USB mics have grown massively in importance over the last decade. Industries like blogging and vlogging, YouTube commentary, and voiceovers have been made possible by their creation. Of course, their quality is not as high as their Dynamic and Condenser rivals, but they do a job and do it well.
However, there are similar problems with all kinds of microphones. And one of those is background noise. So, I’ve decided to take an in-depth look at how to reduce background noise on a Blue Snowball mic.
- Easy To Use
- In A Nutshell
- Built-In Options
- What Do We Mean By Background Noise?
- Where Is The Sound Coming From?
- The Result
- Remove As Much Unwanted Noise As Possible
- Blue Snowball Microphone Settings
- What Is A Polar Pattern?
- External Hardware for a Blue Snowball Mic
- Noise Canceling Software and Plug-ins
- Control Your Environment
- Looking to Do Some Recording?
- How to Reduce Background Noise on a Blue Snowball Mic – Conclusion
Blue was founded by a Latvian and an American in 1995. The word “Blue” was taken from the first letters of Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics. They have had several owners since the founders sold the company in 2008.
The company was acquired by Logitech in 2018. From 1995 to 2004, all the microphone ranges were built in Latvia. They have been made in China since 2005. But, they are tested in America.
Most of the mics designed and manufactured by Blue have some interesting styles. Some, like the Snowball, resemble something from War of the Worlds. Nothing wrong with that. But, some have used that as a reason why they are not the easiest mic to use in certain environments.
So, has a little performance level been sacrificed to allow for its styling? Possibly, but we need to keep the purpose in mind. This is not a Neumann U87, or AKG C414, or a Sennhesier. You are not going to find it in professional recordings studios. It is not built for that.
They are designed to work at a lower level compared with those mics, and they serve a purpose at that level. For people operating from home or running basic blogs and vlogs, they are a cost-effective solution.
Easy To Use
Of course, they are. These are plug-and-play USB microphones, so they are easy to use and set up. That makes them ideal for what they are designed to do. However, there is always going to be the problem of unwanted background noise using a USB microphone. So what can you do?
In A Nutshell
Recording good audio can be a challenge at the best of times. Furthermore, in some environments and other situations, it can be even more of a problem.
So, let’s cut to the chase straight away. It will never be possible to cut out absolutely everything. Even the most expensive mics will not be able to do that. So what you need to do is reduce the impact of the background noise. And you do that by removing as much of it as you possibly can.
With the Blue Snowball, you have a good option that will help to start with. You have a choice of polar patterns to suit the environment you are in. Not all mics have that. So, do a test recording using the different polar patterns to see which one results in the least background noise. Once you become familiar with your recording surroundings, you will know what works and not need to do any more tests.
From experience, cardioid is going to produce the best results depending on what the sound is and where it is coming from. Omni will produce the worst results in almost all cases because it picks up sound from all around the mic.
But, even that might not do the job…
So, you will need to look at microphone accessories to help reduce background noise.
Pop filters and acoustic screens (even homemade from blankets) will help. Or try recording inside a closet (no, I’m not joking!) and leave the clothes in there as additional absorption. Recording in front of bookshelves can also produce very good results. Basically, experiment and find laces that allow for quieter, more accurate recording.
However, if after that you are still plagued by it, you can employ some noise-canceling software. But, before we get into those things, let’s get some definitions. That way, we can better learn how to reduce background noise on a Blue Snowball mic.
What Do We Mean By Background Noise?
I keep mentioning “background noise.” So, it might be a good idea to pause briefly to identify what that is. You can consider all background noise to be any sound that you are not trying to capture using the mic.
The noise is usually not anywhere near as loud as the primary source. But, it is still there and can be heard.
Where Is The Sound Coming From?
To remove this unwanted sound, it is always a good idea to identify where it is coming from. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but it is going to help. Here are a few potential sources of unwanted noise when using a microphone indoors:
- Air conditioners or fans.
- Central heating or other room heaters.
- Noise from an adjacent room.
- Conversation from another room.
- Electrical appliances in the same or an adjoining room.
- Traffic from nearby roads.
- Bad external weather conditions.
- Plosives and other accidental vocal noise interference caused by the user.
These are just a few that may be encountered. And some of them are easily eradicated. However, others may take some creativity and even extra equipment to deal with. And those listed are just possibilities when the mic is used indoors.
The Blue Snowball is probably not designed to be used outdoors. But, if you do, then there are a whole new set of problems regarding weather, wind, and other noise issues.
Collecting unwanted sounds can drastically reduce the quality of the finished product. The difference between sounding like a complete amateur or producing something approaching a professional product.
Remove As Much Unwanted Noise As Possible
The Blue Snowball is a competitively-priced mic, and it is one of the most popular USB mics on the market. It allows you to record a decent standard of dialogue and speech you might use in interviews or commentary. And it could even be used for recording some musical instruments.
They will still allow some unwanted noise, as I have said, and this needs to be dealt with. There are three things you can do. Let’s consider three ways to reduce background noise with a Blue Snowball mic:
- Using the settings on the mic.
- Extra hardware, filters, etc.
