Issue with a hiss/whine in the background of some recordings

Here’s our second raw take, this time pointing toward my cheek, and hopefully of a suitable length.

It’s fine, but your performance volume went into the mud. This is a sample of your first post connected with your second.

You can adjust this yourself. The blue waves will tell you what you’re doing. The first post was nearly perfect. This is a screen capture from the first one followed by this latest one.

Screen Shot 2019-11-03 at 12.35.03.png
See the blue tips on the first clip almost meet the 0.5 marks up and down? That’s the goal. The volume meters on the front of the H1n will tell you , too, but those are a little rough to set because you can’t announce and see what you’re doing at the same time.

Moving the microphone didn’t give all that much improvement in sound quality, and this one fails noise.

So it’s official. Record like you did the first time, correct fluffs and mistakes as needed, Master and apply DeEsser.

…French Legal System…

That’s from ‘Crash Course’ with John Green, right?


I’m just now waking up. You didn’t add the two microphones or tracks together, right? You picked one and deleted the other one. That may mess up the moving microphone trick. That can have odd results if you only use one of the two microphones. So either add the microphones or don’t use the sideways placement trick.


Moving the microphone didn’t give all that much improvement in sound quality, and this one fails noise.

It was pointing at my cheek, but it was definitely more faint, obviously.

That’s from ‘Crash Course’ with John Green, right?

Nope, just from a rough and ready audition I thought I’d throw together today, mainly for the purposes of showing you a halfway decent sample. I did master it and send it off to a rights holder, but I don’t tend to get nonfiction roles, usually.

I’m just now waking up. You didn’t add the two microphones or tracks together, right? You picked one and deleted the other one. That may mess up the moving microphone trick. That can have odd results if you only use one of the two microphones. So either add the microphones or don’t use the sideways placement trick.

Simply split stereo to mono and deleted a track. That’s the maneuver, no?

I’ll get dee-esser and carry on, then. I don’t like to get too optimistic with my precarious recording situation, but this is by far the best I’ve had anything sounding.

An aside, but, you mentioned the H4N recorder earlier. “Professional” reviewers on YouTube seem iffy on the H1N for voice work, (probably re: specifically voice acting, not audiobooks) but, rights holders on ACX don’t seem to mind the quality I’m turning out. Would the H4N provide a marked increase in quality, in your opinion? (I know you’re not a sales rep, so expound as much or as little as you’d like on this) I watched a couple reviews that more or less claimed the H1N and H4N were pretty close to one another in terms of actual audio quality output from their built-in mics.

Thanks again, Koz. Your attention to detail and concern for the lowly are commendable traits!

Simply split stereo to mono and deleted a track. That’s the maneuver, no?

That’s one of them. The other one is Select the stereo track > Tracks > Mix > Mix Stereo down to Mono.

The two microphones on top of the H1n aren’t strictly Left and Right. I believe they’re matrixed to Mid-Side inside the unit and then remixed to Left and Right on the way out. So if you move the H1n to one side and pick the wrong microphone, you could get what you got. Higher noise and low volume.

Try it again and this time Mix to Mono. The rest of the performance was perfect.

I don’t like to get too optimistic with my precarious recording situation

Don’t tell anybody. If people are writing you checks, particlarly if you passed ACX, nobody cares how you did it except the recording community who use it as an opportunity to offer opinions.

There was a Zoom that was noticeably better than the others. The original Zoom H2 could crank out terrific sound and shows one after the other.
Of an Indiana summer’s evening. Thanks to Kelly, Sam an Donny for helping out.
Recorded on a Canon Rebel T3i and a Zoom H2.
Audio recorded on a Zoom H2 handy recorder, video on a Sony Bloggie touch, edited with Acid music studio and Vegas Pro 10.

This one’s special. You can listen to Josh switch between the camcorder sound and the H2.

That’s the original H2, not the H2n. The original H2 that’s going for original equipment prices previously owned but in good shape on eBay. I would not buy one. You have to go through the learning curve all over again.

I can sense Marketing and Promotion at Zoom. I would not be shocked if the H2 and the H4 used the same microphones and just gussied up everything else.


I wonder if anybody on YouTube posted a Zoom-Off.


