You’ve spent hours prepping your podcast episode, you’ve done a thousand takes for your voiceover audition, or you’ve just sang your heart out for a new song you wrote, and when you go back to listen there it is once again…
That irksome, inevitable background noise.
There’s nothing more frustrating for anyone recording and mixing audio to have to deal with than background noise that just won’t go away.
While there are ways to reduce and even eliminate background noise, it’s important to note that background noise is all around us and is quite common. The versatile and affordable Blue Snowball mic is no exception to this reality.
This article will help you understand what background noise is, how to prevent it, and how to deal with it once it’s already on your recording.
Table of Contents
How to Reduce Background Noise on a Blue Snowball Mic
Whether you are recording with a Blue Snowball mic or any other kind of mic, having the proper recording environment is key to reducing background noise.
Removing background noise sources from your recording environment is crucial when trying to record clear, uninterrupted audio. While removing these background noise sources will dramatically reduce ambience, every microphone has some degree of hiss or background noise.
On Blue Snowball mic, switch between the CARDIOID or OMNI settings and use a sound filter between you and the microphone.
Any remaining background noise will have to be dealt with using noise cancelling software.
What is a Blue Snowball Microphone?
Before fleshing out the different ways to reduce background noise on a Blue Snowball mic, it’s important to understand what a Blue Snowball mic is and how it functions.
The Blue Snowball Mic is an easy-to-use, practical application USB microphone. It’s durability and affordability make it a go-to for podcasters, streamers and Youtubers alike.
Unlike some studio microphones, the Snowball mic is a simple plug-and-play option with no boosting or interface required.
Blue Snowball Mic Settings
The Blue Snowball microphone has different settings that can fit different recording situations.
The three settings on the Snowball mic are:
CARDIOID: This setting is designed to record audio from the front of the microphone, while rejecting sounds from other directions. Cardioid microphones are great for recording audio from a single source, like a podcast, or video game streaming etc.
OMNI: Unlike the CARDIOID setting, the OMNI setting lets you record multiple sources of audio from 360 degrees. This is great for recording a group of instruments or people generating sound.
CARDIOID with -10Db Pad: This built-in noise reduction setting is designed to reduce the audio level of especially loud sound sources, while keeping the audio clear.
What is Background Noise?
Preventing and/or removing background noise from your audio is a difference-maker when trying to produce high-quality, professional-sounding audio.
But what is background noise?
Eliminate Sources of Background Noise
Background or ambient noise is any audio source that is generating unwanted sound on your recording. Basically, everything that you don’t want on your recording.
Background noise can be anything from an air conditioner in the other room to an ambulance outside to a noisy upstairs neighbor. Figuring out when and where to record your audio is going to be based on how to limit those unwanted sources.
If there are sources of unwanted background noises in your recording space, try to remove them or temporarily dismantle them while you are recording. Even things like a fan in the other room or an old light bulb may seem quiet while you’re recording, when you listen back you will definitely hear them buzzing along in the background.
Find A Good Recording Environment
If you have access to a professional soundproofed studio, obviously that is going to be your best option. But if you are recording at home or in a less favorable environment, try recording in a small room or closet where there will be less opportunities for ambient noise to bleed into your audio.
Don’t be afraid to record in your closet with your clothes hanging around you! This will actually help absorb any unwanted ambient noise that is infiltrating the closet.
Find the Real Cause
It’s also important to note what is contributing to the background hiss. Is it the environment, the microphone, or could it be your headphones?
While your environment and your recording devices are often the culprits behind background noise, your headphones, speakers or music player could also be faulty and contribute to overall background noise.
Either way, background noise is still a factor even if you are recording in an optimal environment. All audio devices generate their own hiss and Blue Snowball microphones allow a lot of unwanted noise in.
This is where hardware and software come into play.
Use A Pop Filter
A pop filter is a kind of noise reduction hardware that you can attach to your Blue Snowball microphone to reduce unwanted emphasis on certain letter sounds like “p” “d” and “b.”
If you have ever heard some low-quality audio or have generated your own, you can tell when someone is not using a pop filter because the microphone tends to make a rough popping sound whenever a hard letter sound is hit.
Pop filters are also helpful in reducing some unwanted background noise that may be present in your environment.
Pop filters are typically foam coverings that go over the microphone itself, or can be clipped on the mic as an attachment, creating a barrier between the vocalist and the microphone.
Noise Reduction Software
While a quiet environment and a good pop filter are cornerstones to recording with any microphone, there will still be some background noise that is inevitably picked up.
Understanding and implementing noise reduction software is going to allow you to finally move on from that annoying buzzing or hissing that has plagued your recordings in the past.
But! Noise reduction software is not a one-stop shop that fixes all noise reduction. You have to go through the process of eliminating the background noise in your environment first, before diving into the nitty gritty of noise reduction software.
Types of Software and Plugins
Noise reduction and noise cancelling software uses plugins, or specific digital audio tools, that can locate the source and frequency of unwanted background noise and reduce it, or eliminate it altogether.
These DAWS have noise reduction build into them:
Adobe Audition: This software is great for recording and editing podcast audio, video audio, voiceover acting, among others. Some of the plugins you can use on this software target different types of background noise and offer different ways to reduce it, like DeHummer, Automatic Click Remover, Adaptive noise reduction and Automatic Phase Correction.
Pro Tools: Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation (DAW) and is one of them most-used DAWs for recording music and podcast audio. While it is definitely one of the priciest options on the market, this workstation has a plethora of noise reduction plugins and options.
Logic: Similar to Pro Tools, this DAW has noise reduction features and plugins that are effective for a variety of different background noise types. It is an intuitive, user-friendly interface that breaks down complex noise cancelling concepts into easily digestible plugins.
F.L. Studios: This software is primarily used for mixing and editing music, containing hundreds of helpful plugins that reduce noise and enhance the overall quality of your audio.
Here are some of the best software for background noise reduction:
Acon Digital De-Noise: This plugin is a great audio restoration plugin that targets ambient sound from external factors like wind, camera noise and hiss. This user-friendly plugin allows for manual adjustment or can be left on automatic to reduce background noise.
Accusonus E.R.A. Noise Remover: The Accusonus is a heavy-hitting noise cancellation plugin, with the ability to automatically reduce hard noises after installing onto your DAW of choice.
iZotope Voice DeNoiser: This is a dialogue plugin that seeks to reduce and eliminate unwanted background noise that affects vocal audio. This is a great plugin for podcasting or other single-voice audio recording.
Waves Z-Noise: This plugin uses an multi-level decision algorithm that can pinpoint noise and maximize reduction while maintaining hifi sound quality. This plugin along with X-noise, provide a simple and effective tool for understanding and implementing noise reduction.
Background noise is a buzzkill no matter what you’re recording.
In order to eliminate background noise, your best defense is to prevent it from happening in the first place by creating or entering an optimal recording environment. But even in the quietest spaces, there will still be some unwanted noise.
While the Blue Snowball mic is a great recording option for the price, it too falls victim to ambience. Therefore, learning about and installing high quality DAWs with noise reduction plugins will grant you the flexibility and precision to explore where your background noise exists in your recording, and how to eliminate it.
Try some of the hardware and software listed above to move forward with noise-free, professional grade audio.
Tom D’Agustino has spent the past 10 years songwriting, recording and touring globally under various pseudonyms including Active Bird Community and Homeschool. His firsthand experience in music production and live performance inform his passion for writing about music, technology and the restorative nature of songwriting.