Audio recording: software to reduce background noise from the source feed directly

First off, apologies for the clear-as-mud title; it’s difficult to concisely state what I’m trying to do — I’m not certain it’s even possible. If it is, though, I’m sure one of our resident musicians and audio experts can help.

Basically, I need to record audio on a Windows 7 laptop using a handheld mic, and I’m trying to get the best quality possible. I’ve bought a USB sound card (SB X-Fi Surround 5.1), which has eliminated skips and system noise, but I’m still getting a noticeable buzz that I’m pretty sure is from the copious fluorescent lighting fixtures. (And sadly, no, I can’t relocate the recording setup; believe me, I’ve asked.)

Squashing the buzz’s range is easy enough if you have equalizer-equipped recording software, but therein lies my problem…I have to record the audio into a particular program that has neither an equalizer nor the ability to import external audio files.

Given that, what I’m after is a way to edit the actual line-in feed, to remove the buzz from the microphone input before it’s picked up by the recording app. (Of course, that’s just my own half-baked idea of a solution, so I’m also open to any other suggestions.) Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

You can try a run-of-the mill graphic equalizer that hasmic inputs, but I think you’re real problem is shielding. If it’s simply a matter of getting a better mic and cord, that’s easy, but if it’s something like a bad tube, you can drive yourself mad trying to find it.

Oh yeah, hardware equalizers exist. Can you tell I’m not well-versed in audio? :smack: So, if I can squash the noise pretty effectively in the recorded WAV with a software EQ, I can likely do the same on the hardware, correct? Or does that depend on the source of the problem?

A better mic is probably a good suggestion too, but the talent (such as it is) brings her own and isn’t likely to take kindly to the suggestion that it’s the problem. My recommendation to move to an acoustically friendly area wasn’t exactly well-met either…

Thanks for the advice!

Do you have access to a better mic, just for testing? If you can verify that the noise goes away with a better mic, and if you can eliminate the noise from the original mic with a SW equalizer, then I’d have confidence that a HW equalizer would help.

Without that, I’d be a little concerned that the noise could be introduced somewhere closer to the PC than the MIC, and that the equalizer would be on the wrong side of the noise. In other words, if the problem is at the PC’s connector, for instance, you can’t filter it out in external hardware because it’ll just get added in after the equalizer.

If the buzz is coming from the lighting and , you can’t move, can you just use a different light source? Turn off the overheads and get a floor-lamp or two.

Turn off everything electric that you can. Refrigerators, some lights, interfering electronics, can all introduce noise.

Use a good cord that’s shielded. Why is your “talent” so picky about equipment? If quality is important than she needs to understand that. If her feelings are more important then be prepared to sacrifice quality.

If the problem noise is from electical current than you can “notch” it out pretty well simply by cutting out the 50/60 Hz frequencies.

Sometimes it can be better to cut out certain frequencies during the actual recording but it sounds like in your case it would be better to EQ the audio in post-production.

What are you recording? Singing? Voiceover? I’m not sure I understand why it has to be done at a certain location unless you are recording ambient sound that exists only at that location (which it sounds like you are actively trying NOT to do).

It might work better if you recorded into an external device (good quality portable digital audio recorder) and then imported that into your computer. I think you said you couldn’t import files but I don’t understand why you can’t. What software/computer are you using?

Since this is about recording and not what is being recorded, moved from Cafe Society to IMHO.

A hardware equalizer is probably the easiest option–it’s just that that will cost money. If it were me, I’d try to record the audio with the program that has an equalizer, then use the “stereo mix” channel to play it back into the other program to record it in the other program. Granted, it’s possible your sound card will add noise in the rerecording, but you can at least try it.

If you wanted to do it properly and only use software, you’d probably use a virtual sound card. Hook a mixer into the chain before it gets to the program. But describing how to do that is more advanced than I think I’d be able to explain in a post.