What Is Microphone Monitoring (Beginner’s Guide)

If you have started using a microphone recently, there is a lot that you would need to learn. These devices are quite complex and offer tons of features which can be overwhelming for those who are just starting out.

You will have to master different features, understand specifications, and learn how to optimize the performance to get the best results.

That said, there is no need to haste, instead take baby steps and make your way up. And one of the best ways to start your way up is to understand what is microphone monitoring.

Microphone monitoring is a very basic technique that can make a significant difference to your recording and in this piece, we will discuss everything there is to know about it. So, let’s get to it.

What Is Microphone Monitoring

What Is Mic Monitoring?

In simple terms, monitoring what the microphone is recording in real-time via headpiece is microphone monitoring. It enables you to listen to exactly what the microphone is recording and make the required adjustments in real-time, which saves a lot of time in post-production.

Typically, people who have never used a microphone before experience all sorts of problems. Sometimes, the audio is too loud, and at others, it is too faint, either way, it does not do any good to the users.

Using microphone monitoring will allow you to adjust the microphone so you do not experience the said problems in the post-production. 

How Is Microphone Monitoring Done?

Now that you know what mic monitoring means, let us help you understand how you can get it started. You see, there are two basic types of microphone monitoring.

The first one involves connecting the headset directly to the microphone. However, the microphone must have a port for audio output for you to be able to use this feature.

Unfortunately, it is not available in most budget and mid-range microphones, but it is not a problem because there is another way to monitor your microphone.

The second method involves monitoring the microphone not from itself, but from the device it is sending signals to. It can be a smartphone, desktop, camera, gaming console, or any other device that you are using.

How To Enable Microphone Monitoring In Different Operating Systems

Let’s look at the steps you can follow to activate microphone monitoring on different devices. Although it is self-explanatory, we must mention that microphone monitoring cannot be done without a headset, hands-free, or earbuds.

1. Windows PC and Laptop

To start microphone monitoring on Windows PC or Laptop, you must connect the microphone and headset to the device and ensure both of them are working. Next, open the control panel and open “Hardware and Sound”, followed by a click on “Sound”.

Click on the “Recording” tab, and open the properties of the microphone you are using. Finally, find the “Listen” tab and check the box that says “Listen to this device”. As soon as you apply the settings, you will begin to hear the voices coming from the microphone.

2. PlayStation 4 and 5

You can also activate microphone monitoring on PlayStation 4 and 5. Gamers who stream their games online live will benefit from this feature as it enables them to control their pitch, loudness, and features such as the background noise of the recording.

Sony calls this feature “Sidetone” and typically as soon as you connect a compatible headset, it is activated automatically. However, in case it is not working you can activate it by going to the settings from the home screen.

  • Navigate to “Devices” followed by “Audio devices” in PS4 and if it is PS5 open “Sound” and then “Audio Output”.
  • You should find the “Sidetone Volume” option on both gaming consoles. Checking the volume level will activate the microphone recording on both devices.

3. Xbox Console

Similar to Playstations, Xbox consoles also offer microphone recording which also automatically activates when you plug in a compatible headset. But again, if it does not turn on its own here is what you can do.

  • Connect your headset or other audio output device with the console.
  • Head to the “Xbox button” from the home screen using your controllers and open “System”.
  • You should see the “Audio” option alongside some sliders to manipulate it. You can monitor microphone monitoring by adjusting the last slider which will be titled “Mic Monitoring” 

4. Mac

You cannot access microphone monitoring directly from Mac devices because Apple does not allow it. However, there are third-party free applications that can help you get microphone monitoring on Mac devices as well.

The most popular applications for the said purpose include QuickTime and GarageBand. While these two applications are safe and developed by reputed companies, if you are choosing any other software, ensure that it does not want unnecessary permissions and does not compromise your privacy.

Benefits of Microphone Monitoring

The major benefits of microphone monitoring include offering you the ability to adjust the microphone in real-time to get the best results. The specific benefits you can get from this feature in different situations include;

1. Real-Time Troubleshooting

We have discussed it several times in this article only because its importance cannot be overstated. You see, monitoring what the microphone is recording in real-time not only saves post-production time but also improves the quality of the audio.

Be it gaming, vocal recording, or voiceover recording, microphone monitoring will help you optimize your output.

In fact, it is exactly why you must have noticed singers wearing a headset while they are recording their vocals. It helps them understand the mic cut-offs, and how far or away they are from the microphone so they can adjust accordingly. 

You can replicate the same in your gaming or podcast setup so the listeners get quality audio that is free of background noise, evenly toned, and most importantly clear.

2. Voice Modulation

Voice modulation is important when you are playing multiplayer games online. Most gamers use a noise-canceling microphone, but the sound of games tends to be too loud, which can easily increase your tone subconsciously.

Furthermore, if multiple people start to speak at the same time, it can also increase your volume and make others uncomfortable.

Microphone monitoring helps you regulate your voice as you are listening exactly how the others are receiving the audio. So, you will be able to modulate the voice at a volume that is audible but not annoying to the other players. 

The same is also true about podcasts where if you put the microphone too near to the speakers, the sound tends to become annoying and uncomforting – something that is challenging to adjust in post-production. However, using microphone monitoring will help you avoid this problem.

Disadvantages of Microphone Monitoring

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While we have discussed what is microphone monitoring and the benefits it offers, it must be mentioned that it can be a nuisance at times. So, you must be familiar with the drawbacks as well, which include:

1. Distractions

Distraction is one of the main problems that gamers will experience while they have activated microphone monitoring. You see, in most multiplayer shooting games you have to be quite vigilant about the voices coming from the surroundings of your characters in the video games. These sounds are typically quite faint, and the distraction of hearing your own voice can distract from them. 

Furthermore, there is a problem of latency as well. While it is not an issue in premium wireless and budget corded headsets, using a budget wireless headset will present this particular problem. You will hear your voice with a bit of delay, which can be very annoying.

2. Echo

Another major problem that comes with activating microphone monitoring is Echo, which not to mention, can be quite annoying and uncomfortable. It is because the receiver of the headset can capture the sound coming from the earpiece and create a feedback loop.

Not only it distracts you, but also does not allow you to hear clearly which makes the entire point of the microphone monitoring moot.

That said, the problem can be fixed by not using the microphone that is built-in in the headset. Using a separate microphone and keeping it at a little distance from the headset will prevent the microphone from capturing the sound coming from the headset and prevent the echo.

If you are looking for a quality microphone for gaming, we have another piece on the best gaming microphone ready for you.

Conclusion  – What Is Microphone Monitoring

Microphone monitoring goes a long way in improving the audio that you are recording. It allows you to make real-time changes to your setup so you can record audio that is not only free of interference but also contains an even voice.

There are several applications to these features including live streams, podcasts, vocal recordings, and more. However, it also comes with certain disadvantages which should be kept into account before activating this feature.

That is all for this guide. We hope it has discussed everything you needed to know about what is microphone monitoring. 

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