USB Microphone Buzzing & Humming? Easy Fix Here!

Is your USB mic producing a buzzing, hissing, or humming noise? In fact, every microphone produces some level of its own self-noise. 

Sometimes, it may be subtle and difficult to notice at all, whereas, at other times, it may be very obvious. Sometimes there is a problem that lies beneath the surface that needs to be resolved.

So, what causes a USB mic to buzz or hum, and how can you fix it?

A USB mic generally produces a buzzing sound if the gain is too high, incompatible hardware is being used to run the mic, or the microphone itself may be damaged. The best solution to fix your buzzing mic is to lower the gain settings, use a USB hub and if the problem still persists, then repair the mic.

The buzzing, hissing, or humming sounds are very frustrating and may even be more noticeable once you start adding EQ, compression, and other audio effects. This isn’t an ideal situation if you want to have great-sounding crisp audio.

In this article, I will explain all the possible reasons why a USB mic may produce buzzing or humming sounds, and we will also go through the possible solutions to resolve the mic buzzing problem.

Why is my USB Mic Buzzing? Possible Reasons

There could be many reasons why your USB microphone is producing unwanted buzzing or humming noise.

Here are a few reasons why your USB mic is buzzing:

1. Too much gain in the USB mic signal.

Mic’s gain settings are an essential aspect to understand for any artist. Before using the microphone, you must understand that the proper use of the mic’s gain settings is imperative for your recording quality to be crisp and clear and without any unwanted noise.

When amplifying an audio signal, the amount of drive or power that is applied is referred to as the gain. 

In order for an audio signal to be audible, it must first undergo some kind of amplification; however, boosting the gain also boosts the amount of power that is used to drive the audio signal. 

A common misconception is that increasing the gain settings of a microphone signal will only amplify the output volume of the microphone.

This is true to an extent. Increasing the gain setting of a mic does boost the mic volume output, but along with that, it also increases the unwanted noise that is output by the mic signal.

This happens because increasing the mic gain doesn’t just amplify the volume. It also further strengthens the mic signal, which makes it more prone to distortion and buzzing.

To summarize what we just learned – The gain settings being too high on a microphone is a very common reason that causes unnecessary buzzing sounds in the USB mic, especially when the microphone is being used for recording. 

2. Buzzing sounds from the surrounding computer hardware.

Some USB microphones have a sensitivity that will surprise you. They are remarkably adept at picking up sounds and rumblings emanating from the electronic hardware that is all around them.

USB microphones are typically used very close to the computers, and computers are notoriously loud machines. 

The humming and buzzing of computer hardware is the most common cause of buzzing that is heard in a USB microphone. 

Incorrect grounding is another factor that can cause the computer hardware to produce humming and buzzing sounds.

The vast majority of laptops and computer power supplies are not electrically grounded. 

This means that if the electricity source where you are located is not grounded, an excessive electrical hum will be produced when a microphone is plugged into the computer. 

This is especially true in the case of laptops.

Hardware noise is a common cause of buzzing in USB microphones. This buzzing can occur because the mic is picking up a physical hum or because there is an electrical hum due to poor electrical grounding.

3. The built-in USB port of the computer may have an issue.

The built-in USB ports on the vast majority of computers do not provide an adequate amount of power to properly run a microphone.

The majority of microphones need particular power sources and regulations to function correctly, particularly condenser mics; however, standard USB ports are not typically designed to deal with these requirements.

When using the microphone, a significant hum or buzz may result if the USB microphone is not powered as it’s supposed to.

If you are using an unpowered USB hub with multiple outputs, this may be enough power for your USB microphone to function correctly.

4. Your USB mic may be damaged.

Damage to the microphone hardware is one of the most apparent causes of buzzing in a microphone, yet it is frequently ignored.

Most people don’t realize how easy it is to damage a microphone. It is a sensitive piece of equipment, after all.

If you hear a buzz when you use the mic, it may be because it is broken and not working correctly.

The microphone will produce a humming sound if its diaphragm is not functioning correctly or is not responding to the sound source quickly enough.

5. Your USB mic cable may be damaged.

A broken microphone cable is another typical cause of buzzing in a microphone. 

The cable for the microphone, whether it be the power cable or the audio output cable, plays an essential role in ensuring that the microphone functions the way it’s supposed to work.

