Blog Graphic: Record Video with Good Audio

How to Record Clear Audio for Video: Simple Tips and Tricks

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Your videos are like a living calling card or CV. That’s why it’s important to know how to record clear audio for video. 

You see, every video you post is an opportunity for people to judge you. Yay! It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. When you work at getting your videos up to a certain standard, the audiences most valuable to you will see your content is worth their time and interest. 

Interestingly, good audio is one of those not-so-little details many video creators gloss over. 

The internet is all kinds of lousy with videos weighed down by terrible audio.

As entrepreneurs ourselves, we know that getting and keeping the attention of audiences is everything. It’s not ideal to be ignored because your audio is hard to understand or irritating. That’s why we are sharing the basics of how to record clear audio for video. 

In this blog, we’ll go through the fundamentals of how to get good audio on video, so you can be both heard and seen in your niche to bring in higher revenues with your content.

Here’s what we’ll be tackling:

  1. What is Good Audio—understanding what constitutes good audio.
  2. Do I Need to Buy a Microphone—chances are the device you’re recording your videos with can use a bit of help in the audio department.
  3. What’s a Good Microphone for Recording Video—smartphones to mirrorless cameras, there’s a microphone for every recording device.
  4. How to Record Video with Good Audio—simple techniques for getting the best sound for your videos.
  5. Recording Audio for Video Checklist—a handy step-by-step checklist to help you get clear, crisp audio each time you shoot video.
Bad audio is often a silent flaw in videos. You aren’t always aware of how it can scuttle your connection with audiences.

Viewers are more likely to forgive bad video than bad audio.  

While subpar video can drag down the viewing experience, if the viewer can follow what’s being said it still holds value. However, if the viewer struggles to hear what you’re saying, there’s no point sticking around. 

That’s not to say we’re giving poor video quality a pass. All elements of your video—the message, the delivery, the images and the sound—should be top-notch. We’re just reminding you not to forget the audio, which can be easy to let slide. 

The audio of your videos can determine whether viewers continue watching you or whether they click away to someone else’s content.

What is Good Audio Anyway?

Bad sound can take many forms. Audio can be too loud, too soft, drowned out by external noises or muddied by distracting echoes. 

So what does good audio sound like? This will help you appreciate what standard you’re shooting for when recording audio for video.

Good audio is the capture of clean sound at the right recording level, so viewers can hear and follow what you’re saying.

Do I Need to Buy a Microphone?

Even the most sophisticated cameras with in-built microphones need help with sound recording.  

At the more modest end of the price scale are smartphones and mirrorless cameras. Even though many mirrorless cameras have advanced video capabilities, their native microphones can have serious limitations. The same is true of smartphones. 

The built-in microphones of smartphones and mirrorless cameras don’t generally produce solid, clear audio. These microphones have a limited range and a tinny quality to their sound. Additionally, they can pick up background noise further compromising audio quality. They will do in a pinch, but it isn’t ideal to lean too heavily on them. 

For most entrepreneurs creating video content, smartphones and mirrorless cameras are the gear of choice. They’re reasonably priced and, more often than not, are great for a one-man/woman operation. So, while they can record sound if you want to shoot with good-quality audio, you’ll need to spring for an external microphone. It’s just the best way to record audio for video. 

Before diving into what kind of microphone is ideal, it’s good to first have an ear for the different types of mics on the market. 

Omnidirectional microphone – This microphone gathers sound from all sides and directions. Omnidirectional microphones are the best choice when an audience needs to hear sounds from multiple sources. For example, a musical performance. These are ideal for shooting the B-roll that will enhance the quality of your content.

Directional microphones – Such microphones are designed to record sound directly in front of it. They’re commonly used in close-up scenarios like interviews or solo on-camera bits. 

Both omnidirectional and directional microphones come in many different formats. 

Shotgun microphone – this microphone is directional in design. It comes in all shapes, sizes and price points. 

Lavalier microphone – Also known as a clip-on mic, it can be a miniature wired mic clipped directly to your clothing or one with a transmitter and receiver. The transmitter, as the name suggests, transmits sound to the receiver which feeds it into your video recording device. A lavalier microphone can be either omnidirectional or directional. 

Hand-held microphones – You’ve no doubt seen these on television with presenters holding and speaking directly into them. This directional microphone can also be mounted on a desk stand. 

