Which mic better

I purchased a new mic in the hopes of getting a better noise floor. The store rep believed the new mic was an upgrade from my current mic. I am attaching two raw wav files to see if either mic actually has a better noise floor, and which one may be easier to edit in Audacity. I will not label or disclose the mics, in case anyone has pre-existing brand ideas. Thanks for the help.

A wins the noise contest by the smallest possible amount: 1dB. I applied loudness and limiter processing to both clips and both meet ACX AudioBook specifications for RMS (loudness) and blue wave Peak. But only A makes noise with no further work.

However. The difference between them is so tiny, I would recommend gentle noise reduction no matter which one you use. So the mic selection is not a get out of jail card.

Optional Processing:

Both microphones produce soft rumble (thunder, earthquake, lorry/trucks) and you can reduce that low pitch noise on both with custom equalization and get both to pass ACX noise with no further work. No Noise Reduction required on either one. Attached.

A is overly crisp and harsh and if you decide to apply effects or other voice processing—or Noise Reduction—you will very probably get forced into also applying additional equalization or even DeEsser to get rid of the piercing harshness.

I find B voice quality more conversational, gentle and easy on the ears. I think I personally would be using B as the one with the most pleasant voice and the possibility of achieving audiobook quality with the least fuss and post-producton labor.
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A is the Blue Yeti and B is the older rock-band microphone you got out of the closet for these tests. Did I hit it?


I answered the question, but if you need instructions for the rest of that, post back.


I predict (holding fingers to forehead) B is the older microphone but you are going to insist on using A because of your preconceived brand ideas.


Koz, thank you for taking the time to reply.

I felt I needed to boost the bass on B.

Right now, based on other posts, the steps I take for ACX Check are Equalize Roll Off, Normalize (to 0), Limiter (to -3), Check Contrast then Amplify as necessary, Normalize to -3 (if necessary). Noise Reduction at 6’s. Is this chain ok?

Mic A is my original AudioTechnica ATT2020 USB+ mic. I think I may use it as my travel mic if both mics sound the same. Books produced on this mic with the above editing have passed ACX.
Mic B is the Rode NT1A on XLR-USB adapter, that the store guy said would be an upgrade to my AudioTechnica. The physical setup has a lot going on so I’ll use it at home, tho I can return it if it’s not an improvement from my first mic.

With no processing at all:

I slightly prefer “A” when listening through (good) speakers, though it sounds a little harsh through headphones.

“B” is a bit “smoother” and easier to listen to on headphones, but to my ear it lacks a bit of clarity, and there’s a couple of slight “thumps” (for example at the start of the word “tormentor”).

What happened just before “I could have followed…” in sample B? There is a noticeable change (improvement?)

It’s difficult to give a definitive answer without experimenting with mic placement and choice of pop filter, but just going on those two samples, I’d go with “B” with some provisos:

  • take care to avoid “wind blast”,
  • apply a rumble filter,
  • lift the treble slightly (try “Bass and Treble” effect),
  • a little gentle noise reduction.

I deliberately did not read that post before writing my response, and I find it quite surprising.
Both recordings sound pretty good. What surprised me, was that the NT1A was not a bit brighter (I’ve only used the NT1, and the NT1A is said to sound a bit brighter than the NT1, but didn’t appear so in your recording. The NT1 is one of my favourite recording mics in its price range).

Mic B is the Rode NT1A

That’s the microphone used in the ACX demonstration video. They like it, too.

I felt I needed to boost the bass on B.

LF-Rolloff for Speech equalization helps with low-pitch noise, but does have an observable effect on low pitch voices, so there you might have two equalizations fighting each other. It’s the reason LF-Rolloff is not recommended for a presenter with a rumbly “voice of God” voice. It can make you less godly.

Is this chain ok?

That’s the classic chain. We can get there with fewer steps by using more modern tools, but in my opinion, you should stay with what works for you. Noise Reduction of the Beast (6, 6, 6) is recommended for gentle noise reduction that ACX can’t find. They hate audible processing.

  • take care to avoid “wind blast”,

What he said.

I think I may use it as my travel mic if both mics sound the same.

They don’t. ACX puts a premium on consistency chapter to chapter and you can dig yourself a hole if you change microphones through the course of a book. Not recommended.


Thanks Steve and Koz, for thoughtful feedback.

Koz, I won’t be switching mics in the middle of a book but I plan to travel with the AudioTechnica to do short projects that come up.

No reason not to do that, given our comments on minor variations in sound quality. Technically, there’s very little difference.

If you’re working in the field, it’s worth noting which microphone has the tighter pattern and the most likely to avoid room noise and other Room Tone problems. Also remember you can get noise coming up through the desk if you have no bottom or base isolation.