Behringer UM2 w/ Shure SM58 mic - quiet with noise

Hi all,
Well, I was hoping that my new equipment setup was going to be at least some kind of improvement, but I’ve now gone to ‘not the best’ audio to BAD.
My current setup:
Audacity v2.2.2
Windows 7 laptop (located outside soundbooth)
Behringer U-Phoria UM2 Audio Interface
Shure SM58 Mic

Description of what is going on: After getting a crazy kind of whine out of the Behringer, I did some research and found you need to install the Behringer drivers (not rely on the automatic Windows drivers when it finds the Behringer), which did improve the situation. I also watched a review/test of the UM2 and the guy explained that he set the mic sensitivity at about 75% - which was, he said, a good mix of cutting out noise while still having mic volume. Well, in my case, I have to turn the mic sensitivity all the way up to get a decent mic response and of course, then you get all the noise. The sample I’ve attached is raw, untouched and I have the sensitivity set at about 75-80%. You can see how low the waveform is. You can HEAR the insane amount of trash in the background once you RMS Normalize / Limit it. I can clean it up somewhat with the noise filter, but I don’t think that’s a good idea…it should not be this quiet and trashy. Anybody know if the quiet issue is the SM58? I googled and saw one post about the SM58 being quiet with the Behringer. The trashy sound may be something I can fix…who knows, maybe it’s coming from the USB cable or the fact that the cable is too close to the power cord running out of my booth. But this quiet seems ridiculous. I can barely get the sound to clip by turning the sensitivity all the way up and yelling into the mic.

Some more settings, btw:
Windows mic volume - max
Audacity mic volume - max
Behringer - tried with both monitoring on / off, didn’t make a difference
48V Phantom power - OFF


Step one.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 21.40.52.png
The SM58 is a legacy microphone notable for not overloading in the face of some very famous people screaming into it. It has “gentle” volume which is causing some of your low volume issues. The UM2 is not a gift from the angels, but it does very well compared to some of the other products.

I was able to get your submission to pass ACX audiobook standards with the AudioBook Mastering 4 and slightly aggressive noise reduction. 9, 6, 6, and not the usual 6, 6, 6.

The UM2 hiss (fffffff) is not the problem. I hear a motor or some other power device running in the background. You are recording in the US, right? I hear hum tones at 120Hz and 240 Hz. Air Conditioner? Computer fan noise?

It would pay very well to get rid of it before you go further.

Given the microphone, you should not be announcing straight on, the usual recommended positioning. I would try one sound test much closer and the microphone positioned just off the corner of your mouth pointed at you. You may not need a pop and blast filter if you do that and the additional volume may solve some noise problems.

You need to find out where that hum is coming from.

Here. I made it worse.

It’s not the hiss. We know what that is. There is also a mmmmmm back there and that’s your fan.

You have a custom problem I can’t identify. You have a very, very high pitch noise running through the performance. It responds perfectly to eliminating all tones higher than 18000Hz.

Effect > Low Pass Filter: 18000, 12dB > OK.

Nobody will hear that filter.

I have no clue where that’s coming from. It may be noise on your computer USB system.

The SM58 is directional. Plug the headphones into the UM2, turn everything all the way up and wave the SM58 around. It should be possible to hear where the hum is coming from. …mmmmmMMMMMMMmmmmm…mmmmmMMMMMM.

If you really offended the sound deities, it’s the refrigerator from the upstairs neighbor.


Oh, when I got done with the tricks, I was able to make the performance squeak by ACX conformance with no noise reduction.


wave the SM58 around.

I found two “studio” problems this way. The separate power supply brick for my sound mixer hums when I get the microphone too close. Good to know.

The bass cabinet for my performance music system doesn’t go off when I turn it off, and it hums in the background while it’s not being used. So no, it’s not the nigh tension wires over the house, bad house wiring or the evil ogre that lives in the attic.

Also good to know.


you need to install the Behringer drivers (not rely on the automatic Windows drivers when it finds the Behringer)

OK, so that’s a danger sign right there. The two Behringer preamps (UM2 and UMC22) should need no special drivers to work. I forget what the phrase is, but they are “class compliant” or some such. Plug and play.

That’s two strikes against the computer. Describe it.


maybe it’s coming from the USB cable or the fact that the cable is too close to the power cord running out of my booth.

You can’t extend USB cables. If you got further than the normal six feet or so single cable, then that could cause problems. Do Not go through a USB hub or splitter.

That’s not as deadly as you think. You can’t extend the USB cable, but given a good quality XLR microphone cable, you can run 50 feet or more.


I like your voice and performance. So we’re over 90% of the way home.