What’s a Good Microphone for Recording Video?

always being asked by our audiences, what’s the best microphone for recording videos?

We usually don’t identify any ONE microphone as being the best. What we can do is suggest a good microphone for recording video based on our experience. Any gear that’s recommended we’ve personally used.

So, here’s a look at the microphones in our video gear toolkit. We produce many varieties of videos for our business and many different clients. 

Rode Wireless GO Compact Digital Wireless Microphone System
This wireless mic is one of the more exciting audio options on the market. It lives up to the “compact” in its name and can work with most smartphones and mirrorless cameras with the appropriate attachments.

You can clip the microphone or transmitter directly to your clothing or, if you’re fancy, purchase an additional wired Lavalier microphone to plug into the rode mic. The receiver clips on easily to most cameras. 

You can charge both the receiver and transmitter through your computer with the provided USB cables. At just about $200, the Rode Wireless Go Digital Wireless Microphone System is a good option for recording audio. This system can also be adapted for use with a smartphone with the appropriate attachment.

For the more budget-conscious smartphone video shooter, there’s the Hollyland C1 Wireless Microphone System: This wireless mic system is the perfect option for the startup content creator. With two wireless microphones and options for a USB-C (Android) and a Lightning connector (iPhone), this inexpensive system can turn your smartphone into a content-creation powerhouse. 

The quality of smartphone video gets better with each new iteration of established brands. For the time being, though, there are still boundaries on the quality of audio a phone can record. If you’re using your phone to create videos for your business, getting a special-purpose microphone is a good investment. 

Rode VideoMic Pro Shotgun Microphone
This is a neat little mic we’ve found invaluable for shooting with our mirrorless camera. Mounted directly onto the camera, it picks up great audio and is easy to set up. 

It’s a directional microphone but there are range limits. It’s much shorter than a full-sized shotgun mic so you need to get a bit closer to the camera for clear audio. When it comes to shooting B-roll for our videos this mic never leaves our kit. And we’re huge fans of B-roll for levelling up the quality of video content. 

Now, there are several other mini-shotgun microphones on the market. This is, however, a model we’ve used for several years so we’re pretty comfortable green-flagging it. 

So, which option is a good microphone for recording videos?

That’s a perfectly reasonable question given all the choices we’ve presented here. We can’t get away with merely saying, it depends. In a way, though, it sort of does; budget, business model, video types—these are all considerations when deciding on a mic. 

We use different microphones depending on what we’re shooting. With that said, our go-to mic has always been the wireless Lavalier. It’s convenient, portable and works well for both indoor and outdoor situations. A lavalier mic is the easiest way to get clean and clear audio. We’re particularly attached to this mic because it considerably reduces echo that’s bound to crop up when shooting in the home environment.

The Lavalier mic is not the only one in our toolkit, but it’s certainly the one with the most mileage. We recommend this mic for anyone just starting with video. You can either get an inexpensive wired Lavalier clip-on, which can be plugged directly into your smartphone, or a wireless Lavalier microphone with a transmitter and receiver for your mirrorless camera. 

How to Record Video with Good Audio

Choosing the best microphone is just the first step in recording high-quality audio. There are several other factors involved.

Position your microphone properly
How you use your microphone will determine, to a large extent, the performance you get out of it. You always want to set up your microphone close to the audio source, which will be you.

If you are using a shotgun microphone mounted directly on your camera, you’ll need to set up the camera fairly close to capture clean, clear audio. Three to four feet between yourself and the mic is what we’d recommend. 

Be mindful of where you’re using this mic outdoors as high winds and competing sound can complicate things. 

Placement of a Lavalier microphone
The Lavalier microphone is also referred to as a lapel mic. That’s because it’s most often clipped to the lapel of a jacket. 

If you’re wearing a t-shirt, sweater or any other kind of garment, run the microphone (if wired) under your clothing and clip it to the neck of whatever you’re wearing. That way the wire is obscured for a tidier look on camera. 

Lavalier mic tip: If you’re shooting outdoors with a wireless mic, high winds can make a complete mess of your sound even with a windscreen. You can combat wind distortion by clipping the mic on the inside of your shirt. 

Choose a quiet spot
Directional microphones are great at focusing on the source of sound directly in front while excluding noises from the sides or behind it. There are, however, limitations; loud background noises will be audible in your video. 

Choose the quietest room if you’re shooting at home or in the office. Pay attention to the times of the day when there’s the least noise. 

