Microphone for noisy environment?

Hi All,

I do a gaming stream on twitch.tv, and am having a hard time finding the right balance of equipment. My walls seem to be paper thin, and I’ve thought of getting some sound panels to assist with reducing the outside noise, but I also want to find a better microphone.

I currently am using an EM-320E shotgun microphone that I got off of ebay, cheap $20 microphone that I heard some decent things about, but even that picks up a ton of noise.

My setup is Microphone → http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/302USB.aspx → dedicated stream PC.

I’m also trying to figure out what kind of sound panels to buy, if that would even help my situation, if anyone has recommendations on semi affordable ones that are quality panels, that would be great too!

Can anyone recommend a different XLR mic that might suit my needs? Any help is appreciated! Thank you!

While something like a Rode NTG-2 or an Audio-Technica AT897 will probably give you noticeably better sound quality, I would not expect a huge improvement with background noise rejection because “sound from next door” is very “indirect” and will be bouncing around and radiating from all of the walls, so it is not as simple as rejecting sound from the sides with a directional microphone.

Sound proofing a room is not easy and usually expensive.
Most of the “acoustic panels” type products are designed to “soak up” reflected sounds. They can be effective for cutting down echo and excessive reverberation. They do not generally help much with cutting down sound from outside and particularly don’t offer much protection against low frequencies from outside.

Low frequencies can be transmitted through joist under the floor and above the ceiling as well as through walls.
“Sound proofing” generally requires substantial “shielding” that is isolated from the “outer room”. It is usually achieved by building “a room within a room”, where the “inner room” is mounted with vibration absorbing pads.

How close are you to the microphone when you are recording?


That thing on the left is an AKG C555L.


It’s an XLR microphone whose claim to fame is to make the room vanish. It does take a 9 volt battery and the instructions claim it will run from 48v Phantom Power, although I’ve never used it that way.

Nobody will accuse this thing of perfect studio quality, but it does very well and I was able to host a lecture while standing in front of the stage speakers with no feedback. That’s very difficult to do. My illustration shows the little foam muff over the microphone head. When you first fit the headset, you need to remove the foam to make sure the microphone is pointed toward your lips. After that you can replace it and go.

This is the next step after the shotgun fails. There is a moisture barrier built-in to the head, but if you don’t need the strict close-talking feature, you may not have problems with that.

I have a soundcheck here somewhere and my voice is available on other microphones for comparison.

You may not need to soundproof the room. As we grind on posting after posting, it’s almost impossible not to record the room along with your performance – but there are ways…


It’s on a desk mic stand, so it can be as far as a foot away? I did order an sm58 from amazon, and noticed someone has an es-58 http://www.amazon.com/GLS-Audio-Vocal-Microphone-ES-58-S/dp/B000RKVH0K for sale on craigslist I could try. If it will get me similar results as an sm58 i might give it a shot. I was reading up on the sm58 beta and people say it has a much more narrow polarity than the sm58 does. I was wondering if that would help too?

I’m curious about a sound test for the AKG C555L, having a hard time finding one. Will keep looking though, ty!

The closer that you can get to the microphone the less room noise there will be (relative to your voice). This is the primary benefit of “headset” microphones and is why they are used in busy call centres. As you get closer to the microphone, the risk of blowing directly on the microphone increases, which is why a “pop shield” should be used with recording microphones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_filter) and why a headset microphone should be positioned close to the corner of the mouth rather than directly in front.

The SM58 and SM58 beta are designed primarily as “stage mics” rather than “recording mics”.

Yeah, I’ve read reviews saying they filter out indirect noise pretty well due to them being stage mics. Very highly rated of course. I am using the shotgun mic right now, and plenty of noise still comes in with that, so just want something that can sit right in line with me and not pickup AS much noise in the background. I’ll probably have a noise gate setup soon as well for when I broadcast.

I did a review on the ES-58. It’s an SM-58 knock-off getting as close to the design as possible without getting the lawyers involved. It’s slighter “hotter” with a more forward, aggressive sound, but both the SM58 and the ES58 are straight cardioid microphones and will receive sound from the sides as well as the front. They just have a null in the back.
They have proximity effect and will boom from getting too close and will pop without the foam muff or a pop shield.

