New Media Vocabulary: Noise Floor
While I have linked to some much more technical descriptions of noise floor below, for me (and I assume the average new media producer) the noise floor is the base level of noise in your recording environment. For me, this includes ambient wind noise outside my windows, the hiss of the pilot light on my gas fireplace, fans on my computers and probably a thousand other small noise sources I don’t even notice on a daily basis. All of these combined create my “noise floor”.
The noise floor is the overall hiss or buzz you hear in your recordings and in some worst scenario cases, it can almost overwhelm the “signal” you are trying to record i.e. your voice, your music, etc. The noise floor is also an issue when you find that you have recorded at too low a level and try to raise the overall volume of the recording to an acceptable level. Unfortunately, raising the overall level also amplifies the noise that was recorded beneath your voice or music. In the worst case, this noise will be so overwhelming that you will not be able to use the recording at all. Yet another reason to insure that you are recording at an optimal level when producing your audio or video podcasts.
You always want to try and reduce your ambient noise as much as possible, but without a professionally designed recording studio, there will be limits on how much noise you can prevent, so careful management of recording levels is a must.
For more information on noise floor:
- Noise floor at Wikipedia
- Audio Noise Measurement at Wikipedia
- Noise‑reduction Tools & Techniques from Sound on Sound
Previously on New Media Vocabulary: