[This post is part of a blogging collaboration by Later Levels and Hundstrasse called #BloggersWhoStream. Make sure to give them both credit and follow the hashtag on Twitter for more posts from the community!]
Having a good mic won’t help your stream if it isn’t configured properly. Particularly if you have a condenser mic, which you probably do if you own a USB mic. Condenser mics – such as the Blue Snowball, Blue Yeti, or the Audio-Technica AT2020 among many others – work best in a controlled studio environment.
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t streaming in professional studios. Without any adjustments, your voice will probably distort when you get loud, be difficult to hear over your gameplay when you speak softly, and pick up weird ambient noises in-and-around your house.
It’s mission critical to address these issues, as your microphone is your primary method of communication and content creation on stream. You can address most of these issues in OBS, Streamlabs OBS, or whatever digital or analog mixer you may use. Follow along with this guide and it should get your microphone audio to a better place!
2. In the “Microphone Properties” menu, select the “Levels” tab and make sure the mic is set to somewhere between 70 and 80%.
3. Go to OBS. From your audio mixer, click on the gear icon and select “Filters”.
2. From the Mic menu, click on the “+” icon and add these three things in order: Noise Suppression, Noise Gate, then Compressor. Order matters, so make sure they’re in this sequence.
3. Set your Noise Suppression level. This feature is meant to take out ambient background noise, such as the fan in the background, your furnace firing up, or someone driving their car past the house. Start at -10 dB, and lower it until your mic isn’t picking up any more ambient noise.
4. Set your Noise Gate. This is meant to remove subtle noises, such as alarm clocks going off in an adjacent room, breathing, and other distractions. Focus on the Close Threshold and Open Threshold options. What you want to do is talk at the quietest level you would realistically talk while on stream and adjust the Close Threshold meter. Keep talking at that level and raising the Close Threshold until your voice starts to cut out. Then bump up your dB by a few decibels and set the Open Threshold to a level a bit above the Close Threshold.
This is great for removing a lot of subtle or background noise, but it won’t completely remove the sound of your keyboard if you’re using a condenser mic. If negating keyboard sounds is important to you, consider using a dynamic mic such as the Samson Q2U.
5. Last but not least is the Compressor. This filter is incredibly important, as it raises the volume during your quieter moments and limits the volume during your loudest moments. What you end up with is a more consistent mic output that won’t distort and will be easier to mix with other audio sources. You can copy my settings above, but ideal settings will be dependent on your voice, your mic, and the room you’re in. Follow these steps to tune it for your situation.
For your Ratio, set that to 4:1. This is an industry standard compression setting.
For Threshold, start at zero and talk into your microphone at a level that you consider to be around the loudest you would realistically get. Now lower the Threshold until your voice starts to get quieter. You can do this by either monitoring the sound in your headphones, or by looking at the mixer and seeing the colour bars drop as you lower the Threshold.
Once it starts to go down, drop the Threshold setting by 10 dB.
Then, go to Output Gain and raise the volume while you talk at that loudest level. Raise it until the level just touches the red zone. Then lower the gain a bit and keep talking at that loudest level to ensure that your voice gets close to the red, but never crosses that line.
With everything set, your mic should be tuned to block out ambient sound, background noise, prevent distortion during your loudest moments, and raise your volume during quiet moments so that your voice won’t get lost in the mix. Fingers crossed that these settings helped you out! Even after following these instructions, I encourage you to do more research and continue to improve your audio quality. Your mic is arguably the most important piece of equipment, so make sure you set it properly.
Furthermore, there are other tidbits to note when it comes to using a mic:
- Know which side of the microphone you’re supposed to speak into. Many mics have a front and back. If you’re talking into it from the wrong angle, it won’t pick up your voice properly.
- Make sure it’s placed at a proper distance from your mouth. The right distance will vary from mic-to-mic, but I place mine around five inches away from my mouth with the aid of a boom arm. If you’re too far away, the mic will pick up the echo in your room. If you’re too close, your voice will have an unnatural amount of bass to it and you’re more likely to distort your sound when you make plosive sounds. Find a range in the middle that minimizes both issues.
- Speaking of plosives, you can also minimize the harsh “p” sound from distorting your you audio by using a wind cover or pop filter.
If you have any questions about mic settings or streaming in general, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them. Best of luck in your streaming adventures!
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