How to avoid sound discrepancies on a cardiode condenser?

I have just two finished audiobooks under my belt and my biggest challenge is mic consistency.

Does anyone have tips on how to return to the same exact position? I have a measurement and do re-center and check when I return to the mic but these variations still persist.

I can hear the subtle differences in my voice, mostly when I move slightly to turn a set of pages and return to address the microphone. I guess I am having trouble getting back to that sweet spot on the mic each and every time. So far my authors have not picked it up and I may just be super sensitive to it but it is there and I want to improve my technique.

Is it my mic type? Do I really need a CC mic if I am alone in a quiet booth and room echo and other noises are not really a problem? Are there other microphones styles and types that could help with this specific problem?

What are your experiences with the AT2020USB?

Thanks for being such a great resource!

Are you using the included desk stand? I would hang it from a boom stand in front of your nose. You won’t have to move so much between page turns and it’s less likely to pick up lip pops. I got more comments when I get home. Other elves may join in.


All I know about the microphone is what Google tells me.


Before I go dredging through microphone positioning, etc, the 2020 is missing one feature that would help a lot with maintaining shot to shot consistency. It doesn’t have a headphone connection.

There’s just nothing like hearing yourself and being accustomed to hearing and knowing exactly what you sound like in real time to guarantee high quality. You can’t listen to the computer. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this yet or not, but headphone sound in Audacity is One Computer Late. It’s the time it takes your voice to go into the computer, into Audacity, turn around and come back out again. It almost always produces an annoying echo or delay.

Yes, Audacity can be managed with ASIO software support. If you know how to compile a computer program, there is provision for you to do that with Audacity. Sometimes that can help with computer delay. Generally, computer programmers are comfortable with this.

This picture was staged, but it’s not far from real.

Hang the microphone from a shock mount so it points to your mouth from about nose height. If you scooch the microphone just slightly off center, it leaves space for you to read your script and room to flip pages or do other adjustments without moving your head very much.

A shock mount is recommended.

This is one from one of my microphones in action. The diagonal pieces are expensive rubber bands and if i tap the microphone, it will sit there and vibrate back and forth and slowly come to a stop—silently.

I made one out of hardware store plastic pipes and US Mail rubber bands. It works perfectly well and I used it on several productions. Click on the pictures.

It is also recommended that you use a pop and blast filter. That’s the black tennis racket between your lips and the microphone.

It doesn’t eliminate P Pops, but it reduces them significantly. You can make one of those at home, too. Panty hose stretched over a pulled out wire coat hanger. Google this. I don’t have a favorite. There is another way to do this as well but I don’t have any experience with it. It’s much smaller, solid (I believe) and it’s used closer to the microphone.

Now I’m going to predict the past.

You can’t use a pop and blast filter because there isn’t room. You need to get really close to your microphone to make the volume and noise sound levels work out. The curse of the non-adjustable microphone without a mixer or interface.

Directional microphones (cardioid pattern) have Proximity Effect. The closer you get to the microphone, the more you sound like an announcer with generous manhood. Unfortunately, the effect changes a lot in the first few inches of mouth distance which I’m betting is where a lot of your shot-to-shot variation is coming from.

I’m a bass. I once briefly played a convincing woman with acting and by using my directional microphone’s ability to change timbre with distance. I didn’t have to do much, it didn’t sound like the regular me at all and the producers kept it in the show.

In My Opinion, you have reached the limit of what you can do with your microphone. If you back away to fit a blast filter in, you will not be able to make volume and noise measurements. There is no such thing as easy quality self-correction because you have no place to plug the headphones.

It’s possible there is no good provision to hang it from a shock mount, although I can’t tell from the pictures. Your mileage may vary, consult your local listings.

If you have a very good, quiet, well-behaved room, your options are open. Many people are forced to use a certain microphone to make up for their ratty room. You can do whatever you want.


Missed one. I have an On-Stage Stands microphone stand and boom. That’s what’s holding up the left-hand microphone in this shoot.

It has a broad tripod bottom instead of a heavy “Atlas” base. That means it’s stable in operation, gives you place to put a sand bag if you need one, and folds up to put in your closet.

That’s a 9701B. They make a lighter duty 7701, but I have some heavy microphones and needed the strength. B is black, C is chrome. I occasionally work with the video people, so black it is.


Most brutal solution to mic distance problem: use a dynamic omni in stead of a cardio condenser…

use a dynamic omni in stead of a cardio condenser…

And since nobody makes a self-contained dynamic (moving coil) USB microphone, you’d be re-engineering your sound system with mixers, digitizers, etc.

The big kids use mixers and larger XLR-type microphones. Once you past a certain point, you can change any one part of the system without having to redo everything.

