iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

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SteveL123
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iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:04 am

Yesterday, I tried for the first time doing a recording with GarageBand on my new 27" iMac using its internal mic. The result was horrible! It sounded like it was compressed and had a very slow wow wow pedal effect to it, it was fading in and out. I made sure no plugins was enabled (EQ, Compressor, Reverb etc). I also adjusted the recording level to make sure it was not clipping, still was unable to get an acceptable recording. It always came out the same.

I was on the phone with Apple tech support twice. The first one wanted me to reset the NVM RAM (which didn't help) and also upgrade the OS to Mojave (which I declined).

The second tech support session was with a GarageBand expert. I was told it is due to the internal mic, which is tailored for the FaceTime camera for voice, not music, and that I need to get a better mic. I don't buy that explanation, I don't think the mic alone is responsible for the results I was getting. I have an inexpensive USB mic coming in a few days (Samson Go Mic). We shall see.

I could make a short recording and upload it here to demo the issue. How do I do that after saving the file in GarageBand? I am a totally new to Mac's .

If you have a 2017 iMac, could you please try making a recording with the internal mic and let me know what your results are?

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Paul Janssen
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by Paul Janssen » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:40 am

SteveL123 wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:04 am

I could make a short recording and upload it here to demo the issue. How do I do that after saving the file in GarageBand? I am a totally new to Mac's .
To export the file from Garage band click on the Share drop down menu at the top of the screen and select "Export Song to Disk". From there you can name the track, pick the location where you want to save it and select the format (for this exercise MP3 is more than adequate).

As for the Internal Mic, I totally believe it. I have never had good results using the internal microphone however have had excellent results using an external microphone with a seperate audio interface. It's worth noting that the microphone is actually located at the top bezel of the iMac (above the camera) so it doesn't point towards your sound source.

Good luck.

bert
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by bert » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:54 am

It sounds as if there's still a setting somewhere that automatically boosts the volume when there's little or no input. How does a voice recording sound? I must say I found Garageband version 10 pretty bad after the nice version 6. Hope it got better again.

Maybe you could try to make a recording with another program, like Audacity, to compare the results.

SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:10 pm

Paul Janssen wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:40 am
SteveL123 wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:04 am

I could make a short recording and upload it here to demo the issue. How do I do that after saving the file in GarageBand? I am a totally new to Mac's .
To export the file from Garage band click on the Share drop down menu at the top of the screen and select "Export Song to Disk". From there you can name the track, pick the location where you want to save it and select the format (for this exercise MP3 is more than adequate).

As for the Internal Mic, I totally believe it. I have never had good results using the internal microphone however have had excellent results using an external microphone with a seperate audio interface. It's worth noting that the microphone is actually located at the top bezel of the iMac (above the camera) so it doesn't point towards your sound source.

Good luck.
Thanks Paul,

I found an old post of your's viewtopic.php?f=39&t=83917&p=906392#p905759 where you uploaded a mp3 recorded with the internal mic/ GarageBand on your iMac. Your file is corrupted causing it to make occasional weird sounds but it does not have the same issues (compression, fading, wow wow effect) as my iMac. I'll be able to make a recording and upload it later tonight when it's quieter.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:03 pm

I don't think there is any built-in compression that would cause the kind of effect you are looking for, unless its something to do with the ambient noise reduction that is defaulted on in my machine; go to System Preferences -> Sound, select Internal Microphone and uncheck the Use ambient noise reduction, assuming it is pre-checked - see if that makes a difference. The only other system element I am aware of is in Applications -> Utilities, its called Audio Midi Setup - check there's nothing there to affect anything, there's nothing in my copy but that's OS 10.11.6.
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SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:51 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:03 pm
I don't think there is any built-in compression that would cause the kind of effect you are looking for, unless its something to do with the ambient noise reduction that is defaulted on in my machine; go to System Preferences -> Sound, select Internal Microphone and uncheck the Use ambient noise reduction, assuming it is pre-checked - see if that makes a difference. The only other system element I am aware of is in Applications -> Utilities, its called Audio Midi Setup - check there's nothing there to affect anything, there's nothing in my copy but that's OS 10.11.6.
Stephen, thanks for helping! I do not have "ambient noise reduction" in my sound preference.
This is what my sound preference looks like. Dragging the vol bar in sound preference cause a corresponding change of the volume bar in GarageBand.

