USB mics don't work right for me

I’m sure this has to be with my audio settings somehow because at first I though “Plug and play my ass…” but when I pluged it into my old 10 year old computer, it actually worked.

Whenever I plug it into my main computer, I get nothing but distortion.

I’m using a Snowball Blue Microphone and I only bought it after I read countless reviews and videos on it. So it’s gotta be a problem on my end. Again, nothing seems to be physcially wrong with the microphone itself since it does work on my old computer…but I’m not going back to that ancient beast.

I’ve seen some odd fixes such as plugging audio devices into certian USB slots, well I’ve plugged it into every USB slot on my computer, still get distortion, even after unplugging every other device on my computer.

I’ve done the usual stuff such as going to control panel, going to the audio settings and trying to mess with that. My analog mic still works, but the reason I bought a more modern mic is because my old mic is running it’s course, try 7 years old.

Heres a youtube video of how it sounds when I record. I have no idea what’s going on. I do consider myself good with computers in general, but when it comes to all this audio stuff, i’m a total noob.

I’ve tried this with 3 differint USB mics, I’ve already returned the other ones because I figured the mics were bad. Although It’s probably me now that I think about it.

Are you going through a USB Hub? USB microphones have to be home runs to the computer. Yes, we have a Snowball at work and it’s a model of simple, good recording.

One of the other engineers called in to a video conference with the mic going through a hub along with his keyboard and mouse and it sounded exactly like that.


No HUB at all, i remember reading the instruction book and it said not to use a USB HUB. I am connecting it directly a USB port on the motherboard.

I also checked the power in Device Manager, and it says “500 mA per port”.

I have also read that External HUBS work as long as it’s powered as they go past 500 mA, like up to 700 or 900 mA, not that I’m using a HUB anyway.

Could you post a short sample in WAV or FLAC format - the compression on YouTube does too much damage to see what is going on. There is an “upload attachment” link below the message composing box.

Ah okay, here’s a flac of a test I did just now. I was hoping it’d “Magically” fix itself but alas, I’m not so lucky.

So how goes the sound file?

I’m really dissapointed that I tried out at least 4 USB microphones that are so called “Plug and Play” and have had nothing but trouble with them. And yet, the market is filled with a TON of USB microphones that I can’t find a good analog microphone that looks super cheap.

I’ve never had problems with Analog microphones, it’s just the one i’m using is just so old it needs to be put down.

I can’t even find any drivers to download since these “Plug and Play” USB microphones keep advertising themselves that they are supposed to work with “Generic” drivers.

That is very strange. It’s not “normal” distortion - there is some sort of data corruption and it is happening in pairs. The two “blips” of each pair are exactly 464 samples apart.
I would guess that this has to be a USB problem. Did you say that you have used this same microphone on a different computer with no problem?
Have you tried plugging it into a different USB port?

my old mic is running it’s course, try 7 years old.
The mic I used for that is a little over 53 years old.

These USB mics are dirt simple and they all work on multiple computers with no more effort than to say “yes” when the computer asks you if you want to use this microphone. Can you try it on your mum’s computer? We need to get it away from yours just for a test.

There are two things that have to happen with these. They work on five volt power which is supplied by the computer up the USB cable. That’s what lights the lights and runs the microphone amplifiers, etc. etc. Then the mic sends the sound signal back down the same cable as a digital bitstream. You can damage the sound data, but it’s much more likely that the computer is not supplying clean power. If anything at all happens to that five volts, USB microphones of all types will go face-first into the mud.

There is one condition where a USB Hub can be valuable although we don’t usually say so because it just clouds the issue. If you employ a wall-powered USB hub between the microphone and the computer, the hub will clean up the power going to the microphone and buffers the data going back. It doubles the length of USB cable you can safely use. It is required that the microphone be the only thing connected to the hub.

Your serve.


“Clean Power”? My motherboard is a EVGA 122-CK-NF68, so you’re basically saying the motherboard isn’t supplying constant steady power? That actually makes a bit of sense.

And yes, I have tried this on my old 10 year old computer and it works fine. The sound may be a little “Bad” on that computer but that’s probably due to age of the computer than anything.

I have indeed tried EVERY USB port on my main computer(this one). This includes unplugging EVERY device on this computer as well. I saw a youtube video of people having similar problems to me and they got rid of it by changing around where the USB devices were plugged in such as keyboards and mices. Supposedly not all USB ports are created equal.

The microphone also works on my father’s laptop, which runs Windows 7. So i’m confident at this point that the Snowball itself isn’t broken, I’m just trying my darn hardest to get this thing to work on my own computer.

I don’t really want to spend anymore money but if using a powered USB HUB will get this working…I’ll borrow one from my uncle first and see if it at least leats me tip-toe around the issue. I get that it doesn’t really “Fix” the underlying problem, but at this point, I’m getting pretty desperate.

Koz is saying that it “may” be an explanation.
I’d not rule that out as “dirty” power on the USB can cause problem and we have seen similar case with Snowball mics before. However I suspect that this is not the cause in this case as the “interference” is in the form of such clear, crisp, single sample spikes. For power supply interference I’d expect the spikes to be rather more “fuzzy”.

Does your computer have USB 3? If it does, check to see if the USB drivers are up do date. If they are, then try disabling USB 3 and fall back to USB 2 or USB 1.1. As USB 3 is still relatively new it is possible that it could be driver related.

Well I just came back to say the Snowball works PEREFECTLY now that I got a powered USB HUB. I realize this doesn’t actually “Fix” the original problem. But I don’t mind using a HUB just for this one device.

I didn’t break the bank at least. I just used a cheap 5$ Powered USB hub.
This is what I ordered

And it gets the job done. Thanks for the help guys.

And no, my motherboard doesn’t have USB 3.0, so I still don’t know what the original problem is besides that 'DIrty power" thing.

Thanks for the feedback.
I’ll admit that I’m a little surprised that (though very pleasantly surprised) that this fix worked. We’ve had a few other reports of noise due to poor USB, particularly with Snowball mics, so it seems that Snowball mics are quite susceptible to this issue, but your example recording is by far the worst case that I’ve seen.
Just out of interest, could you try the Snowball mic again without the USB hub, just to check that it is the USB hub that has fixed the problem and it’s not just a coincidence. It could be helpful for others if we can confirm the answer to this problem for when it comes up next time.