At the end of the day, how you sound is a big part of your identity to other people online. Sounding good is basically the equivalent of good hygiene. You should care, and if you do care, here are some easy ways you can make some good impressions with better audio.
#1 - Good source audio beats fixing problems!
Simply put, get a good microphone! The first thing to know about microphones is that they all sound different. The second thing to know, you can’t tell how good a mic is based on the simple specs, like 20hz - 20khz. What you can do is listen to samples on YouTube and select the mic that sounds the best to your ears.
For example, the ModMic is a studio quality lightweight mic that attaches to flat surfaces like headphones or VR visors. With a ModMic attached, you can turn your existing headphones into a headset or improve your VR audio. This makes it ideal for streaming or casting. ModMics come in both wired and wireless versions, making them the perfect mic for anyone who physically likes to move, has limited desk space, or needs to use the mic in different rooms or for travel.
At all cost, you want to avoid a mic that has low-quality sound, one which makes you sound tinny, far away, or creates an echo. Starting with good source material will make every other step easier and better!
#2 - A good location to record
Sound is created by vibrations, and there are plenty of ways bad vibes can enter your audio. For instance, a room that has hardwood or tile floors may create a severe echo. Having a loud PC or a PC placed on a surface that is amplifying vibrations such as a metal stand can cause a humming sound. Whatever the problem, the name of the game is to reduce these unwanted vibrations. Placing sound dampening material on the walls, rugs on the floors, or even just a rug under your PC can lower the chances of background noise. Additionally replacing your system fans and PSU with quieter versions can make a big impact.
You can also look into using a cardioid pickup pattern microphone, usually referred to as a noise canceling mic. This works by acting as a physical barrier to sounds coming from the opposite side of the mic. Be warned, however, a cardioid mode may result in a slightly less natural sounding voice since it is not picking up your own vocal reverb as well. Every ModMic comes with a cardioid mode!
You can hear the difference this mode makes in our article covering how much of a difference does noise canceling make?
#3 - Proper mic position
The location of your mic will vary based on the microphone. In general, you want to make sure the mic is positioned away from your breath, both mouth and nose. It’s ok to hear someone inhale or exhale, but you do not want to have the physical “wind” your mouth creates strike the mic, which will come across as a loud rumble. You can test this by using words with a lot of P’s, S’s, Wh’s and then breathing heavily as if you just did a light jog, or a heavy jog if you’re planning on playing Beat Sabre. Further, you want the mic close enough to capture your voice in fullness but not so close that the sound gets distorted (called peaking) by being too loud.
When you use a headset style mic like the ModMic over a desktop mic, you will find that no matter how you turn your head or move your body the mic will stay in the same position relative to your mouth. A desktop mic requires you to hold yourself as still as possible for the best results.
#4 - Good Equalizer / VST Settings
The first three items on this list all focus on ensuring the best source material; however, it’s possible that despite the quality of your source material, you may still get background noise. There are still minor issues that can be improved. Maybe you want to sound a little more bass heavy, or maybe you actually removed TOO much echo and now sound flat. Lucky, there are plenty of software fixes out there! They basically come in two formats: real-time and post-process.
Real-time, as the name implies, fixes imperfections as you record. Unless you’re recording first and then uploading material later, a real-time processor is required. We’ve got several tutorials on real-time editing, all using free programs.
- Increase boost and remove background noise with Light Host and ReaPlugs
- Improve how you sound with Voicemeeter for streaming on OBS (and other platforms)
Post-process editing allows for audio editing on source material after it has been recorded. It can be as complex as you want it to be.
We cover the bare basics with our tutorial on using Audacity before uploading to YouTube
These are just a couple of tutorials using different programs and methods to improve your audio. Just remember: A good mic is the first and most important step. The less you have to do with software the better, but it can be an important tool in your arsenal of quality.
Regardless of how you get there, sounding good is how you represent yourself to the online world, so put your best foot forward and see how ModMic can improve your online image!