All these clicks and artifacts; sounds like crap, but why?

Using Audacity 2.1.3 on my 6-year-old Dell PC running Windows 10. I’m using a Blue Snowball mic.

I can’t record ten seconds of myself talking (especially if it has a pause in it) without generating at least a minor click somewhere in the recording. Often it’s many clicks, often very noticeable. I’m sure it isn’t mouth noise. I’m sure it isn’t environmental noise. But I don’t know if it’s my mic or my sound card or my computer or something else. I’m considering buying a new mic, because I would guess that’s probably it, but if I buy a new mic and I keep getting these clicks and artifacts in my recordings and it turns out the Snowball is just fine, that would be unfortunate.

I figure you guys have a lot of experience with audio tech. Do you think getting something like an AT2005 would probably solve my issue? Or do I probably need a new sound card or I should get a DAC or what?

Thanks for any help.

It’s (probably) not the mic., although the problem seems to be more common with USB mics/interfaces… It’s the computer multitasking. The operating system is always multitasking, but it’s best if you don’t run any other applications while recording and if that’s not the problem disable as many background operations as possible.

…When you record the digital audio stream flows smoothly into a buffer (like a storage tank) at a constant rate. Then when the operating system gets around to it, it reads the buffer in a quick burst and writes to the hard drive. If the operating system doesn’t get-around to reading the buffer in time, you get a buffer overflow and a glitch. (There is also a playback buffer, and in this case the danger is buffer underflow.) Note that it doesn’t necessarily take high CPU usage to cause a problem… If an application or driver “hogs” the CPU for a few milliseconds too long, you’ll get an audio glitch. A faster computer may help, but any computer is fast-enough for “regular” mono or stereo recording, depending on what else it’s doing.

Although I understand the root cause, I’m NOT an expert on solving the problem… You can try increasing the [u]latency (buffer size)[/u]. Latency is delay and a bigger buffer means more delay, so that could be an issue if you’re monitoring yourself through the computer while recording.

Occasionally, making the USB cable less tight can help.


Gale

I was quite hopeful when I read this response, because it’s something I never would have thought of and it sounded so plausible. Unfortunately, I just did a test at 500ms of latency (five times the default of 100), and it seems to have made no difference. I still get random clicks.

As for my USB cable, it’s plenty slack.

This is such a frustrating problem. And I can’t imagine that it’s one that other people aren’t having. I use a common mic and a common PC, running the same software as everyone else.

In a nutshell you are not spending enough money. You are not going to get processing, filtering and stabilising for $100.

Try a pro XLR mic in a pro interface.


Gale

I have a Dell of similar vintage. The audio clicked every 30 seconds : when the WiFi checked-in with the router, and interrupted the audio driver for a millisecond.
Updating all the Dell driver software, (audio, Wifi, Video), fixed the problem , (which was not specific to Audacity).

Kind of an update on this old post. My conclusion is that the random clicks I get are mostly just mouth noise. I think my low-end mic also contributes some odd warbles and thuds and tones, but the majority of what I was complaining about seems to be mouth noise, which I’ve now gotten much more in tune with. Although it still amazes me just how much of it the mic picks up, since when I listen with good headphones and clean up the audio, I’m taking out a click about once every two or three seconds on average. (And it takes. Forever.) I’m pretty sure people listening to me speak in the real world don’t think I have a castanet in my mouth as the audio I record suggests.

The Acon DeClicker plugin is worth a try (it also de-thuds) …

The free-version inserts spoiler-silence every minute.