USB Headset Mic Interference

Hello everyone.

First let me say that I understand this is a forum for support for Audacity and my issue is not with the program. However I’ve been searching for information and ideas for a couple days now with no luck, but my searching has led me to these forums several times and I am posting here hoping for help diagnosing and troubleshooting an audio recording problem. That said here is what is happening:

A couple days ago I wanted to start live streaming video game play using Open Broadcaster Software. I had purchased a new headset maybe a month ago and had not tried to use the microphone on it up until now. The headset is a Sentey Vibros GS-4540 plugged into the rear of my PC in a USB 3.0 port. While setting up the software I discovered my voice through the mic is really low even with the levels at 100 in the device settings. It only has an on/off option for microphone boost, I can’t set the boost amount. I had to find a mix of the device boost/levels and boosting it with the broadcasting software to get my voice reasonably loud compared to the game sounds. There’s some background or ‘white’ noise (if that’s the right term) and I understand that is normal. That’s not my problem though.

After streaming a bit I watched the broadcast back off the website. I discovered there is very sporadic interference. On one broadcast it almost seemed to occur at a roughly 15 minute interval, which seems really odd to me. When it happened it lasted maybe 30 seconds at the most then went away. The rest of the time my voice is normal. Here is a link to a short highlight of the broadcast I made where the interference happened:

At the end of this clip you can hear the interference abruptly stop. In the broadcast after this point I talk again and it is completely normal. For this broadcast I was capturing the microphone input with the broadcast software directly. The broadcast does have a microphone noise gate ability but I was not using it, nor was I using push to talk. I’m trying to make the point that the input from the microphone was always being broadcast, so the interference isn’t always there.

In the highlight above the overall volume is very low. As I said above my voice is very quiet with this mic so I tried to get it reasonably loud with mic boost without making background noise really noticeable, and then turn down the level of game sound being broadcast.

I had the idea earlier to enable listen to device for my mic while doing other things online. Not long ago I heard the interference but I couldn’t get Audacity open and recording before it stopped. It’s a bit hard to hear using listen to device sometimes as well, unless I’m constantly talking or some other noise is going through the mic.

I’ll keep trying to record a sample of the interference directly. For now I hope someone has an idea based on the clip I linked above.

I would greatly appreciate any help anyone could provide. This really has me stumped and I can’t seem to find anything online. I would like to be able to stream without worrying about this.


My only notes aren’t applicable to your headset. I have two different headsets and they have an aggressively directional microphone, unlike yours which, according to the instructions is omni-directional. Because of the design of mine, it’s possible to be talking into the back of the microphone by accident causing a significant loss of volume when I seem to be doing everything correctly.

Your microphone is extendable. Have you pulled it fully out so it rests close to the corner of your mouth? In my opinion that’s the optimal position. Maximum volume with no possibility of popping or breath sounds.

I’m fuzzy about this, but does your microphone light up when it’s working properly? Does it light up at all?


What other USB devices do you have and what else is the computer doing? How far away is your cellphone from the system? The first segment of any microphone system is analog regardless of whether it’s a USB microphone or not. The analog portion can be distorted by a close-by cellphone negotiating a “napping” connection.

Past that I got nothing. Did you save your receipts?


USB microphones can go through normal Windows sound services. Is that turned up? It’s not likely, but Windows also has Enhanced Services that can occasionally cause troubles.

I had one Windows machine insist on applying “Cathedral Effects” to my voice. You can search for that as well.

Is it possible to try the headset on a different computer?

Can you set Audacity up to record without the game? It would be interesting to see what Audacity thinks of your voice volume.

Also, does the interference seem to be associated with your voice? If not, just leave the headset on the credenza and record an hour or two of household sounds to see if the interference shows up.


Yes, it’s extended all the way. It doesn’t go far enough to actually get in front of my mouth though, but on the side.

Yes there is a LED or some light on the end of it. If I mute the mic via the in-line controls the light dims.

My keyboard and mouse are USB. I have a gamepad but it isn’t plugged in.
When recording locally trying to test/reproduce the problem I have Chrome, Open Broadcaster Software, and the game running. Since recording the highlight I linked above I have also tried using a virtual audio cable to run the mic audio through Adobe Audition to apply amplify and adaptive noise reduction effects. This did make my voice louder on the broadcast and reduced the noise quite a lot. I was also using a microphone noise gate the broadcasting software has. Playing back that broadcast from the website, there is a bit of the distortion at the very beginning. Then maybe the next 90 minutes or so seemed fine. Then after not hearing anything since the start, the same type of sound from the highlight above happened, only with less ‘ramp up’ if you will. It was so loud it startled me. I made another highlight of that one with a warning to lower your volume before listening to it, then deleted the entire broadcast. I didn’t want someone to blow out a speaker. I’m guessing the interference got picked up by Audition and amplified? I don’t know.

