Low volume, high-pitched sound with every recording

Hey all,

First let me start off by saying that I’ve probably read 100 separate posts / websites about this topic, yet have been unable to solve it, and am currently at my wits end. Koz’s posts have been especially helpful, but, alas, I’m still stuck.

I use a Blue Yeti USB microphone, and am currently regretting not investing in an XLR mic. It’s attached to a mic boom arm, which is attached to my desk. My computer sits in a little cubby that is attached to my desk. Whenever I make any recording (or if I stream, for example, which makes this even more annoying since I stream a lot), I can hear a quiet yet slightly noticeable and extremely annoying high-pitched sound. I’ve attached a short .mp3 clip of what I’m talking about (I believe Koz refers to it as “Frying Mosquitos”). Yes, I know you can hear my computer fans as well, since I have my volume all the way up (with 0 gain on the microphone), because the sound is more noticeable when I have my volume up. But, the sound is still there even if my volume is all the day down. These are the steps I’ve taken in an attempt to resolve it:

  1. Have tried two separate USB hubs, both externally powered, both plugged into either the wall or a surge protector. Getting a powered USB hub is the first thing that people seem to recommend. The first one was from Best Buy, which I was slightly skeptical of, since it still received enough power from my computer to power my microphone even if it wasn’t plugged into an outlet as well. The second hub I tried using won’t work without being plugged in to an outlet, and is a decent Anker USB 3.0 hub.
  2. Have tried switching out the USB male to USB B cable that comes included with the microphone for a different one.
  3. Have tried physically picking up my microphone and moving it around 6-7 feet away from my computer to see if proximity / computer vibrations were an issue.
  4. Have tried temporarily turning off the Wi-Fi on my modem / router, which is probably 6 feet away as well.
  5. Have tried moving my cell phone further away from my microphone / putting it in airplane mode.
  6. Have tried using front and back USB ports on my computer.
  7. Have tried using my roommate’s laptop to see if the noise was still there (it was, although my mic was still in the same location on my desk).
  8. Have tried using VSTHost to run the mic input through ReaFir, ReaGate, ReaCompressor, and BuzMaxi3 - and although this makes the noise slightly less noticeable, and even seems to interrupt it (as in, I’ll hear it every half second or so instead of it being constant), I don’t consider this to be a solution. Ideally I don’t want to have to run VSTHost every time I want to use my microphone for streaming, recording or gaming.

I don’t think there’s anything physically wrong with the microphone, as the slew of audio clips I’ve heard from people with similar problems all sound similar to mine. Does anyone have ANY idea as to why this could still be happening, or perhaps suggest another fix I could try, no matter how unlikely?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilcRS5eUpwk – summarizes how I feel right about now.

Does anyone have ANY idea as to why this could still be happening…

We know what it is. It’s data services leaking in on the USB power supply lines. Flynwill cured his by taking his USB device apart and applying 5 VDC from a separate, well-behaved, wall-powered supply. You can do that, too. Do you have a soldering iron or solder station?

You don’t need a microphone. I got my frying sound test clip with a USB sound adapter.

It’s why we no longer blanket recommend USB microphones for everyday use—as a cheap way to produce good quality recordings.

You can not record on the computer. I did a recent project entirely on a Zoom H4 recorder. Good, quiet recordings and no computer at all until final production.

You can throw money. As near as I can tell, the USB sound adapters that have 48v Phantom Power don’t do this. These devices are required to have quiet, well-behaved power managers to get the 48 volts. My little ICUSBAUDIO buzzes like a swamp, but my Shure X2U (featuring 48v phantom power) doesn’t.

I have another variation. I record with external sound mixer and no USB at all. My Mac has a very high quality, stereo input connection.

Most Macs don’t do that any more. That’s a variation on “Throw Money.” Cheap PC soundcards have other problems.


The Shure X2U isn’t a Get Out Of Jail, either. It has low volume in production conditions and you can’t fix it without throwing even more money.


Thanks for the quick reply, Koz.

Unfortunately, I’m more into streaming than recording nowadays, so not being hooked into my computer is not an option. Additionally, I don’t have a soldering iron and don’t think I’d be comfortable making a modification like that and risk screwing up the mic. There are tons of streamers who use Blue Yetis, but don’t suffer from this problem. I’m just so perplexed.

I don’t see how a USB sound adapter could help, since the regular Blue Yeti only has a USB output, and no XLR. Are you saying something like the Shure X2U, in conjunction with a USB pre-amp or something, could be a potential workaround? For that kind of money, I think I’d sooner just try switching out my computer’s PSU or try another surge protector.

I’ll hear it every half second or so instead of it being constant

I bet I know what does that, too. The filter “gets used to” the noise pattern and suppresses it similar to how cellphones work. Unfortunately, because it’s coming from the data stream inside the computer, it’s constantly changing and at each change, the filter has to get used to it all over again.

  1. Have tried using my roommate’s laptop to see if the noise was still there (it was, although my mic was still in the same location on my desk).

