Are you using a microphone on your computer, but it keeps picking up noise from your keyboard when you type?
This can be frustrating not only for you, but anybody else that you may be voice chatting with as well.
Thankfully, there’s a lot that you can do to fix this immediately, without needing to purchase anything new.
In this article, I’ll be covering 6 different ways to prevent your microphone from picking up any keyboard noise. I recommend reading through each one of them, and trying out as many as you can!
1. Understand Signal-To-Noise Ratio
Before we really begin, there is one important concept that you need to be aware of, as many other tactics are based around it.
It’s called the signal-to-noise ratio, and it’s incredibly important when it comes to improving your audio quality.
In this instance, it can be thought of as the ratio between the volume of your voice hitting the microphone, and the volume of any background noise – such as hiss, hums from fans, or in this case, strokes from your keyboard.
Many of the tactics I’ll be sharing involve improving the signal-to-noise ratio – making the microphone pick up more of your voice, and less of the keyboard, so the difference between them grows.
So, I just wanted to mention this in advance, as it is a very important concept for the rest of the article.
2. Move The Microphone Closer To Your Face
One of the most immediate improvements you can make, is to move the microphone closer to your face. This is why headset microphones are so popular for gamers and streamers – they keep the microphone close to your face!
This works to drastically improve the signal-to-noise ratio just mentioned. When the microphone is closer to your face, your voice will be louder – making the keyboard noise in the background much quieter in comparison.
If using voice chat over software like Zoom or Discord, they will automatically lower the actual volume of your voice back down to a normal level.
However, because the keyboard is so much quieter relative to your voice, it will be much quieter – or even seem silent to others!
This tip is most effective when combining it with the next one I’m about share.
3. Turn Down The Gain Of Your Microphone
If your microphone has any way to control the gain (such as a volume switch or slider), consider turning this down.
The more gain a microphone applies, the more it amplifies the signal going into it.
In other words, it lifts up everything in the recording – including the noises that your keyboard makes!
Of course, when you lower the gain, the volume of your voice will be lowered as well.
So, in order to make up for this, you can do one of two things:
- You can move the microphone closer to your face, as mentioned in the last tip.
- Or, you can speak louder into the microphone.
Both of these improve the signal-to-noise ratio, making the keyboard seem quieter even your voice remains at a normal level.
Remember, even though mics that often appear on a desk (like a Blue Snowball or a Blue Yeti) may look like they’re designed to be used from far away, a lot of your voice is lost if you get even just a couple feet away from them.
By helping the microphone pick up more of your voice – by moving it closer or speaking louder, you can turn down the gain, and thus turn down the volume of any background noises that may be affecting your audio quality.
Even loud, clanky mechanical keyboards won’t be picked up if the microphone placement and gain settings are perfect!
4. Avoid Using The Wrong Type Of Microphone
Unfortunately, the type of microphone matters a lot.
In the world of audio, microphones are used for a wide variety of different purposes. It doesn’t make sense to use the same type of microphone for quiet ASMR, that you would for drums at a large rock concert, for example.
Some microphones are designed to pick up more background noise than others.
When it comes to avoiding background noise, you want to be sure that you’re using a dynamic microphone, and not a condenser microphone.
Dynamic microphones are designed to only pick up noise that is right in front of them, and ignore the rest.
Condenser microphones on the other hand are far more sensitive. While this makes them a bit more accurate and is ideal for certain situations, they are much more prone to picking up background noise and audio reflections.
So, while they work nice in a treated studio, they aren’t that great for use in a normal, untreated room.
Additionally, you’ll want to pay attention to something called a polar pattern.
Essentially, a microphone’s polar pattern will show where on the microphone it will pickup up noise from.
A microphone with an omnidirectional polar pattern will pick up noise from all sides, where as a supercardioid or hypercardioid is great at rejecting sounds from the side and rear.
In order to minimize background noise, you’ll want a microphone that is good at rejecting all sounds that are not directly in front of it.
Some microphones (like the Blue Yeti) have adjustable polar patterns. In terms of minimizing keyboard noise, you should prioritize polar patterns in this order, with the first being the best and the last being the worst:
- Ribbon / Bi-directional
5. Set Up A Noise Gate With Voicemeeter
If your microphone is picking up too much of your keyboard when you use it, don’t worry! This solution can help ‘filter out’ the noise of the keyboard, and it’s entirely free to implement.
What you’ll need is a piece of software that acts a ‘noise gate.’ The one I recommend is called Voicemeeter.
Essentially, a noise gate works like this:
The software constantly monitors the volume of your audio. When the audio reaches a certain volume, the gate ‘opens’, allowing your audio to pass through.
However, when the audio is too quiet, it is simply silenced.
Essentially, this means audio can be heard whenever you are actually talking, because your voice will be loud enough for the gate to open. If you’re just typing however, this noise will be too quiet, so it will be completely silenced instead.
Voicemeeter is a free piece of software that creates a virtual audio mixer for your computer. Using it, you can set up a noise gate very easily, without needing to pay anything at all.
Although it looks complicated, it’s actually quite simple to use once you’ve got it set up, and it has a lot of other cool features for making your audio sound better!
You can learn how to install and setup Voicemeeter by following this tutorial:
6. Purchase A Quieter Keyboard
Finally, the last option is to simply purchase a quieter keyboard.
If your microphone picks up a lot of background noise, replacing your keyboard will likely be a lot cheaper than replacing your microphone. And while the other tips can go a long way to improving your signal-to-noise ratio, the fact of the matter is this – if your keyboard is extremely loud relative to your voice, nothing you do will eliminate the noise completely.
So, a new keyboard may be a good idea.
While mechanical keyboards are all the rage these days, it’s important to pay attention to their sound as well.
Some keyboards sound like you’re typing on an old typewriter, whereas even modern mechanical keyboards can be near-silent.
I recommend looking over keyboards that advertise their silence as a feature, or use switches that are known for their low volume, such as Cherry MX Brown switches, red switches, or ‘silent red’ switches.
An example of different switches can be seen below – I’ve skipped ahead right to where the switches are being tested for your convenience.
Hearing your keyboard when using your microphone isn’t just bothersome for you, but it isn’t pleasant for any other listeners either.
Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to remove your keyboard noise from your audio, even without spending any money.
By trying one or more of these out, you’re sure to experience a drastic improvement in your audio.
If you have any other questions about microphones, please ask them using the comment form below and I’ll be happy to help.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister