USB sound card / microphone amp? 6 replies

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Superfluous Curmudgeon VIP Member

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22nd December 2007

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#1 1 year ago

I've recently started using my desktop PC setup for voice chat and I and others have noticed that there is quite a large amount of "static" or "white" noise that is audible when  using the microphone. My first thought was that I needed a better microphone, so I picked up Antilion's ModMic 4, which has a pretty good reputation for its $50 price tag. But the background noise didn't improve. Today I went through most of the recommended venues of decreasing noise levels with no noticeable luck. The things I've tried include playing with the mic gain and boost (I need 100% gain with a 10 dB boost to be easily audible on this PC), installing the most recent drivers for the sound chip (onboard sound from an Asrock Z77 extreme4 motherboard), disconnecting the front audio header and only using the motherboard header, and raising the PC off the carpet (no idea what difference this would make, but random guys through google searches said it might help). Nothing made any noticeable difference.

I also tried recording some sound on the same mic using my laptop, and to get roughly the same audio level, I only needed 100% gain with a 0 dB boost. I loaded the audio file back onto my desktop and did a side-by-side comparison of recorded audio files, and the one recorded by the laptop has much less noise, so I know it's a hardware issue rather than an issue with my voice being too quiet.

Other suggestions included looking at power supply ripple (I have a Corsair 650TX), moving the GPU away from the sound chip (I'm not even sure where it's located), and getting an altogether new sound device. I'm leaning towards the third option, as the first two seem like quite the hassle to determine whether they'd make a difference. So, any recommendations? This Sabrent USB adapter was recommended by someone to solve my specific issue: https://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-External-Adapter-Windows-AU-MMSA/dp/B00IRVQ0F8/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1494792646&sr=1-3&keywords=usb+sound+card . It'd be a low-risk option to simply buy and test it, but I know some of you have  experience messing with mic setups so I was wondering if you had any recommendations.




Superfluous Curmudgeon VIP Member

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#2 1 year ago

With attachments, I  can listen you how the mic sounds on both systems. The first is on my desktop with all mentioned changes made, and the second is from my laptop. To me, the white noise doesn't sound that bad on either one, but multiple people have complained about it being distractingly loud on TeamSpeak and Steam chat. What do you guys think?




Mikey Über Admin

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#3 1 year ago

The voice_laptop.mp3 file definitely has less white noise.. though I wouldn't be distracted by the noise in the second test...


Mikey - GameFront.com - Lead Developer



Mikey Über Admin

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#4 1 year ago

For what it's worth, I use one of these: http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/desktop-dynamic-microphone-a99jb And I have no problems with it at all...


Mikey - GameFront.com - Lead Developer



Nemmerle Forum Mod

Voice of joy and sunshine

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26th May 2003

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#5 1 year ago

It's not bad in either of the uploads, but it may be related to what's going on with the rest of your system at the time if it is motherboard noise. Which seems reasonably likely to me.

I have an XLR to USB setup, so the Analogue to Digital - ADC - part of the chain takes place outside of the computer, (the computer picks up the ADC and thinks that's the microphone, despite the fact I could plug that into anything,) and that seems to work fine. The idea of plugging the mic into a USB port instead, via the external thingy you posted, consequently seems worth trying to me.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

The Bad

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#6 1 year ago

The white noise seems to be at reasonable levels. Maybe it changes when you are in game (feedback from loudspeakers or headphones, loud GPU fan, case vibrations)? Otherwise I'd say the problem is related to driver configuration. In my experience if you need to set the gain to 100% chances are that it messes up the quality. Make sure you identify all programs that have an influence on the gain (usually that's Windows, soundcard-driver and your chat app) and try setting the levels to reasonable levels in all of them.

If you want new hardware a USB card is probably a cheap and decent solution. I'm partial to PCI soundcards though. A nice Creative card with good headphones is a good setup (although their drivers and support are crap, but once you get it working it is pretty nice).




Superfluous Curmudgeon VIP Member

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#7 1 year ago

I went ahead and picked up the device I originally linked, and it works like a charm.