Echo or Tin Sound for Voice Recordings

Hello everyone,

I need some guidance as to what settings to use for recording a voice. The audio will be used for an automated system. The recording has to be 8000Hz, Mono, 8 bit and saved in U-Law format.

We were using an older version of AudioCity (1.2.6) on an old XP machine. The reason being, everyone swore the audio sounded better using this old machine and version of AudioCity. We need to retire the XP machine and start using Windows 7. On the Windows machine, version 1.2.6 kept crashing so I installed the latest build. The problem is that I am getting complaints that the audio at times sounds “echoey” and other times “tinny”. I have been asked to make the audio sound like a natural talking voice.

I have watched a few videos on Youtube as well as website instructions on the web. I ran effects like noise removal, normalization, compressor, equalizer for bass and treble and normalized again.

As for the microphone, I am using a Blue Snowball with a pop filter. I am making sure to record real close.

Any ideas to make this sound more natural?

Thanks in advance.

Is it for a telephone system?

Well, that was nothing to do with us. Our software is “Audacity” and we never made a 1.6 version of it.

I suggest you download Audacity only from us

Very sensible, on security grounds at least.

Best not to do that, unless Audacity explicitly suggests you watch a specific video. :wink:

Many of the videos about Audacity on YouTube are for old versions of Audacity, or incorrect in one way or another.

Here is the Audacity Manual:

You can get too close.

Are you sure you selected one of the cardioid patterns? Try the one with -10 dB pad (attenuation) for more fidelity.


I am getting complaints that the audio at times sounds “echoey” and other times “tinny”

I’m betting you’re not recording your Snowball. It maybe in front of you, but Snowballs do not sound naturally echoey and tinny. Ian, one of our posters is recording audiobooks with his. What kind of computer is it? Laptop? what’s chances you’re recording your laptop internal microphone by accident?

Record or monitor and scratch the front of the Snowball. The recording should go nuts. I’m betting it doesn’t. Now scratch around the top and front of your laptop.

Look at the Device Toolbar and see what it says for recording device, microphone symbol (attached).


Thank you for the help. That was a typo about AudioCty, I meant to say Audacity. I will confirm the version for the XP machine.

As for the Windows 7 machine, I did confirm that the Snowball is the recording device. I also confirmed that it is the primary capture device in Windows. I will confirm again and also do the scratch test that was suggested. As for the type of machine, it is an HP Business Glass machine.

Yes, this is a recording for an IVR as well as Virtual Dialer campaign. So Telephone playback.

If you’ve changed the location you make the recordings that can change the sound quality : going to a smaller room will have more reverberation , (assuming all other factors same).

Do USB microphones have such recording settings? I thought not, so I did not mention that.

What you mention is a significant problem for microphones connected to the mic port of the computer.


No time to test yet ,but to answer one of the questions, both machines are in the exact same room and right next to each other. While we are currently using a USB microphone, in the past we used an analog headset with mic. In the past, when we first recorded on the Windows 7 machine, two different people complained about the sound quality. We therefore went back to the Windows XP machine and used it up until recently. Keep in mind, at that point the same location, right next to each other and same headset/mic was used for both machines. The difference was the OS and PC hardware.

Now that I am being pressured to phase out the XP machine, I need to get the same sound quality on the Windows machine as on the XP machine. If it was only one person claiming it sounded different, I would have accredited it to the placebo effect. However, now three different people claim the same thing.

Previously, I thought the problem may be the Audacity version so I installed the same version that was on the XP machine on the Windows 7 machine. The problem was when I would save the file on the Windows 7 machine, Audacity would crash. I re-installed numerous times. So I never really was able to confirm if using the older version of Audacity on the newer machine would render the same quality.

Any other suggestions? When I am back in the office tomorrow, I will post the details on the Audacity version used on the XP machine versus the Windows 7 machine.

In that case, as Trebor suggested, turn off all the Windows and sound card enhancements. If you connect to the mic input on the computer then it is normal on Windows 7 for the audio to be adjusted, given tunnel effects and so on. Read the link

Then turn off the enhancements for the headset, or use the Snowball.

You have not posted an audio sample, so we can’t comment. Does it sound worse to you?

No. Audacity records the signal you give it. It does not add live effects.

Try the suggestions about recording properly with the Snowball.

Please don’t bother - it’s irrelevant.

Please ask Blue if you need help recording with Snowball. It is a good mic and that is what you should be using.


I am attaching two samples for your review. Windows XP machine sounds like we want. The Windows 7 machine sounds weird. Windowss XP is running Audacity 1.2.6 and was recorded using a Plantronics headset with mic. Windows 7 is running Audacity 2.0.6 and a Blue Snowball microphone was used. I am not going to pretend to know about sound but the XP machine sounds more natural.

