Bad Audio - You're on mute

Fix your audio.

It’s 2021 and “You’re on mute” still gets said constantly in meetings. So you could say not everyone has audio top-of-mind. At least not their own audibility. That’s pretty easy to explain though. We can all hear ourselves think let alone speak out loud so it never occurs to us others can’t hear us.

This puts us at a real disadvantage in our video conferencing dependant work. How long do you typically listen to a radio station with a poor signal? Do you feel a bit anxious and stressed when it’s hard to hear someone during an important meeting? Now think of how it doesn’t occur to that important person talking to have clear audio!

So. Let’s fix your audio.

What are you using for a microphone?

Whatever it is, it needs to be the right distance from your mouth. The correct distance and placement for a microphone depend on its pickup pattern and type. I’m not gonna go into this, but your mic is too far from your mouth unless you’ve spent money to get it in the right place with a boom, headset, or clip-on.

I personally do not like the way a headset looks when I wear it. I also don’t really like having a mic in the shot at all but I do it anyway because it really helps cut down on the noise when the microphone is placed correctly. If you have a Blue Yeti and it’s sitting on the table in front of you, its probably too far from your mouth.

What are you using for your internet connection?

Wifi is the wrong answer. Wifi is for before COVID-19. During video conferencing it’s garbage. And it’s making your audio garbage and you have no idea how bad you sound to everyone (unless you realize you sound as bad as they do to you).

The nature of Wifi means audio communication in real-time or near real-time will suffer from micro-stalls. These sound like dead spots in someone’s speech and they are unpredictable. So if you are speaking to others and are connected to Wifi, they will hear dropouts unpredictably for your audio. But you will hear them drop out if they are on Wifi. The solution is to use wired ethernet. Just go do it. No mesh is not better. You can buy an ethernet dongle for your phone as well so no excuses.

What are you using to hear everyone?

Speakers are the worst solution. Headphones are better and in my opinion in-ear monitors of some type are the best.

The reason it’s important to use these is that speakers introduce echo and feedback since your microphone picks up your voice as well as the sound coming from the speakers. When you use headphones or in-ear monitors your microphone is less likely to pick that sound up. It’s also important to realize if your headphones have some sort of noise cancellation on them, that does nothing to cancel out the noise coming into your microphone from your environment. It cancels out the noise from your environment for your own ears, but not your microphone and everyone who hears it.

You can do this for $40 or upwards of $5000, just depends on how deep you wanna go.

Fix your audio and you’ll be amazed how much better understood all your great ideas will be. That is, of course, unless “You’re on mute”.

Kevin 🌯 Murphy
Kevin 🌯 Murphy
artist, consultant

hackin' on cloud production