But I bet it wasn’t the same. I bet it was different like different pitch tones or different repetition or slightly different loudness.

  1. Have tried using front and back USB ports on my computer.

That sometimes helps as sometimes the length of the USB cable helps — or at least changes the effect.

Have tried two separate USB hubs

I would expect that to help, particularly the better one. This is in the same camp as ripping open your device and substituting a power supply different from the one coming from the computer. We stopped recommending that when too many people had your experience.

When I have to record or go live on a PC, I generally use a real sound mixer and a UCA-202 as the interface.

The microscopically tiny microphone sound signals are all safely inside the mixer. The digital converter only handles the much larger line-level signals. As Flynwill found, the whine is still there, but nobody short of a scientist is going to find it.

And no, that’s not going to work with your Yeti.

No, it’s not radiation and it’s not acoustic pickup and moving the microphone around isn’t going to help. This problem is apparently getting worse because manufacturers are trying to make computers cheaper and cheaper and nobody cares if the USB connection to their keyboard or mouse is a little ratty. Would you even know if your mouse wasn’t tracking perfectly? That’s the kind of poor connection that can drive a lower quality USB microphone nuts.

USB Headsets aren’t the answer. Nobody thinks those should be used for good quality theater and so there are constant complaints about quality. My Logitech USB headset is pretty awful. I used to recommend those for high quality reading and I had to stop.

ACX Audio Book people do have specific recommendations for equipment. They even call out the USB Blue Snowball as a microphone some people have used to good effect. But they don’t dwell on it very long. They go straight to higher quality equipment.

The longest thread on the Audacity forum is Ian whose task was to record an Audiobook with a Blue Snowball in a Hollywood apartment. That’s it. That’s all he was doing. 39 forum chapters and counting. First posting April 15, 2014. In the last week he got published.

I’m going to look for that ACX recommendation.


It’s in the first video “Your Setup.”

They’re completely obsessive because they’re recording for broadcast/audiobook/theater, but they did find a USB interface they like.

They have another segment of the web page that has other hardware recommendations. I haven’t got there yet.


Oh, and since we know it’s a USB quality/condition issue, I bet it changes with the mother board. That’s why I was expecting the laptop changeout to work. But I bet your roommate isn’t rolling in money, either, that’s probably why it had the same problem. What’s the cheapest laptop…?


I got a reply back from Carson McClain at Sweetwater Sound.

**The frying mosquitos is the USB port on the computer interacting with the USB mic it’s giving power too.

How do you solve it?

  1. A higher quality USB card
  2. A higher quality Power supply in your computer
  3. Power conditioning
  4. Eliminating ground issues in your power.**

So he’s going down about the same list that you found. The only person who got this problem to reliably go to zero from a noisy condition is Flynwill who took apart the device and changed the circuitry.


There is a software fix for the “mosquito” problem , ( which is harmonics from the powersupply at 1KHz intervals )

If you copy and paste the code below into something called “Nyquist Prompt” in Audacity “Effects” …

  (setf s (notch2 s 13888 50)); notch stray note at 13888Hz
    (setq mysound s)
    (setq q 12)         ; set the base Q for the filter
    (setq iter 15)     ; set the number of iterations
    (setq freq 1000)  ; set base frequency

    ; start the DO loop
    (dotimes (i iter mysound)   
    (setf mysound (notch2 mysound (* freq (1+ i)) (* q (1+ i))))
    )                     ;end of loop

Then apply “Nyquist Prompt” like any other effect it will remove the whine using notch-filters at 1KHz intervals …

waveform+ spectrogtam of ''sound''  before - after notch-filter code #.png
This software fix isn’t as good as eliminating the problem in the first place by using a “clean” power-supply :
the notch-filters remove wanted sound, as well as unwanted , and add “ringing” artefacts.
Also on Audacity this software-fix is not possible in “real time”, (e.g. a live podcast), in Audacity only possible in post-production.

So we have the problem with “Microphone Sound,” “USB,” and “Inexpensive” in the same sentence. Luck enters into it as well.

— The UCA-202 only has the problem in very, very tiny amounts because it’s Line (high) Level, not Microphone Level.
— The Shure X2U doesn’t have the problem because it’s expensive and has internal power management.
— The interface device that ACX picked doesn’t have the problem because it too, is “expensive” (you still have to buy the microphone and cables) and has power management.
— My analog mixer and Mac don’t have the problem because they don’t use USB at all.

The key to Power Management is the presence of a 48v Phantom Power button (attached). In general, the only way you can get Phantom Power from a USB connection is make it with internal power electronics. Once you do that, you have already filtered out all the garbage from the USB connection and the device is usually silent.

I know of no way to tell if a USB microphone is going to work. Once you pass a certain price point, microphones usually go high quality/analog and require an XLR mixer or sound interface to work. That’s the threshold where there is no top end. Once you go with a mixer (or XLR Interface) there is no practical limit to the quality of microphone you can use. I shot a successful sound performance with one of these, a small mixer and my Mac.


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