One major hurdle that every Twitch streamer has to overcome is mastering the audio aspect of their stream. Mic settings, at times, can seem like a beast that’s too complex to conquer, but we here at Gaming Careers aren’t big on leaving boss battles unconquered.

Understanding the basics of OBS audio tweaking and the four main audio filters that are already waiting for you within the streaming software will help you put things into perspective. There is some work involved, it’s true, but once you’ve found your sweet spot, you’ll never have to mess with them again. And the upside? Your Twitch presence will serenade the masses with a voice that can’t be matched.

Video Guide


As with all of our guides, below I have included a full video tutorial if that is your preferred method of learning.

The three zones of the OBS volume meter are colored like a stoplight to help you get all your audio levels balanced correctly.

Understanding Audio in OBS Studio


To begin, make sure that your OBS is up-to-date. A lot of the settings that are covered below have moved around in recent OBS releases and I’d really hate to point you towards an option that you don’t have.

Use the “Help” tab in the OBS taskbar to “Check for Updates”. If you’re good to go, then so am I!

In the bottom toolbar of OBS, you should have a window called your Mixer. It’s usually the most animated window in OBS as it’s filled with bouncing bars that track your volume levels. These are called “volume meters”. If you’re looking at OBS right now, you’ll probably see the green bar next to “Audio Input Capture” (or whatever you named your mic) bouncing from left-to-right as your mic picks up your computer fan, or the creaking of the floorboards, or even your breathing! Removing these minor noises is just one of the things we’re going to remedy today.

Before moving on, you should understand what the different colors of the volume meter are communicating to you as a Twitch streamer. The three zones of the volume meter are colored like a stoplight. This should give you an idea of what to avoid, the red, but what about the green and yellow zones?

The yellow zone is your sweet spot. Meaning, when you’re speaking, the volume meter should be lighting up yellow the majority of the time. The red zone represents sounds that are too loud, and of course, there will be instances where your voice travels into the red zone, but think of it as a warning signal that things are probably too loud. Yellow is what it’s all about.

The green zone is where all other sounds should level out. Your in-stream music, gameplay sounds, and any other additional sounds should be lower than your voice so that your voice can be heard above these sounds.

With this newfound knowledge in mind, let’s become familiar with the three tools found below the volume meter of your Audio Input Capture. The largest toggle is the volume slider, which will allow you to, you guessed it, change the broadcasting volume of your microphone.

The speaker icon 🔊 is a familiar tool, right? With a simple click, you can mute your microphone. This is really useful if something from your real life comes barrelling through the door into your streaming studio!

And finally, we have the gear icon ⚙️. It’s with the gear icon that we’ll be accessing all the tools you need to get your microphone sounding like a professional setup. Without further ado, let’s click that gear icon.

Whether it’s for sheep or water, a gate keeps things out and lets things in. A Noise Gate works in the exact same way, but for the sounds that are traveling through your microphone.

The Noise Gate Filter


Clicking the gear icon should reveal a drop-down menu with several options for us to choose from. Everything we’re covering below will be found in “Filters”, so the steps we’re taking to create a Noise Gate filter will be almost identical when creating the other filters to follow.

After clicking “Filters”, you should be presented with an empty window with an equally empty column to the left of it. In the bottom-left, you’ll see a plus icon with a variety of options available to you.

(For those of you who’ve visited Gaming Careers in the past, a lot of this may look very familiar to our guide for applying LUTs and filters to a webcam. Well, that’s because the process is the same, but we’re filtering our voice instead of our face.)

Click the plus icon to apply the first filter and choose “Noise Gate” from the list. OBS gives you the option to custom name these filters, but they’re really fine as-is. Leave this named as its default “Noise Gate”.

We’re going back to primary school for a moment. Whether it’s for sheep or water, a gate keeps things out and lets things in, right? This filter works in the exact same way, but for the sounds that are traveling through your microphone.

Instead of letting every little sound broadcast to Twitch, a Noise Gate filter will completely mute your microphone (closing the gate) when the mic’s input goes below a certain decibel level and will only unmute (reopening the gate) when the volumes go above a certain decibel level.

