Recording noise getting worse... not better

The AT2020 is a side-address microphone. You should be speaking into the AudioTechnica nameplate, not the top. I just noticed the rear has a tiny label “BACK.”

Oh, and the foam sock is not made by AT which is why I couldn’t find it. It helps with wind, but also makes the performance slightly less sharp which is desirable in this case.




But true. US power is 60Hz and noise errors tend to huddle around 60Hz and multiples of 60. Europe has 50 Hz power.

that’s fascinating. So the frequency of the current makes a hum?

That’s it. A friend that works in a power station told me how they continuously monitor the frequency with extreme accuracy, because, with the enormous power that they generate, even a minute deviation creates a huge difference in absolute terms for the efficiency of the grid.

So the frequency of the current makes a hum?

Not if everything is working properly, no. However reputations have been made by people figuring out ways that mains power can get into the show by accident.

The simplest way is a broken power supply. Electronics doesn’t work on AC. Almost all of it works on DC or battery power. It’s the job of the power supply to convert mains power to DC so your equipment can use it. If the power supply doesn’t do a good job, the mains signature hum or buzz sound leaks through and gets into everything.

Power error can descend into black magic. Anybody who has done field sound work or Outside Broadcast for longer than about a day knows not to run microphone cables next to power or lighting cables. You don’t need an actual copper connection to get hum. AC power is Alternating Current. Its cousin is radio broadcast and it can produce effects and damage by flying through the air.

One of the valuable tests you can do if you have hum or buzz problems during a recording (and you can do it) is run everything on batteries temporarily, or maybe for the whole show. That’s what’s going on here. Both the field sound mixer and he laptop are running on internal batteries for a voice sound shoot. Zero hum problems.


The above sound shoot had another trick. I avoided buzz and hum from the overhead fluorescent lights by doing the whole shoot with desk lamps and undimmed incandescent light bulbs.


wow !

Interesting ! I record into a laptop at the moment, and I usually leave it running on battery because notwithstanding that it is a Macbook and usually quiet, when it’s connected to power sometimes the fans start speeding up and eventually become audible. I have a little programme called SMCFan Control that sits in the menu bar and indicates temperature and fan speed, which gives me a little advanced warning for when fan noise might be about to become problematic. Maybe I should experiment with it plugged in and not plugged in and then look at the spectrogram and see if they are different.

Go > Utilities > Activity Monitor. I leave that parked in my Dock and launch it on occasion.

I started to do that when I discovered how much junk was loading when I “read the paper.” Both Chrome and FireFox do this.

I opened up Los Angeles Times, read a bit, Washington Post, read a bit and the New York Times. I was in an NYT Op-Ed posting when my fan started to pick up. Activity Monitor revealed that FireFox was using 176% of my processors (all of one and three-quarters of a second) and pounding away with all the indexing, commercial, graphic, animation and javascript additions. I’m reading a static text page with two pictures, by the way.

It is possible under certain conditions to get the Adobe log and application registration stuck. Applications run just fine, but the registration sits in a corner of the dock and slowly eats the whole machine. Fans come on, etc. I am registered; not a clue why it does that.

Unless you have a ten-year-old Mac or older, cycling fans is not normal.

This is from an ACX training video. What’s the separation between the Mac and the microphone. Three inches? Four?


One note about this. Macs seem to encourage you to launch applications and then just leave them napping in the dock instead of closing them. Do you have a little indicator like a glow or a dot under the application you have running? You can just barely see in in the screen grab.
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I think you can turn that indicator off in preferences and I think turning it off is dangerous.

There was a standing joke that once a month or so I would get one of the department heads out of trouble just by closing most of the seemingly hundreds of applications he had napping, forgotten, but still sucking up processor activity.

You can also get into trouble buy having several thousand icons on your desktop. I’m sure you don’t do that, right? Your Mac has to keep track of each and every one of those through course of the day. Same with Stickies if you use those.


Thank you ! I used to do this, then I discovered a little free utility in the Mac App Store called MiniUsage. It does the same thing as activity monitor and just displays a fluctuating percentage of CPU usage in the menu bar.

I started to do that when I discovered how much junk was loading when I “read the paper.” Both Chrome and FireFox do this.

Alas, Safari does this too. It drives me crazy. I think it’s because newsprint media is in terminal decline, so their solution is add an insane amount of advertising to every single news story in Christendom. The worst offender in the UK is the Independent newspaper, and it’s a shame because it is the least-worst paper.

This is from an ACX training video. What’s the separation between the Mac and the microphone. Three inches? Four?

Thank you I had seen that picture but hadn’t noticed how close the mic is. Macs are really that quiet then ! I have mine the same distance from a similar Mac but I don’t have it upside down yet; I will acquire a mic stand because at the moment, the desk tripod doesn’t allow me to get close enough, and so I’ve been hand-holding the mic but that causes a friction noise when my hand slips a bit, which is fine in the silences because one can edit it out, but it sometimes happens while I’m speaking and that necessitates re-recording.


My favorite is an On Stage Stands 9701B. That’s what’s holding up the left-hand microphone in this picture.

The more common one is the lighter duty 7701B. Your mileage may vary. Consult your local listings.

You can get a clothespin clip for non-standard microphones.
And sandbags or equivalent for stability.

I like this stand as opposed to the far heavier Atlas stands. It’s lighter, more stable, easier to sandbag and it folds up for storage.


thank you very much for the recommendations !

A quick note on forum formatting. The forum uses formatting tags. The rule is to start a special activity and then stop it with bracketed tags.

This is an actual tiny edited segment of one of your posts followed by the correction.
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You confused the display by stopping the quote tag twice (slash mark), placing it in the wrong place and never starting a quote tag. The second entry has the same words with proper start and stop tags. I type many of these manually because I can type like a banshee, but you don’t have to. You can drag-select some work on the screen and click one of the formatting buttons. Such as Bold. Or Italics.
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It’s also insanely handy to preview the post before you actually submit it. Preview button on the bottom of the text window. Many embarrassing errors can be caught that way.


excellent, thank you very much. I had discovered previewing and it does indeed help, but I must have missed this one. I think I understand it now :slight_smile: in the example I seem to have used two closing tags instead of one opening and one closing (in other words too many /'s)

You also put the top tag in the wrong place. I don’t think it likes leading a blank line.

You can nest them. You can italicize a line of text and then bold one word in the middle in addition.

This is an enormously simplified version of web page coding. I do mine by hand, so I get problems like seven pages of complicated tags and links and there is a “/” missing somewhere…

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oh yes ! I see, I shouldn’t press Enter after the tag. Thank you. That code is html I think, I learned it once but quickly forgot it

I made and mounted a picture of what it looks like when you fold one of those stands up.

The bottom assembly loosens and pushes the feet up the vertical cutting the stand length to 2/3. You can probably do even better by disconnecting the boom and store it separately.

When the feet are deployed, it’s a snap to put sandbags or heavy books on them to keep the thing from falling over. That’s much harder to do with a bottom-weighted Atlas type stand.


that’s very helpful, thank you sir. I bought a multipurpose clip that attaches to a camera tripod and attached the mic to that for now, mainly because I have a tiny amount of space and a spare tripod. But I’m sure I will eventually get a proper stand like this one, because the boom arm is really useful, and while the setup I have now is much better than hand-holding the mic (it makes so much noise!) or the little desk tripod I had before, it still necessitates a slightly awkward physical position and the clip isn’t super-secure.