Background noises should be prevented as far as possible. Consider the following:
- Use quietest practical room available for broadcasting.
- A room with hard surfaces (e.g. tiled walls, hard walls) will create some echo which you may not notice.
- Set any telephone to silent.
- If you have an answerphone which beeps if a message is left, check if there is an option to silence it.
- If possible remove, or silence, any clocks which make a distracting noise - Cuckoo clocks, hourly chimes, etc
- If using a computer to broadcast, ensure that all other programs are shutdown, except the ones needed for the broadcast. E.g. You do not want disturbing with a ping to let you know a new email has arrived. Beware of any programs which you may have set to start automatically.
- Low level noise, such as fans, can sometimes come across more than might be expected.
- Clonking noises. If you get unidentified clonking noises, consider placing the microphone on a cushion - or a jiffy bag. Do not put a laptop on a cushion if it has ventilation slots on the bottom - that will restrict air flow. Instead consider using some small stick-on felt pads as feet.
The quality of the microphone will impact the sound quality. If the microphone is not right, nothing else will be able to rectify it. Wherever possible a good quality microphone should be used.
If you are broadcasting from a laptop, with a built-in microphone, the quality of the microphone can vary greatly from model to model. Generally, but not always, more expensive laptops will have better quality microphones.
Fan noise. If your laptop has a fan, sometimes the buzz of the fan can transmit through the body of the laptop and be picked up by the microphone.
Note: If your computer has a 3.5mm microphone socket, other condenser microphones - e.g. as typically used with chapel sound systems - might not have a high enough output for a computer, and might be wired differently.
Mostly, the microphone is at the top of the screen, and therefore likely to be at least 50cm from the person speaking, maybe more.
- Use a good quality external microphone, with a USB connection, designed to work with a computer. [If you have a modern laptop with a USB-C connector you may need an adapter to a full sized USB socket]
- It should have a "Cardoid" response pattern - which means it is more sensitive to sound from the front than sound from any other direction.
- It should be positioned pointing at your mouth, if possible about 30cm away, although may work well further away, if you have a stronger voice.
- It should be on a stand with rubber feet. Better still place the stand on a small sponge cushion, or a Jiffy bag. Ensure it is stable.
- If the laptop has a fan, it should be moved as far away from you as possible, so it is well behind the microphone. A microphone with a 2m long lead will enable you to have the microphone well away from the laptop. A USB extension lead could be used to increase that distance.
- Example microphone: FiFine K668. (Available from Amazon )
If you cannot get a better microphone, the following may help:
- Ensure there is no restriction to airflow through the laptop. If there are ventilation holes in the base, ensure nothing is blocking them - e.g. do NOT sit the laptop on a cushion, or a carpet.
- If the laptop has hard feet, consider using small stick-on felt pads to isolate it from the desk.
Most desktop computers do not have a built-in microphone.
The best solution is, as for laptops above, a good quality USB microphone.
The desktop will normally have a cooling fan. Ensure the fan outlet (usually at the back) is as far from you as possible, and facing away from you. Do not block the fan outlet - it will cause the computer to get hot, and make the fan run faster.
Ensure any air inlet grill at the front of the desktop is clear. An occasional pass over the inlet with the dusting brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner will help keep it clear, improve the air flow, reducing the need for the fan to work as hard.
Position the microphone facing away from the computer.
Smartphones are designed to be used as phones, and therefore the microphone is an essential component, and not an afterthought. It is often remarkably good quality for its size, although the cheapest ones may not be as good.
Smartphones do not have fans. But can make other noises!
- Ensure that phone cannot ring, or make any sounds that could interfere:
- Turn off ringer
- Disable vibrate
- Use "Do not disturb" where available
- Place on small cushion or table in front of you with the microphone facing you.
- Test beforehand.
Zoom settings (especially for singing/music)
By default Zoom will attempt to suppress "background noise". This means it identifies the level of the sound at the quietest points between words, as "background noise" and cuts off the microphone completely when the sound drops to that level. This can mean that if the speaker drops his voice, or has a soft voice, some of the quietest words are lost.
It also means that if you attempt to play an organ, or have any singing, Zoom might mistake that for "background noise" (because it cannot identify any speech in the sound) and silence it!
Zoom also, by default, attempts to automatically adjust the volume. However, this can mean
that if you cough, it will abruptly adjust the volume down, and take a while to recover it back to normal.
If you have either of these problems, you might like to try the following.
Note it is strongly recommended that after making these changes you do tests to establish if the volume is right for your environment.
These features of Zoom can be turned off as follows:
- Logon to Zoom web portal https://zoom.us for the account that will be hosting the meeting.
- Admin --> Account management --> Account settings
Find option "Allow users to select original sound in their client settings", and turn it on.
Now the person speaking will need to logoff, and log back into their Zoom app, and select settings (The small cog at top right), then Audio tab, then:
- Untick "Automatically adjust volume."
The following additional settings may help in some cases, if not using "Original Sound" but will require testing in your environment. When using "Original Sound" they will be disabled anyway.
Click the Advanced button, and then
- Tick the box beside Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone.
- Change "Suppress Persistent Background Noise to Disable.
- Change "Suppress Intermittent Background Noise" to Disable.
Now once a meeting is in progress, the person speaking should see at the top left of their Zoom meeting window:
The blue means "Original sound" is turned on and you can click it to turn it off,
Grey background means it is turned off, and you can click it to turn it on.
Conduct tests with Original Sound on, and off.
If the sound is now too loud, or too quiet, in the speaker's Zoom app, select settings (The small cog at top right), then Audio tab, then:
- Adjust the volume up or down and re-test
iPhone / iOS: Enable Original Sound
Once "Original Sound" has been enabled in the web portal for the meeting, it can be turned on in the Zoom app as follows.
1. Enable option for Original Sound
2. Turn on "Original sound" once you have joined the meeting