What’s the lighting in the booth? CFLs can make buzzing noises and dimmed conventional incandescent lamps can do that.

There was a joke in another post about bringing candles in with you.


I used Analyze > Plot Spectrum. Apply Effect > Amplify, Effect > Normalize, Effect > RMS or other volume booster to make the track louder.

I’m interested in the purple spikes at 120 and 240. That’s very typical of power in the US causing problems. Click the graphic.
Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 10.42.36.png
We can play games with 100 Hz and lower, but 120 and 240 are voice tones, so we can’t just whack them off.

The first step in Mastering 4 is the equalizer step that cut off everything to the left of 100 Hz.

The other graphic is trash around 19000. That’s the mystery problem.
Screen Shot 2018-06-23 at 10.43.11.png

Hi Koz,

Thanks for all the good tips. I’m getting closer, I think I was kinda worried about the USB extensions as well, so with your note about the XLR cable being able to go the distance, I took the UM2 OUT of the sound booth and connected it to the laptop with a normal USB cable (actually, the cable that came with it had a ferrite core on it too, so that helps). I did a test and the ‘whine’ was reduced quite a bit. Then I did another test like you mentioned about waving the mic around. I have a monitor inside the booth, so I ran the mic all around it and all around my power strip. I found that when I get very close to the back of the monitor, I do pick up a slight hum, but nonexistent otherwise. The power strip also produced a pretty big hum (as one would expect), but nothing at all when I back off a few inches.
Next, I decided to again reduce the mic sensitivity on the UM2. It reduces the whine volume but doesn’t eliminate it. BUT…I noticed something when I was listening to this latest audio test, particularly, how the ‘whine’ was acting. It’s pretty steady when I do my ‘room noise’ sample, but at the end when I was about to stop the audio, the whine got kind of ‘swirly sounding’ for lack of a better term. I think it’s corresponding to me moving the mouse around. The mouse is wired, not wireless, but still, I’m gonna check if that’s it. It would be amazing if I could get rid of whatever is whining completely. I’m gonna test some more before posting another sample.

A couple of notes to your other points:
Light - I installed an LED light in my Soundbooth when I built it, with the thought that not only will it not generate much heat, it will be QUIET. Ha, that thing whines like I don’t know what. Consequently, I never record with the light on. I even tried unplugging it during the test to make sure the electrical part of it wasn’t radiating something.
USB drivers - here, I have to disagree with you. I’m an IT Systems Engineer, and I can tell you that the correct drivers can make a HUGE difference. Many of the USB drivers that work plug-in-play with Windows are fine, many are not and lots of problems can only be fixed by getting the manufacturers drivers.
Air Conditioner - Since the A/C unit is very close to the room my Soundbooth is in, I have to cut it off completely when recording. Summer recording in Florida is challenging for me. It gets hot in my booth in the winter time, just from body heat alone. It’s vented, but booth 2.0 will have to do a better job if/when I make another one.
Oh, and the SM58 I notice is picking up or making my voice quite bassy…I may have to equalize something there, but I need to figure out this whine issue first. I also angled the mic as you described, moved the pop filter out of the way.
I’ll post when possible on the mouse droppings.


the XLR cable being able to go the distance

That’s how they do rock shows where the show mixer is 75 feet away in the middle of the audience. It’s a three wire system. Main Voice (pin 2) Protection Copy (Pin 3) and Protective Shield (Pin 1). Pin 2 and pin 3 are out of phase.

That’s not license to run your sound cables right next to powerful theatrical lighting cables. Don’t do that.

I notice is picking up or making my voice quite bassy

Directional microphones have proximity effect, where they get bassy the closer you are. So that can be a juggling act if you need to get close to make the volume work.

As long as you don’t overload anything, you should be able to help that in post production filtering.

I once played two different people by working with that effect.

How did you get the mouse into the room without extending the USB cable? Or isn’t that what you meant?

I decided to again reduce the mic sensitivity on the UM2.

It’s not unusual to need to run USB preamps all the way up. Many of them only have 40 or so dB gain. The SM58 is rated at -56dB. I think the UM2 does better than that. I run out with my Shure preamp, but not as bad with the Behringer.

So now you know why one recommendation is not record with the computer.

Oh. One more. If it’s a laptop, try running on batteries. Sometimes separating from house wiring can work wonders.


I may have to equalize something

You can use the Tampa Bay Times Noise Test. Take regular newspaper and crumple it up in front of the microphone. Not the crappy ads and not the heavy coated stock. Regular newsprint. Do it far and near and note the differences. You can use Analyze > Plot Spectrum to see where the different pitches of sound went and then copy those ideas over to Effect > Equalization.

