7 Tips for Better Audio Recording

Getting the best-possible sound quality

Audio recording is often an afterthought for videographers, but it's just as important to your finished product as the recorded video. Good audio recording takes some effort, but it's well worth it.

It's always easier to optimize the quality of the recorded audio than to fix substandard audio in post-production.

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Use a High-Quality Microphone

A young man playing a video game while wearing a headset with a microphone and headphones.


The microphones that are built into camcorders are usually low quality. They don't always pick up sound well, and sometimes you end up hearing the sound of the camcorder operating.

If possible, use an external microphone whenever you shoot videos. A lavalier (lapel) mic, like the type newscasters use, is unobtrusive and especially helpful when you want to hear someone's voice clearly. To provide off-camera narration—as with a podcast or overdub—a good-quality headset mic works best.

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Monitor the Sound

If you can plug headphones into your camera, do it. They'll allow you to hear exactly what the camera hears, so you'll know if your subject is speaking loudly enough or if the background noises are too distracting. Use the best-quality headphones you have for the truest results.

Noise-canceling models, or at least headphones that fully cover the ear, will serve you better than earbuds.

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Limit Background Noises

Background noises are distracting in a video and can complicate the editing process. Turn off fans and refrigerators, so you don't hear them humming. If there's a window open, close it to shut out the traffic noises or the bird tweets.

Most good audio-editing tools can remove background noise, but only if the noise is constant. Variable environmental noise cannot be easily removed.

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Turn Off the Music

If there's music playing in the background, turn it off. Leaving it on while you're recording make editing difficult because you can't cut and rearrange clips without hearing the jumps in the music. If you like the music and want it in the video, it's better to add it to the recording later on.

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Record Background Sound

Think about sounds that are specific to the event you're recording and capture those on tape. If you're at a carnival, the music of the merry-go-round and the sound of the popcorn popper adds to the mood of your video and help viewers feel as if they are there with you.

Record these sounds clearly without worrying about the video footage. While editing, you can move the audio clips around and have them play underneath different parts of your video.

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Watch Out for Wind

Recording outdoors on a windy day is difficult because the impact of the wind on the microphone can create loud slapping or popping sounds. You can buy a wind protector for your microphone to cut down on this effect or—in a pinch—slip a fuzzy sock over the mic.

However, very high wind conditions will overwhelm even high-quality mics with wind screens.

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Add It Later

You can always add sound later. If you're recording in a loud area, wait and record the narration later when you're in a quieter space. You can also add sound effects, which are available with many editing programs.

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