My Problems with NVIDIA Broadcast

NVIDIA Broadcast

NVIDIA Broadcast is great, for the most part. You can remove noise from your microphone and speakers like magic and remove the background on your webcam like you’re living in a green screen void. But now that I actually have an RTX card to use it with, I’ve been somewhat disappointed with it. It’s good at what it does, but perhaps it’s too good. Let me explain.

I’ve been using RTX Voice for quite a while since it first got popular. I wrote about it here, and I was quite amazed with it at the time. Meanwhile, I coveted the NVIDIA Broadcast software that the RTX Voice got integrated in. While the camera background removal feature definitely needed an RTX card, the sound noise removal only needed a recent GTX card.

Now that I have an RTX card, an MSI RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio I bought from my friend, I got to try out the whole NVIDIA Broadcast suite after a few failed attempts at installing it. I ended up not using the noise removal, but I do use the background blur. Here’s why.

Noise Removal (RTX Voice)

When RTX Voice was first revealed, it was a game changer. That video of it being tested while the guy testing it banged a hammer on his table and lifted a fan to the mic was the best possible way to showcase its effectiveness. However, like I said, it may be too good at what it does, to the point that it will reject anything that doesn’t even remotely sound like a human voice.

Like in this video, it garbles anything that isn’t in the same profile and decibel range as your normal voice, even if it’s you shouting. (I can’t embed the video because it’s age-restricted. Please click the link [here].)

I then learned about the noise removal filters in OBS Studio. There are two of them — Speex and RNNoise. The former is less stringent than the latter, and I find myself using it more than the supposedly better filter for the same reason I stopped using RTX Voice, which was that it removed too much noise and introduced a significant amount of distortion.

All I need is to remove background noise like my air conditioning and the traffic outside, especially when there are fire trucks and ambulances passing by. The only problem with Speex is that it’s only on OBS Studio, so I don’t know as of right now how to embed it on other programs as well. I recently had to do a voiceover gig, and I had to record it on OBS Studio.

I can try setting up a VST on Voicemeeter Banana, the program I use to balance my inputs and outputs. I’ve tried following tutorials for VST, and they’re too complicated for me. I’m neither a musician, music producer, nor audio engineer, so I don’t have the requisite knowledge to parse through that. Perhaps in the future, as I try to learn more about making music (because it’s hard to find royalty-free music that I like), maybe I’ll learn that too.

Also, back when I was using the separate RTX Voice, I had to create a .bat file that opened it in Above Normal process priority because it actually adds more distortion and noise when it’s on Normal priority. It’s like it doesn’t work enough in Normal priority since it’s a background process and Windows normally prioritizes foreground processes. That made it quite finicky.

In any case, I’m no longer using the noise removal feature on NVIDIA Broadcast because it’s “too good” when I have the noise removal on max and not good enough when it’s anywhere lower than max. As for the speaker noise removal, my audio output is fine, so there’s no need for that.

Camera Background Removal

Of course, it was going to be far from perfect, especially with less-than-ideal lighting. But it was the one feature I looked forward to more than ray tracing and even DLSS. I wanted to be able to chroma key my webcam without having to put up a green screen, which is extra difficult here due to the layout of my living space.

My webcam is an old Canon Vixia HF R300 connected via HDMI to a USB dongle (because I’m not spending ₱6,000 on an Elgato Camlink for this purpose). I’m an advocate of using second-hand camcorders as webcams due to how cheap those HDMI to USB dongles have become and how most camcorders seem to have “Clean HDMI” — video output without the info overlay you tend to see on camera screens.

I’ve written about streaming gear recommendations which include using camcorders as webcams.

The problem with using such an old camera is its below-average low light performance, which yields lots of noise when I don’t have any lighting on. That can then interfere with the background removal, which then makes it visibly wonk out. The technology can only do so much, but it’s not as good as having a really good camera, more lighting, and a green screen.

The great thing with having chroma key as a streamer is that you can have your webcam blend in with your game or desktop since you don’t have your background in the way. This is great for your presentation as it makes your stream or video content look more sophisticated. However, I already have a layout for my stuff that I want to stick with, so background removal isn’t that big of a deal for me. 

What Do I Use NVIDIA Broadcast For?

It’s only used for my camera. I have background blur on to cover my messy space, and I plan to get some RGB LED strips to add more pizazz to my background. For me, this will be better than just removing the background altogether. I see wonky background removal all the time, and it really bothers the hell out of me, so I’m not joining that club.

I don’t use the microphone noise removal on the software at all, instead opting for the Speex filter on OBS Studio because it neither distorts my voice nor eliminates too much noise. Perhaps that’s a waste of the RTX, but it’s a graphics card — I paid for the better graphics performance, and NVIDIA Broadcast is just a bonus to me.

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