My Pro member, Karen, recently wrote me about something she’d seen on one of the groups she follows on LinkedIn, Audiobook Narrators. (She’s a really good one.)
She works very hard to make sure her space is as quiet as possible, but noticed that getting rid of excessive room noise was proving next to impossible.
The potential issue:
If you use a Windows-based laptop or desktop, you might have more than one microphone open on your computer, even though you’ve only selected one via Audacity.
That’s a big problem.
Here’s the solution.
First off, if you’re a Macintosh user, unless you’ve added some pretty obvious sound enhancement software to your Mac, this won’t apply to you. You should still read it, so you can help your fellow Windows-based VO artists that might not know about this.
If you have more than one mic open at a time, you’re in for some bad recordings. Having two mics open doubles the sound input, adds the poor pickup of your voice by that other microphone to the clean recording you’re making with your professional mic, and nefariously adds room noise to your final audio. You may drive yourself crazy trying to silence that extra noise.
There’s an easy fix.
If you have a Windows XP (or earlier) PC with a sound control panel that has a “mixer” control that allows you to have more than one input active at once, this can definitely be the case. Here’s a reference:
On that page, you’ll see this image of the
Sound control panel’s
Capture mixer, and it tells the whole hidden story:
Notice that rather than being a drop-down menu of which mic to have active at any one time, you can have any or all of them active, and “mixed” together, based on where the volume control is set on each channel.
You could, without knowing it, have not only your chosen mic open and active, say, the audiotechnica AT-2020 USB Plus I recommend, but also the built-in mic that comes with every computer made. If that mic’s channel is active, and the input level is set high enough, you’ll get a mix of the sound you want from your AT-2020, AND the sound you don’t want from that other built in mic.
Bottom line: if you have this style of control panel, make sure everything OTHER than your AT-2020 is muted.
Here’s how to make sure:
From the toolbar, click
Start > (
Control Panel >
Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices >
Sounds and Audio devices. Then, click on the
Audio tab, and in the
Sound Recording panel, select the microphone you want from the drop-down list, and click
This will bring up that mixer pictured above, labeled
Capture. From here, just make sure that ONLY your AT-2020 is active, and that the built in mic has no check in the Select box under the volume slider (or that any other input is selected). (Note: depending upon your computer, your mic might not be labeled by its manufacturere or model number – you may have had to, at some point, set up a generic USB Microphone Device.)
After you’ve OK’d your way out, make sure to restart Audacity, or if you have the latest version, click on the
Transport menu and choose
Rescan Audio Devices, just to make sure Audacity knows what the heck is going on.
And again, on Macintosh, the choice is singular – you can only have one input active at a time, unless you’ve added some special software to the system.
Hope this helps.