Eliminating Frying Mosquitos - hardware suggestion

This one?

http://www.mxlmics.com/microphones/usb/MicMate-Pro/

It says it produces 48 volts. The microphone won’t run on zero volts. There’s transistors inside a condenser microphone and they have to run on something. Field and news gathering microphones have batteries inside.

Some microphones will run on the older 15 volt standard and some even on the 5 volts coming from the computer, but even they insist strongly that you use the full 48 volts.

I use and like my little Behringer UM2 although it has some level problems I work around. They also make a better quality UMC22 for mono microphone production. Focusrite makes the Scarlett Solo.

I have a Shure X2U. That was a mistake. I keep it in a box in the garage.

I also use my older Macs with a small analog sound mixer. The older MacBook Pros have an actual stereo analog input connection. That’s what’s on the left there.

Again, lets run out of what you have before going shopping. Let’s solve a specific problem.

Koz

Again, lets run out of what you have before going shopping. Let’s solve a specific problem.

Copy that.

The plan is to do an actual sound test with my current set up to verify what issues are going on.

I’ll have the audio for you after work.

Here is a reading I did that lasted about 24 sec.

All my fans, minus the CPU and MOBO fans are on a controller, I have the controlled ones as low as I can make them go. I have a total of 5 fans on the controller and the CPU + MOBO fan.

That is most likely what you hear for the floor noise + whine.

I did some more readings, I found the Mosquito Killer plugin. Worked like magic! Now to deal with my computer fans…

Open Mic + No Effect

Open Mic + Mosquito Killer

Reading + No Effect

Reading + Mosquito Killer

This is my office setup.
2018-08-28 17.35.26.jpg

You may not need to deal with the computer fans. I think the background system noise in the MXL-MICMATE PRO is going to be the first serious problem.

I’m following Audiobook Mastering 4 from here.

https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/audiobook-mastering-version-4/45908/1

If I take the processing all the way to the end, the hiss noise (fffff) is way too loud. Even if you tried all the special announcing tricks and volume boosting exercises, your voice is still not going to be loud enough to overpower the hiss. In numbers, the background noise is around -45dB and it needs to be at least -60dB. Sound doubles every 6. So when I correct the voice the rest of the track sounds like you’re announcing in a heavy rainstorm.

It’s too loud for Noise Reduction. Corrections start making your voice sound honky.

This is ACX conformance without the noise reduction. It’s not that unusual for people to correct the reading volume and go home. No Noise Reduction needed.


The actual voice performance passes technical conformance. Background noise doesn’t.

I don’t hear any fans or hum. The first step in Suite 4 is the rumble filter, so that may be where most of the fan noise went. We both know how to get rid of the whine.

I can hear the room. You’re announcing in a kitchen. You don’t have to go nuts with acoustic corrections and expensive panels. I made a respectable studio with furniture moving pads and sticks (two layers of pad per wall, make as many walls as you need). Each of those sticks is the same. Put any stick anywhere.
Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 17.34.12.png
One poster did it with Home Depot plastic pipes and bedding. There’s no glue. It’s all pushed together.




What to do about the microphone system. Do you have a sound mixer? You can get a very respectable line level USB adapter. That’s a Behringer UCA-202. That’s my analog sound mixer on the right.

And a note the three wires going up to the microphone are very different from the “hi-fi” analog connections on the back of your machine. There is no good simple way to adapt between those two.

Which direction do you want to go?

Koz

One really out-there note. There is one current sound mixer that does not supply 48 volts. You have to pay attention. They scream WILL SUPPLY PHANTOM POWER!!! and down at the bottom of the ad it says [15 volt phantom power].

Run away.

Koz

Behringer Xenyx Q802USB Mixer should work. It plugs into the wall power, so no mosquito whine. It has direct connections to the computer’s USB. No extra adapters. It has 48volt Phantom Power.

It’s the tiny 502 mixer that has the goofball 15 volt phantom power.

This mixer should let you plug your headphones in and monitor your live performance to help you keep good volume.

I don’t own one. I can’t give you hands-on.

Don’t worry about all the knobs and controls. You turn most of them off.

These are the important controls on my mixer.

Koz

What to do about the microphone system. Do you have a sound mixer? You can get a very respectable line level USB adapter. That’s a Behringer UCA-202. That’s my analog sound mixer on the right.

