Few things are more irritating than a microphone picking up the background noise. Whether you’re a streamer, an online tutor or just someone who wants to have a high-quality Zoom call, getting rid of the keyboard sound in your video and audio recordings can be quite the quandary. Let’s take a look at how to stop the mic from picking up keyboard noise.
Optimize Your Microphone Setup
If you have any experience recording or performing music, you might already know a little about pickup patterns, microphone settings, positioning, and direction along with how to adjust sensitive microphones. Part of minimizing the keyboard sounds your mic picks up is ensuring your setup is optimal.
Choose Your Microphone
First, let’s focus on the kind of microphone you’re using. To minimize sound reflections and background noise, choose a microphone that primarily records what’s right in front of it. A good example is a cardioid microphone. It has a heart-shaped pickup pattern (cardioid pattern), and it primarily picks up sound at its front. It does pick up some sound from the sides, but the signal is a lot weaker. It completely rejects sounds coming from behind it.
Since these microphones primarily record in one direction, they offer an easy way to reduce keyboard noise. By simply placing your keyboard somewhere other than right in front of the mic, you can greatly reduce the amount of noise it picks up.
Some people prefer headset microphones. These give you the benefit of having a microphone close to your face, and you don’t need to worry about staying close to the mic while recording or streaming. However, headset mics do have one main disadvantage. Because they are so close to the user’s mouth, they often pick up more plosives and more breathing sounds. Proper positioning can minimize these risks, though. Be sure to place the headset microphone at the corner of your mouth and slightly below your lips.
Many headset mics are built into headphones, making them ideal for gaming — you can listen and speak hands-free. But for applications like podcasting where you need higher-quality audio, a mic built into headphones isn’t usually the best choice. If you’re using a non-headset mic, experiment with microphone positioning. You might be surprised at which placements sound better.
It’s important to remember that many microphones just aren’t ideal if you’re trying to record your voice with very little background sound. If you’re using something like a condenser microphone, getting rid of unwanted noise will be harder. That’s because condenser mics tend to pick up much of the background from around them — including keyboard noise. Similarly, any omnidirectional mic will be frustrating to work with. These microphones pick up sound around them in a circle, so there’s no real way to avoid picking up the keyboard noise.
Adjust Input Sensitivity
Microphone sensitivity is also important. If your microphone levels are high, all sound will be considerably louder. Some programs like Discord have an audio levels tab setting for auto microphone sensitivity — make sure you disable it. With auto microphone sensitivity enabled, the input sensitivity becomes greater when you stop talking. When this happens, keyboard noise and other unwanted background noise becomes amplified.
One other thing to consider is how close you are to the microphone. When you’re very close, you can turn the sensitivity down and minimize the keyboard noise it picks up. But being very close to the mic isn’t always practical. If you need to regularly move or turn your head, staying close can be difficult unless you have a headset mic.
Be sure that you’re projecting your voice (within reason) as well. If you’re speaking very quietly, you’ll need to turn up the microphone sensitivity just to be heard. And as you know, a more sensitive microphone is more likely to pick up keyboard noises.
Quiet Your Keyboard Noise
You can’t really make any mechanical keyboard truly, 100% silent. But just like you would in a recording studio, you need to make sure your equipment (in this case, your keyboard) isn’t contributing to the noise.
Reduce Keyboard Vibrations
The surface you place your keyboard on plays a major role in how noisy it is. If the keyboard is on glass or another hard surface, it’s more likely to create extra noise. However, this is one of the easiest fixes — simply get a foam pad to place under the keyboard. The pad will absorb extra vibrations and help keep the keyboard quieter.
Soften Keyboard Sounds
Most of the time, when your microphone is picking up mechanical keyboard noise, it’s recording the sound of individual keystrokes. There are a couple of ways to help cut down on typing noise.
When you press a key on a keyboard all the way down, you hear an audible click. O-rings, which are rubber rings for each key, stop the keys from being depressed all the way. Since the keys stop short, the sound isn’t as loud. O-rings are a fairly popular modification for keyboards, but they can be tedious to put on.
Unlike the O-rings, a keyboard pad is a noise-reducing device that covers the entire keyboard. Pads are a little more secure, and they’re generally faster and easier to install. Thicker pads are usually better for noise reduction.
Software for Background Noise
If you’ve done all you can to quiet down your keyboard, it might be time to think like a sound engineer and take a look at some noise reduction software. You’ll be able to find software that reduces the noise your mic picks up in real-time as well as software for editing an audio recording.
Real-Time Noise Gates
Several different software companies offer noise gate software that works in real-time. That means that if you’re streaming audio, the software will remove noise before your listeners hear your audio. A basic noise gate is very simple. You set a noise threshold, and any noise louder than that threshold is eliminated. Noise gates aren’t always very precise, but more advanced noise removal programs tend to be fairly accurate.
More advanced versions of these programs work a lot like post-production software — they ask you to record some of the background noise you want to be removed. You upload that sample into the noise removal software, and the program then removes audio that sounds the same as your sample.
If you’re recording into a DAW (digital audio workstation), you may not need to download a separate program to reduce noise. Many DAWs have built-in noise removal plugins.
If you’ve used your microphone to make a recording that you want to edit, you similarly have access to a range of noise removal and noise reduction software. You’ll generally find a wider array of post-production options than you will real-time options. Even if your initial recording is of very poor quality, some higher-end programs can “restore” audio. If you’re patient and take time to play with the program, you can usually turn a less-than-ideal recording into a good one.
Look Into Acoustic Foam
Treating a room with acoustic foam may seem like a drastic step, but it can go a long way toward improving your overall audio quality. That said, if you just need to remove keyboard noise and don’t necessarily need top-notch audio, acoustic treatment may be unnecessary.
Acoustic foam works by absorbing a certain amount of sound in a room. It can reduce the reflection of sound and reduce the room’s natural reverb. If keyboard noise is an issue, the acoustic foam may be able to help absorb some of the noise. At the very least, it can cut down on sound reflections and echoes, which makes it easier for a noise removal tool to target the keyboard noise.
The Silent Mechanical Keyboard
Hopefully one or more of the above tips has helped you with noise reduction. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to reduce keyboard noise on video calls or recordings. In this case, you may just need to purchase a quieter keyboard.
In this case, silent mechanical keyboards are likely your answer. You may already be familiar with mechanical keyboards — each key has its own switch, giving the keyboard a “springy” feel.
Normally, these keyboards are louder than average. But silent versions have the switches treated with a sound-dampening material to reduce keyboard noise. In most cases, each key’s switch includes shock absorbers, and the travel distance for each is reduced as well.
Before going this route, it’s important to manage your expectations. While these keyboards are marketed as “silent,” they will still produce some noise. However, the noise they do produce is significantly quieter than that of “normal” keyboards. It’s still possible that your microphone will pick up some keyboard sounds. But if it does, they’re likely to be barely noticeable.
If you work with audio in any capacity, dealing with unwanted noises is one of the most frustrating parts. We hope that these tips will help you fix your microphones from picking up the pesky keyboard noise and enjoy the clear, pristine audio via your speaker or speakers.
If you’re still having issues with your microphone it may be best to change your input mode to Push to Talk, when you click your microphone will record once you release the microphone will stop recording. Only using your microphone to record while you talk will minimize background noise resulting in your voice being clearer and fewer distractions through any listeners speakers.