I don’t actually have one. There are some in the house, but they aren’t kept in this room near the computer. There is often one in the next room, maybe 10 to 12 feet and through a wall. We do have a cordless home phone system and one of them is in this room, about 5 feet from the PC case.

I think so :frowning:

Yes I’ve tried adjusting the volume there as well as in the control panel from the maker, Sentey. There’s no recording enhancements in the Windows audio devices settings. I left everything in the Sentey control panel disabled. Also, I’ve tried changing the USB port twice now, and when I do that, the Sentey control panel won’t run because it says it failed to find a device. However the headset still shows up in the audio devices and functions. So just now I decided to leave the Sentey control panel off and record locally. A bit over halfway into a 30ish minute video the interference is there, then happens a couple more times before the end. Before that I can be heard talking normally.

Yes I could try recording with it later.

I have been recording with it to test settings as I change them.

Ok, I just discovered something. Here are two 5 second samples I just made with Audacity. One with the microphone set at 48000 Hz in the audio devices settings and one at 44100 Hz. For both the Project Rate in Audacity was matched accordingly. The microphone level was at 50 in both.

A bit more information now.

I took the headset in the other room and on a different PC I heard similar sounds as in the above samples while using ‘listen to device’.

Also, while searching for help I heard about ‘dirty’ PC case power causing problems with some USB microphones. I found out we have some wall powered USB hubs, so I borrowed one and hooked the headset up to it, without any other devices on the hub. I heard the same thing again.

When you do a sound test like that, announce the test in what you consider your normal voice and then hold your breath and stop moving for the background sound test. The two tests you provided should work perfectly well given a normal vocal performance. All these tests are comparisons between two different levels. Stand-alone clips aren’t all that valuable.

It’s not unheard of for someone who has an invisibly small speaking voice to have trouble with USB microphones (and telephones, and cellphones, etc). They’re all designed for a normal volume voice. If you don’t fit in the “normal” category, then they’re going to be very difficult.

When you have Audacity connected, see if you can overload the system. Scream into the microphone or do whatever is needed to overload Audacity. Audacity overloads when the blue waves go all the way up and down (1 or 100%) and the bouncing red sound meter goes all the way up (0 is considered maximum). You might want to make the sound meters bigger so you can see what you’re doing. Click on the edge of the meters and pull sideways. Note in my illustration the meters are much bigger than normal.

If you have to scream loud enough for the neighbors to all the police, that’s not normal. But if everything starts working when you get a little louder than your normal voice, the problem may not be the microphone.


I can’t begin to imagine how speaking too quietly into a microphone could cause the type of interference I heard in my first post. Especially since it also happened when I was not speaking, but not using a noise gate, so the mic input was open.

Is the high pitched beeping in the 48000 Hz sample not abnormal? There’s not an alarm going off in the background I assure you. The 44100 Hz sample doesn’t have the beeping but sounds to me like it has more noise as well as a sort of high-pitched squeak.

That’s a perfect test recording. The system is broken. If that’s your normal speaking voice, it’s 30dB low. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, the volume of a voice doubles (and halves) every 6. Your voice would have to double in volume four times to be normal.

Your voice is so low (how low is it, Johnny?) it’s so low that it’s directly competing with the natural noise of the system. Those are the squeaks and burbles your’e hearing. You are supposed to be so much louder than those that they don’t count.

That’s why I said the first two tests seem to be normal, now let’s hear where your voice is.

Your voice is not normal.

I need to go back and read through that again.


I was hoping I could accuse you of recording from your laptop microphone by accident. But you’re not using a laptop. This is a full-size PC, right? Two feet (0.6M) tall with noisy fans in the back?

I’m running out of juju. The microphone is either massively misadjusted or broken.

Let me take this upside down. I know it’s tempting to put little metaphorical pieces of sticky tape on all the adjustments indicating where each one should be (I set my slider at 15 on Thursday), but it doesn’t work like that.

With reference to this illustration.

You need to adjust your sound system so Audacity looks similar to that when you speak. Full stop. The system is adjusted properly when the Audacity red sound meters jump so the peaks when you speak are about -6. Nobody will come out with a gun if you miss them by a bit, but your current system misses them by a LOT. The settings of your adjustments are irrelevant if you can’t do that.


When you say the system is broken, do you mean there is a defect with the headset microphone? Or is this something wrong with my software or driver configuration?

I know I tend to speak rather quietly, I’d even say I tend to mumble or speak under my breath.

In the two samples above where I speak the microphone level in the audio devices was set at 50.

I also just discovered something while trying different settings again after uninstalling the Sentey control panel. When ‘listen to device’ was enabled, someone across the house was moving around and closing doors. The microphone picked this up but in the headphones I heard a high pitched ringing sound. So then I was trying to make different noises in my room to reproduce it. With Audacity running and monitoring the recording level, and ‘listen to device’ enabled, I found that if I made a noise loud enough for the recording levels to hit 0 dB, I could induce an echo in the headphones which lasted a few seconds or so then corrected itself. If I turned the microphone level up, the echo seemed to intensify and I had to lower the level to get it to stop again. I turned listen to device off, put the level at 100, and tried to induce the echo again with Audacity recording. It wouldn’t happen with listen to device off, but is it possible this is what is happening and causing the interference when I’m recording or broadcasting with OBS?

