You’ve sat down at your desk, recording an amazing song with your new recording equipment – a microphone.
The only problem is that it sounds TERRIBLE when you listen back to it!
STOP. Before you go out and buy another microphone, here are the best tips and tricks on how to make a mic sound better!
5 Ways to Make Studio Mics Sound Better
What are “studio” microphones? This includes microphones such as:
- Dynamic microphones
- Condenser microphones
They are highly sensitive and don’t do well with very loud sounds. Remember this as it’s the reason for one of our tips and tricks.
1. Remove Unnecessary Background Noise
Background noise can really disturb mic recordings.
These noises can be wind from a fan or air conditioning unit, typing sounds from a keyboard, dogs barking, or a constant humming from electrical interference.
Try to record in a QUIET room to reduce noise in your recordings.
To reduce electrical interference, move your microphone cables away from your computer or any other electronics.
PRO TIP: Most condenser microphones work better with a pop filter attached. It helps remove an annoying background noise that appears in recordings every time you say anything with “p” in it. These are called “plosives.”
2. Keep Your Microphone Off the Desk
Most people think that buying a high-quality microphone like a condenser mic and a pop filter is enough.
However, placing it directly on a table can easily introduce unwanted background noise.
If you’re recording and accidentally touch your desk, the microphone will pick up the noise in the recording, and often this can’t be removed afterward, wasting your time and effort.
Buy a microphone stand or boom arm. This does two things – it will keep the mic off the table while making it highly adjustable.
You won’t risk ruining recordings while having a more comfortable recording position.
3: Maintain the Right Distance Between You and the Microphone
When recording, especially if you’re singing your heart out, it can be tempting to move back and forth with the flow of the music.
However, you might be disappointed with how you sound in the recording.
If you’re too close, the mic picks up too much of the lower frequencies or bass in your voice, which will sound unnatural.
The pop filter will not block out much bass if you are too close.
Conversely, if you’re too far away, your voice will sound thin and weak as the mic will not pick up any low frequencies.
The right distance between you and your microphone would be a few inches away. Not directly on the mic, but not distant.
This will allow all sound frequencies to be recorded at the same audio level.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The most optimal distance to your microphone also depends on how loud you’re speaking or singing. If you have a louder voice than normal, you may want to turn down the gain level, mic level or stand a bit farther from the mic.
4. Tune In Your Microphone Settings
Ever heard of the terms gain, reverb, input levels, and noise gate?
These are settings for your mic that can either make or break your microphone sound quality.
Professional recording and editing apps like Adobe Audition or Apple’s GarageBand have settings where you can change the gain level, reverb, input levels, and the noise gate.
Each microphone has different characteristics, so there’s no one set of settings that will work for everyone.
Instead, you should play around and test these settings to see which works best for your specific microphone.
WARNING: For condenser microphones, change the gain and volume levels in small increments as they’re more sensitive than something like a dynamic microphone.
5. Acoustically Treat the Room Where You Will Record
Studio microphones are very sensitive, meaning they will pick up any little noise reflected back at it by your room.
A small room with bad acoustics will give your audio track echo and noise and could be too loud or not loud enough.
If you have a room like this, install acoustic dampening foam around the hard surfaces in your room. This will absorb the sound rather than reflect it back towards the mic.
PRO TIP: If you’re a bit lost with acoustic treatments, the best place to start would be watching a video about treating a room acoustically for everything from music to speaking.
5 Ways to Make a Headset Mic Sound Better
Making a headset mic sound better needs different tips, as it is unlike a studio microphone. Here are some tips to improve headset audio quality.
1. Make Sure the Microphone Has Free Space Around It
When we say “free space,” we mean nothing should be blocking the recording devices’ ability to hear your voice. This is because it greatly affects the audio quality on microphones.
For example: if your hair isn’t tied back and moves in between your mouth and the mic, you may hear distortion or noise listening back to the recording.
REMEMBER: A headset mic is not very sensitive compared to condenser and dynamic microphones, so even a small blockage will ruin an otherwise clean recording.