- Noise-canceling software and plug-ins.
Blue Snowball Microphone Settings
As we have already considered, the Blue Snowball can be used for a range of recording applications. Podcasts, blogs, streaming, voiceovers, and even business conference calls. Some of the applications require the mic to operate in different ways.
To handle these different environments. Blue has given you the option of choosing an appropriate polar pattern or setting.
What Is A Polar Pattern?
There is no need to go into too much detail about how polar patterns operate here. Suffice to say; it refers to how the mic captures the sound.
Different polar patterns apply to capturing the sound in different ways. You will have two choices with this mic plus a third choice which gives an extra adjustment.
This is a polar pattern that is specifically designed to capture the sound right in front of the mic. In doing so, it rejects much of the sound from the rear of the mic and the sides.
This makes it ideal for use by one voice or instrument. Or any situation where there is a single sound source that can be targeted at the front of the mic.
Cardioid with a -10dB Pad
This is exactly the same as the cardio pattern but includes a pad that reduces the input level by 10dB. This is useful if you are recording louder sources, such as a snare drum where the transients may be too loud for your preamp/interface.
The Omnidirectional setting allows you the opportunity to record sound sources from all around the microphone. This would be suitable for a group of people on a conference call.
Or, it could be if you want some external ambient sound included in what you are recording. Sound is captured equally around 360 degrees of the mic.
External Hardware for a Blue Snowball Mic
Using a pop filter is simple, cheap, and an efficient way to cut down on plosives. These are sounds that are made by the speaker or vocalist when making certain sounds. These are usually when they say or sing words beginning with a ‘p,’ ‘k,’ ‘t,’ ‘b,’ ‘d’, and ‘g.’
As I said, pop filters are not expensive and provide a very basic solution in some situations. It is a circular foam screen that is fully adjustable and easy to attach. For example, this YOUSHARES Snowball Pop Filter.
The pop filter is ideal for speech and vocals, but you may need a little extra protection. You can get that by using a foam ball. It is simply a foam ball that fits over and isolates the mic. This Foam Windscreen for Blue Snowball is built specifically for the Blue Snowball, so you get a nice fit.
You may want to use the mic outside. In my opinion, this is not the best environment for its use because it really wasn’t designed for this application and is awkward to position and can’t be hand-held efficiently. Nevertheless, if that is what you want, you are going to need a higher level of protection from the elements, especially the wind.
You can achieve this by using what is affectionately called a “dead cat.” Apologies to cat lovers. You will often see them used on TV during outside broadcasts. They offer a higher level of protection against unwanted sounds, such as this YOUSHARES Furry Windscreen Muff.
Noise Canceling Software and Plug-ins
This is probably the best way to remove unwanted noise from a Blue Snowball microphone. They are designed specifically to achieve a reduction in unwanted noise. Additionally, they can be set at the level that will achieve the best results available.
You will find similar noise-canceling software built into the Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) of today. In particular, Garageband has quite efficient adjustable noise-canceling software.
Likewise, ProTools is available for macOS and Windows-based systems and has excellent audio editing and noise reduction facilities. Although, it isn’t cheap. So, you will have to be sure it will be money well spent depending on the quality you require.
There are several levels of ProTools available…
The top of the range is Avid Pro Tools Ultimate – Complete Audio Studio Production Software Suite. However, if you don’t need the complete suite but want a scaled-down version that still has noise editing, there is Avid Pro Tools – Music Production Software.
Control Your Environment
That is always the first consideration. Make sure that you have reduced any risk of unwanted noise from or near the room you’re in. If you can, ensure that any other electrical items are off and windows and doors are closed. Also, record at a time when there are less likely to be interruptions.
As mentioned, get creative with anything you have lying around, old blankets especially packing blankets such as these WEN 272406 72-Inch by 40-Inch Heavy Duty Padded Moving Blankets, 6-Pack are excellent for absorbing and therefore reducing unwanted sounds. Just position them around the source, for example, on mic stands made into a T-shape, until you get the sonic results you are after.
In addition to this, you can make sure you have all the equipment you may need. You can buy complete packages for the Blue Snowball to help the recording process. These should include:
- Blue Snowball Microphone Stand and Suspension Mic Boom Scissor Arm Stand with Mic Windscreen and Dual Layered Pop Filter.
- CODN Recording Microphone Isolation Shield with Pop Filter.
- Logitech for Creators Blue Snowball USB Microphone.
Looking to Do Some Recording?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Microphones For Recording Vocals, the Best Live Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones For Recording Electric Guitar, the Best USB Microphones, and the Best Microphones For YouTube you can buy in 2023.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Portable Audio Recorders, the Best Digital Audio Players, the Best Audio Interface, the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best iPad Audio Interfaces, and the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording currently on the market.
How to Reduce Background Noise on a Blue Snowball Mic – Conclusion
It may not be possible to create a recording environment where there is no background noise at all. But, you can certainly go a long way to improving it.
Luckily, the Blue Snowball, with its built-in features, gives you more of a chance than you would get with other USB mics. And the great thing? It isn’t going to break the bank.
Until next time, make yourself heard.