I currently do not own a sound mixer. I’ve been looking at some on Craigslist and also Amazon. I’ll take any recommendations on a mixer that will suffice for audio books. Thank you for the recommendation.

I can hear the room. You’re announcing in a kitchen. You don’t have to go nuts with acoustic corrections and expensive panels. I made a respectable studio with furniture moving pads and sticks (two layers of pad per wall, make as many walls as you need). Each of those sticks is the same. Put any stick anywhere.

Could I use the setup in your image to help mitigate with the acoustic corrections? I’d have to move a lot of stuff (not impossible) to build a cage around my desk.

That was a Very Important Sound Shoot (Broadcast Radio Interview) so we double recorded it. The one on the right was the performer’s backup. We didn’t need the sound shield, but I didn’t really care. The conference room was totally soundproofed. Those are padded walls.

Your microphone is mostly sensitive from the front (the part facing you) and quite a bit less from its rear. That means most of the soundproofing should be behind you and on both sides.

And just to cover it. That’s a side-fire microphone. You should be speaking into the little kidney bean, not the top. That’s how this one works. That’s Chris Pratt being Emmet in Lego Movie. Upside down doesn’t matter.

People have built cardboard box tunnels and put the microphone inside. Don’t forget the bottom.


Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 19.24.13.png
If you do that, don’t put the back of your head toward a flat wall. Face straight away from a corner or off square a little. Doing that forces echoes to take a longer way around and be quieter.

Those are cardboard egg separators. I’ve done that. The foam or plastic separators don’t work. There’s nothing magic about that. Wadded up towels works. Heavy is good. Light packing material looks great but is actually terrible at this.

Koz

That’s hard to write.

Say you build the tunnel. If you weren’t there, the tunnel should not aim straight toward a flat wall.

Koz

They don’t tell you about all these problems when you buy the microphone.

The modern style of bare white walls and plain polished wooden floors is considered an actively hostile recording environment. We learn pretty quickly you can’t show up at an actor’s house, record a quick track and go home—unless the actor is on top of this and has a recording booth.

Also, the music people can get away with a lot of this because there are no silent stretches and a lot of music sounds pretty good when you add a little reverb. There was a music performer that cranked out song after song from his apartment in Brooklyn. He just kept adding microphones. I never saw any soundproofing or other considerations.

He wasn’t recording audiobooks.

Last I checked, ACX had you installing a soundbooth in your house. They start some of the instruction videos assuming you already have a booth.

There was a performance artist who published a special effects suite that he highly recommended for “professional” results in home recording. And it did assuming you started with a perfect, clear, flat recording in the first place. No beginner has that and billions of new users tried to turn their ratty home recordings into studio tracks with his suite.

If you looked very carefully at his video, he was sitting in a soundproofed booth. Heavy drapes, pro foam sound panels, etc.

Audiobook Mastering 4 assumes you have a good clear recording going in. If you don’t have that it will fail the ACX tests.

ACX tests in two layers. First is the Robot which tests basic technical standards. That’s mirrored in our ACX Check. Then your submission goes on to Human Quality Control and that’s where you die if your voice sounds like a bad cellphone.

Koz

Looks like I need to acquire some hardware and figure out a soundproofing method.

I’ll check back in a week or so once I have a solution in place with more sound tests.

I think we’ve gone as far as we can with my current setup.

While that’s happening, did you get the specialized tools and ACX-Check? When the mixer comes in may be a bad time to start struggling with the software. You could have been doing that with your old microphone.

Mastering Suite 4 works in three steps: Rumble filter, set RMS (Loudness) and set peaks (overload protection). That maps roughly to the three ACX standards, Noise, RMS (loudness) Peak. The Rumble filter (Effect > Equalization: Low Rolloff for Speech) is controversial. It does affect your voice a little, worse if you have a male voice. But most field recordists have such a filter on their mixers, their microphones or both and wouldn’t dream of recording without it. That’s this setting on one microphone.

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 6.35.36.png
Note the sideways “L” shape is similar to the display in Low Rolloff for Speech. It’s the same or very similar curve. Reject (as much as possible) earthquakes, thunder, wind and trucks going by. All low rumbly sounds. Unless you’re doing scientific research, none of those is going to contribute to the show, but they affect the mastering tools.