2. Make Sure the Mic Is Positioned Properly
Different mics have different pickup patterns, the most popular being the cardioid polar pattern.
This means that the mic will only pick up the sound 180 degrees in front of the indicated side.
Switching to the correct side could greatly improve audio fidelity if you have this cardioid polar pattern mic and are recording on the wrong side.
The polar pattern for each microphone is usually indicated on the audio product box. If it isn’t, search online for the correct side to record on.
TAKE NOTE: Most headset boom mics have this pattern but are more narrowly focused on the mouth area. This is good because it allows the mic to focus on just your voice better.
3. Make Sure the Connection Is Stable
None of these other tips will matter if your connection to the sound source and the microphone are faulty.
The cable should be untangled and should be placed on hard surfaces like a tabletop. This is so that microphonic noises don’t disturb the audio quality.
A tabletop versus clothes is an example of the difference between a hard surface and a soft one.
The sound of the cable bumping and rubbing against your shirt will be picked up by the mic, which is another of the outside noises you want to avoid.
Check for frays or tears in the cable, and replace or fix them to restore full audio fidelity.
If your connection is rock solid, it will make all the difference in transforming your audio recording, live streams, etc., to sound better.
4. Get a Closed-Back Headset, Avoid Open-Backs
The reason why open-back headsets are not recommended is that audio leaks out much more than in closed-backs.
This isn’t good for recordings because it will record both the audio coming out of your headset and your voice.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the closed-back headphone or headset you get doesn’t make noise when you move your head around. This will be heard in recordings too.
5. Try Not to Walk Around or Move When Using a Headset
It can be tempting to move around with a headset, as the advantage is that the mic follows your face wherever you look or go.
However, constant movements will cause the cable to bounce around, making noise. It also will add a little bit of wind noise to your recording.
Stay still; either sit down or stand up. This will allow the headset mic to capture audio clearly.
5 Ways to Make Phone Microphone Sound Quality Better
Phone mics are just as sensitive to loud sounds as headsets but do much better at focusing on your voice in places like a noisy room.
This is because the phone software reduces background noises automatically.
However, you should still take steps to make your phone mic sound better.
1. Record Using Your Phone’s Built-in Feature – Recording App
You may be tempted to download a third-party recording app to make your phone’s mic sound better, but it doesn’t always record in high audio quality.
Unlike many third-party apps, your phone’s default recording app, like Voice Memos on iOS, will not have any accessibility restrictions.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to enable the highest audio quality setting for the default audio recording app in your phone’s settings.
2. Hold Your Phone Properly
A mistake most people make when they record is holding their phones incorrectly. Ensure that your hand isn’t covering your phone’s mic hole.
Most phones have their microphone hole located at the bottom to reduce background noise from wind.
It may be confusing as phones like an iPhone can have multiple mics in different places. However, the main one used by the recording app is still at the bottom.
REMEMBER: Even though mobile device microphones use ambient noise reduction, some background noises will still filter through. Try to move to a room without outside noises to make your audio recording sound better.
3. Clear the Phone Mic of Dust or Debris
Mic quality on your mobile device can go down if you have a mic blocked by dust or debris. This is a common problem because we bring our phones everywhere we go.
Use a toothbrush to gently scrape off the microphone holes from the device microphone. Sounds should then be able to pass through uninterrupted and distortion-free.
WARNING: Be slow and gentle in using the toothbrush, as putting too much pressure on the microphone of your device can damage it.
4. Close Other Applications When Recording on Your Phone
Other apps like games that play audio through the speakers will disturb your mic.
The additional processing power your phone will need will also make it lag and not record your audio properly.
Close other apps on your phone by swiping them out.
5. If You Need to Listen to Music While Recording, Use Headphones
Headphones differ from headsets in that headphones don’t have a mic.
If you connect a headphone to your phone, you can listen to your instrumental track while still using your phone’s mic to record audio.
This is much better than using the phone speakers; as said earlier, it will disturb your mic.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When researching for headphones to buy, prioritize those with detachable cables. This way, you can buy a cable with and without an inline mic. You can then record using either the mic on your phone or as a headset!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about microphones.
