do not need a full suite, you can do some basic EQing and mastering in VoiceMeeter Banana, also from VB-Audio. Banana is the Pro version of the regular VoiceMeter, but both are free.

Banana packs a full parametric equalizer that lets you adjust the sound of your microphone in real time.

19659002] There are a few other good features, such as a noise gate and some basic noise reduction. And of course you can mix several inputs and outputs before you send them to OBS.

And if all this does not meet your needs, you can always use VST plugins in OBS.

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