Even worse, some microphones produce rumble just by being alive and plugged in. It’s expensive to fix and nobody can hear it anyway, right? That’s another place where manufacturers can smack into audiobook standards.

Did your microphone come with a shock mount? That’s the spider thing holding the microphone up. That prevents noise and vibration on the mic stand or desk from affecting the sound. Those white things are rubber bands. Keep the cable loose and graceful.

You can do pretty well with a desk stand, book and towel.

That’s deceptive. The book has to be heavy, high inertia and acoustically dead. A heavy metal plate wouldn’t work as well because if you smacked it with a pencil, it might ring like a bell. The towel has to be mushy and gooshy but not reactive. Foam wouldn’t work as well. Ever drop a piece of foam packing and have it bounce? What happens when you drop a towel?

Koz

While that’s happening, did you get the specialized tools and ACX-Check? When the mixer comes in may be a bad time to start struggling with the software. You could have been doing that with your old microphone.

Mastering Suite 4 works in three steps: Rumble filter, set RMS (Loudness) and set peaks (overload protection). That maps roughly to the three ACX standards, Noise, RMS (loudness) Peak. The Rumble filter (Effect > Equalization: Low Rolloff for Speech) is controversial. It does affect your voice a little, worse if you have a male voice. But most field recordists have such a filter on their mixers, their microphones or both and wouldn’t dream of recording without it. That’s this setting on one microphone.

I procured RMS Normalize, the Mosquito Killer, ACX-Check and I also have Multi-Notch. I read the Mastering Suite ver 4 before and also set my Limiter, but maybe this should be Peak, as well but let me know if what I just listed will work or not and if I am not tracking your thought process.


Did your microphone come with a shock mount? That’s the spider thing holding the microphone up. That prevents noise and vibration on the mic stand or desk from affecting the sound. Those white things are rubber bands. Keep the cable loose and graceful.

Yes, the MXL 770 came with the shock mount (cradle). The base I don’t remember where I got it from but is very sturdy.




The towel has to be mushy and gooshy but not reactive. Foam wouldn’t work as well. Ever drop a piece of foam packing and have it bounce? What happens when you drop a towel?

I will give this a shot and see what happens.

Missed one or two. Were you planning on reading The Actual Book? You can get into trouble by reading the work on-line while you’re recording on the same machine. Kindle or other stand-alone or tablet device works. I print mine out on paper, but then I’m not reading a whole book.

Phones are not recommended. You have to take them completely off-line so they don’t ring while you’re reading, and their data negotiation can create ZEEEEOOOOWWWW sounds via electrical interference. Those things are tiny radio transmitters and they check in often. Not welcome in a studio.

Koz

I plan on doing this work on a Kindle Paperwhite or iPad of mine. Whatever works easiest for me through the Kindle App, so yes I plan on reading the actual book.

What to do about the microphone system. Do you have a sound mixer? You can get a very respectable line level USB adapter. That’s a Behringer UCA-202. That’s my analog sound mixer on the right.

When I get my mixer, should I also get a line level adapter? I’m googling but having a hard time understanding what the line adapter will do between the computer and the mixer. Mind explaining?

I’m an IT guy, not a sound engineer so this is for me is learning an entirely different skill.

RMS Noise

RMS Normalize. You do have to be a little obsessive about the accuracy. There are tools that have similar names. There is already a Normalize. This one is a special purpose version that pays attention to the ACX definition of loudness.

Mastering 4 is a suite. A harmonious collection. It’s not a good idea to mix and match and put more in or leave out steps. For example, sometimes with some voices, RMS Normalize will create distortion that Limiter comes up behind to fix. But only if you do them in order. Audacity is designed to work this way.

The equalization step at the beginning gets rid of rumble that screws up RMS Normalize. Each step is designed to hit the ACX technical standards.

With a higher quality system it’s almost certain you will not need Mosquito Killer or Multi-Notch. Those are to clean up problems cause by cost-cutting and poor design.

Koz

should I also get a line level adapter?

Not for this job. If you’re buying a “USB Mixer,” it already has provision to plug right into a USB socket in the computer. Creating a digital bitstream from your analog voice happens inside the mixer. No box in the middle needed.


Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 7.38.42.png
Koz