A noisy recording environment can be a problem for anyone who records audio, whether doing it as a hobby or as part of your job.
If other people are speaking in the room while you are recording, they might be picked up by your microphone and recorded along with your own voice. It’s not exactly what you want when trying to create an audio file that is just your voice and nothing else.
Below are some easy ways to stop a mic from picking up other people’s voices:
- Dampen the room with sound absorbers.
- Change your mic’s position and angle.
- Use a noise gate.
- Turn down your mic’s gain.
- Turn off other mics hooked up to your setup.
- Use directional microphones.
- Move to a different room.
- Try a different mic.
- Record at the right time of day.
Table of Contents
- How Do I Stop My Mic from Picking Up other People’s Voice
- 1. Dampen the Room With Sound Absorbers
- 2. Change Your Mic’s Position and Angle to reduce background noise
- 3. Use a Noise Gate as an ambient noise reduction tool
- 4. Turn Down Your Mic’s Gain
- 5. Turn Off Other Mics Hooked Up to Your Setup
- 6. Use Directional Microphones to prevent mic background noise
- 7. Move to a Different Room to Reduce Background Noise
- 8. Try a Different Mic
- 9. Record At the Right Time of Day
- Why Do Mics Pick Up Other People’s Voices?
- Are there tools to stop background noises?
Below, we’ll explore some of the simplest yet most effective ways to stop a mic from picking up other people’s voices.
How Do I Stop My Mic from Picking Up other People’s Voice
1. Dampen the Room With Sound Absorbers
When sound is produced, it creates pressure waves that move through the air.
These waves cause objects to vibrate and bounce back as they strike them. This causes an echo effect, making it hard to converse with your listening audience in that space.
If your recording space is nothing but an empty room with some soft furniture and thin curtains, you may consider adding some soundproofing material to the walls. This will help to prevent other ambient sounds from bouncing around the room.
But what if you don’t want to change the look of your room completely? Or spend a fortune on acoustic foam, acoustic panels, or very expensive soundproofing materials? In that case, you can:
- Hang thick curtains or fabric around the walls.
- Purchase and install special wall coverings that have a layer of sound-absorbing material on the back.
- Add more furniture to the recording space (a bookshelf, wooden tables, sofa, etc.).
- Get a thick carpet.
These creative additions help reduce background noise by reducing the sound bouncing back from the walls. They can also reduce background noise from adjacent rooms and the outside.
2. Change Your Mic’s Position and Angle to reduce background noise
Mic positioning bears a significant impact on the quality of your recording.
One reason a mic might pick up other voices or ambient noise is that the other person in the recording is too close to the microphone.
Try moving your microphone farther away from them. You may also try rotating the position of your microphone, so it is facing away from other people in the room and towards you instead. This enables you to capture cleaner, clearer sounds with less ambient noise or background sounds.
3. Use a Noise Gate as an ambient noise reduction tool
It doesn’t matter when or where you record.
If it’s not a professional studio, there will always be unwanted noise in the background. And that’s going to include background noise from your air conditioning unit, fans whirring away, or your friend’s conversations that aren’t ideal for your recording.
A noise gate is an audio filter that cuts off unwanted background noise when detected in your audio signal. They usually come in a hardware or software package and are commonly used in live performances, professional studios, and home studios.
Essentially, a noise gate can help get rid of background noise such as:
- Low-frequency electrical hum
- Room reverb
- Sudden movements
- Background noise
- Ambient sound
A noise gate makes it easier to listen to just the desired audio while reducing background noise. This is particularly helpful if you do not want unwanted guest voices in your recordings or noisy neighbors.
4. Turn Down Your Mic’s Gain
In audio, the gain represents the amount of amplification applied to an audio signal.
Audio signals must be amplified because they are weak and require strengthening so they can be heard clearly. The stronger the amplification, the louder the sounds become.
Most people mistake gain for the actual volume. In the real sense, however, gain refers to the volume of the input signal. If you set your gain too high, you may even end up clipping (distorting) your audio. As such, you might want to turn down the gain knob to a level you’re comfortable with.
If you’re regularly experiencing audio inconsistencies, even with the volumes on your podcast’s guests and hosts set at an equal level, it might be due to your gain levels being too high.
If the levels are too high, your mic will pick up everything, including the sound of your feet, mouse-clicking, or keyboard background noise.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution. Simply locate the gain knob on your mic and turn it down. Most microphones have a gain control knob. If yours doesn’t, look for one on your receiver/amplifier/audio interface.
Some apps allow you to monitor your audio in real-time. This enables you to see what level your mic is picking up, so you can turn down the gain accordingly.
5. Turn Off Other Mics Hooked Up to Your Setup
This applies mostly to podcasting or vlogging setups whereby you may have more than one microphone connected to your audio interface.
You’ll probably use a different microphone when you record a new person.
This increases the likelihood that the combined microphones may pick up voices or background noise from the surroundings when not in use.
Switch other microphones off whenever your guests are not using them; if it helps, switch off all other microphones connected to the setup, including webcam mics and headphone microphones. Only turn on the microphones in use.
Most audio interfaces have a mute button or switch to silence microphones. You can also lower the volume of your guests’ microphones by turning down the gain.
You might want to do this if you notice that your guests’ microphones are much more sensitive than yours (they’re much more likely to capture background noise or ambient noise if they’re overly sensitive).