If the power cable is broken, the microphone might only get power intermittently. 

This could result in permanent damage to the microphone or a buzzing sound in the audio output.

Buzzing sounds may be produced within the cable rather than in the microphone itself if the audio output cable is not functioning correctly. 

Solutions For a Buzzing & Humming USB Mic

The issues that have been listed above aren’t the only things that can cause buzzing in a USB microphone, but they are the ones that people report encountering the most frequently.

Thankfully, there are remedies available for each of these issues.

The following is a list of potential solutions to the problems that result in a buzzing USB mic:

1. Lower the gain of the mic signal.

It is almost sure that lowering the gain setting on the microphone will lessen the buzzing noise that you are now experiencing.

Whether the buzz is caused by the gain level itself or the high gain level has increased the sensitivity of the microphone to allow it to pick up outside hum, reducing the gain level will solve this issue. 

You can lower the gain either in the recording program that you are using or in the settings for the hardware on your computer by using the driver software for the microphone.

If you are working with a digital audio workstation (DAW) like GarageBand, check to see that the input meter is not peaking in the “red” as seen below; otherwise, the signal will be distorted.

Reduce the level of the input and start recording at a lower volume; you may easily increase the recording level at a later time.

2. Protect your mic from surrounding hardware hum.

It is possible to protect the microphone from the hum produced by the hardware by doing something as simple as placing a simulation phone beneath the stand of your microphone to absorb vibrations or by positioning the hardware further away from the microphone.

You can ground your computer by simply touching it or by taping some copper wire to a metal surface on the computer and a metal surface that touches the ground. 

If the hum is caused by a lack of electrical grounding, you can ground your computer by simply touching it. 

This should eliminate any buzzing sound that is caused by inadequate electrical insulation.

3. Use a powered USB hub.

The default USB ports found on the majority of computers do not provide enough power for some USB microphones to function correctly.

Use a powered USB hub in order to resolve this issue. A powered hub will both manage the amount of power that is transmitted to the microphone, as well as supply enough power for the equipment to function correctly.

If you want to keep your USB microphone working properly, you need to make sure that the power rating of the USB hub is the same as the power rating of the microphone.

4. Make sure that the mic is not damaged.

If the microphone is damaged in some way, it could make the sound signal have a buzzing sound.

If you know a little bit about microphones, you can carefully open the microphone to see if one of the wires that connect to the internal diaphragm has come loose. If so, put the wires back together, and the buzzing should stop.

This is only recommended if you know how to fix electrical equipment such as a microphone. 

If the microphone is still under warranty, it’s probably best to just send it back to the manufacturer to get it fixed or replaced.

5. Make sure that the mic cables aren’t damaged.

In the event that the microphone’s cable becomes damaged, it is possible that the microphone will get an erratic supply of power, which will result in the microphone becoming unusable.

Check the cables to see if there is any obvious evidence of damage on the outside that could have been caused by improper handling or normal wear and tear.

It is possible that the cable will need to be replaced if there is any damage to either the cable itself or the shielding that surrounds the wire.

Change the USB cable if the microphone only uses a single cable to power its operation.

If there is a separate cable for the USB port and one for the power supply, inspect both of them and replace either one or both of them if you feel that they are damaged.

This is far easier to do with certain USB microphones, such as those whose cables can be removed, than it is with others, such as those whose cables cannot. 

In the second scenario, you might need to do nothing more than purchase a new microphone or ship the faulty one back to the manufacturer to have it rectified.

Conclusion

There is some level of self-noise produced by every microphone, but unless you are paying extremely close attention, you probably won’t detect it to a significant degree. 

Buzzing sounds are typically caused by a connection that is not secure or a cable that is not functioning properly. 

If you have already tried replacing the wire but are still hearing an odd noise, the problem may be a malfunctioning microphone that has been damaged on the inside. 

Check the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty to find out if you may receive a new one or have the broken one fixed. 

It is important to ensure that the problem is not being caused by your software program; because it is quite possible that the digital audio workstation (DAW) itself is the source of the noise.

Written by:
Amit Gupta
Amit Gupta

Hi, my name is Amit Gupta, and I am the owner and contributor at Radaudio. My passions include guitar, bass, and piano, as well as a range of classical instruments that I have been playing since school.

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