HP VT501AA USB hissing sound

I just purchased an HP USB Headset (VT501AA). I don’t have any mic ports on my laptop, only a headphone port. I’m running Windows 8. The sound quality is decent. My only beef is that there’s a slight hissing sound in all recordings. Granted, I can easily remove that using the Noise Removal feature in Audacity. However, i’d like to know what’s causing the hissing sound.

They claim that the headphones are noise canceling. I tried to look for volume adjustments in the mic’s properties. The only thing it has is the master volume for the mic. There is a Custom tab with only one checkbox in it labeled AGC. I know what AGC is, however, tried recording with and without AGC being enabled. Doesn’t seem to affect the level of the hissing sound.

Any suggestions?

It is claimed there is a software package or driver for this microphone. Do you have it?

They claim that the headphones are noise canceling.

They probably claim the microphone is noise canceling. The headphones don’t care.

And it’s properly a Headset. Combination of headphones and microphone.

If you make a recording and play it on another computer, does it still hiss? I have cheap electronics that hiss, so it’s not a shock that it does this, but still. It could be your playback system, particularly if you run the system with AGC and the hiss level doesn’t change.

I have a tiny “Personal Recorder” and I would kill if it didn’t have a hiss sound in all the recordings. But given the price, what I got is what I got. It may have cost more than your headset.


Tested it out again. If I enabled AGC on the headset the volume is louder but the noise is more pronounced. If I disable AGC then you don’t hear the hiss but the voice is also lower. If I go to amplify in Audacity then you hear the hiss/hum in the background.

OK. That makes more sense. The noise is probably at the stage where they make the voice analog signal big enough to digitize it. The Microphone Preamplifier or MicPre. That’s the place most microphones or microphone systems have the most trouble.

Your voice signal isn’t very big. It’s in the thousandths of volts range. Unfortunately, that’s also the size of most amplifier natural noise. So MicPres have to be very specially built not to hiss. That’s expensive, so inexpensive electronics get whatever happens to be cheap whether it’s well behaved or not.

How do they make it so you can put the microphone on either side? Or don’t they?

Just a thought. Post a voice sample and then briefly hold your breath for a second.



Mic is built in with no way of switching sides. I’ve attached a same WAV file. In this sample AGC was enabled for the mic.

I don’t think that’s right. It sounds like you’re holding your microphone at arms length in a noisy room, not a half-inch from your lips. That’s the sound you get when you’re talking into the wrong end of a directional microphone.

This is a real directional microphone. The sound is terrible, but it sounds like I’m right there by your ears.

I gotta get a better sample clip.


Koz: Don’t know if you took the time to go look, but this HP headset is one of the sort where the mic boom stops about 1.5" in front of the ears.

Unfortunately this design has been pretty popular, it does have the advantage of avoiding extraneous breath noises, but a mic that far from the lips is going to loose most of it’s noise cancelling ability.

That said the noise in your sample post is almost certainly electrical in origin and so not really the fault of the mic placement. The noise (and the 60 Hz hum in particular) was far worse than I would expect for a headset of this sort. You may well have a defective unit, if you have the option I would suggest try returning them for a replacement or your money back.

I’ve contacted the seller in regards to the matter. I don’t expect studio quality sound from a cheap headset, however, i do expect the lack of humming. To me that’s beyond annoying. They’ve responded and said they’re sending another headset. I appreciate the help in this matter.

Got a new one in the mail today. Still same issue. I’ve even put my finger completely over the mic hole to make sure there’s no outside sound (such as air blowing from a central AC on the other side of the room). I wouldn’t think a mic would pic something that faint up that far away, but wanted to cover all angles. Well, still same issue. In audacity, the bar shows moving up and down as if there’s a little bit of sound being picked up even though the mic hole was covered. Seems to me that either I’m just having bad luck with headsets or this headset (i.e. particular model/make) is crap.