Choosing a Microphone for Your Video

January 4, 2019

Topic tags

Chris Lavigne

Creative

With the rise of video content in seemingly every corner of the web, consumers of online video recognize subpar sound almost instantly–bad audio can ruin even the best video. Like an article littered with typos, loud background noise and fuzzy voices suggest inexperience and distract from your message. Additionally, as people continue to use the power of video for their personalized outreach, it’ll be increasingly important for your audio to be crisp and clean in order to make great impressions and represent your brand. The good news is, there are many ways to improve the audio in your videos.

Read on if you want the low-down for optimizing your shooting environment and using quality recording devices to up your video creation game!

Improve your shooting environment

First things first, the area in which you shoot can make a huge difference! Although the saying “fix it in post (post-production)” is common for repairing issues that arose during filming, the phrase doesn’t really apply to audio. It’s extremely tough to remove ambient noise from a recording after the fact. Save yourself the aggravation and capture the best possible sounding audio during production.

When you’re setting up for your shoot:

  • Pick a space without loud ambient noises.
  • Steer clear of air conditioning units, generators, traffic noise, and anything else that creates a hum.
  • Try to find a shoot location that allows you to control ambient noise.
  • If you’re shooting in your office, make sure you warn the folks in the background that you may need to “pull a Spielberg” and ask them firmly to be quiet!
  • Dampen room reverberation by taping blankets to the walls or invest in acoustic panels.

For more tips on improving your audio by controlling your environment, check out this post. In a short video, we show you exactly how you can reduce echo in your video.

Use a lavalier microphone

A lavalier is a small microphone that clips onto your speaker’s shirt. Lavaliers are a great option if your talent is going to be moving around, and you’ll also find that they provide minimal ambient noise, which can help save yourself from frustrations during post. With a variety of inexpensive options, you can choose between wired and wireless versions for whatever the occasion.

However, lavalier microphones are particularly finicky. Whether or not they’ll capture good audio depends on getting the perfect placement. Start by placing the lav about six inches below your talent’s chin. Your goal is to make sure that the microphone has a clear path to the mouth. A few other downsides associated with the lavalier mic includes how it calls attention to itself on screen and often needs post-production equalization (EQ) treatment to reduce “muddiness.”

If a lavalier mic seems like the right fit for you, here are a few hand-picked options to look into:

We prefer the shotgun microphone

At Wistia, we are constantly trying to make our production process more simple and less intimidating. If we’re being honest, that’s why we prefer the shotgun microphone. The shotgun microphone is the most directional of microphone options. It has a very narrow pickup pattern, which means it picks up sound from the front and rejects sound from other directions. Point the shotgun microphone at something, and it’s going to focus on it like a laser beam. We keep one positioned and ready for action in our studio. With this setup, subjects can jump in and out of the space to shoot videos on the fly.

We love the shotgun mic because it can be hidden outside of the shot (and the talent’s field of view), and it makes subjects' voices sound close and clear. It also picks up a bit of ambient noise to provide a nicely balanced soundtrack. If you’re curious to know our mic of choice, we’ll have you know that it’s a Sennheiser ME66/K6 Shotgun microphone mounted on a boompole and paired with a Canon 5D. To hear all about our love for this dynamic duo, we broke down our recording process using a Canon 5D on the blog.

Here’s a shopping list if you’re interested in going the shotgun mic route:

Level-up your webcam audio

When it comes to recording videos for more personalized outreach, your webcam audio can be a real bummer. Luckily, we know just the trick that will transform your webcam videos and impress anyone on your mailing list. Our handy split-screen recording tool, Soapbox, is a free Chrome extension anyone can use that makes your webcam videos look sleek and presentation-ready in just a few minutes! But what about that tricky audio component?

Introducing … the Soapbox Station–a professional-quality, mobile video studio. The Soapbox Station is a plug-and-play webcam studio that dramatically improves the quality of your Soapbox videos, from audio to visual. It’s essentially an all-in-one, tabletop video studio. Wave goodbye to wonky audio!

What started as a casual quest to improve webcam image quality ended up being a nearly year-long expedition to design an affordable, high-quality webcam video studio. When Chris, our video producer, rolled out different versions of the Soapbox Station around Wistia, he found that members of our team were literally lining up to use it. People made more videos because they felt more confident that they’d look and sound great on camera. It really had an unexpected impact on the company!

While your computer’s built-in camera is totally fine for making everyday videos with Soapbox, we’ve discovered upgrading the hardware truly takes things to another level. If obtaining excellent quality is feasible, we encourage you to never settle for less to make that memorable first impression.

Go forth and explore!

There are all sorts of sound solutions out there aside from the ones we mentioned in this post. And if you’re interested in hearing more recommendations about recording audio specifically for business video, we’ve got ‘em. We’re excited to keep discovering new ways that’ll enhance audio tracks for the videos you put out into the world. It’s time to up your video creation game!

January 4, 2019

Topic tags

Chris Lavigne

Creative

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