If you want to scream rock lyrics into either one, this is for you.

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Are you able to find a sound test for AKG C555L? I really cant find anything on it. I would love to know what it sounds like.

Those reviews are misleading.
The SM58 / beta does not “filter out” indirect noise at all.
Typically a SM58 / beta would be used within 1 cm of the mouth, thus the voice sound is considerably louder than using a microphone at 30 cm just like the difference between someone talking to you from a foot away compared to someone shouting right into your ear. In the latter case you will hear nothing but that persons voice (possibly for days :wink:)

Noise Gate.

Nice try. You’re hitting all the high points.

There is a noise gate on a newscaster’s microphone because they record on a loading dock. I’m not sure if it’s actually a loading dock or not, but it certainly sounds like one. She has an aggressive speaking style and can talk over almost anything, but each sentence has a tail on it when she stops talking and it can be really annoying. Sometimes you can understand conversations and hear other noises going on while she’s speaking. They had an interview with two very highly respected politicians and they couldn’t gate everything. It sounded like they were constructing an Ikea sectional and ordering Chinese take-away during the interview.

The noise gate leaves the microphone open while you’re speaking and if the noises are bad enough, they go straight through. If you adjust the gate to kill everything (possible on some gates), you sound like a robot with no expression in your voice. I’ve never found a printed way to illustrate that, so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

People rent studios for a reason. You walk in, do the show and go home. Badda Bing.


Here’s a very high quality MP3 of a Skype test I did with Denise in New Jersey. I’m in LA. My mic is the AKG C555L in my living room with no noise suppression and with traffic noises outside.


It’s the whole eleven minute disaster.


This is me on a broadcast microphone.


Please note typing nearer the end of the piece. That’s Denise, not me. Those noises are coming through the Skype channel, not my microphone. I have a picture of my setup, and I also have a comparison sound check between the SM58 and the ES58.

As we go.


This is how I got the podcast clip. No special soundproofing although I do have carpeting and wall to wall bookcases. You can just see the headset on the left.



Here’s the direct comparison between a real Shure SM-58 and a no-name ES-58 on the same microphone stand. The first segment is the intro from one microphone and then I split them. So Left is one and Right is the other. In Audacity, you can split Stereo Track and make mono out of both of them so they both play through both speakers, or you can just fade back and forth between them.




This sounds really good actually? Can the AKG C555L be mounted on a mic stand?

Can the AKG C555L be mounted on a mic stand?

Sure. You just can’t use it that way. It’s a headset and works by being an inch from your lips. Those hooky things go over your ears. The cable plugs in behind your head. It’s more comfortable than it looks. You can mount it with the microphone boom on either side. It came on the right and my preferences is the left.

Headsets are very good for quality because you can’t screw up the microphone spacing. It’s constant. The mic moves with you. The microphone will plug into a wireless transmitter. They say so in the instructions. I don’t even want to think about how much that would cost – or even if they’re still available.

I still haven’t resolved the Phantom Power thing. They’re not straightforward about the options. I know we had the battery pack because our application had no mixer and thus no 48v phantom supply. The battery pack is a B29L and if I get a second, I’ll see if it can use the Phantom supply from my mixer and not need the nine volt battery.

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My Rode NT-4 (stereo mic) works with the 9 V battery too.
However, the XLR connection is better. It is mainly because the battery powered variant uses a normal 3.5 mm stereo cable. Unfortunately, most sound cards do not believe that there is a stereo mic at the other end and they switch to line-in mode… :wink:

You may be able to get headset microphones other than this one. This is just the one I have hands-on experience with. I suspect you could get several different microphone types to work if you jammed them against your face like this one. That’s the magic. Not the capsule design or the boom construction.

Your trick of having the microphone on the table would work perfectly – in a studio.

Your goal is going to be finding one that sounds good and plugs into your mixer. Gaming headsets would probably work but they’re all married to the pin jack in a sound card.

I also have a Logitech USB headset and those work well for a lot of the same reasons – except they don’t take a mixer. These are oozing into communications or Skype headsets, not theatrical performance. I have an A 00008.


We use them for production video conferencing.