That’s another disadvantage of convenient USB microphones. Everything needed for a performance is smashed into one device. if that one device and all its parts are not up to the requirement of the job, you have to replace the whole world. Count forum complaints about USB microphones that don’t get loud enough.

The truly evil version of that is if your computer doesn’t easily support a USB microphone. That gives you The Yeti Curse. Constant mosquito whine behind your voice that’s very difficult to get rid of. The convenience in these systems vanishes.


Thanks for the input everyone.

Koz, this AT2020 does have a mic port that I use. I am thinking that I need to replace my headphones as they don’t sound so good compared to my headset at work (which I have used to do some edits).

Looking at Craigslist, there is a wonderful selection of really nice used microphones in the area. I would like to start a collection and see which one suits me best. I really, really want an interface and that is the next logical step.


There are several, most rather poorly built. Like most USB mics. I agree a simple interface, let’s say around 50$ would be far better. ART USB Pre, Behringer of the month…

If you have a quite, decent sounding room, an omni is a godsend for vocal work. You can really work the distance, in stead of constantly trying to maintain audio range.

You could try a condenser omni, but that would bring in a lot of air. I don’t think you need more air. Especially for books. I sometimes use both a dynamic and a condenser, so I can control airflow :mrgreen:

so I can control airflow

The jokes fairly write themselves, don’t they?

I have a Behringer UM2 interface I have used to good effect. I understand the big brother stereo version UMC202 works well. Once you have an XLR interface with 48 volt Phantom Power (that’s important), then the whole world of XLR microphones opens up. If you know someone with a home studio or know a band or rock group, see if you can borrow one of theirs to see how it sounds.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it on this thread, but one thing you get with XLR microphones is effectively unlimited cable length. Buy two 20 foot cables and put the microphone 40 feet away. OK. No problem. Don’t run the cable next to electric motors or industrial machinery. This is a striking change from microphones limited to one USB cable and could be valuable if your computer makes noise.

In larger cities you can rent equipment.

My serious stuff is done with the Peavey PV6 straight analog mixer in several of those illustrations. You see it plugged into the side of a Mac that I intentionally bought because it has a high-quality stereo Line-In connection. You can use the Behringer UCA-202 if you have a less talented computer. Because it’s a wall-powered mixer, it doesn’t have any of the problems of trying to get USB power to run everything. There are limits to doing that.

It has nice quiet preamps and the Phantom Power comes within a whisker of 48 volts.

A musician friend has the Behringer version of this mixer and he’s happy with it. Please know to count the number of XLR connections. My “six channel” mixer only has four.

Down below 6 or 8 channel, the makers start peeling off features and talents, and they start combining features making it a little harder to use. Once you get used to a mid-size mixer, you just need a little instruction to use much bigger mixers.


I have eliminated my sound variances with the AT2020usb. I am working on my mic technique and consistently addressing the mic directly. In the old position I was reading in, I had a tendency to angle my head slightly to read and that subtle rotation was part of the problem. The second change I made was to turn down the recording volume. This alone has improved my overall sound quality and reduced my treatments to just LF Rolloff, default declicker, set RMS to -22 to pass the wonderful acx check plug-in. I don’t need it to pass but I also run the 6,6,6 noise reduction as I like a little more silence. It does not change the “me sounding like me” to amplify a bit. My recording quality and voice really changed when going the other way and trying to get the hum and background noise quieted. I was focused for awhile on trying to hit all of the requirements with no processing but I am not one of the lucky ones who can pull that off. Now, with my level at 70, I can comfortably speak naturally and the mic is way less sensitive to all noises and I have a better product overall. I was so close to getting a new mic and interface but am sticking with this mic for now. If I ever decide to break out of romance books in MP3, I may have to change my equipment but for now I am in my groove.

Thanks for reading, I just wanted to post a follow-up.

I just wanted to post a follow-up.

That’s a good thing. Some posters get everything working and we never hear from them again so we don’t know what worked and what didn’t.

There’s just nothing like starting with a quiet room. That’s one major headache you don’t have to worry about. Everything else is just fine-tuning your technique and correction suite.

Noise Reduction of The Beast (6,6,6) is very important for its ability to gently reduce already quiet background noise, and more importantly, ACX can’t find it. In extreme, you can go up to 12,6,6, but if you listen very closely, you can hear it working. 9,6,6 may be the upper limit. There’s a standing joke that if you Require noise reduction, it’s already too late.

I don’t remember if I posted this or not, but I wrote a correction suite that can hit ACX with remarkable consistency and a minimum of different tools.

It reads a bit like a massive instruction book for your car, but that’s because two of the three tools are custom and take downloading and installing. Also, Steve wrote two of the tools, one of which we never had before, so everything is new and strange.

But after you get everything set and running, the suite can work wonders. That’s the joke about the four volume set “How to ride a bicycle.” Once you get it working…