Mics can be confusing as many are marketed towards the professional market so some terms may be confusing.
Why Don’t I Sound Good When I Record Myself?
Multiple factors can change how you sound from your microphone versus in real life. However, you can make adjustments to fix them.
The Mic Is Too Close to Another Object or Wall
Your voice may bounce off and be recorded when any mic is too close to a wall, especially in a smaller room. This would make your voice seem doubled or that it has an echo.
To fix this, try moving your microphone to a more open area. This will make your voice sound more natural.
The Mic Itself Has a “Colored” Sound
If your voice sounds too tinny or has too much bass, maybe your mic has a bias toward recording certain sounds louder than others.
Human voices vary in pitch and therefore sound different.
Try going into your recording software settings and looking for the equalizer.
You can boost or cut the volume of certain sound frequencies to your taste, and afterward, it should sound fuller or natural!
You can then save and use these settings for your microphone every time you open the recording software.
REMEMBER: Your voice will always sound different listening to it on a recording because you hear your own voice in real life with all the acoustic vibrations in your head. Hearing your voice without that will always sound weird.
How Do I Know if My Microphone is Side-Address or Front-Address?
Technical terms like these are confusing, but they only have one simple difference: the direction where you should speak into the mic.
- Side address means the mic is meant to be recorded from the side facing you.
- Front address means the mic is meant to be recorded from the end or top facing you.
Whichever one you choose depends on the mic boom stand you buy and your setup size. You can find data about which address it is from the microphone’s box.
What if You Can’t Afford to Acoustically Treat Your Room?
An alternative can be to use items you can find at home, like clothes, blankets, bedsheets, curtains, or other fabric materials.
Use these items and drape them over where you would normally place acoustical treatment items.
Remember to place these items in front of where you will record and behind the mic.
For example, hang a bedsheet over the wall facing your mic instead of buying foam panels.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Ensure that the fabric you put doesn’t generate its own noise by securing it down. It can be heard in recordings too.
How Do I Improve Voice Quality?
Your voice quality doesn’t just depend on the mic but on your performance, too!
Try not to move forwards or backward during recordings, as it will change the volume of your voice in the recording. Keep a constant distance.
Try to raise input volume or gain if you sound too quiet, or lower it if it sounds too noisy.
PRO TIP: Take regular breaks and drink warm water in between takes so that your throat doesn’t get dry.
How to Increase Microphone Quality on PC or Mac?
Besides the tips we gave you, the main thing to consider is your computer’s sound card.
Professional recording apps may not work if your PC or Mac has a sound card with not enough gain, input, or max volume level.
You can check compatibility by researching for data about your computer’s sound or audio card.
How to Increase Microphone Quality on Discord?
Discord is a popular voice communication app that allows you much control over your microphone or microphones.
It also allows you to pick between multiple mics.
Enable these settings:
- Noise suppression
- Push to talk
Discord will use software to automatically reduce noise and ambient room sounds.
Pressing a key before speaking will ensure your microphone won’t pick up other noises when you’re not ready to talk.
Adjusting your mic’s volume level or gain will also help if you sound too quiet or too loud.
Why is Phone Call Mic Quality So Bad?
Phone calls have different levels depending on the connection type. Most phone calls run through the old POTS analog system, which had a really low audio quality.
Now that phones are digital, phone call quality over 3G, 4G, and 5G is better.
However, only certain apps fully use this, and most phones will default to the old analog standard.
TAKE NOTE: If the person on the line can’t hear you properly on an analog phone call, try asking them to call over apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Viber. These apps use wifi with much higher quality audio.
Getting your mic sound better can be tricky, but if you follow the tips we’ve outlined here, you’ll have your best setup – one that you won’t need to adjust for a long time.
The more you learn about how a mic sounds better through small adjustments, the better you can hear the difference.
If you need more tips, we recommend video watching on YouTube to learn more about input, gain, pop filters, volume, and audio fidelity.
As you progress in your career in music production, podcasting, speaking, streaming, video creation, etc., you’ll eventually want or need to upgrade.
As long as you remember to adjust your setup using the tips we’ve given, you’ll do great!