A visual representation of a quiet sound trying to get through your new noise gate.

Relating this to the options presented to us in the Noise Gate window, the “Close Threshold (dB)“ is the level at which the mic will automatically mute (gate closed), and the “Open Threshold (dB)” is the level that volume has to rise past before the mic unmutes itself (gate reopened).

The key to this is finding what decibel those constant sounds usually peak. Thankfully, this is easy as pie.

In the Filters window, use the eye icon 👁️ next to Noise Gate to temporarily disable the filter. Return to OBS’s main window and take a look at your Mixer window. Observe the volume meter of your Audio Input Capture. Without talking, without typing, just watch that green bar’s natural bounce for about 10 seconds.

In those 10 seconds, what’s the decibel level where the green bars usually max out? -35? -40? It doesn’t have to be completely accurate, but you’ll need to choose a maxing-out point and make note of that number. My decibel level may not be the same as your own, so make sure to test this from your end.

Take this max-out number and add 5 to it (-35 plus 5 = -30). Use this number as your Close Threshold. Then add an additional 5 to this number. Use this second number as your Open Threshold.

These new settings mean that your Close Threshold is slightly louder than the normal white noise found in your streaming environment. On top of that, your Open Threshold is set even higher, meaning the only noises that would unmute the microphone are loud sounds like the sound of your voice. Perfecto!

(Note: After accurately setting your Close Threshold and your Open Threshold, remember to re-enable the Noise Gate filter by once more clicking on the eye icon in the Filters window!)

This is our first applied filter, so it’s best to run a quick test to make sure your Noise Gate is actually effective. Your friend the volume meter will be very helpful here. With your filter in place, watch that bouncing bar as you speak, and also when you stop speaking. When you fall silent, does the volume meter stop illuminating? If so, you’ve got yourself a working Noise Gate that’s blocking all that extraneous background noise. Though, you’ll also need to make sure that it’s not blocking the beginning volumes of your own voice. Does it ever not bounce to yellow when you begin speaking? If so, your thresholds may need some tweaking.

A Noise Gate simply cuts off the mic when you’re not speaking. Noise Suppression, on the other hand, will help reduce those same background sounds when you are speaking.

Noise Suppression


Using the gear icon near Audio Input Capture in the Mixer, we’re going to create another Filter. This time, select the “Noise Suppression” filter.

Noise Suppression…but didn’t we just create a Noise Gate filter? What’s the difference between these two?

A Noise Gate simply cuts off the mic when you’re not speaking. Noise Suppression, on the other hand, will help reduce those same background sounds when you are speaking. Your computer fan is still humming away when you’re talking, right?

A Noise Suppression filter will help you remove these noisy constants from your microphone when you’re speaking, making for a more clear and professional presentation. However, the Noise Suppression filter is not going to remove loud noises from your stream. This filter is great for nullifying the whispering sound of your air vents, but if John McClane is crawling around in said vents screaming “Yippie Ki-Yay, Mother-”, then don’t be surprised if your stream viewers hear every word.

Seriously, the Noise Suppression filter isn’t the answer to loud noises in your streaming environment.

With that in mind, use the slider to adjust the amount of suppression you’d like to apply to your microphone when you’re streaming. Set at a default of -30, you’ve got a good baseline to experiment with. 0 is without any suppression, while -60 dB being the most suppression you can apply.

Find the sweet spot, test it out by reading off a few lines into your mic in OBS, listen back to the recording, and continue to adjust until there’s little-to-no white noise accompanying your voice. When you’re all set, you’ll be ready to move on to our next filter.

Having a handle on your vocal range will ensure that you’re not deafening your audience. Compressors battle against eardrum-splitting by pushing loud sounds down towards a normal level.

Compressor


A Compressor filter is the third filter a Twitch streamer should add to their microphone through OBS. While the previous filters dealt with getting rid of unwanted sounds, a Compressor is used to enhance what’s already there: the streamer’s voice.

