What Mic Settings Do I Need? OBS/SLOBS/Other Audio Filters

As promised, here is part two, or technically part 1A of our new series based around streaming, and how to effectively stream with minimal out of pocket expense. In today’s session, we are going to cover setting up your Mic settings on your PC through your OBS of choice. Most streaming services have similar set-ups, so I’m going to focus on the main two, since they are very similar and the most popular. OBS/SLOBS. 

If you hadn’t noticed, SLOBS is basically OBS with a better user interface. It’s the exact same software with a pretty bow and a bit more user friendly, which was nice when I was a new streamer. OBS itself is more customizable, allowing you to make minuscule changes to everything with very little “set in stone” settings or walls in place, so a lot of veteran streamers tend to move to it once they feel comfortable with SLOBS. Myself, I tend to like the ease of accessibility of SLOBS and the pre-sets, CloudBot, alerts, etc. already built in with free overlays and scene transitions, so I just stayed with SLOBS and it’s a nice middle ground.

I will note, all definitions for filters will be pulled directly from Streamlabs.com, and referenced. I do recommend checking out this article, although it is a bit dated and is using older screenshots from previous version of the software, as it is where I pulled definitions:

https://blog.streamlabs.com/how-to-improve-mic-quality-in-streamlabs-obs-de3d16c13871 

So given most streamers or content creators have already gotten to the point where they have at least connected the mic into their streaming software, we are going to start from here. You’ll notice that, if you have already streamed or recorded with your mic, that you already sound “ok” straight out of the box. The problem with this is that you’ll most likely not have those high decibel levels being hit yet, or a lot of background noise happening at that moment. Play around and record a few videos by getting extremely loud, yelling, dropping your voice, stepping away from the mic or having someone do something in the background. By doing this, you’ll have a good baseline idea of what the mic can and will pick up without these filters, along with how your voice sounds before you apply these filters. Now let’s get started.

Clicking on the cog wheel “settings” beside the mic (Pic 1) that you have connected, you will see a menu like this (Pic 2):  

Mixer Box, with your Mic of choice, pre-settings
Settings Menu on your Mic with no filters

You’ll see that the filter setting has nothing on it. This is about to change. Click on filters, and add “+ symbol” these 3 things from the drop down menu to your filters: Noise Suppression, Noise Gate, Compressor. 

Noise Suppression

These 3 settings are going to be your baseline for what you want to base any modifications, once you have my general settings established. Each mic is a bit different and so is each voice, so minute changes might be needed if you feel you aren’t quite there yet.  

For filter #1: Noise Suppression, (pictured above) use either one of the two options that you feel your PC/CPU can handle the load of, while also streaming/recording and playing games. They both work very well, but if you have the PC power, go ahead and utilize the higher quality RNNoise. 

For filter #2: Noise Gate, this is where the settings will start to become a bit more confusing, if you have never dealt with audio before. Words like “threshold”, “attack”, and “hold” sound very fancy and high-tech, but in reality, they all just relate to your Noise Gate aka levels of suppression, and aren’t that complicated when you get down to it.  

  • Noise Gate definition – The Noise Gate filter works in a similar way to Noise Suppression in  that it gets rid of background noise, but it also offers a bit more customizability. If you are a  gamer with a mechanical keyboard, the sound of typing on the keyboard can be pretty loud  and be picked up in the mic fairly clearly, even with a Noise Suppression filter already added.  In this case, adding a Noise Gate filter can prevent this from happening 

Adding to that definition, consider the keystrokes as a decibel, which is what the threshold numbers mean. You want to set the threshold to a level that only picks up the decibels closest to the mic and suppresses the keystroke decibels, at the levels set. Open and Close are the “Over” and “Under” levels you have set. You want these roughly 5 decibels (db from here on out) apart, which creates a nice range of what is acceptable. I set mine at –37 Close and –32 Open as I tend to talk about 6-8″ away from the mic, but everybody’s voice and comfort levels are different so you can start here and play with the settings if you’d like. Anywhere in the –40 to –25 range should be acceptable for most users.  

The Attack is how long, in milliseconds, the gate kicks in once the db is met. Hold is how long the mic stays turned on once the noise falls below the dbs set. And Release is how long it takes to mute the mic, once the Hold is finished. These standard settings given when adding the filter are usually good as is (Attack 25, Hold 200, Release 150), so only mess with these very slightly if you are trying to improve it anymore. 

 

Noise Gate Settings

Moving on to filter #3: Compressor, you’ll see even more words that tend to confuse you, but it’s really not that complicated. Again, some of these filters work in unison and can sometimes overlap. If Noise Gate is there to help suppress outside noise, a Compressor is there to help suppress, or rather compress, your own voice. Gaming and Streaming is a loud, sometimes emotional venture, and our voices tend to elevate when we are filled with these different emotions. Raging, excitement…breaking things…these can all overwhelm the mic, and push your db to a high, distorting squelch. The compressor is there to reduce this to acceptable parameters. 

