I am making a small promotional audiobook, and made a small investment in a microphone (the Samson Meteor, a USB mic). I know I could have got better for my money, but I wanted a mic that was compatible with my iPad for field recordings.
I made this recording on my computer, as I compared the noise levels with the iPad and they seemed slightly less on the computer.
I'm disappointed by the large amount of base-level noise. I guess it's something to do with using a laptop's internal sound card. I did everything I could to reduce it at source: got very close to the mic (2-3 inches, with a pop shield), and had the level as high as possible without clipping (actually it did clip once or twice, but I'll just re-record those bits).
I've done a fair bit of research on how to reduce noise in Audition (I'm using CS6), and get the impression that it really depends on the recording. So I'm uploading a sample here. (I hope mp3 is OK for this purpose. If not I can re-do it with wav.)
My plan of attack is as follows:
There are so many options with noise reduction. I have played around a lot, but still haven't found something that clears the noise up completely without introducing weird artifacts, especially noticeable during in-breaths.
Other options I am trying are the parametric equalizer (Vocal Enhancer preset?) and also a noise gate, though perhaps I shouldn't need that if I'm doing the noise reduction process properly.
Any and all advice is appreciated.
As it is a USB mic the audio doesn't go anywhere near the laptop's on board sound card but directly from the mic digitally via the USB into your recording software. It sounds more like acoustic background noise like a fridge or boiler or something else in the room. Problem is once you try compressing it it may sound even worse since you may hear it pumping with the compressor. Best to try and remove the noise at source when and where you are recording.
Thanks very much for your reply (and sorry it took me an age to get back to you).
It's really helpful for me to know that it's not soundcard stuff, but ambient acoustic stuff.
I'll try again and make sure I turn everything off in the room.
Besides turning things off, a few other things to think about:
First, sound follows the "inverse square law" which means that every time you double the distance from a sound source, you quarter the amount of sound you get. If, for example, a laptop fan is an issue, getting farther from the laptop (and yourself closer to the mic) can really help.
Second, most USB mics have a cardioid pick up pattern which means the direction directly behind the mic capsule has very little pick up. Arranging your recording session so the mic points directly at the sound source while the back points at the worst source of unwanted noise can also help a lot.
Third, most domestic rooms are acoustic nightmares. The real solution is to properly treat the acoustics but this is rarely possible in an average house. However, you can help the acoustics by putting soft material behind a person speaking and possibly to either side but not behind the mic. An easy way to do this is to use cheap PVC pipe to build a couple of L shaped frames and hand duvets or movers blankets from these. If you don't glue the 90 degree corners of the frames, they can be dismantled and stored under a bed or whatever.