Mic sounds like a tin can with a bit of bass

Hello helpful people of Audacity!
I have scoured the forums and have not found a solution yet, so I was hoping someone might have more insight.
I turned opened Audacity yesterday to record, listened to my sound test, and it was dreadful! To me, it sounds a bit tin canny, bassy, or like I’m in the toilet. It is also a lot more sensitive right now and picking up a higher noise floor (was about -71, now is about -60). It did this about a year ago, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how I fixed it last time.

So far, I have uninstalled and reinstalled the drivers for my mic. Hard reset my laptop. (Equipment details listed below). I have turned off audio enhancements for headphones and mic. Checked all settings, etc, on my laptop and on audacity, and the mic is default/ set up on everything. Updated my computer. Updated Audacity to latest version. Unplugged and re-plugged mic several times. I tried it on my computers voice recorder and it doesn’t sound quite as bad on there, and I listened to my voice through the mic, and it didn’t sound as weird. Note, headphones not generally plugged into laptop for record/playback, just put them in mic for testing.

Equipment: Mic- HyperX Quadcast (usb) ; Laptop- Asus Vivobook - Running on Windows 11

About the samples: -8db, no other editing besides moving the “Before issues audio” to -8 since it was sitting at -16. Mic gain is at a 2 out of 5, but sounds very loud compared to before.

Main use: Audiobook/ voice acting recording, i.e. voice only, no music.

Please let me know if you want any info I may have left out.
I somewhat fixed it, but I’m still not 100% happy with it. Ideally, I want it to sound like the original (last sample).
I had to put it on one file in order to post. 1st is the issue I had yesterday/this morning. 2nd is what it currently sounds like. 3rd is what it originally sounded like.

Make sure Windows “enhancements” are turned OFF.

If you’ve got headphones plugged into the mic, you should be able to hear the mic alone without anything the computer is doing.

And if you are only recording yourself the mic should be set to cardioid.

Thanks for your reply.
-All enhancements are turned off. Though they weren’t before the issue happened and it worked fine for almost a year, so super confused about that. But it did totally help this time, as heard between first and second voice sample.

-The headphones plugged into the mic sounded fine, but when plugging them back into the laptop and recording/listening, it sounds significantly worse.

-And the mic is set to cardioid.

“1st” sounds like you’re talking into the wrong/insensitive side of your external microphone. Switching to the wrong sensitivity pattern could do that …

“2nd” & “3rd” sound the same: The microphone is being used correctly.
(but IMO the EQ is not optimal & there is mains-hum @ 120Hz ).


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Thank you for your reply.
-The mic is in cardioid and I haven’t messed with that setting for almost a year :confused: The only thing different from 1st and 2nd is that I turned off all audio enhancements through Windows

  • I am unaware of using EQ accept during editing. Is there something I can do do fix that pre-recording or like as a preset?

  • Unfortunately my booth is next to the water heater and ac/heat unit, so I turn those off when I do official recordings. Is there something else you hear besides that? Or something else that would cause it?

The mains-hum is usually picked-up electrically, rather than acoustically.
The main offender at 120Hz can be notched out …

30-day free-trial of this plugin …

Its “dynamic adaptation” is good at treating room-resonances & excessive sibilance.

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Thank you so much for the information and suggestions.
Notching out the EQ does help. It polished it up a bit!
I have not downloaded the EQ plug in yet, but looks promising, and not a bad price if the trial pans out.

  • Question. Do you think notching out the EQ interact with my editing chain? I use one of the main suggested chains for ACX from this forum, and it includes EQ: Filter Curve EQ- Factory Presets- Low roll off for speech.

“Low roll off for speech” only reduces frequencies below 100Hz:
it’s not going to reduce the 120Hz mains harmonic. IMO a notch @ 120Hz is necessary.

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Good deal! Appreciate the help.

Terrific announcing voice.

A note. Plain WAV sound files are 44100 sample rate and 16 bits. The stereo version of that lives on ordinary Audio CDs.

That’s not what you sent. You sent 44100 bit, 32 bit floating (according to Audacity) and plain 32-bit according to Mac Get Info. Neither of those is a plain, ordinary sound file, and they can’t both be right. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t play the forum/browser version of the sample. It was silent.

(question marks floating over head)

There’s other question marks floating over my head. I don’t see any major damage from 120Hz interference. If you hadn’t brought it up, I would not have looked for it.

I selected the third segment and applied Audacity Audiobook Mastering. ACX-Check passes it.

Screen Shot 2024-02-15 at 5.38.38 PM

You could submit that for an audiobook with no further work (although I would give it a gentle Noise Reduction push). Noise Reduction of the beast (6, 6, 6) will almost completely submerge any background hum or buzz.


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Like this.

Screen Shot 2024-02-15 at 5.49.45 PM

Yes, you should not leave any"foreign" processing on your machine while you’re performing. Do Not leave Zoom running in the background.

You should also avoid Updates, Patches, Upgrades, or Other Changes to your machine until you finish the work.

Search the forum for “I did an update in the middle of my work and destroyed my performance. Please help.”


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I have multiple starts to the document “how to produce an audiobook.” Not that I couldn’t write it, it’s just that it keeps turning into a four volume set. That alone is a warning that this isn’t as easy as it looks.