When you’re shooting outdoors, scout the location the day before to identify any possible noisy interruptions. Listen out for street traffic, dogs, lawnmowers and anything that might be picked up by the mic. Once satisfied that the location is relatively quiet, try to get there early in the morning before the wind picks up. 

Switch off devices and appliances
When shooting indoors, turn off any devices or appliances that generate noise before you start recording your video. Fans, air conditioning units, and cellphones can all generate sound that will stand out in your video.

Even though our home is in the tropics, we usually turn off our AC units to get the cleanest audio possible. For that reason, we shoot during the coolest period of the day—early in the morning.

Reduce echo
Unfortunately, strong echo is a scourge in many online videos. It diminishes audio quality and, when it’s particularly bad, it can be distracting for viewers.

Hard surfaces in a room make for an excellent echo chamber. Your voice bounces off those surfaces before going into the microphone, creating an echo. Fortunately, there are easy ways to reduce echo in videos.

There are usually books around in many home offices that double as a makeshift video set. Books are quite effective as echo dampeners. 

We’ve also tackled annoying echoes in our recording spaces by muting hard surfaces with plush blankets and cushions. These additional dampeners are best placed outside of your shot. It’s not ideal for viewers to be looking at you ensconced in a cushion and blanket fort. 

Use headphones
Before hitting the record button, it’s always good to use headphones to listen out for sounds that shouldn’t be there. They are handy for checking your mic levels and uninvited background noises. 

Do a test recording
We’re big on doing test recordings as they help us avoid potentially massive headaches in the edit. Do a test recording of your voice and play it back to hear the sound quality. It’s a step we never skip.

Sometimes, it could mean the position of the mic may have to be adjusted. Perhaps a few more cushions or an extra blanket would do a better job with echoes. More often than not, a test recording might clue us in on a rattling or humming device we forgot to turn off. 

Project your voice
The way you speak also influences how clear your audio is for video. You want to speak with clarity and energy. Don’t yell, but project your voice. 

Not many entrepreneurs dabbling in video think about how they’re speaking on camera. By paying attention to how you project your voice, you have an advantage over competitors. By the way, competitors aren’t just people in your niche, but pretty much every video out there. 

Recording audio for video checklist

Success is often borne on the back of mistakes. Many of the techniques we use for recording clear audio in our videos come from experience and fumbles.

It can be tough, though, to keep track of all the steps that produce a good sound recording. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy checklist, a sort of guide to good audio. You can simply scan through it during a video setup. 

1. Position your microphone correctly. In the case of a shotgun mic or a mic mounted directly on the camera, a distance of three to four feet from the camera is optimal. 

2. Choose a quiet location. Different noises, such as cars, barking dogs or garden equipment can intrude on your recording, causing unwelcome distractions in your audio. 

3. Switch off devices and appliances. Smartphones (unless you’re shooting with one, of course) AC units, television—turn off any devices and appliances that can add unwanted sounds. 

4. Reduce echo. While it isn’t always possible to eliminate echo, you can minimise it by recording your videos in rooms with plush furniture and using blankets and cushions.

5. Use headphones. Headphones can pick up sounds your ears might miss. If you can hear them in your headphones, they will likely surface in your recording and viewers will hear them. 

6. Do a test recording. A short test recording at the level that you’ll be presenting on camera will help identify audio problems before committing to the real thing. 

7. Project your voice. Whenever you’re speaking on camera, you need to speak a bit more loudly than you would in a normal conversation. 

Recording Audio for Video: Sounding Good Isn’t Optional!

The quality of the picture you produce with your camera is important. It should be well-lit and properly framed. A tidy backdrop is a huge plus and, of course, how you communicate your thoughts and ideas on camera is crucial to success with video. 

Even with all these quality checks ticked off, everything will fall apart if your audio is poor. Remember, if audiences have to strain themselves to hear what you’re saying, chances are they won’t stick around for the duration. There are just too many videos online to choose from. That’s a lost opportunity to make a connection. Those can add up if you’re not careful. 

So, choose the mic that’s right for your video needs. Above all else, give audio the respect and attention it deserves. Do that and audiences will give you the respect and attention you deserve. 

To get ahead in today’s video-driven age, you have to be a powerful communicator on camera. Grab this opportunity to master the on-camera skills that win over online audiences to achieve the success you deserve. 

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