Audio Feedback: Reasons, Types, and Prevention

Are you frustrated trying to set up a sound system, but there is consistent buzzing and ringing from your speaker? Audio feedback is not preventable because there are always dynamic events occurring, such as changes within the room, the number of people in the location, how often people go in and out of the room, or what are the elements in your room can cause changes in their movements. This audio feedback can also spoil your party and ultimately embarrass you. So to fix this issue, this blog is made just for you!

But before diving into the tips, let’s determine first what causes audio feedback.

WHAT CAUSES FEEDBACK

audio feedback
Photo credits: Sandy Kawadkar

Feedback is an annoying sound coming out of your speaker and returning back into the microphone. Once this cycle starts, it just goes over and over again. And when this continues, you can cause irreparable damage to your equipment. 

Most of the sound emitted from a speaker comes from the front. But the speaker cabinet itself is producing a lot of sounds, causing the failure of vibration synchronization. The soundwaves bump and interfere with each other producing unwanted buzzing, especially in areas located in high amplitude.

MINIMIZING AUDIO FEEDBACK

As mentioned, audio feedback is not preventable, but it can be minimized to make it still pleasant in the ears. There are two most common methods of preventing audio feedback. You can choose either of the two or use them simultaneously to ensure that the sound emitted can’t break your eardrums.

πŸ”Š EQ

The next method is the EQ. To do this, you just put a sensitive microphone in the middle of a quiet room and turn it up until it starts to ring. Them, play with the EQ of your speaker. Pull each frequency down until the feedback stops. You need to control this method, so you must wait until you hear the start of a ring and pull down the frequencies slowly so that you’ll identify which is causing the feedback.

For either of the two methods, the position is the most important thing you need to keep in mind. Speakers are very sensitive, especially in relation to the microphone. You need to prevent sound from coming from your speakers and returning back into the microphone. In reality, you can’t remove this, but you can still minimize it.

πŸ”Š Speaker placement

By correcting the placement of the speaker, you must have it above the microphones. Avoid placing your microphone at the back or in front of the speaker because it can really fire out annoying feedback. But finding a spot for your speaker is critical to getting its best performance. Remember that soundwaves are scattered, and there are different intensities in certain corners. 

So, where to put your speakers to make them work harmoniously with your room? Continue reading the next section.

WHERE TO PUT YOUR SPEAKERS?

It is essential to determine where to put your speakers. You can’t just buy speakers of your choice and put them anywhere you like. This is the primary reason why audio feedback is released. So before you can damage your speakers, here are the ways how to properly place them in your room.

πŸ”Š Height

It is crucial to determine the height of your speakers. Remember that speakers disperse sound horizontally pretty well compared to vertical. To measure, get a tape and mark the wall where it targets your eye level while sitting. Then, measure your speaker and deduct that measurement from the height you marked on the wall. You already know how high your speaker must be to produce nicely spread sounds.

πŸ”Š Placement

Using the rule of thirds is essential in determining the proper placement of your speakers. Place your speaker one-third from the front wall, while your chair must be placed one-third from the rear wall. Though this position may seem inappropriate, you must remember that speakers must not be placed directly against the wall to prevent audio damage.

πŸ”Š Width

After you place your speakers in the correct position, it is now time to measure the distance between two speakers. Your sitting spot and the two speakers must be in a triangular position to determine the correct width. So the distance from your spot to the one speaker must be the same as the other speaker. 

Now, if you have already determined the distance and noticed that the other speaker is close to the wall, you will need a diffuser. You can place a bookshelf, plant, or anything just to prevent the sound from reflecting off a hard surface that can reduce the quality of the sound. 

πŸ”Š Listening

Listening to the speakers is a crucial step because you must have an excellent hearing. This is important so that you can still adjust your speakers before fixing them in their positions. The bass response is the first thing you need to listen to. This is to ensure that the notes produced are balanced and that no notes are converted to noise. 

To do this, listen to a piece of bass-heavy music and check how balanced the bass is. If the loudness of the bass is not balanced to your ears, move the speakers back if it’s too loud until the sound becomes smooth. 

πŸ”Š Imaging

It will help if you also listen to the depth of the music or do the imaging step. If the speakers are set up correctly, the sounds may be heard as they come from behind your speakers. To do this:

  1. Listen to vocal-heavy music.
  2. Choose music where the vocals are in the center of the mix. You can identify the depth if you can listen to the vocal as it’s singing between the speakers while standing in front of you.
  3. Adjust the speakers by turning them to the center if you think that the vocal doesn’t reach your likeness.Β 

THINGS TO CONSIDER IN FIXING AUDIO FEEDBACK

equalizer for audio feedback

Most of us like using a lectern-style microphone or lapel mic because it is easy to use and has no trouble in setting them up. But the problem is that they tend to pick up unwanted sounds everywhere. So what kind of microphone must you use to prevent feedback? What other components must you have?

πŸ”Š Cardioid

The cardioid microphone is one of the best mics you can use. The advantage of this microphone is that it has a very good pick-up at the front but is deaf at its back. So to get the most out of it, position the back of the mic where there is a lot of noise coming from. In this position, the mic will be able to reject most of the reflected sound and transform it into lousy feedback.

πŸ”Š Graphic equalizer

Having a graphic equalizer is essential to balance the sound in a room or venue. Remember that each room resonates in various ways and frequencies. This means that the set-up you made in one room can’t be used in another room. And this is where a graphic equalizer is needed. It will reduce the volume of each frequency independently until no noise is produced.

πŸ”Š Curtain

Another thing that can help prevent feedback is by putting a curtain at the back of the stage. This will help to absorb the bouncing of soundwaves, especially those that don’t have directions and are only scattered inside the room. 

BOTTOM LINE

There are various circumstances in which the speakers may sound really clear by just facing you with no placements and adjustments. But if you are in a situation where too much audio feedback is happening, then you must set up your speakers again and adjust them. The most common reason for feedback is your microphone and the room resonances, so it is crucial to match them all for your speakers to produce a smooth sound. Understanding the reasons behind audio feedback makes it much easier to solve or avoid. So if you have sensitive ears and don’t want to live with continuous ringing and buzzing, follow the techniques listed above.

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