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If you’re a music artist, podcaster, or anyone who relies on good-quality audio recording, you know how frustrating it can be when things don’t go as planned. From buzzing microphones to distorted sound, there is a myriad of potential problems that can arise during the recording process. But don’t worry, I’ve figured out the solutions for you.
I have been recording audio for my professional work, and over time, I’ve faced many similar problems. In this blog post, I will explore some of the most common audio recording problems and offer solutions for how to fix them. So, let’s dive straight into it.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Most Common Audio Recording Problems
- Tips For A Good Recording
Top 10 Most Common Audio Recording Problems
Here are the 10 most common recording problems people generally face, along with some quick solutions.
1. Wind noise
Your microphone will catch windy noises when you’re recording outdoors. This happens because strong gusts of wind hit your microphone that add a rumbling sound to your recording.
Well, the easiest way to fix it is to use foam windscreens which are available for almost all microphones. They can easily block a good amount of windy noise from your mics. That said, when you are shooting in a strong windy environment, you would need a fur windscreen as the foam windscreens fail to block out the strong wind noises.
These fur windscreens can easily block strong winds from hitting your microphone. If you can still hear a slight buzzing noise even after adding a fur windscreen, then you can use an equalizer which further decreases these unwanted noises.
Not just that, you can also use an equalizer to decrease the low frequency of the recorded audio, which will reduce the buzzing sound almost entirely.
2. Background noise
Background noises can come from any place, as ambient noise is always present and can not be eliminated. The easiest solution for this problem would be to invest in a shotgun mic.
It easily eliminates all kinds of noise as it only picks up the audio from a straight direction, which makes it a nice addition to your recording setup.
On top of that, the low-level ambiance noise can be removed from your recording using equalizer tools, audio editing tools, or by simply moving closer to the microphone.
Sound reverberates and bounces off of hard surfaces like walls, and they need soft surfaces which will dampen them. The easiest way to get rid of echo is to have your room completely echo-free. You can do this with sound absorbers available in stores and online. You can make them manually using sheets, mattresses, and drapes.
Not only that, but a room full of furniture also helps in avoiding echo. That said, if you have already completed your recording and have noticed an echo in it, then I’m afraid there is nothing you can do to remove it, and you will have to redo your work entirely.
4. Not using headphones
Using headphones while recording is crucial as it helps acknowledge audio problems while shooting. You can quickly notice many issues, like audio being too loud or rumbly before it is recorded. You can even monitor your audio in real-time by connecting your headset to a mixer. That said, if you don’t have a headset, you can still monitor your audio recording using wired earbuds, or you could do a test recording just to see if there are any problems.
5. Recording with AGC
Automatic Gain Control or AGC alters your recording in real-time. But the problem is that it’s not very accurate. So, there can be times when it softens your audio way too much when it detects a loud noise or vice-versa.
That’s why you should stick to the manual audio setting of your audio recording device, or if you have to use an AGC, then pay close attention to it. That being said, manual audio leveling tools are the way to go, as you can adjust the audio as you like, and even if you might feel a bit lazy in doing it manually, the result would be much better.
6. Using the wrong microphone type
Choosing the right microphone is crucial as it acts as the most important aspect of your recording sessions. There are typically three types of microphones- a condenser microphone, a dynamic microphone, and a ribbon microphone.
So, if you want a mic to pick up the most minute details, then the condenser microphone is your best bet. Condenser microphones come in two diaphragm types. The large diaphragm condenser is great for guitars and string-based instruments, and the small diaphragm condenser is for vocals.
Next are the dynamic microphones, which record loud sources like drums or bass guitars very accurately. Lastly, if you want to record folk songs or like how the older microphones used to sound, then the ribbon microphone will be your ideal choice.
7. Mic vs. Line levels
Both Mic and Line levels are used to describe the strength of an audio signal. They are generally used to differentiate between the signals for microphones and those which are meant for line-level inputs on mixing consoles and audio interfaces.
Talking about their strengths, the line level signals are much stronger than the mic levels, and that’s why the mic level signals need pre-amplification before recording or using in a sound system. This is because these mic levels are very sensitive to small variations in sound, and they must be amplified to give a strong signal to get recorded.
If you want to get rid of this problem, you can use a mic preamp. This tool amplifies the mic level signals to line level signals which makes the recording near perfect. Alternatively, some of the audio interfaces come with built-in mic preamps that amplify your mic levels. Through this, you can connect your microphone directly to the audio interface without any need for an external mic preamp.
In summary, the mic levels are weaker than the line level signals and they need preamplification before being recorded. You can do this with a mic preamp, using an audio interface, or using mixing consoles that come with built-in microphones.
8. Recording at Low Sample Rate or bit-depth
Recording at a low sample rate or bit-depth can greatly limit the dynamic range of your recorded audio. This dynamic range of audio refers to the difference between the loudest and quietest parts of the sound. So, if you’re recording at a low sample rate or bit-depth, it can cause the dynamic range of the recorded audio to be more compressed, which can make it sound less dynamic and less engaging.
In short, recording at a low sample rate or bit-depth can lead to distorted, noisy, and less dynamic recordings. That’s why it is generally recommended to record audio at the highest possible sample rate and bit-depth in order to achieve the best possible quality.
9. Recording levels
If you send too many signals to your recording device, it results in device overload and eventually causes nasty digital distractions in your audio. That’s why you should keep the signals in control. That said, you should also avoid sending fewer audio signals. This is because having low audio signals turns in a noisy recording which is very annoying to handle. And, if you try to increase the audio signal in the completed recording, it might make it worse.