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 6.46.31 PM.png
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SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:55 pm

This is what my Audio Midi Setup preference looks like:

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 6.44.43 PM.png
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SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:12 pm

bert wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:54 am
It sounds as if there's still a setting somewhere that automatically boosts the volume when there's little or no input. How does a voice recording sound? I must say I found Garageband version 10 pretty bad after the nice version 6. Hope it got better again.

Maybe you could try to make a recording with another program, like Audacity, to compare the results.
I have GarageBand version 10.3.1

Voice recording sounds ok to me. The first program I tried recording the guitar with was Photo Booth video, which sounded horrible. GarageBand was what I tried next, which, to my dismay, sounded just like Photo Booth. I have not tried Audacity. I'll check it out.

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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by ronjazz » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:25 am

Garage Band needs a USB preamp, as Audacity will, and also a decent quality microphone. I can't imagine getting a good recording through the built-in mic on any computer, and I've been recording with Macs for 40 years. Pick up an ART Dual Tube USB Preamp, or something similar. They range from $50-$300, but for most home applications, there isn't much need to spend more than $100 or so. A reasonable quality mic, either dynamic or condenser, will get you a very good song once you've learned positioning and proper recording levels. Almost any digital recording software will be fine with that input rig, whether free or the $600 Logic package.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:13 am

So Apple changed the Preferences there, and I would assume they wouldn't leave the ambient thing on anyway...or perhaps they did, because it defaults on in the earlier versions. Either way you need a separate microphone to hear yourself decently. The software will not be doing anything wrong here. Meanwhile do upload the clip with the artifact and then using the Samson in due course.
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by tormodg » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:25 am

While I also recommend getting a decent microphone, have you tried recording with your phone? Depending on which phone you have, you might get better results than you're getting from the computer mic.

Personally I use a Zoom H5 for mobile recording and a Røde NT1-A for home recording. Very happy with both.
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SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:41 pm

tormodg wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:25 am
While I also recommend getting a decent microphone, have you tried recording with your phone? Depending on which phone you have, you might get better results than you're getting from the computer mic.

Personally I use a Zoom H5 for mobile recording and a Røde NT1-A for home recording. Very happy with both.
I bought the iMac mainly to help improve my guitar playing. I have used my phone to record, which sounds a million times better than the 2017 iMac with internal mic. The iMac sounds with the wow wow warble and compression is so bad I can't listen to it, I'd give up and stop playing if I have to listen to it.

I just found this https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7964766 where it says the new iMac is doing ambient noise reduction in hardware. I hope there is a way to turn it off!

SteveL123
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:05 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:13 am
So Apple changed the Preferences there, and I would assume they wouldn't leave the ambient thing on anyway...or perhaps they did, because it defaults on in the earlier versions. Either way you need a separate microphone to hear yourself decently. The software will not be doing anything wrong here. Meanwhile do upload the clip with the artifact and then using the Samson in due course.
I did not get a chance to make a recording last night. The Samson Go Mic is arriving tomorrow. I will make the recordings after I get it. In the meantime, I should have the same audio issues if I play my guitar while using FaceTime w internal mic?

Do you have time to do a test with me via a FaceTime audio call? I have never used FaceTime or any kind of video calling before.

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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:55 pm

Paul Janssen wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:40 am
(......................)

It's worth noting that the microphone is actually located at the top bezel of the iMac (above the camera) so it doesn't point towards your sound source.

Good luck.
Per https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204392#2017 , the location and number of internal mics depends on year and model.

On my 2017 iMac, mic is on the bottom (does not indicate how many).

On the 2017 iMac Pro, mic is on top (again does not indicate how many).

On iMac's 2012 through 2015, there are dual Mics on top.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: iMac internal mic + Garageband = horrible!

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Oct 24, 2018 4:38 pm

I just opened Garageband (for the first time on this machine I think, usually use Logic) and recorded the same thing 4 times;

https://soundcloud.com/user-631557253/b ... st/s-zTgug

i. stereo with ambient noise reduction enabled
ii. stereo with ambient noise reduction disabled in Sound
iii. mono, ambient noise reduction enabled
iv. mono, ambient noise reduction disabled.

the effects is clear; in i. & iii. the noise background is lower but the artifacts are very pronounced, in ii & iv the background noise is quite high but the sound is actually OK, in fact I'm very surprised how good it is. I played harmonics because that should give the steadiest sound to hear effects against. I tried mono (selected within Garageband) in case there was a phasing issue - seems not. Its the ambient noise reduction, I think this is now a hardware feature and seems to be fixed and unchangeable.

Seems I couldn't upload an mp3 to this part of the forum.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
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