Long Standing Hissing Debacle (Audacity 2.03)

I’ve always had a hissing problem when recording with Audacity. I’ve recorded on various systems (desktops and laptops), with several different microphones, and always treated the background hiss the same as any background hum you might get from your CPU fans. By this, I mean removing it via the noise removal tool. Job done.

However, now I’m recording with a Blue Yeti.

And it’s still present. By process of elimination I’ve tested the Blue Yeti:

  1. In different USB ports.
  2. In all manners or recording (stereo, cardioid etc.)
  3. On different surfaces.
  4. With different headphones (on-board sound card attached, not direct).

Although different surface recording reduces the hum from the fans quite a bit, nothing corrects the hiss. It’s like some kind of interference. There is an audio sample attached!
As I’ve said, it has been a long standing issue. Skype’s VOIP takes care of 75%~ of the hissing noise through its own background noise filters. But Audacity displays it in all its annoying glory.

Ever heard this particular noise? It’s something I’m very familiar with after hearing it for so long.
But hopefully for not much longer.

Currently on a desktop set-up w/ a Realtek onboard sound card, Blue Yeti microphone and Turtle Beach X12 headphones.

Record with Windows Sound Recorder. Is the same hissing there? Audacity only records the signal you give it.

Was there a reason you are still using 2.0.3? The latest 2.0.5 version can be got from http://audacityteam.org/download/ .


This is possibly the worst place to send an MP3. We are left trying to analyze your problem masked by MP3 quality and damage. WAV or FLAC is good.

From what I was able to tell, your hiss level is probably perfectly normal. I note you didn’t try changing the computer. I suspect some of that trash is coming from the USB ports. I think you re listening at least in part to the inadequate filtering of the computer 5 volt USB supply. That’s the high-itched mosquito whine in the background after you get rid of the 120 Hz power hum. After you get rid of the obvious buzzes and hums, the hiss appears to be in an acceptable range.

The condenser capsule, the preamplifier and the 5 volts from the USB system are all analog and very delicate. Anything at all you do to those components ends up in the show. After the internal digitizer, the show is pretty much bulletproof.

A word about USB microphones. All these designs are consumer compromise appliances. Overload is fatal, so they almost all have restrained performance – they record slightly low. This is not a good microphone to capture your expressive lute performance from across the room. Preamplifier design is noise fixed, so no matter what you do, the show is going to be hissier than separate analog microphones and good quality preamps – and that’s assuming perfect quality, expensive electronics. I’d be shocked if the preamp inside a USB microphone isn’t a bulk “Mic Preamp Chip” by a hardware manufacturer. Not designed for this particular purpose.


Also, as you’re finding, not having a “studio” almost always means you end up making one with quilts, jackets, afghans, cardboard boxes, packing material or simply recording really close and send the dog to your mum for the afternoon.

I’m in the moving quilt camp.



Yes, that high pitch whistle sounds and looks very much like electrical interference - probably picked up from the computer via the USB connection.

It’s normally recommended to plug microphones directly into the computer, but if the microphone is the only thing plugged into a wall powered USB hub it can sometimes help to reduce interference problems.

The poster said he always has noise in different machines (presumably recording using the built-in sound card). Is the Yeti noise the same as the noise recording with the built in sound card? Give us a WAV sample of both those types of noise. The Yeti noise sounds expected to me too.

Please see here how to attach a WAV sample https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/how-to-post-an-audio-sample/29851/1 .


You gents are fast! Appreciate that. Will answer each post one by one.

@Gale: Forgot to mention in the OP, the hissing is present in Windows Sound Recorder too. Sorry about that. Also, upgraded to the latest version (no reason for staying at 2.03) with the same audio hiss (as expected).

@Koz: Noted! MP3 is the cardinal sin. I’ll go to confessional later! Sorry! And sound advice too. I removed all idle USB connections during my first process of elimination - I’ll take a look at removing ALL connections one by one and see if a culprit appears.

@Steve: Ah yes! Might be worth noting that this is a USB microphone, there are no 3.5mm jacks involved. I’ll have a gander at wall-powered USB - just a look for now.

@Gale: Also yes - a trend to think about. This has been a long term thing, and in the long term I’ve always used on-board sound cards. I can’t ever remember having anything different to a Realtek driver either.

