Monday, April 16, 2018

Front Panel Mic Input Generates Static

I recently learned that many computers suffer from high levels of static when using the microphone input on the front of the computer. My computer certainly has that issue, but I didn't realize it was  common.

The static is caused by interference from signals on other cables. The front microphone connector is connected to your mother board by a long thin unshielded cable. So, there are plenty of power cables for devices such as hard drives or USB that can cause interference. On my computer I was able to get rid of the static by unplugging the front USB ports from my mother board. However, that was very annoying when I wanted to use USB devices.

My laptop doesn't have the static issue for the microphone. I'm assuming that's because the connector is directly on the motherboard like the back connector on my computer. The back mic port on my computer also does not have static. However, it's awkward to access the rear ports.

The fix for my old headset was to buy an inexpensive (cheap) USB sound card. The USB sound card had mic and headphones inputs on it. Using this I had no interference at all. The microphone sounded great. This is the one I was using:

My wife needed a new headset and I took this as an opportunity to pass mine along and get a new one for me. I purchased the Sennheiser GSP 300 and tried using the same cheap USB sound card. However, the microphone in this particular headset wouldn't work with my cheap sound card. It worked fine plugged into a normal mic port but on in this sound card, not at all. My best guess is that the noise cancellation feature may be the issue.

This left me with two options:
  1. Get a better USB sound card for $50-$70 and hope.
  2. Get a headset with USB connectivity.
Since the next model up of headset was another $70, I figured I was better off to just pay for the better GSP 350 model and skip the risk of a better USB sound card having the same issue.

I think the moral of the story is to use USB connectivity for microphones with most desktop computers.

No comments:

Post a Comment