How to Fix Mic Lag on PC for Karaoke and Recording
August 20, 2021
Fix mic lag on PC without buying equipment with these easy tips to get your recording or karaoke party rolling. Getting your mic set up for your home studio is fairly straightforward — we’ll cover that, too, though — but sometimes the vocals come through a second late. When your vox come through late, they don’t work for recording at all and really frustrate singers at a karaoke party.
So we’ve gotta figure out how to fix mic lag! No problem. Read on below and we’ll get you all straightened out.
How to Fix Mic Lag on PC: Set It Up Right!
Mic lag and vocal lag — latency, it’s called — can be caused by lots of things, unfortunately. We can eliminate several possibilities by setting up correctly to begin with. Picking the right microphone is an obvious first move, and we can help with that here.
If you’ve got a cardioid studio mic like a Shure SM-48 or 58, you’re going to want a pre-amp, too.
Get a Pre-Amp
"What's a pre-amp? Why?"
If you use a gaming mic, it has a very low peak threshold and isn't easy to hear unless you "eat" the mic. If you speak up, let alone sing or yell, you will peak the hell out of the mic. Your voice crackles and gets all staticky, and you can't use that in a recording at all. The good thing about them, though, is that they don't need a pre-amp because they're not intended for anything more than talking at a mellow volume.
If you use a real mic, like one of the below, you'll start recording and right away notice that the levels are way too low unless you're shouting into it. That's because it's intended to take much more sonic information than the gamers' mic. Now, you can use your recording software to boost the volume, but A.) that can only go so far, and B.) you're going to distort your recording.
That's what the pre-amp is for. It will boost the volume of your vocals (or guitar, or whatever you're recording) before sending it to the computer for recording. It does this cleanly, clearly, and with ample room for control. They have inputs for .25" jack and XLR, and you can get specialized ones, too. They cost between 80-200 dollars for a good one, and they'll last forever.
We suggest the ART Tube pre-amp which was designed specifically for home studios. And no, we don't make money on recommends.
Oh! And don’t forget to get a second XLR cable to go from the amp to your mic. (They’re like six bucks for 10 feet).
Mic Latency, How to Fix It on PC and Win10 Without Buying Anything
Fix microphone lag on PC by changing your Windows sound settings.
Right-click the little speaker icon in the lower right corner of your screen:
Click 'Sounds,' then the ‘Recording’ tab, and then select ‘Microphone.’
Click the ‘Listen’ tab and uncheck ‘Listen to this device.’ Click ‘OK.’ (NOTE: this will stop you from being able to monitor your mic during recording. You’ll need to playback each take to hear if it’s a take you want to keep).
Go to the ‘Playback’ tab. Select your playback device and click ‘Properties.’
Click the ‘Levels’ tab. Unmute the microphone.
This can remove your delay and has hundreds of “Worked for Me” reviews at the Win10 support site.
Fix Mic Lag on PC, Win10 by trying different connections.
Fix mic lag at your home studio by troubleshooting your connections.
Are you using a Bluetooth connection between your mic and computer? Between your computer and monitor speakers/headphones? Try plugging in directly to eliminate some lag. This may fix your latency problem altogether, especially if your BT receiver is an outdated USB dongle.
Are you using an XLR-to-USB cable from the mic or pre-amp to your computer? Try changing the USB port. The convenient USB inputs on the front of desktop computers are notoriously laggy because they’re connected to the motherboard by flimsy little itty-bitty wires in there. USB ports soldered directly onto the mobo do a much better job of quickly handling data.
Your lappy or desktop may have as many as eight USB outlets or more. Some may be USB Generation 2, others Gen. 3, 3.1, 3.2 or higher. There are vastly different transfer speeds across all these. For instance, 3.1 handles about 5 gigabytes per second, whereas 3.2 can manage more than twice that.
Some ports are labeled with tiny lettering. Others are color-coded, often with blue being faster than black.
It’s easier to simply try the different ports, though. Taking it from one port to another fixes many USB issues, not just mics. Definitely try it.
Traditional Audio Ports, Phono, ¼”, etc.
Finally, you can fix your mic lag in your home music studio by trading out that USB or Bluetooth connection for a traditional audio connext.
Your desktop or laptop computer motherboard has an integrated sound card on it designed to handle all your audio. Pumping your mic straight into that might solve your lag. You’ll need an XLR-to-3.5mm cable for that. Not expensive.
If this still isn’t working and you’ve tried everything else above, and if you’re really serious about your studio, and if you have a desktop computer, then you may want to consider a dedicated sound card for your compy. That’s a whole other topic for discussion and we don’t have a soundcard comparison, yet. In any case, your soundcard should come standard with a traditional ¼” sound jack, the same used by electric guitars and some older (and/or crappier) microphones. For that you’ll want one of these cables. Once again, not expensive. (The card might be, though).
Fix Mic Latency Issues with a Little Persistence
Fixing microphone lag on your home music studio PC really comes down to persistence in troubleshooting. I promise you it’s a fixable problem, one which can be handled with time and maybe a little money, but certainly nothing you ultimately can’t afford.
Hope we’ve been a big help! Stay tuned for more independent music distribution and recording tips all year long.