And finally, your WAV as you asked. There’s some tapping in the background - could be the rain, or something else. Sorry about that.

Thanks - is this recording still the USB mic?


I’ll take a look at removing ALL connections one by one and see if a culprit appears.

The noise isn’t coming from other devices (necessarily). The 5 volt system inside the computer runs almost everything including the USB ports and most things don’t care if it’s a little noisy. The magic of digital technology. Are you really going to notice that your mouse position is 1/32 of an inch off?

But noise or distortion in the 5 volt system is deadly to a microphone.

Have you ever tried to start your car with the headlights running? The lights dim, right, even though the starter system has nothing to do with the headlights – except they both run from the car battery. The starter is causing stress to the battery and that’s getting into the headlights.

The computer 5 volt system is always noisy and some computers try to stabilize it before it goes out on the USB system. Some don’t. Some microphones heavily filter the trash from the 5 volt system before use, but that’s expensive. So it’s a tradeoff.

I have USB audio electronics in a dusty box in the garage/car park because of this problem. Humming and whining. Sound familiar?

As above, you can try to run the microphone – by itself – through a wall-powered USB hub. The power to run the microphone comes from a filtered wall device and not from the computer. The sound data goes straight through to the computer. The catch is you can’t plug anything else into the hub. That’s also a good way to extend the USB cable length. It doubles. Computer to the Hub + Hub to the microphone.

That doesn’t work for everybody, but it works often enough to be a valuable trick.


Do you have heaters or air conditioners running in the room? Fans?

It is indeed.

@Koz: And cheers Koz, some solid advice. It’s good that you’ve come out with it so thoroughly - from what I’ve seen Googling this problem for a few hours, I’m not the only one with this problem. Hopefully this thread will provide some with some insight. It’s a matter of working with my circumstances - maybe the wall powered USB hub is worth a punt.

In regards to heaters/air conditioners etc. No - nothing. My office is an attic. My PC has a number of fans in it - the GPU fan and two/three additional case fans.

Just an FYI,

Fiddled around w/ the USB ports - swapping connections around. It’s interesting how the levels reduce/increase by which port is in use for the microphone. Although reductions have been made, it’s nothing substantial.

I’m gonna go ahead and grab a wall-powered USB hub and see how it checks out. Will keep you updated.

Fiddled around w/ the USB ports - swapping connections around. It’s interesting how the levels reduce/increase by which port is in use for the microphone. Although reductions have been made, it’s nothing substantial.

They don’t. That’s impossible. The audio signal is digital at each one of the USB ports, however, if your 5 volt battery is fried between the ports that will seriously affect the microphone – but on the analog side.


All right - an update!

Been trying the wall-powered USB out, and although the hiss is still there it’s no-where near as blaring.

If that’s all I can do with my current set-up so be it. In the hisses current form in pre-recorded voice, I can remove pretty much all of it. As for live speech, it’s another matter.

Thank you for your help. Just wondering: how could I (if its possible w/ the Yeti USB) adjust my set-up (I’m assuming MAJORLY) to record crystal-clear w/ with zero interference? Can I even do that? Pretty much every demo I’ve seen has crystal clear audio that appears to have no interference-edits like mine. Then again, not everyone has my system’s mosquito interference. But then again, I don’t know if some of them are using other hardware to compensate that I don’t know about?

Regardless, thanks again. You’ve been a good help.

Perhaps they talk louder and closer to the mic than you do.
For every 1 dB that you can make the voice signal bigger, that is 1 dB less noise.

So the mosquito whine is gone, but you still have the gentle rain-in-the-trees hiss, right? That’s the internal electronics of the microphone. One of the downsides of a USB all-in-one microphone is it’s all in one. You can’t change to a quieter preamp or different mixer.

The only thing you can do to get above the noise is to get louder and you can’t get too loud without hitting overload and clipping.


Most USB microphones are pre-set to make it difficult to be “too loud”. Consequently, many of them tend to record rather too quiet for spoken word.
Some USB microphones have a “gain control” (a rotary control) built into the microphone body that allows the pre-amp gain to be adjusted. Fortunately the Blue Yeti does have such a gain control. Turn the microphone gain control clockwise to increase the microphone sensitivity. If your recording starts to clip (distort) then back it off a bit the other direction. (If you need to turn it up to maximum then you are probably talking too quietly or too far away from the mic).