Audio quality can make or break an otherwise well-shot video. Whether you are filming a tutorial, a screencast, a vlog, or a performance, if the sound is good, you can keep your viewers with you for longer. Audio issues can be more frustrating than you think for those watching. With the plethora of competitive resources online, you can be certain that tolerance for bad quality is pretty low.
After putting all the hard work into your video, the last thing you need is to find yourself in a situation where you wished you had recorded your audio differently. The good news is, you can counteract any potential issues with the right tools.
The room you will be recording in is the number one thing you need to investigate. Clap a few times and listen to the amount of echo bouncing around, as this will be even more pronounced in your video. Try to identify where the prominent reflections are coming from. Are there more reflective surfaces in the room like windows and hard floors, or soft absorbent ones like carpets and sofas?
Sometimes heavy reflections may serve a purpose. See in the video below, how room acoustics create a natural reverb which makes for a truly emotive performance. But if you’re shooting an explainer video, you will want to avoid them.
You can improve the acoustics of a room by mounting absorbent foam panels on your walls. These usually come in various forms and densities. If you don’t want to invest in acoustic treatment just yet, see how Roman managed to reduce room echo in his home studio using various soft materials he already had. Jump to 4.26 to hear the improvement in sound quality – truly impressive.
Depending on the type of video you are recording, there is usually the right type of microphone to suit your needs. If you want great audio, try not to use your camera’s built-in microphone. There are microphones to fit every budget and the audio quality you will be getting is well worth the investment.
There are different types of microphones to consider depending on the types of videos you will be making and your setup. A lavalier or lapel mic is an affordable solution you can plug directly into your camera. If you are talking in your videos and are on the move, just clip it on and you’re ready to go.
Another choice you can plug directly into your computer or soundcard is a USB mic like the popular Blue Yeti. Consider this mic for sit-down videos, screencasts, podcasts, and voiceovers in a studio environment. This microphone is also a YouTubers’ favorite.
Instead of a USB mic, you can go for an XLR cardioid large-diaphragm mic and plug it into your soundcard. These are the mics singers use and can range from less than a hundred to thousands of dollars. Again these are great for any voiceover or vocal performance.
Another type is shotgun mics, they can be hyper-sensitive and used when you want to capture a more distant sound source, for example, a speaker on stage. You can even use these in combination with a lavalier to capture the sound of the room and your speaker at the same time. If you prefer to add a shotgun mic straight onto your DSLR camera and not have to worry about wires and wireless transmitters, the Rode VideoMicPro is a great choice.
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For recording sound in any environment with great quality, you can also use a portable sound recorder like the Zoom H4n. It has two built-in condenser microphones you can use, making it an all-in-one solution especially for foley recordings, it also has 2 inputs for an XLR mic (you can even record instruments).
You can always pick a quiet time of the day for your recordings, especially if the room you are recording in is facing a busy street. Try filming your videos during the early hours of the day, weekends, and even late at night. If electric appliances or your AC unit are making noise, try turning them off during the video or pick another spot where your mic can’t pick them up. To see how your room sounds, simply record it during the hours when you plan to shoot and listen back. Is it picking up unwanted sounds, and is there anything you can do to improve?
It’s best to ensure you have a good audio source before adding any noise removal inside your video editor or audio program. However, it’s still an excellent choice if you run into any surprises and wish to remove unwanted background noise.
If you are in any situation where you wish to record audio direct-to-camera there can be no room for error with your audio pickup. If you are recording an interview, connecting a lavalier mic to your camera is the easiest choice, you can even get a headphone splitter to connect two mics. If you are moving around during a presentation, consider using a wireless lav mic to get the best sound possible. If you are a correspondent or are doing a voiceover in a hotel room, place a pillow about 4 inches behind your microphone to absorb early reflections. You’ll be surprised to see how much cleaner your audio will sound.
You may be recording a commentary or shooting an explainer video in the form of a screencast. For this purpose, you can connect a USB or an XLR mic to your computer. If you are recording a screencast, your screen recorder will detect the microphone and allow you to record either simultaneously or separately directly into the program. Add sound treatment in the room you will be using for most of your recordings, but be careful not to over-dampen your room – you still need some of those reflections to add life to your recordings.
There are many ways to attach great audio to any video if you follow these simple steps: remove unwanted reflections with sound treatment, choose a great sounding mic, pick a quiet time to shoot, and use noise removal built into your software for stellar audio. Sounds awesome!