Clear, intelligible audio is essential for effective communication and learning in virtual classrooms. Audio issues like distant or muffled-sounding vocals can make it difficult for students to hear or understand you, causing students to become distracted or disinterested.
Thankfully, there are plenty of tools for improving your audio quality. However, dialing in great sound in an online classroom can be tricky—especially for those who are new to teaching remotely. In this blog, we’ll share our top tips for improving the audio quality of your virtual classroom to help you communicate effectively and create a collaborative learning environment.
Use a High-Quality USB Microphone
To get good sound, you need to start at the source. You may already have a built-in computer microphone or Bluetooth mic, but these devices often sound harsh and pick up unwanted background noise.
Blue USB mics like Yeti, Yeti Nano and Snowball iCE deliver crystal-clear sound quality that’s light-years ahead of your built-in computer mic. To help eliminate unwanted background noise, Blue USB mics are designed to capture a tight, focused sound.
Best of all, they’re super-simple to use. All Blue USB mics are plug and play on Mac and PC, and designed to work seamlessly with most modern devices. To learn more, check out our blog on the best USB mics for online classes.
For best results, place the microphone 6-12 inches away, angled up towards your face.
Use Proper Mic Placement
Even with a high-quality USB mic, you may still encounter issues like muddy or distant-sounding vocals. Thankfully, these problems are easily solved with proper mic placement.
To ensure clear, focused sound, place the microphone on your desk with the Blue logo facing towards you. For best results, the microphone should be about 6 to 12 inches away from your face, and angled up towards your mouth.
Just remember; sitting too close to the microphone can cause bass frequencies to build up, making your voice sound muddy, while sitting too far away can cause your voice to sound distant or hollow.
If you need to stand farther away from the mic in order to incorporate visual aids or notes while lecturing, be sure to speak up as you get farther away from the mic—or adjust the mic input as you move around your space. Just make sure the mic is still pointing at you wile standing.
Optimize Your Mic Settings
Many USB microphones offer selectable pickup patterns, which control how much sound the microphone “hears” or picks up. For best results, use the “cardioid” pattern—this setting only captures sound directly in front of the microphone, which helps reduce distracting background noise.
Some mics, like Yeti and Yeti Nano, offer additional pickup patterns. Omnidirectional picks up sound in every direction, making it a perfect choice for group sessions. To learn more about the different types of pickup patterns, check out our blog for a detailed explanation.
Blue USB microphones like Yeti Nano deliver crystal-clear sound for remote learning and online classes.
Adjust Your Mic Volume
After selecting the appropriate pickup pattern, adjust the mic input so that your voice sounds loud and clear. Start by speaking into the microphone as you would during class, and then slowly turn up the knob until you see a signal on the level meters of your USB microphone or in your videoconferencing software. If you don’t see a signal, make sure you’re adjusting the mic input and not the headphone volume.
Increase the mic input until the signal on the meter turns yellow. If the meter turns red, your mic input is too high and your voice might sound distorted. If you see the meter turn red while speaking during class, turn your mic input down.
Reduce Reflective Surfaces
If you find that your voice sounds distant or hollow, it may be caused by the sound of your voice bouncing off of reflective surfaces in the room. Surfaces like windows, screens or bare walls and floors can create unwanted reflections that overpower the direct sound of your voice, making it difficult to hear what you’re saying. It’s actually the same reason your voice sounds better while singing in the shower—the reflections smear the sound of your voice, making it harder to hear when you’re out of tune.
Thankfully, a few simple items like curtains, rugs and throw pillows can help absorb reflections for a tighter, more focused sound. Instead of setting up in an empty office or spare room, try placing your computer in front of a window with heavy drapes, or a bookshelf full of books to help dampen the reflections.
Set up your computer in a room with curtains, rugs and other plush materials to reduce reflections.
Embrace the Mute Button
The mute button is your friend. Even when you’re not speaking, your microphone picks up and amplifies any background noise in your environment—anything from outdoor sounds like traffic or barking dogs to internal sounds like noisy HVAC units or computer fans. And with multiple people in a single classroom, the noise can build up quickly.
To help prevent this, everyone in attendance should be muted whenever they aren’t speaking. This helps keep noise levels down so everyone can focus on what you’re saying. Thankfully, Blue USB mics like Yeti and Yeti Nano offer convenient one-push mute buttons, making it easy to quickly toggle your sound on and off.
Follow these steps (and suggest that your students do the same) to help improve audio quality in your virtual classroom and ensure an enriching learning experience. For more information on eLearning and remote education, check out our blog.