Using the gear icon, choose “Compressor” from the list of filters. Again, there are quite a few different options to toggle here.

If you aren’t getting excited on stream, then you’re doing it wrong. Without going into all that, one of the side effects of being a vocal, excitable Twitch streamer is that there may be a bit of shouting every so often. It’s a good thing!

Really loud noises (like celebratory shouting) can easily send your mic input into the red zone of the Audio Input’s volume meter. This can sound terrible, even painful to the audience watching your stream. Having a handle on your vocal range will ensure that you’re not deafening your audience. Compressor filters battle against eardrum-splitting by pushing every sound down towards a normal level.

When looking at the list of options within the Compressor filter, look first at the second option, “Threshold”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Like with the Noise Gate filter, we have to tell the Compressor when to kick in. Instead of an “open” and a “close” threshold, there’s only one threshold that will soften the sounds of everything that goes above that decibel level.

With that in mind, looking back at the first option, “Ratio” allows you to set what level of noise softening will be applied to sounds that go above that threshold.

Let’s put this to the test. Say I set my Threshold to -20.00 and my Ratio to 5.00. What that means is: Any sounds that go through my microphone that are louder than -20.00 decibels, only a fifth (5.00dB = 1.00dB because of my Ratio) of that noise actually broadcasts. If I had set my Ratio to 10.00, then only a tenth of my sound would broadcast, if it were over -20.00 decibels.

I know this can make a streamer’s eyes twitch (heh), but you only have to customize the Compressor filter once. After that, you’ll have a smoother sounding presentation, and your viewers won’t hear a loud ringing in their ears after they watch your stream. Worth it, I promise.

But, you do have to customize it. Every voice is different, so there aren’t any specific decibel settings that I can pass along. Start with your Threshold and find a good decibel level that you rarely ever go above. With this number plugged into the Threshold field, then begin to set a Ratio that works for you.

Addressing some of the other options here, “Attack” and “Release” speak to the frequency of the Compressor. How quickly the Compressor kicks in (after passing the Threshold) is determined by the Attack, and its default setting is 6 milliseconds. That’s pretty darn quick, but feel free to lower that even more if you’d like. Release determines how quickly the Compressor deactivates after your voice returns to below the Threshold. 60 milliseconds is its default, and that number works well. Again, play with it as needed.

The other options in the Compressor, while good, can be ignored. The two top-most options are your main priority.

The gain filter simply allows you to boost or lower the average volume of your microphone.

Gain


Sweet, sweet gainz. It’s the cherry on top. After all the dedicated work you put into the previous filters, we made sure to end this OBS audio guide on a small but effective morsel of a filter.

Creating your fourth filter should be a breeze by now. This time, create a “Gain” filter.

Lookie there; only one option! And it’s a slider!

The gain filter simply allows you to boost or lower the average volume of your microphone. Compared to the slider in the Mixer, this Gain filter helps you find a new base level that may be more comfortable than the levels you’re currently reaching (or not reaching).

Use a Gain filter if you’re too loud or not loud enough. Sliding to the right increases the volume of your input while sliding to the left will make you quieter.

Testing Your New Mic Setup


These four filters are incredibly useful for establishing your vocal presence on stream and they make you sound fantastic in the process. There are plenty more options to explore within the audio realms of OBS and Twitch, but these four filters will have you sounding like the Twitch full-timers. All it takes is just a bit of TLC. Which obviously stands for “Twitch Loving Care” in this scenario.

Before streaming with these new settings, take your stream for a test drive. Make sure your audio is tuned to perfection now that these filters are in place. Remember, OBS Studio can record as well as stream, so you don’t have to go live to test your new audio setup. I recommend this test recording be as close to the real thing as possible. Play a game, give commentary, have short durations of non-commentary, and get loud with it with some celebrations. Listening back to this recording will test the Noise Gate, the Noise Suppressor, and the Compressor to make sure all your bases are covered. Tweak your filters as needed, but if you like what you hear, then there’s only one step left to take.

Time to go live.

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