How To Adjust Microphone Sensitivity

by Matthew David | Updated: 09/14/2023

How To Adjust Microphone Sensitivity

Have you ever been on a video call and had people ask you to speak up? Or tried recording your vocals only to hear a screechy, distorted mess? Chances are your microphone sensitivity was off. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! With just a few tweaks, you can get your mic sounding crystal clear.

What Is Microphone Sensitivity?

Microphone sensitivity refers to how well your mic picks up sounds. Mics with higher sensitivity can detect even faint noises and whispers. This is great for recording quiet instruments or capturing intricate details. But high sensitivity also makes your mic more likely to pick up unwanted sounds like background noise.

Mics with lower sensitivity only register loud sounds. You’ll have to project your voice to be heard. This avoids ambient noise but can make vocals and instruments sound thin.

Getting the right balance means crisp, full recordings without excess noise. Follow our guide to adjust microphone sensitivity on any device!

Checking Your Current Sensitivity

Before changing any settings, check your microphone’s current sensitivity level. Speak or sing at the same volume you plan to record at. How clearly does the mic pick up your voice? Do you hear any buzzing or background noises?

If your voice sounds faint and far away, your mic likely needs more sensitivity. If you hear distortion or clipping, it’s probably too high.

You can run quick mic tests on your computer using free software like Audacity. Record some audio then play it back while adjusting gain levels until you find the optimal sensitivity.

Adjusting Sensitivity On Your Devices

Windows

Windows makes it easy to customize microphone settings. Let’s go through how to change sensitivity on Windows 10 or 11:

  1. Go to Start > Settings > System > Sound
  2. Under Input, select your microphone
  3. Click Device Properties > Additional Device Properties
  4. Go to the Levels tab
  5. Adjust the Microphone and Microphone Boost sliders

Lowering these levels reduces sensitivity. You can also enable enhancements like noise suppression if available. Don’t hesitate to experiment to find what works for your mic!

macOS

Here’s how to change microphone sensitivity on Mac:

  1. Go to System Settings > Sound
  2. Click Input to see microphone options
  3. Select your mic then adjust Input Volume
  4. Lower the slider to decrease sensitivity

The input meter shows your volume levels in real-time. For clear recordings without peaking, aim for around 30%.

iOS/iPhone

iOS doesn’t have manual sensitivity controls, but you can switch between microphone modes:

  1. Open Control Center during a call
  2. Tap Mic Mode
  3. Choose Standard, Voice Isolation, or Wide Spectrum

Voice Isolation emphasizes your voice over background noise. Wide Spectrum captures all ambient sound. Use it when recording interviews or musical performances.

For Apple AirPods, pick which earbud acts as the mic. Go to Bluetooth settings > Tap your AirPods > Microphone then select left, right, or automatic switching.

Android

Unfortunately sensitivity settings aren’t built into Android. But apps like Microphone Amplifier let you control gain and EQ for recordings.

Install the app then adjust these settings:

You’ll get way more control over audio input than your stock mic app.

Other Devices

For wireless mics and headphones, sensitivity can depend on proximity. Keep them close to your mouth for optimal sound. Adding windscreens helps minimize plosives and environmental noise.

On webcams and laptops, sensitivity may be preset. If recordings are noisy, adjusting input volume in your video chat app often helps.

External mics usually have their own controls. Get to know your mic’s sweet spot for clear recordings every time!

Choosing the Right Microphone

Condenser mics are extremely sensitive, making them ideal for studios. They capture subtle tones but also amplify any background noise.

Dynamic mics are less sensitive. Their sturdy build blocks out vibrations, so they shine on loud stages.Dynamic mics like the Shure SM58 are mainstream for live performances.

For computers and smartphones, a USB or lavalier mic improves on built-in mics. Lav mics clip on so they stay close to your mouth.

Shotgun mics have tight directionality to isolate sound sources. Perfect when recording film on noisy sets!

Picking the right mic type and model for your needs goes a long way in optimizing sensitivity.

Optimizing Your Recording Environment

Where you record is just as crucial as what you record with. Minimize ambient noise for best results:

Condenser mics especially require controlled conditions. Dynamic mics hold up better for outdoor filming or live shows.

Experiment with mic placement and angles. Addressing the sound at your origin results in a stronger signal. But a side angle can also flatter certain voices.

Maintaining Your Gear

With proper care, your microphone will deliver flawless sensitivity for years:

Inspect mics that sound muffled or cut out. If issue persist after troubleshooting, it may be time for professional repairs.

Get the Perfect Recording

Adjusting microphone sensitivity requires fine-tuning your gear, environment, and technique. Keep these key points in mind:

With the right settings and strategies, you’ll capture rich, professional recordings every time. People will be asking you for audio tips when they hear your amazing sound quality!

For more microphone techniques, check out our articles on microphone placement and noise reduction. Happy recording!