Yep, noisy fans and all.

In order to get the peaks to around -6 with how I normally talk (even being a bit louder) I have to set the level to 100 and in the Custom tab enable “AGC” which I learned is automatic gain control. With the Sentey control panel installed this tab used to have Boost and Mix With Wave as options instead.

Needless to say with the level at 100 and AGC on, the amount of noise is horrible, and pretty much any noise made in the house is picked up.

Cool. That means you may simply have more than one problem.

If increasing the volume of your voice creates ringing, howling, or screeching sounds, then you are creating a feedback loop by accident. You know when the band at the local club gets their microphone up too loud? …eeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEE!

You are doing that by accident inside your computer. And this is where I take one giant step back since I’m not a Windows elf and have little or no practical experience with Windows internal sound services.


That’s amazing. It also sucks.

How can a mic a couple inches from my mouth not record my voice at an adequate volume, but somehow pick up enough of the output from the headphone speakers to create a feedback loop? It blows my mind.

I don’t have the slightest idea what to do now.

Like I said before I tried broadcasting once with the mic input routed through Adobe Audition amplify and adaptive noice reduction effects then sent to the broadcast software, and still had the interference (or is it feedback now?). When the feedback went through Audition it was incredibly loud.

How can a mic a couple inches from my mouth not record my voice at an adequate volume, but somehow pick up enough of the output from the headphone speakers to create a feedback loop?

You have renegade settings. If you go back over your postings each one mentions a software package or tool that you’re messing with. You should be peeling all of them off and shutting down everything but Audacity whose claim to fame is a complete absence of record processing.

In particular that business of being able to hear the dog down at the 7-Eleven but not being able to record your own voice? That’s compressor or AGC software going foaming-at-the-mouth nuts.

Download and play this 39 second test clip. This is a microphone, small sound mixer and Audacity in my bedroom.

No other software was running during the making of that sound clip.


That clip sounds great. So you are saying the microphone input is getting heavily processed by software in my PC somehow?

Also, when you say ‘out of phase’ in the clip, what exactly does that mean?

To be clear, that test clip was processed, but not to affect the voice volume. The whole thing is a simple voice recording which was switched off and on between left and right as appropriate. The last segment simulates what happens if you reverse the two speaker wires on one stereo speaker of your sound system by accident. Segments 3 and 4 are exclusive. If 3 sounds normal but 4 sounds like I’m speaking from behind you or in a tunnel, that’s normal (the effect is even more pronounced on headphones). If 4 sounds normal, then you may have a sound system problem somewhere. Bad speaker wire is only one thing which can cause that.

You can make a bad live recording. That can create magic downstream damage from the same sort of error. The first time somebody tries to play your performance in mono, it vanishes. Twilight Zone moment.

Anyway. You should be recording your voice with ho helper software at all and adjusting it for levels and peaks as in that illustration. If it starts howling, make sure you’re recording your microphone by itself and not Stereo-Mix. Stereo-Mix is the system you use to record YouTube shows. It should not be used for live recordings.

This is where I fade out on you again. I think you have Windows settings issues and I’m not a Windows elf.

This is the Audacity on-line manual. The first couple of tutorials are for simple recording. There may be something in there for you.

This is the tutorial on self-recording (YouTube, On-Line shows, etc). This is what you don’t want to do.


I left out a piece. Reload that last message.

I’ve discovered that a couple things are producing a high pitched ring through the microphone that I don’t really understand. I’m in a small room with the door closed, and someone elsewhere in the house opens or closes a door I hear a high pitched ring briefly. It can be recorded or heard via listen to device. I can get the same ringing if I fan air towards the mic with my hand.

Unless you, Koz, or someone else has any other ideas I’ll be contacting Sentey to return it.

Anyone care to recommend a PC headset? I’m not after anything amazing. I just want to be able to interact with people on a live stream.

I can get the same ringing if I fan air towards the mic with my hand.
Anyone care to recommend a PC headset?

You need to solve this. Anything you plug into that system is going to do the same thing.

The latest symptoms are that of a live system. I don’t mean a system running right this second in real time, I mean a system just on the verge of breaking into howling. This is a rock band problem, too. After they get the EEEEEE to go away at the club, each time somebody says something, it sounds like tinkly bells at the same time? Also called brittle sound.

What does the Audacity Device Toolbar say?

Scroll down to the numbered illustration. This is 8.


Have you actually tried turning off OBS, then recording, just to see what happens?

If the problem of hopelessly low signal to noise ratio goes away, then you should be asking on if your setup is correct, or using different software.