6. Use Directional Microphones to prevent mic background noise
As the name implies, directional microphones are best suited for recording audio in a specific direction.
They can filter out ambient sounds that aren’t coming from the source they’re facing. This helps eliminate unwanted background noise from other sources so that the mic reads only sound from the source you need to record.
If you’re using an omnidirectional microphone, it’s time to switch to its opposite counterpart. Omnidirectional mics capture unwanted sounds from all directions equally. What does this mean for your sound quality?
If you have other people nearby or with you inside your recording station, there’s a good chance that your omnidirectional mic will record them.
Always point your mic towards the speaker to get the cleanest audio.
7. Move to a Different Room to Reduce Background Noise
Even with the best intentions and careful planning, other people in your home or workspace may make things difficult when trying to record clean audio.
Try moving to a different room to prevent these outside noises from ruining your recordings.
If there is no choice but to record in the same room as other people, try changing your location in the room. For example, if you are recording yourself in front of a computer and other people are sitting on the other side of the table, move to the part of the room where it’s a little quieter.
8. Try a Different Mic
Another thing you can do is try a different microphone altogether.
It might be that the type of microphone you’re using right now picks up voices more than others. If you are using a highly sensitive condenser mic, it will likely pick up all the background noise in the room as well.
So, why not switch to a standard dynamic microphone?
9. Record At the Right Time of Day
Late evenings and early mornings are often quieter than the rest of the day.
This is partly due to the number of people in the area. There will be more passersby, shoppers, and business people during the day than at night when most people have gone home for the evening.
People are also likely to be quieter in the early morning than in the middle of the day. You can turn this to your advantage by scheduling your recording sessions for late evenings or early mornings.
Last but not least, you can always politely ask other occupants in the room if their voices don’t add to your recording. You could also politely ask them to lower their voices for a few minutes if they don’t mind.
Why Do Mics Pick Up Other People’s Voices?
When recording sound for video, you want to capture only the sound you want and not any other unwanted sounds.
However, home recording studios are not up to the professional mark, and you’ll be hearing other peoples’ voices in your recordings if they’re close enough.
Microphones pick up other peoples’ voices due to high sensitivity audio settings, people talking close to the mic, and lack of soundproofing. Thankfully, the solutions are simple. You can lower your mic’s sensitivity sound settings and soundproof your recording space.
Of course, several other things can cause unwanted background noises to be picked up by your microphone. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. The Mic Is Too Close to the Speaker
One of the most common causes of unwanted background noise is that the microphone is too close to the speaker.
If you were to record two people talking but get super close to one of them, the microphone’s proximity to the other speaker would also cause that sound to be recorded.
This can be avoided by positioning the microphone at some distance from the other person to prevent their voice from being recorded as well.
2. Lack of Soundproofing
If you are recording in a professional studio, they likely have soundproofing and isolation built into their walls and floors.
This helps to ensure that the other background noises in the room do not get picked up by the microphones.
But unfortunately, you can’t always count on having those luxuries in your home studio. If the walls in your home aren’t soundproof, you will likely have a hard time recording without unwanted background noise from other rooms in the house getting recorded.
3. Room Acoustics and Ambient Noise Reduction
The room acoustics play a big part in how other people’s voices get recorded when recording at home.
Reduce Ambient Noise
The sound of your voice (and other peoples’ voices) always bounces off the walls.
Depending on the room’s acoustics, different sounds will demonstrate different behaviors when reflected from the walls.
If there happens to be a curved wall in the room, it may amplify the other person’s voice and make it louder. This is to say that if you are singing in a room with curved walls, you will find that other people’s voices are often picked up more than you’d want them to.
4. Mic Sensitivity to Background Noise
The more sensitive the microphone, the more likely they will pick up voices from other sources.
Mics pick up ambient background noise like street or public traffic sounds or even inside your own home (the sound of water running or even people talking in another room).
5. Bad Placement
It is a simple fact that if you place the microphone in a bad location, other people’s voices will end up being picked up by the mic.
If your mic is placed too close to another person, then it will pick up their voice instead of your own.
If it is placed too far away from you, then it will pick up other background noises such as footsteps or people talking nearby.
When using a condenser microphone with phantom power, make sure that it doesn’t face directly toward where there might be another person talking – especially if they’re right beside it. If this happens and their voice winds up on your recording, you will be stuck with a track that has two people in it.
6. Poor Quality Microphones
The last thing you want to happen when recording is for a microphone to be picking up unwanted sounds when it shouldn’t be doing that.
This can be a big problem if you are using cheap mics that don’t have noise-canceling/prevention features. Investing in high-quality microphones can significantly improve your recording sound quality.
Are there tools to stop background noises?
The noise control feature is part of a number of big software names in this area.
The noise suppression tool allows for removing ambient sound from recordings. Krisp Wavosaur, the Samson Sounddeck Wavepad Noisegate, and others are available for download so you can remove background noise from your music.
Wavosaur and Wavepad have an acoustic interface similar to GarageBand and Audacity which allows the noise suppression editing of ambient noise and allows Krisp, Samson Sound Deck, and NoiseGate to disable ambient noise.
Hopefully, this article has provided sufficient information on how to prevent other people’s voices and background noise from being picked up by your microphone.
Remember that it can be challenging to control the environment when recording outside, so you may need to do some extra soundproofing or adjust some sound settings to get clean audio.
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