New home recording studios may deal with an interesting problem off the bat: microphones sound too “airy,” or pick up too much of a room’s noise to make really high quality recordings. These are normal problems with high-quality mics, and with audio recording programs and the right miking and connection techniques, they can be eliminated.
Here’s a look at how you can get rid of excessive microphone air and noise in your home studio.
1. Check the connections. First of all, you’ve got no chance of eliminating the problem if you’re using substandard connections to get sound from your microphone to your computer. Invest in a recording interface, or at least a mixer and a decent sound card for your computer. Run the mixer to your line-in jack on the sound card, not the microphone jack, as the line-in has a set volume and won’t add distortion. Make sure all the cords that you use are of good quality, and look for nicks or other problems in all of the cords, including the XLR going to the microphone itself.
2. Know your microphone. Large diaphragm microphones often have different settings for different mic applications; one setting might cut out high end or low end, so be sure to know your microphone. Experiment to find good microphone placement, too–obviously it won’t do you a whole lot of good to spend a ton of time on mic settings if you’re singing too close or too far from the microphone.
3. Get a good level check. This is the most common mistake that young home producers make. You’ve got to get a good level check before you can expect your mic bleed and mic air problems to go away. Have the instrumentalist or singer check the microphone, and turn the volume of the mic up as loud as you can without going repeatedly into the red “clipping” area on your mixer. This will eliminate most of the problems with mic air, which are actually caused when a poorly recorded sound file is amplified too high.
4. EQ, compression, and other tricks. If you’ve checked everything else and you still get too much air or other noise from a microphone, you may need to fix the problems with a little bit of creative mixing. Compressing the signal with a digital compression tool will eliminate sound that doesn’t reach a certain amplitude level, and can be configured for certain frequencies, so if you’ve got a lot of high-end sound, you can deal with most of it by applying a high-end compression effect.
EQ can also be used, though if you’re not careful, you’ll eliminate part of the natural sound that you were recording with the microphone. For this reason, it’s best to use a parametric equalizer when dealing with mic noise, as it gives you the freedom to adjust the settings of the EQ to take out specific sounds, such as a high end bit of air.
Do you know of any other ways to avoid excess microphone sound in a home studio? Post in our comments section below.