Nothing ruins a Zoom meeting, Skype call or videoconference faster than poor audio quality. Whether it’s excessive background noise, incessant echo or just plain old bad-sounding laptop microphone, poor sound quality hinders communication and productivity. In some cases, it can even make you sound unprofessional.
That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you sound your best during online meetings. In this blog, we’ll show you our top five tips for improving the sound quality of your conference calls and online meetings for more efficient communication.
Use a High-Quality USB Microphone
Yeti Nano USB microphone
Not all microphones are created equal. Some microphones are designed for recording music in professional studios. Others are made for singing karaoke during happy hour. And some microphones—like the Snowball and Yeti series—are Skype-certified, meaning they're guaranteed to deliver high-quality sound for Skype calls and online meetings.
Yeti is the world’s #1 USB microphone and comes with everything you need to capture high-quality sound while working from home. Yeti features four selectable pickup patterns, including cardioid for solo conference calls, and stereo, bidirectional and omnidirectional for group calls. And with built-in controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute and microphone gain, Yeti puts total control of your sound right at your fingertips.
If you’re looking for a full-featured condenser microphone in a compact package, check out Yeti Nano. With cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns, Yeti Nano works well for joining a conference call by yourself or from a coffee shop. Plus, the compact design fits perfectly on any desktop and looks great on camera.
The Snowball series offers a more streamlined design for those on a budget. The classic Snowball USB microphone features both cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns, while the sleek new Snowball iCE USB microphone is cardioid-only, making it ideal for solo conference calls.
Best of all, Blue USB microphones are plug and play on PC and Mac. Simply plug them into your computer’s USB port and your conference call software should connect automatically.
Use Proper Microphone Placement
Place the microphone 6 to 12 inches away, angled up towards your mouth
While a high-quality condenser microphone like those listed above can certainly improve the sound quality of your voice for Zoom meetings and Skype calls, some problems are caused by poor microphone placement. Thankfully, both the Yeti and Snowball series of USB microphones feature built-in desktop stands that make it easy to adjust the angle of the microphone exactly where you need it.
Start by placing the microphone on the desk in front of you with the logo facing towards you. Ideally, the microphone should be about 6 to 12 inches away and angled up towards your mouth. If the microphone is too close to you, it may cause your voice to sound muddy and difficult to understand. If the microphone is too far away, you run the risk of sounding hollow or distant, which can also make you difficult to understand.
Use the Right Settings
Microphone pickup patterns or polar patterns
After finding the perfect microphone placement, it’s time to dial in your sound. First, check the settings on your computer. Make sure you’ve selected your USB microphone as the input source in your conference call software.
All too often, people have their USB microphone plugged in without realizing the program is using the built-in computer microphone. You can check your settings in Skype’s Preferences tab, under Audio & Video.
Next, it’s time to tweak your microphone settings. Most USB microphones offer a variety of switchable settings, including pickup pattern and microphone gain. Start by selecting the most appropriate pickup pattern for your type of conference call. To learn more about the different types of pickup patterns, check out our blog for a detailed explanation.
Next, adjust the microphone gain to make sure your voice isn’t too loud or too quiet. Start speaking at a normal volume, and then slowly turn up the gain knob until you start to see a signal on the level meters on your USB microphone or in your conference call software.
Continue to increase the gain until the signal on the meter starts to reach the yellow or red lights and then turn the gain back down a little. The gain should be set so that the meters reach the top of the green section during the loudest moments of your conversation, but never reach the red lights.
Use Headphones to Prevent Echo
Blue Mix-Fi headphones and Yeti USB microphone
One of the most common problems people face when using an external microphone for Zoom meetings or Skype calls is a repetitive echo.
If you play the call audio over your laptop or computer speakers, the microphone can pick up the sound, which causes other members on the call to hear an echo. In some cases, if the volume is high enough, it can even cause feedback. In these situations you may need to wear headphones.
Headphones or in-ear style products like AirPods can help prevent your microphone from picking up any of the call audio. Check out our Emmy-winning Mix-Fi headphones, which are also great for listening to music or watching videos at your desk throughout the workday.
Plus, headphones or in-ears offer more privacy when joining online meetings from public places like coffee shops and parks.
Use a High-Speed Internet Connection
Use a wired ethernet connection for reliable audio quality
One of the most important parts of any online meeting is a reliable Internet connection. Even a broadcast-quality condenser microphone set up by a professional audio technician won’t stand a chance against the dreaded “poor connection” message. In order to eliminate dropouts and lag, you’re going to need a high-speed Internet connection.
To ensure a more consistent connection, make sure you’re using an Ethernet cable to connect directly to your router. Wi-Fi is the mortal enemy of conference calls. Finally, close any unnecessary programs to save processing power and improve call connectivity.
Follow these five tips to improving audio quality for Skype calls and you’ll sound even better than the IT department during your next online meeting. For even more tips on how to improve your conference calls, check out our blog on How to Make Professional Sounding Conference Calls from Home.