I think this is one of Josh’s originals. It’s got a lot of echo and reverb, but still. It’s him and an H2. Currently at over nine million views.

I do have an H4, no “n”. I think it’s reached end of life. It has system noises the last time I tried to use it. It’s very old.

As a fuzzy rule, we don’t recommend specific microphones. It’s good to have actual experiences with the stuff recommended and there just aren’t enough of us to do a good job. The H1n was the sweet spot for me. Good recordings if I couldn’t drag out the big guns.

That was a radio broadcast sound shoot. It’s taken in a fully soundproofed conference room with sound mixer, boom, blast filter and backup recorder.

We didn’t need the backup. The station accepted the track with no corrections or comments.

Another reason for the H1n is to have a recommendation if someone just couldn’t get computer recording to work right. How many dollars are required to do a reasonable job.

You can get sticker shock with some sound jobs.

He’s holding about a grand USD.


Thanks for providing so much helpful insight and devoting all this duty-free time to my silly projects. I’m certainly learning a lot here.

As a passing question, is there a chance that a De-esser could very, very subtly mess with the background “hiss” in a recording? I was listening back to the first and only recording I’ve De-essed from the Zoom, and the rainforesty hiss became more of a gentle … almost faint static hiss? You need to have the volume cranked and earbuds to even halfway notice it, but it’s there, and I’m not sure if this is something ACX will flag.

I assume it’s the De-esser anyway. I’ve done several recordings after this one that turned out just fine - gentle rainforest hiss, no static at all. The settings I used on the Spitfish De-esser were just lifted from a YouTube video, so maybe that’s where I went wrong?

And the RH just approved said recording. So perhaps I’m overthinking things, but it’s pretty jarring to me.

You need to have the volume cranked and earbuds to even halfway notice it,

Diving for Noise doesn’t count. Set the playback volume for comfortable voice listening, roll the performance back to the noise and don’t touch anything. Still hear it?

Does the work pass ACX Check with a noise -65dB or quieter? That’s all you need to pass technical conformance That is assuming the noise is natural rain-in-the-trees shshshsh sound. There are other noises which stand out, are very annoying and take extra attention, but microphone/electronic noise isn’t one of them.

The recommended DeEsser has no significant affect in volumes quieter than the Threshold setting. That’s why you have to Master first to put the performance volume in the right place and then apply DeEsser.

I’ve never used Spitfish. You are now the expert.

To catch up: Noise, Volume (RMS) and Peak are the basics for acceptance. A robot checks for those and if you don’t make it past the robot, then somebody will post a nice “try again” message and reject you. If you pass the robot, a human reviews your work and that’s where the theater is important. They hate distractions, such as SS sounds that will cut glass, stuttering, gasping, wheezing, lips smacks, etc. As a fuzzy rule, you can’t get a machine to judge that.

So that’s where you are now. Avoid obsessive nit-picking. Nobody is going to turn the volume all the way up and inspect atomic-level random molecule noise. That said, they might be concerned if what noise you do have changes as you talk. That’s can be distraction and they just hate that.

Did you like your work with Mastering and DeEsser applied as I posted? If you started with loud enough performance, that should slide right through.


Well, the noise passes as our fabled rainforest hiss until about 90% earbud volume on sound-proof headphones. Then, while still not much of an interference, it is noticeably unlike the room noise I’ve had in any of my recordings prior to now - just a little rough, almost crackly. I certainly don’t notice it on car or computer speakers though. No changes in the quality of the sound throughout and it doesn’t fluctuate as I speak, no. It’s consistent with the rainforest hiss, but is just crackly for some reason.

Nitpicking is extremely in my nature but I realize I’m not doing my mental health any favors by sitting here and obsessing over this. More than likely. Probably. Whoa, my vision’s blurry…

That said it passed ACX check with flying colors. I did as you said, mastered and then de-essed. Overall it’s an improvement, but for my hopefully inconsequential nitpick.

You can attenuate the rainforest (when you are not speaking) with an expander plug-in e.g. the free version of couture.

If you’re not done obsessing yet, I found a way to use Noise Gate without doing too much damage.

You have to download and install it.

Noise Gate suppresses sound lower volume than a setting.

This message thread describes how I did it.