I am not an audio engineer but I only quarrel with too much bass in the Win 7 recording. You can fix that in Effect > Equalization… .

So what happens if you take the headset to Windows 7 or Snowball to XP?


That is a good question. I will test shortly. Here are two more samples. I must correct that the prior mic used was also USB. Except this was a Plantronics DSP. Both of the attached recordings were completed using the same headset, I did not remove it from my head or position. I did unplug the headset from one machine and connected it to the other. (138 KB) (121 KB)

These two samples were made using the Blue Snowball Mic on both machines. (72.3 KB) (88.1 KB)

So as I hear it, the Snowball has more bass on either XP or 7 but is better quality than the headset.

The headset has less bass on either XP or 7 and is worse quality than Snowball. The Win 7 recording is too loud, so clips, which is not unexpected because Windows 7 tends to add more gain to USB audio than XP does. What recording level did you choose in Audacity? Can you turn that down?

By the way I don’t call any of your samples too tinny or too echoey.


I’m just now catching up. You plugged the same headset/microphone into both computers and the sound on the Win7 machine was widely considered inferior. You bought the Snowball in an effort to increase the quality of the Win7 machine so as to retire the XP machine.

Did I get that?

I think we can put the Snowball in the corner somewhere until we resolve this. I think that’s now clouding the issue.

I think we should be using the headset on both machines for a while.

I have one test. Make a nice recording with the headset on the XP machine, carefully transfer the sound file to the Win7 machine and play it. I expect those two to sound identical on normal machines and I expect your two will not. And just to be clear, you are using WAV files for all this, right? MP3 and other compressed sound formats can have their own significant quality problems.

Alternately, you can plug the Snowball into the XP machine and transfer that file to the Win7 machine. Just use one microphone until we get closer.


Yes, you are correct. I purchased the Snow Ball to see if that would address the complaints about the quality of recordings on the Windows 7 machine. However, be it the Plantronics or the Snowball, the sound is inferior on the Windows 7 machine. I will stick to one microphone only while we figure this out. Thank you all again for the help. I will try to reduce the level to see if that helps, but from what I recall, there is still bass, it just sounded more distant.

See if there is still more bass in the headset recording on Win 7 if you can reduce its level. I don’t think there is. The Snowball mic records in much better quality (and with more bass) on both machines when heard through good speakers.

If the complaint is that you want it to sound like telephone message quality when played through a telephone, well yes perhaps the headset might sound better - if you get the level down.

If the complaint is that it sounds un-natural on the Win 7 computer, then you must turn all the sound card effects off before you make that judgement. Win 7 built in sound cards usually come with effects turned on such as EQ and ambience.


Both of them sound very poor quality. The question is not which sounds best, but which sounds the least bad.
That is inevitable because the sample rate is only 8000 Hz, which restricts the frequency range to 4000 Hz, so both recordings will (and do) sound muffled.

I presume that the reason for 8000 Hz sample rate is because it is for a telephone system that requires a sample rate of 8000 Hz. Is that correct?

If so, then the usual approach would be to make a high quality audio recording, then convert it to (low quality) 8000 Hz, rather than starting with a low quality recording and hoping that it will be OK.

For a good quality recording, the sample rate must be much higher (44100 Hz is the Audacity default).
Once you have a good quality recording, then you have control over what you do to it when converting to low quality (we can help with that).

At the moment the complaint is that one muffled recording sounds worse than another muffled recording, but because they are both muffled it is difficult to tell exactly what is wrong with the worse one. and little chance of making either of them less muffled.

You are correct. Those are the specs for the phone system. They must be 8,000 Hz, Mono, 8 Bit, u-Law. Yes, they both sound bad and it is a matter of which sounds less bad.

As for the comments about the sound card, you can hear the difference on the machine when playing the old recordings and new ones so nothing is being added by Windows as far as I can tell. Also, the comments were made after the call was uploaded to the PBX. You can however argue that the phone used for playback and method i.e speaker versus handset can also affect the sound quality.

In the past I have recorded in high quality and converted but because I went from 44100 to 8000 it sounded like a demon speaking.

In the past I have recorded in high quality and converted but because I went from 44100 to 8000 it sounded like a demon speaking.

You may have done the conversion in the wrong place. Reset the sampling number in the lower left of the Audacity window.

Remember my question is slightly different from the others. Play the same sound file on both computers. It should sound identical. I think Gale also pointed to that as a possible cause of sound problems.