We assume you intend to read a book (your book?), and get paid. That makes you a business. So the goal is to easily and rapidly produce acceptable work. Starting with the third segment as you sent it, I produced an audiobook quality clip in two steps. We understand I used the classic Noise Reduction which itself is two steps, but there it is.

Two tools.

That means if you don’t make any mistakes reading chapters, you could churn out your book by next Thursday.

[Booming kettle drum sound.]

Important Hidden Process Note: You can’t edit M3 files. When you get done editing your chapter, Export an Edit Master WAV file. I would not use an Audacity Project for this, they’re too brittle, but you could do both. Burn the submitted MP3 from the WAV.

Even more obscure note: When you finish reading a chapter, Export a Protection WAV file, errors and all. There’s just nothing like pressing a wrong key during editing and reduce your reading to steaming trash.

I see you’re reading in mono. One blue wave. Terrific. Highly recommended. When you create the MP3, it’s good that the Stereo/Mono Channels selector and the file match.

Screen Shot 2024-02-15 at 6.59.54 PM

You can get some magic happening if they don’t. That’s not a “Convert Everything To Mono” button.


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Thank you for the notes! Oh gosh, I did miss that when I uploaded.
Those samples didn’t have any editing on them, so definitely wouldn’t want to send it in like that! I will upload a sample now that has the editing chain on it that I usually use.
I was wondering if I could get your opinion on how the audio sounds? If you have time!

Currently, I:
EQ- low rolloff for speech
Noise reduction
Izotope- de-click and de-ess
RMS normalize

I usually shut things down when recording, however I may have left discord open a few times and I wonder if that had an effect.
And I made sure I wasn’t running any updates or changes during a project. I noticed the issue when I sat down to record in the morning before I really started, and shut it all down before troubleshooting.


Thank you very much! I appreciate the help. I have actually found much of your work on here about audiobooks and ACX and use it quite frequently!

If you have Izotope de-hum it does a better job than Audacity-notch at removing hum

BTW if you try changing the position of the mic cable that could make a difference to the amount of (120Hz) mains-hum being picked up.

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Wonderful! I will look into that on Izoptope, I haven’t used the hum tool before.
And great, I’ll see if that changes things. I have a very small space and everything is just hanging and crossing over each other at the moment, which could be an issue.

I downloaded your sound test and opened it in Audacity.

The red stripe portions are too loud and permanently damaged.

(View > Show Clipping)

Oddly, you can correct loudnesses while you’re in Audacity. Just reduce the volume a bit, but the instant you make a sound file, you’re stuck with the damage. Audacity is special that way.

Chat, Groups, Zoom, and other voice sharing apps work by taking over your computer’s sound system and you have nothing to say about it. Even worse, sometimes their corrections and adjustments get stuck even after you close the app.

Isn’t this fun?

What’s the possibility of recording your award-winning audiobook and Skyping friends and neighbors on different computers?

That’s not the only solution. You can also not record your voice on a computer.

That’s a Zoom (no relation) H1n sound recorder in full studio configuration.

Now I’m on less firm ground. Low Rolloff for Speech (rumble filter), RMS (loudness) Normalize, and Peak Limiter are built into Audacity Audiobook Mastering Macro.

So, winging it now, Announce your chapter so the tops and peaks of the blue waves never get higher than about -6dB, -10dB, or so.

Are you reading with your voice in your headphones? Do that.

Immediately Export a protection WAV file.

Correct the English errors, fluffs, and mistakes. Apply any DeClicking and DeEssing.

There is a technique when you make a mistake, you leave the recorder running, take a breath and re-announce the last whole sentence with the correction. Then just keep going. Later, you just need to carefully slice out the bad words. Because you didn’t stop your theatrical presentation for very long, the new and old words (and breath, emphasis, and pitch) should match.

After you get the chapter so it sounds reasonable (at whatever volume it ended up), apply Audiobook Mastering. Then, maybe Noise Reduction.

Export your chapter Edit Master WAV file, run ACX-Check to make sure, and go on to the next chapter.

Mastering should be the last thing you do to a chapter because anything you do to the voice later is likely to mess up one of the ACX standards. Mastering makes your standards come out perfect.


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Thank you! I definitely need to get the macro, I somehow missed that in previous research. I do it all manually for now.
How do you download it from text? Is it coding? I just havent found what keywords to correctly search to figure it out :confused:

It is text, yes. It causes a lot of problems. A Macro is a list of instructions to tell other programs what to do.

If your machine downloads it as a text display, save it as a text file.


Windows might try to hide the .txt part of the file name “to help you.” Do you know how to force your machine to display filename extensions?

After you get the file, open Audacity. Tools > Macro Manager > Import > point it to Audiobook-Mastering-Macro.txt > Open.

It should arrive on the left-hand window and look something like this.


From that point on, you can select some work and Tools > Apply Macro > Audiobook-Mastering-Macro > Enter. There is no OK. It just does it.

You can watch the blue waves shift up or down to correct the loudness and watch the tips and peaks shift so they “fit.”

If you then run ACX-Check, you will find that your work conforms to ACX Peak and RMS (Loudness) specifications. If you recorded in a quiet, echo-free room, you may be done.

I need to change machines…


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What is your microphone?

Have you ever used Effect > Noise Reduction? There is a short form now that works OK, but not as well as the classic, two-step noise reduction.

I may need to pick this up again later. The Starbucks is seriously wearing out.


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