I used Mastering to get the work in range of Noise Reduction, and then gentle Noise Reduction to get the work within range of Noise Gate. Both Noise Reduction and Noise Gate are set for very modest affect, but still, between them you can get about 18dB of noise reduction, serious noise suppression and nobody can hear what you did.

Have we filled up your dance card yet?

Let’s see. Announce the work > export a safety WAV > cut or edit and correct it > Master it > DeEss it > Noise Reduce it > and Gate it. These steps should not affect ACX Check, or if they do, it should leave the work still within range. DeEssing in particular might reduce the peaks slightly. Peaks are a limit, not a range. As long as they don’t go louder than -3dB, you’re good to go. Essing should not affect RMS (loudness) at all.

If you miss any of the steps, you have to start over because some of the corrections depend on the order of tools.

It’s strongly recommended you export each raw performance as WAV and move it to a safe place as backup.

If you do read a book, the chapters must match, so you have to do all that to each chapter exactly the same way.


just a little rough, almost crackly.

Post some of it.

Did you speak too loud? The blue waves are never supposed to go all the way up or down. View > Show Clipping. That will produce red marks at all the places there is overload sound damage.

How’s the battery life holding up? Did you get the wall power supply? I don’t know what it looks like when the batteries start to go flat or what the warning is. I didn’t use it that much yet.


I’ve recorded for about two hours with the Zoom and the battery still shows as full. So far, so good.

No clipping to report. I don’t have the wall power supply, no. Just gonna roll with rechargeable AAA batteries for now.

…now that I’m sitting at home with another pair of soundproof headphones, I’m beginning to wonder if the issue I was having before was related to the other pair of headphones I was using when I noticed the crackling. I was using bluetooth headphones with my phone, listening on ACX itself, when I noticed the crackle. No idea if that’s likely to change things. They’re cheap and they could be on the fritz. But, for the fun of it, here’s a mastered/de-essed sample of the audio I was (earlier) hearing crackling in all of the room noise.

Maybe I was “diving” when I noticed this. Maybe it’s not there at all.

Maybe it’s not there at all.

It sounds perfect to me and it easily passes ACX Check.

I think you’re analyzing the quality of your headphones which now appear to be the weak link in this process.

I was using bluetooth headphones with my phone

Wireless headphones primary quality is that they’re wireless, convenient and easy to use with no interconnect cables! That’s it. Audio quality, if it’s mentioned at all, can be poor.

rechargeable AAA batteries for now.

My Olympus recorders can use either type and they have a built-in charger. Super handy, but I still pop for primary batteries on important recordings.

So we’re here, or we’ve been here for several days now. That last clip is perfectly submittable.


they’re wireless

Missed one. Nobody’s interested in changing headphone batteries every fifteen minutes, so there is a strong incentive to sacrifice sound quality for battery life.

One of the reasons digital systems are so efficient is they’re digital. They spend time in ones and zeros with no time in between. Audio spends all of its time in the middle between ones and zeros which is stunningly wasteful, but sorry, that’s how our ears work.

Wired headphones can put all the heavy lifting in the device they’re plugged into.

soundproof headphones

Noise Cancelling? So that’s another job the headphones are trying to do in addition to deliver good sound. Do you have a pair of plain, wired headphones you can use at least during quality control?


Free version of Couture is worth the effort of download : real-time fine adjustment of the expander effect …

Transient is another free plugin worth the effort of tracking down : it can reduce the steepness of the attack making the vocal easier on the ear if in large doses, like an audio-book.

After my extended absence, I can confirm that the bluetooth headphones were the sole contributor to the “crackling”, though I’ve a new quandary as of today.

I’ve recorded for probably 20 hours with the Zoom. This afternoon, halfway through a 30 minute session, I noticed what sounds like your standard cellphone “buzzing” or interference interspersed throughout my playback.

My phone has been with me in the closet for all of those 20 hours, but this is the first time I’ve experienced this.

Just after the 6 second mark in the clip I’m providing, you can hear it off and on until the end. There was a bunch of that for about the final 10 minutes of recording. That’s cellphone interference, right?

Aluminum/Aluminium foil can shield devices from radio-waves …
Be careful not to short-circuit anything with the foil.