In this article, we show you the 4 best ways to fix a sensitive microphone, that sounds on edge or picks up too much background noise.
Quick Answer: To solve this problem, you can do it in four ways. Position the mic not too close nor too far from your mouth, just 4” away. Keep your voice louder than the background noise. Turn off the compressor. Use anything to improve soundproofing from room to room or anything soft within the room to improve sound dampening.
Proper Microphone Placement
The first way to fix a sensitive microphone is proper microphone placement.
If you have the microphone too close, you are going to hear too many breath noises.
If you have it too far away then you are going to be recording the room much more than the voice.
We tested this with the Rode Nt1 Condenser microphone and found that 4” away from the mouth to be the sweet spot.
We observed that when the microphone was placed too close to the mouth, it had a tendency of picking up more mouth sounds than the sound of the voice. It was also more susceptible to capturing breath noises which can be extremely distracting.
When the microphone was too far away, it would capture a lot of reflections around the room including reverb and echo. This led us to turn up the fader of the microphone to get more of our voice.
Eventually, having a microphone far away will get you less of what you want.
Ideally, you’d find the sweet spot when you’re far enough that you’re not hearing mouth noises but close enough that you’re not hearing background noise or ambient noise in your environment.
While positioning your microphone, you want to think of this in terms of signal-to-noise ratio.
For example, (using estimated figures) you may want the voice of the microphone mix to be about 95% to 97% while about 3% of the mix to be the background noise.
But if the microphone is too far away, you will probably be getting about 80% of your voice and 20% of what the microphone is picking up is all these other sounds that can come in like planes flying overhead, reflections on the room, fan noises and other sounds.
The Headphone Trap
The second way to fix a sensitive microphone is by avoiding the headphone trap.
This is how the headphone trap typically goes:
If your headphone volume is too loud and you’re doing a longer recording, you will subconsciously get self-conscious and start speaking quieter.
As speak quietly, you’ll notice that your recording volume is quite low, so you’ll turn the microphone volume up.
Then again, you’ll get self-conscious because the headphones are too loud and so you’ll speaker quieter as you’re recording.
Then you’ll turn the microphone volume up, again.
Soon, you’ll notice that the microphone is really on edge and you’ll be very uncomfortable as you hear a lot more clicks and mouth noise in your recording.
This will make the microphone seem more sensitive than it should.
If you cut the headphone volume in half then you will naturally speak at a louder volume, which gives the microphone more signal to work with.
Going back to the first point, this has everything to do with the signal-to-noise ratio.
If you can get your voice louder than all the other background sounds, your microphone will not seem too sensitive.
Too Much Compression
The third way we can fix a sensitive microphone is by dialing back your audio compression.
If you are using a compressor in your audio, it will make the quieter moments louder. Whenever you add makeup gain into your compressor you end up compressing your voice. As a result, your background noise becomes louder and louder.
This is exactly the opposite of what you want if you have a sensitive microphone.
For less background noise and more of the main source, try reducing your compression or turning off your compressor in your next podcast or live stream recording.
This will help you notice when you re-add it that you get more background noise with an aggressive compressor.
Sound Dampening / Proofing
The fourth way you can improve the sensitivity of your microphone is in two parts: sound dampening and soundproofing.
Sound dampening involves using soft surfaces within your room. This will prevent reflections in your room from bouncing around and getting delayed sounds like reverbs and echo coming back to the microphone.
Examples of soft surfaces include blankets, towels, drapes, foam pads, carpets, couches etc.
For soundproofing, you need heavy weight material in order to isolate your room from the outer environment.
This can be achieved by: concrete walls, adding rubber between the studs and the drywall, doing double drywall, using heavy insulation and even having bookshelves between rooms.
Anything like that will help improve soundproofing from room to room. Anything soft in your room will help in sound dampening.
4 Ways To Fix A SENSITIVE Mic! | Pricing & Specs
- Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone: http://currentprice.io/rode_nt1_kit
- Rodecaster Pro 2 Audio Mixer: http://currentprice.io/rodecaster2
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Headphones: https://currentprice.io/beyer_dt_990
- XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/xlr_cable
- TRS Cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_cable
- Mic Stand: https://currentprice.io/desk_stand
- Rode PSA1+ Boom Arm: http://currentprice.io/psa1_plus
- Quality Acoustic Treatment Panels: http://currentprice.io/soundpanels