Capturing Great Audio

It is amazing how often bad audio ruins good video.  The bottom line is most people will watch bad video but they won’t listen to bad audio. 

Some years ago a few friends of mine studied people’s reaction to bad audio.  For two weeks they worked with a movie theater alternating good clean delivery of audio and video with less than perfect video and less than quality audio.

As you would expect the audience reacted quite positively to the clean delivery of both audio and video.

What you might not expect was even though they complained, they stayed and watched the slightly out of focus video with clean audio.

When presented with clean video but poorly mixed or slightly distorted audio, they simply got up and left.

That brings me to the point.   Bad audio is not something that can usually be “fixed in the mix” unless you are really good, have lots of time and really good equipment.  Even then it is an “iffy” proposition.

It is usually easy to capture quality audio from the start with a bit of attention to detail.  These tips will help.

  1. Know the capabilities of your capture device.
  2. Use the highest quality gear that you have.
  3. Don’t assume the device is working just because you can see the meters working.
  4. Always wear headphones.
  5. Listen critically.  If it doesn’t sound good, it won’t get better later.
  6. Listen to the sound of the mic at varying distances from your sound source.
  7. Always use close mic technique.
  8. Natural sound isn’t bad as long as it doesn’t compete with the sound you want to feature.  If the nat sound is too loud, move to a quieter place or reposition your subject to take advantage of your mic’s off axis rejection.  If the noise is temporary, wait until it stops.
  9. Use directional mics.
  10. Don’t use the onboard mic on your device if you can avoid it.
  11. Don’t ever give a handheld mic to interviewees.
  12. Make sure your lav mic is properly placed on your subject.

Microphone techniques for studio recording

Microphone techniques for live sound

Choosing the right microphone

Positioning a microphone

Use an iPhone to record high quality audio

Recording pro audio on an iOS device

Basics of recording audio for digital video

Recording DSLR audio

Using your IPhone 6 to record DSLR audio

Record better sound with your smartphone

10 Best Smartphone Mics for 2016

IPhone Mic Review