So, the best way to get a great, clean audio recording is to pay close attention to the signal levels while recording. This results in a clean distortion and noise-free recording which is pleasant to hear and also makes audio editing easier for you.
10. Phase issue
Phase issues occur when the waveforms of the audio signals being recorded are not perfectly in sync with each other. This can cause the audio to sound thin, harsh, or have a hollow or disconnected quality. It can also cause problems with the imaging of the sound, resulting in a lack of clarity and definition in the mix.
There are a few different approaches to addressing phase issues in the audio recording:
– Using a phase alignment tool
Many digital audio workstations (DAWs) include a phase alignment tool that allows you to adjust the phase relationship between two audio tracks. This can be useful for aligning the phase of two microphones recording the same source or for aligning the phase of a microphone and a direct input recording of the same source.
– Using a phase inverter
A phase inverter is a tool that allows you to invert the phase of an audio signal. This can be useful for correcting phase issues when using multiple microphones to record a single source. You can often achieve a better overall phase relationship between the two signals by inverting the phase of one of the microphones.
– Using a delay
If phase issues are occurring due to the distance between the microphones and the sound source, you may be able to address the issue by using a delay on one of the microphones. This can help to align the waveforms of the two signals and improve the overall phase relationship.
It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for phase issues in audio recording, and the best approach will depend on the specific circumstances of the recording. Experimenting with different techniques and tools can help you find the best solution for your needs.
Tips For A Good Recording
There are several tips that can help you achieve a good audio recording. Here are a few:
1. Use a high-quality microphone
A high-quality microphone generally picks up sound accurately and clearly, which is essential for creating a good recording. As mentioned earlier, there are different types of microphones that can help you achieve the sound that you desire. Eg: DSLR Microphone
2. Choose the right location
The location where you are recording your audio can have a major impact on the quality of your audio. So, choose a location that is quiet and free of background noise.
3. Have a proper microphone technique
Hold the microphone correctly and at a consistent distance (preferably around six inches) from your mouth to make sure that your voice is recorded crystal clear.
4. Using a pop filter
A pop filter is used to reduce the plosive sounds (such as “p” and “b”) from your audio which can cause distortion in your recording.
5. Checking your levels
Before you begin a recording session, make sure that your microphone levels are set correctly. This eventually helps your recordings from being too loud or too quiet.
6. Using a tripod
A tripod keeps your microphone steady and at a very consistent distance from your mouth, which improves the quality of your recording and gives you constant audio input.
7. Using a noise reduction plugin
If you are recording in a location that is a little noisy or has some unwanted frequencies, you may want to use a noise reduction plugin to remove all such background noise from your recording.
By following all the above tips, you can confidently create a high-quality audio recording that is clear and easy to understand.
Popping can occur when recording audio if there is a sudden burst of air that hits the microphone, such as when a person is speaking too close to the microphone or when there is a sudden loud noise. This burst of air can cause the diaphragm of the microphone to move rapidly, creating a popping sound in the recording.
Other factors that can contribute to popping when recording include using a microphone with a high sensitivity or using a microphone that is not properly positioned or shielded from wind or other sources of noise. Using a pop filter, which is a device that is placed in front of the microphone to filter out bursts of air, can help reduce popping when recording.
It can also be helpful to pay attention to microphone techniques, such as speaking at a distance from the microphone and avoiding making sudden loud noises to reduce the likelihood of popping in the recording.
Sometimes cell phone signals interfere with the audio signals of your recordings. This could be solved by switching off your cellular device. However, the most damaging audio interference is EMI which is caused by unwanted electromagnetic waves being accidentally received while recording.
Still, you can take some steps to avoid this. First, the plugs and sockets need to be checked to make sure they are properly plugged in. You can also keep playback and recording equipment away from devices that might produce EMI and make sure your cellular device is switched off.
There are certain measures that you can use to determine if your audio recording is poor. For example, a poor audio recording has prominent background noise and chatter. Signs of popping, buzzing, or static noise are also a sign of poor recording sessions.
The easiest way to stop recording distortions is to continuously monitor your recording for distortions and unneeded noises. The best way to do so is to connect a headset to your mixer.
Distortions are also caused by bad microphone placement. So, you should always place them in a way that they complement each other. Equipment is also detrimental to avoid audio distortions along with recording clean-sounding audio. Finally, choose the right location and environment.
In conclusion, common audio recording problems can be resolved by following a few key steps. First, ensure that your microphone is properly connected and functioning. Next, check your recording settings and adjust them as needed. Additionally, minimize background noise and use a pop filter to reduce plosive sounds. Finally, use audio editing software to fine-tune your recording and eliminate any remaining issues. By following these steps, you can produce high-quality audio recordings with minimal effort.
If you are satisfied with these solutions, feel free to share them with anyone who is constantly facing problems while recording. Also, feel free to drop down a mail if you have any other queries which we haven’t covered yet.
Since the time I got my first pair of headphones in 2012, I’ve been fascinated by these little gadgets that have the power to change our moods through our favorite music. Whether it was the cheap $5 earphones or the premium JBL headphones, I have played my favorite music on tons of different audio devices for all these years.
At AudioReputation, I test and review headphones of all kinds. From popular earbuds like the Airpods pro to the expensive HIFIMAN Susvara, I always perform a deep test and present my honest and unbiased opinion to my readers.