Possible Fix for Distorted USB Mic Audio

Kakujo

New Member
#1
Hello,

For a while, I've had a problem with distorted or static-y mic audio when the mic was USB, only when previewing, recording, or streaming in OBS, on my laptop.
Not streaming? The mic audio is fine.
Streaming? The mic audio has tons of interference.

I did the ol' google-fu and found several threads reporting this issue, while the only suggestions were to lower your webcam resolution and a few other things that basically did the same thing: lower the CPU usage. Personally, I tried a USB sound adapter, gold input jacks, and finally resorted to using VSTHost to "Noise Removal" the static out (which left the mic audio mostly free of distortion, but without any low end). But nothing actually FIXED the distortion.

Finally, I tried a USB express card, as someone suggested my USB ports might be dying, and this fixed my problem. No more interference when previewing, recording or streaming!

In retrospect, I think I've surmised what the issue was all along (in my case, anyway): USB bandwidth. I never use a webcam, so this wasn't anything I could help, but I do use an Elgato HD (USB capture card). I thought I had tested the stream without the Elgato, by setting it to a different scene that doesn't use it, but it seems that maybe it's still loaded regardless? Anyway, sure enough, I tested the stream without the captured console on and BAM: no interference. Turns out most laptops that have multiple USB ports are all on one internal hub, so this leads to many streamers overloading their hubs with capture cards, webcams and USB mics. Using a USB express card gave my USB microphone it's own hub, basically.

Just wanted to pass this along, in case it might help someone in the future.

TL;DR
Laptop + Too Many Things On Internal USB Hub = Depleted USB Bandwidth and Distorted USB Mic Audio. A USB Express Card Might Fix It.

EDIT: In case anyone's curious, I bought the "J-Tech Digital JTD-UH302E" express card.
 

dping

Active Member
#2
Hello,

For a while, I've had a problem with distorted or static-y mic audio when the mic was USB, only when previewing, recording, or streaming in OBS, on my laptop.
Not streaming? The mic audio is fine.
Streaming? The mic audio has tons of interference.

I did the ol' google-fu and found several threads reporting this issue, while the only suggestions were to lower your webcam resolution and a few other things that basically did the same thing: lower the CPU usage. Personally, I tried a USB sound adapter, gold input jacks, and finally resorted to using VSTHost to "Noise Removal" the static out (which left the mic audio mostly free of distortion, but without any low end). But nothing actually FIXED the distortion.

Finally, I tried a USB express card, as someone suggested my USB ports might be dying, and this fixed my problem. No more interference when previewing, recording or streaming!

In retrospect, I think I've surmised what the issue was all along (in my case, anyway): USB bandwidth. I never use a webcam, so this wasn't anything I could help, but I do use an Elgato HD (USB capture card). I thought I had tested the stream without the Elgato, by setting it to a different scene that doesn't use it, but it seems that maybe it's still loaded regardless? Anyway, sure enough, I tested the stream without the captured console on and BAM: no interference. Turns out most laptops that have multiple USB ports are all on one internal hub, so this leads to many streamers overloading their hubs with capture cards, webcams and USB mics. Using a USB express card gave my USB microphone it's own hub, basically.

Just wanted to pass this along, in case it might help someone in the future.

TL;DR
Laptop + Too Many Things On Internal USB Hub = Depleted USB Bandwidth and Distorted USB Mic Audio. A USB Express Card Might Fix It.

EDIT: In case anyone's curious, I bought the "J-Tech Digital JTD-UH302E" express card.
The best fix I've found for that is increasing the scene buffering to no less than 700ms and higher if you need it. static mic, mic cutting in and out usually means that there is bandwidth issues somewhere with the USB mic but increasing scene buffering usually fixes it.
 
#3
Depending on the mic driver you have, you're usually able to set the millisecond latency. This is CPU-bound (guessing) and the lower the latency, the worse it will sound unless you have a very fast computer. I've noticed distortion at 1ms even on very fast systems, but 2ms works consistently for my machines. 10ms is very safe; probably gonna be what you want if your CPU is handling both the stream and the mic's audio.
 

Kakujo

New Member
#4
Oh, nice! Thanks for the advice, dping and Saturn! Because I started having distortion issues again, so perhaps my theory was exploded...
 
#5
Depending on the mic driver you have, you're usually able to set the millisecond latency. This is CPU-bound (guessing) and the lower the latency, the worse it will sound unless you have a very fast computer. I've noticed distortion at 1ms even on very fast systems, but 2ms works consistently for my machines. 10ms is very safe; probably gonna be what you want if your CPU is handling both the stream and the mic's audio.
Is there any way you can do this on a mac? I want to try this and make sure no more sound distortion occurs for my streams too.
 
#6
Depends. Do you have a driver installed for your audio device that allows you to change the millisecond latency? Any of the more-expensive ones come with these options on Windows; dunno about Mac.
 
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