Here is the definition of each, pulled from the Stream Labs page: 

  • RatioThe amount of compression or gain reduction to apply to a signal that is above the threshold. A lower number will apply less compression, while a higher number will apply more. 
  • ThresholdOnce the audio reaches the set threshold, the compressor will begin to apply at the ratio you’ve set. When the audio is below this threshold no compressor filter will be applied 
  • AttackHow quickly, in milliseconds, you want the compressor to reach full gain reduction when levels exceed the threshold. 
  • ReleaseHow quickly, in milliseconds, you want the compressor to return to zero gain reduction after levels drop below the threshold. 
  • Output GainIt’s not unusual that your compressed audio ends up quieter than your average level of sound. Applying Output gain brings the average level of the source back up which can help improve its presence over-top of other audio sources. 
  • Sidechain compression: Can be used to lower the volume of your desktop audio when you are speaking. When you are done speaking, the desktop audio will return to normal. 

All of my settings pictured below are good starting points for most mics.  I recommend starting here (Ratio 3, Threshold –17, Attack 6, Release 50, Output Gain 4), and making small adjustments. Proof that it will be a constant battle: I wrote this article a few days after making my YouTube video, and some of these settings have slightly changed. IF you feel like your audio could use it, do it. Every voice is different, but I have researched many other blogs and YouTube videos, and most of the settings are standard for the average Creator, give or take a db or millisecond. The only thing I would note is the Sidechain/Ducking Source, as this is ENTIRELY up to the Creator. I tend to run my Desktop/Gaming audio low intentionally, as to not overpower my voice repeatedly and annoy the viewer. Some, like FPS streamers, will run theirs a little higher so the viewer can hear and feel the game better. This might be something to run if you are the latter, but again it is user dependent/preference. 

Compressor Settings

Finally, we have filters #4 and #5: VST 2.x Plugins. These are the only third party, “outside source” audio filters we will be messing with, so I wanted to keep these separated on the Source Filters window to reduce confusion. These two filters are going to help boost our Bass and Treble, giving our voice a nice, crisp and clean sound that will pop. Trust me, even if you have a strong voice, these filters give your audio that extra oomph that truly creates a High-Quality studio sound. For the plugins, Reaper VST, which is minimal background software that does not use much CPU%, go to: 

https://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/

From there, click on the 2nd download option, the 64 bit version. 

ReaPlugs VST 64-bit, highlighted in green

Once you go thru the download procedures, the software will not pull up, but it will be available to add under the filters. The first plugin filter we are going to add will be titled “VST 2.x Plugin”, click the + symbol to add, scroll down to find VST 2.x Plugin, click done, and you will click the drop down menu and find this file: “reaxcomp-standalone.dll” 

reaxcomp-standalone.dll at the bottom highlighted in dark tone

Once you click on this, you will click “Open Plug-in Interface” and this window will appear: 

Reaxcomp-standalone.dll window

Click the red circle 1, this is your Bass, seen in 1st picture below, and move to the bottom right box, below the smaller toggle labeled “Gain” in picture 2, and change this to a “2”. Do the exact same for the red circle 4, this is your Treble (pic 3), changing the box to “2”.

Red Circle 1 “Bass”
Change this box to “2” or “2.0” for BOTH 1 and 4.
Red Circle 4 “Treble”

You do not have to save anything or click anything else; it auto saves your changes. Minimize the reaxcomp window and you can now click the + symbol one final time, once again choosing “VST 2.x Plugin”, done, and choosing this file: “reafir_standalone.dll” 

Again, click “Open Plug-in Interface” and this window will appear: 

Stock settings, reafir_standalone.dll

Again, the far left being Bass, and the far right being Treble, click the very far left of the red line, the farthest it goes, and drag it upwards to the next white line “+12”. Do not worry about being exact. Do this exact same thing for the far right red line, dragging to the “+12”, as seen below: 

reafir_standalone.dll after moving far left Bass and far right Treble

Once you are done, again minimize, as it saves itself. Click done on the “source filters” window and you are now done with all the filters for your audio mic! 

You can click back on the settings menu beside your mic to reaffirm that all filters are in place, and it should have Filters (5), like this:

Mic settings menu, with all 5 filters showing

One final step, go down to the green, yellow, red meter below your mic in the mixer box of your SLOBS window, and move the toggle to where, as you are talking normally, the meter is reaching the max green, barely touching the yellow. This will set your audio to a nice even level, not too strong, and balance out your stream nicely. 

Mic volume, with room to adjust if needed.

 

Whew! That was a lot harder to type out than I thought…as I sit here at 4am knowing my kids are going to wake me up briiiight and early in a few hours 😊. Anything for the reader…But on a serious note, I hope you all loved the article, as it provided a little more in-depth knowledge of what these filters truly are doing that my YouTube video didn’t cover. I hope you all enjoyed and make sure if you are more of a visual learner, to check out the YouTube video I have posted on the website and on my channel, Pat’s Tech Talk, where we cover each of these steps on an actual OBS scene, along with audio differences and comparisons to really bring home the impact of these filters. Ya’ll have a fantastic day, and share like follow subscribe 😉 

Love you all 

Pat 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *