Hollow, slight underwater sound in voice recordings

I had been recording voice tracks for commercials on my 5-yr old Dell laptop, running XP, with a Logitech headset/mic combo. The only problem was that there was a slight hum/static from the hard drive. I got a new Toshiba Satellite A505 laptop, running Win 7 Ultimate, downloaded Audacity and started recording voice tracks with the Logitech headset/mic. The playback had that hollow, slightly underwater sound and I can’t seem to get rid of it. I’ve since discovered how to mute the computer’s mic and speaker, which I understand can cause some of this problem, but still have this slight hollow sound. I’m not the best at all this technical stuff. Can someone help me?

Are you getting that “slightly underwater sound” when you play back in Audacity (immediately after recording), or at a later stage (after processing and/or exporting the recording)?

I get the hollow, slight underwater sound right on playback.

Can you adjust your mic’s input level? I’ve heard the same sound from tracks I recorded at too low an input level, and when I either turned the volume up or used Amplify, the result was unusable b/c it amps all ambient noise with it.

If you can boost your input level so that you’re as close to 0DB without peaking (evidenced either by visually checking the waveform or enabling microphone monitoring), then that should make a difference.

Windows may be applying a “Noise Cancellation” effect to the sound before it reaches Audacity. Look carefully through your sound card settings to ensure that no effects are enabled. The settings may not be easy to find and you may need to go into the Windows Control Panel to find them.

Do you on occasion record from the internet? That can cause problems. Check in the Windows Control Panels and make sure you do not have Mix-Out, Stereo Mix, or any selection like that. That setting, when used with a local, well behaved microphone can cause odd feedback problems.

It can’t be stressed enough that modern Windows machines are designed for Skype phone calls to the corporate head office, not quality voice recording. Many of them have internet echo cancellation and delay processing turned on by default and you have to go looking for it in the Control panels to make sure they’re all off.


One other possible cause could be reverberation in the room when the recording is made: (sound bouncing off the walls),
You could try recording in a different room: preferably one with carpet, curtains and upholstered furniture to attenuate the reflected sound.

If you posted a short sample here, say 10 seconds, that may help someone here identify the problem.

How big is the room you’re recording in?
Have you considered that a smaller room will generate an echo?
Is there a larger room you can record in?