Recording Hiss/White Noise

Hello! I recently purchased some Lavalier microphones from Audio Technica (ATR3350), but I’m having trouble recording with them. When I plug them into the laptop (1/4" connection), the recording always has a hiss/static/white noise in the background and the levels are very quiet. The mics have a battery powered condenser that switches on and off, but even when all mics are off, the hiss is present. There is a mic boost feature in the computer’s recording device properties, and that works to get the volume up, but it also increases the volume of the hissing. Audacity’s noise filter can’t really cut this sound out without severely distorting the recording. Also, Audacity seems to be setting the recording input volume to 25% automatically each time I hit Record, which doesn’t seem to be helping.

I was using a Zoom H2 to record (USB connection) and didn’t have this problem, but when I connect the lav mics through the external mic jack on the H2, the hiss is there.

My question is, is this some issue with my laptop hardware, setup, drivers, or mics, and how can I get rid of this excess noise? I am getting a mixer, but I’m worried that the hiss will still be present. I also checked a few different lav mics to make sure it wasn’t a problem with a broken mic, but there was no change. I contacted my Audio Driver manufacturer (Realtek) but they don’t think the problem is on their side. I contacted Audio Technica and haven’t heard back yet.

Just in case it is helpful, here are my system details:

HP Pavilion TX2500 Notebook PC
Windows Vista (64bit)
Service Pack 2

Realtek High Definition Audio Driver
Driver Date: 6/2/2008 (Most recent, up-to-date version)
Driver Version:

Any of you smart people have any ideas?

You know the microphone has a battery, right? Probably a silver 357 or 76 watch battery (Radio Shack). When that one goes soft, the volume goes way down and the hiss level goes up.

The microphone boost in the sound card setup should have worked. That’s what it’s there for and we use microphones like this all the time.

Try a fresh new battery and try not to touch the battery with your fingers before you put it in. The oils on your skin can mess up the electrical contacts. Use a paper towel or tissue.

At best this microphone is not going to blow you away with volume. You only get that when you use a good external mixer, but it should work OK.

And it could be broken…


Good idea with the batteries. I had already out them in, but didn’t think about touching them messing up the contacts. I tried cleaning one and retesting, but it didn’t seem to have an effect. The mics are a new purchase, but since I didn’t get them directly from the company, the batteries might have expired. I’ll try new batteries tomorrow. If that doesn’t work, what would I try next? I could deal with the lower volume recording if the hissing didn’t cover it up so much.

could be a noisy soundcard in the laptop
I had one pc with realtek and the parts around it were defective so I got random noise steadily and low gain.

if you remove the mike do you still have the noise?

my H2 does not have a 1/4" jack.
if your plug your mike into that okay
how does the mike plug into the pc 1/4" jack
if you are using adapters to change a 1/4 mike to a 3/8 pc connection that could cause noise

best bet to check the batteries and then any adapters you have
after that i would say the pc needs fixing but i would get an external interface before doing that.

It does sound a lot like a weak sister microphone. If a fresh, new battery doesn’t help (we replace all ours once a year, sometimes sooner) then try the microphone in another computer, like your mom or your sister or something. If it’s noisy there, then you got a bum microphone.

You might try to clean the contacts. pull the plug out of the sound card and rub it with a paper towel moistened with Windex or other glass leaner. Vodka works, too. Dry it with another towel and make sure it’s firmly pushed into the sound card all the way and turn it a little bit.

This microphone does not get its working voltages from the sound card like some “computer” microphones do. It has its own battery. That gets you around a lot of the noise problems that some microphones inherit from a ratty computer.

Nobody is going to give Windows PC sound cards any awards for high quality, quiet sound, but they do work – most of them.