Most people don’t complain about the microphone turning them into a ballsy announcer.


So now you know why one recommendation is not record with the computer.

Nobody will mistake this for a pro announcing job. It’s a small stand-alone sound recorder parked on top of a paper towel roll on the quiet bedroom desk. I was very careful to not write down which recorder.

I ran it through ACX Mastering including very gentle noise reduction and it passes ACX Check.

I think the whole setup was about five minutes.

I did one where I used the built-in microphones on the laptop. You do need a Mac to make that one work.


Ok, more progress…
After doing a number of additional tests, I found that when I plugged the Behringer USB into a different port on the laptop, it got rid of that wiggly/whiny sound. USB PORT CULPRIT!!! Now I had a different problem…I could hear a lot of “hiss” that was earlier masked by the whiny sound, I just didn’t pay attention to it. It occurred to me, 'why not turn the behringer mic sensitivity all the way up and turn the Audacity (Windows) mic level down? Well, this seemed to do the trick. In the sample, the mic level is down to .25.
I ran the Mastering version 4 on it (Equilization/RMS Normalize/Limiter) and that left me with too much noise (hiss and hint of hum). I did my normal noise reduction (12,6,10) and that got it down to acceptable…at least for me, I think. If I go below 12 on noise reduction, there is still too much background hiss for my taste.
So, my questions…
– Is my wave form now “too low” to begin with?
– is there a better way to remove the hiss without noise reduction? (as you mentioned, you did some trickery on my other sample to get it to pass without noise reduction).


Here’s a sample after RMS Normalize/Limiter/Noise Reduction 12,6,10 - an additional Noise Reduction 3,6,10 and then a high-pass filter (200, 6db)
It sounds good to me, but it’s 5AM and I need to get to bed, so objectivity is all out the window at this point.


Is my wave form now “too low” to begin with?

It’s been too low.

Target volume on the bouncing sound meters is -6 to -10. Tips of the blue waves should be 50% or slightly lower.

I know this is stereo. It’s the graphic I have.

Basic electronics noise (ffffffff) is always waiting for you at about -70dB to -75dB or so no matter what you buy. If you announce with peaks about -6dB, then the performance has noise at -64dB which passes ACX Noise with no other work (this is a simplified version).

Another 6dB from gentle noise reduction gives you -70dB which easily passes ACX and is inaudible at normal listening volumes and creates no discoverable sound damage.

DanTest2 has a volume about -25dB. That’s roughly 20dB lower volume than it needs to be. Sound goes double every 6dB.

How far away from the microphone are you? This could be all the moons and stars lining up.

– You’re naturally quiet spoken.
– You have a known slightly quiet microphone.
– You’re too far away from the microphone.
– You have a naturally noisy USB/Computer system.

Here’s a test most people don’t think of.

See if you can overload the system. Speak louder and louder until the CLIP light on the front of the UM2 comes on. Yelling is allowed, but never, ever blow into a microphone. “Woof. One Two three Four Five.” “WOOOOF! ONE TWO THREE!!”

Now see where Audacity is when you do that. The bouncing sound meters should go all the way up and depending on the setting, turn red. The blue waves should fill the track top to bottom. If you have “View > Show Clipping” selected, they turn red.
This can be a revelation. In some systems, the sound channel will never make it and can’t be fixed.

Windows has voice processing. Did you turn that off? That can mess with your volume and quality. I know you don’t have this problem, but it’s good to check.

If you’re using the driver software, is that trying to help you? Does that have settings?


Where did the microphone come from and how old is it?



You turned over a rock. My UM2 overloads perfectly correctly, except it does it at -3dB instead of the expected 0. That works out to blue waves at 70% using the handy conversion table.

I have no idea why it’s doing that. I’m going to try one of my other units. I’m not using any driver software.

In real life, that means you should be announcing at -9dB (35% blue waves) for normal volume instead of -6dB.

The original reason I tried this was a bias in the clip light. Some makers fire the clip light slightly ahead of actual sound damage to warn the user. This one fires fractionally ahead. You can basically ignore the difference.


My Shure X2U overloads at the right place.
Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 10.48.48.png
It’s little volume light starts turning colors at about -6dB and it crashes at 0. However, I have to scream at full volume into it to get it to do that (the neighbors are used to that), which is why it spends most of its time in a box in the garage.

I wonder how many other machines do that.

Anyway, all that means for you (if yours does that, too) is you need to announce slightly quieter than everybody else. You still need to get a lot louder than you’ve been.


Got it from a friend of mine. It’s old, but practically never used.