Getting Better Audio Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
As much as people want to focus their efforts in on getting better video, but never discount the value of getting better audio. Many visitors are likely to leave a video if it has bound sound. Think of how bad a video sounds when someone is filming in the wind or when a microphone picks up too much background noise. So if you’re interested in keeping an audience happy it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your audio game. The best part of this is that audio doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to improve upon. I will go over a few ways how you can improve the audio on your content to keep people fleeing away.
1. Pick out a room with good acoustics.
The acoustics in a room can make or break your audio. The amount of echo in a room depends greatly on a few variables including size and what is in the room itself. There are a few things you can do to cut down on the echo you’ll get in a room:
- Try adding some soft furniture in the rooms. It will absorb the sound rather than bounce it back.
- Use carpeting or area rugs in place of hardwood in order to dampen the sound.
- Add curtains to any windows.
- Buy some Acoustic Panels*
2. Use noise reduction in Audacity to eliminate white noise.
There is a free program called Audacity that is available online. It is a powerful open source program that can be used to complete functions like Noise Reduction, Amplification, Bass & Treble work, and so much more. I personally use it all of the time because it meets my needs and then some. Chances are it’ll be plenty good enough to cover what your needs for video editing are.
In order to do a noise reduction it’s a good idea to leave about 5 seconds of completely empty sound at the beginning or end of your video. This will capture the “ambience” in the room and allow you to use it for the noise reduction later on. Once you’ve downloaded and opened Audacity here is how you can perform the noise reduction:
- Go to File>Open in Audacity in order to open up your sound file.
- When it’s open you’ll use your mouse pointer to highlight the 5 seconds of blank space in your clip.
- With it highlighted you’ll go to Effects>Noise Reduction
- Click on Get Noise Profile. This option will gather the sound that needs to be eliminated from the recording.
- After you get the noise profile than highlight the entire clip by either dragging and highlighting the whole thing or press Ctrl+A on your keyboard.
- Once highlighted to back into Effects>Noise Reduction. This time you can click OK in order to run the actual reduction.
This should have eliminated most of the white noise from the clip. There are a few settings in the Noise Reduction menu that you can experiment with, but I tend to just leave them the default values.
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3. Control Environmental Noises
Controlling environmental noises is an important thing you can do to really help you in post production. There are a few things you can do to really cut down upon the background noise at the time of shooting. This will keep you from pulling your hair out when you record something important only to find out that something was making noise the entire time.
How to reduce environmental noise:
- Record at a time when traffic is lighter or outdoor sound is much lower.
- Turn off any air conditioners, heaters, or equipment that might buzz in the background.
- If you have animals try to keep them in another room or at least a little quiet.
- Beef up the insulation in your room or add some types of sound control to the walls.
4. Upgrade away from Internal Microphones.
You might find over time that internal mics are not the best. Even the cameras that cost thousands of dollars are not equipped with the best of microphones built in. While they can do a solid job, especially if you’re using Audacity to do some sound adjustments, it is much easier to break out some cash and purchase an external microphone for your set up.
Fortunately there are some options out there available at a decent price. Of course these aren’t always going to be as good as the more expensive mics the pros use on a daily, but they’ll provide a nice upgrade without requiring you to spend a fortune. Here are some options to consider when picking out a microphone.
(Please note these are mainly budget mics. It never hurts to do a little research before making a purchase.)
Blue Snowball USB Mic* – This is a good starter mic if you’re looking to do something like a small podcast or voiceover work than this microphone can do a nice job for sure. It can be plugged into your computer and you can record on it via Audacity or another sound recorder to do the job. Overall not a bad mic for $50.
A Lapel Microphone – Something that clips onto your shirt like a Lapel mic, aka a Lavalire mic, is a great choice if you’re shooting video with just yourself. You can find options like the Boya BY-M1* ($15) or the Rode SmartLav+* ($75) are great at meeting the needs. I personally like the Boya due to the fact that it has an option for recording on Camera and Smartphone. If you weren’t aware there is a slight difference in the plugs.
A Hotshoe Mount Mic – For the video content creator there are for DSLRs and can mount directly to the hotshoe on a camera. I have a Rode VideoMic Go* that I use and I also have an adapter cable* that allows me to use the same mic on my Galaxy S9 as well. As noted before, the plugs are different slightly. This type of “Shotgun” mic is unidirectional, meaning that it only records from one direction. All of the other mics listed are “Omnidirectional” meaning they record sound from all sides.
5. Keep the Microphone As Close to the Speaker As Possible
You will need to keep the mic as close as you can to your speaker without being in the shot. This can be easily achieved with a seperate boom pole or mic stand. I put my microphone off to my left side when filming just out of camera view. By doing so I’ve found there is less additional noise capture and overall my voice sounds a lot better without having to do a lot of retooling in Audacity or Adobe Audition.
I also find it helpful to keep the mic at a slight angle and not have it pointing directly at your mouth. This can help you keep some of the breathing sounds from getting into your sound as much. This can also be helped by using a wind screen in front of your mic if you are using a condenser mic or a “dead cat” if you’re using a shotgun mic.
6. Use a mic to voice-over at a later time.
You can use any of the mics listed above to record voiceover at a later time. It can be a little more difficult to perform this action, but if you have a bad section of audio on your original recording it may be required. If you’re able to insert some B-Roll into the shot and voiceover with it than it could really help you out.
Personally I use a mic later on for voiceovers that are involving screen captures from my computer. This way I can cut the scene to my liking before adding in my narration.
This has been 6 tips to improve the sound quality of your videos. Hopefully you learned a little something today and are able to get a better quality out of your audio.
If you’re looking to see even more tips and tricks from me than it might be worth checking more of my content out on my YouTube channel. Go look and give it a sub if you enjoy what I post.