Have you ever sat down and wondered about the critical role communication plays in our lives? We need to have some form of contact with others: for a professional reason or, for simple, good-old recreation. In this digital era where the conveyance of one’s thoughts is of the essence, almost all multimedia devices have some kind of inbuilt microphone to facilitate easy communication. Even in our everyday lives, we often come across technical jargon like noise regulation, compression, noise gate, equalization, among several others, when talking about any audio output. An obscure yet neat feature that stands out from the rest is microphone monitoring.
What is Mic Monitoring?
Microphone monitoring, or mic monitoring for short, is a technique that transmits a user’s voice from an input device, such as a microphone, over to the audio output (preferably a pair of headphones). In other words, it allows one to hear their voice every time they speak into the microphone. This feature is helpful in all fields ranging from conference calls to multiplayer gaming, as it facilitates effortless communication between the parties involved.
Being able to keep an eye (an ear?) out for your mistakes
Imagine being in a meeting with a client that will make or break your career, where a single mistake in your speech marks the difference between commendation and admonition. In such a scenario, you would like to hear your own voice to ensure that everything goes swimmingly. Heck, even if you do end up making an error, you would be able to detect it and take appropriate actions to rectify it before the situation gets out of your hands!
Better communication with your teammates
Mic monitoring is imperative in multiplayer games, especially MMORPGs and FPS games, where good communication between squadmates is essential in order to succeed. Ever heard your friends claim that they are unable to listen to you over the sound of your gaming rig’s fans? You can use mic monitoring to identify any noise in your ‘gaming den’ and take prompt actions to eliminate it.
Hearing your own voice ensures that there is no yelling!
We’ve all had that one member in our group, be it a gaming session, an online learning classroom, or a conference, who constantly screams in their microphone whether the mic is Condenser or Shotgun. Mic monitoring is a simple yet convenient solution to this issue as it allows one to listen to their own voice to know whether they speak like a civil person or screech like a caveman!
A boon for content creators and streamers
For an audio content creator, sound and voice quality are of the utmost importance. Take, for instance, an ASMR studio. In order to cause synesthesia within the viewer, they would use a top-notch setup including – Audacity, an expensive studio-grade input system, et cetera. Mic monitoring would be highly beneficial to them as it would help in finding out any undesired elements in both their speech and background noise. Likewise, mic monitoring is also a godsend for amateur and even professional voice actors looking to search for any flaws while recording any tracks. Lastly, game streamers can also make use of this technology when recording their gameplay footage and reactions.
How to enable it on Windows 10
1. Right-click on the ‘speakers’ icon down in the taskbar.
2. Click on the ‘sounds’ option.
3. Navigate over to the ‘recording’ tab on the dialog box that pops up.
4. Right-click on your microphone and select properties.
5. Head to the ‘listen’ tab.
6. Check the ‘listen to this device’ box.
7. Click ‘Apply’ and then click ‘OK.’
How to enable it on Ubuntu
1. Open Linux terminal.
2. Type the “sudo apt install pavucontrol” (without the inverted commas) and press enter.
3. Enter your password.
4. Next, type “pactl load-module module-loopback latency_msec=1” and press enter.
5. Open PulseAudio Volume Control and go to the recording tab.
6. Select ‘Show all streams’ at the bottom.
7. Ensure that the microphone you’re using is selected in the ‘loopback to’ option.
See, it’s that simple.
Latency: The nemesis of all gamers
Now, you know what mic monitoring is, why you should use it and how you can enable it on two of the most used operating systems. However, one key issue remains unresolved – the latency, which is the delay between speaking into the microphone and being able to hear your voice via your headphones or speakers. Latency is not a deal-breaker in the case of office conferences or online classes but is undoubtedly an obstacle when gaming or creating content.
One way of fixing the issue of latency is using an audio mixer/amplifier like the Behringer MicroMON MA400 or PreSonus AudioBox USB 2×2 Audio Interface and then plugging your microphone and headset into it to remove any latency.
Another solution, especially for console gamers, is to buy a set of headphones with built-in mic monitoring like the HyperX Stinger, Turtle Beach Stealth 500X, Astro A40, or the Steel Series Arctis 9.