How To Reduce PC Microphone/Speaker Noise

Finding The Microphone Noise

Recently I started to record voiceovers for my GoPro videos but when I started, the buzzing sounds both in the headset and my voice recordings, were unbearable. This would have made any videos impossible to listen to on YouTube or anywhere else, so I needed to find a solution.

The headset I use is a Corsair Raptor HS40 USB headset and according to Corsair, it’s equipped with a unidirectional noise-canceling microphone. That’s good to know of course, but I only have a vague understanding of how noise-canceling actually works. In a nutshell, this technology is designed to filter out ambient noise with some devices having more than one microphone for filtering purposes and/or, they use algorithm wizardry. Either way and in spite of my best efforts tweaking this and that in Windows 10’s sound options –there aren’t many tweaks for microphone sound-canceling in there– the problem had to lay elsewhere.

I knew that my headset drivers were up to date, so I delved into the Corsair software, but that didn’t help at all– the buzzing noise was still there as loud as ever. Then it occurred to me in a light bulb moment– the house electricity supply isn’t grounded, which in itself is an issue for numerous other reasons. Anyway, I use the headset on two different PCs, with the same result, so I somehow needed to ground both of the computer cases and see if this made a difference.

Fixing A Noisy Microphone

First of all, I connected a wire from the PC directly to the garage door frame, which in itself is bolted into the brickwork of the house. I made sure both ends were securely connected and then I tested the microphone– the buzzing noise had almost completely disappeared! I then did the same on my main gaming rig, drilled a hole in the wall and then ran another wire to the garage door frame. Success on both counts and I was then able to record voiceovers with just a small amount of hiss in the background.

Connecting the wire to the aluminum window frame had no effect, presumably because aluminum isn’t a good conductor.

Grounding The PC Case

It’s not the neatest of arrangements, but it does solve that particular problem very well. However, I’m still left with the buzzing sound from the speakers, which I can only assume is because they are powered and connected to a mains supply that isn’t grounded. Now, knowing that I don’t have the know-how to ground the entire house (or the funds), I’m going to investigate how I can ground certain parts and then write about that experience in a later article.

3 thoughts on “How To Reduce PC Microphone/Speaker Noise”

  1. Helmut Krahn

    Marc ~~~ Well done! Further suggestions, if I may:
    1/ You could run an earth from the back of a power point (perhaps one that you have a multi-socket power board plugged into).
    2/ Aluminium is a good conductor but frames are often set with plastic spacers or plastic weather-proofing; also a masonry wall isn’t a good conductor (unless it’s wet, perhaps!).
    3/ Plumbing, if metal, is often a good earthing point because it goes deeper into the ground; with a bit of luck, some leaks will keep the earth damp and improve conductivity even further, heh!
    4/ Driving a steel spike as deeply as possible just outside your window is just as good and may be more convenient. File off any rust, use a hose clamp, etc. Check from time to time that corrosion hasn’t reduced it’s effectiveness (cover in vaseline after clamping?).
    5/ I notice that you the earth wire clamped to the painted metal of the PC’s cover; usually better to clamp to bare metal ie, back plane of the computer.

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