With everyone pushing to create content for youtube, facebook live, instagram etc. What are your options for getting the best possible sound on your video recording. How do you go about choosing the best microphones for vlogging. The good news is on a budget as little as £20 you can improve the sound quality of your youtube video massively.
Never rely on built in microphones for Vlogging!
One of the biggest mistakes people (and companies) make that I see over and over again, is thinking that putting up video content is enough, quality doesn’t matter. Often you see people using a smartphone and relying on the inbuilt microphone or using a quality camera while neglecting the importance of sound. With competition for attention for online video content ramping up, you need to do everything you can to impress your audience and that starts with technical quality. This post is your guide to improving sound on your video recordings.
Audio quality in online videos
Viewers are likely to decide whether or not to keep watching a video within 3 seconds. If the sound is bad people will switch off because it comes across as amateur. Youtube, Facebook live and other social media platforms have now become so prominent in media, that they need to be approached with the same attitude as traditional formats like TV and Radio. Imagine tuning into a TV station where the picture was great but the audio sounded awful, what would you think? would you keep watching? No, you’d think “these guys don’t know what they’re doing, what a cheap operation.” The same principles apply for Vlogging.
One of the most common requests I see in the freelance world is to “Improve the sound quality of my recording”. People are offering £50 – £100 for engineers to “fix” poor quality audio on their videos. Firstly it’s a common misconception that it’s possible to fix broken audio. Yes it can be restored or improved to some level but the amount it can be improved is directly effected by the amount of quality in the original recording. For example in a high quality recording it’s easy to remove elements you don’t want. On the flip side when the quality to start with is poor it’s much harder to enhance it.
Think of it in terms of Pirated movie videos. You know the ones, recorded in a cinema with a handheld camera, awful picture and awful sound. I don’t know anyone who would watch them. If this type of quality was acceptable we’d all be watching movies this way. Or if it was possible to improve audio quality that much people who produce pirated movies would be getting engineers to fix them up and make them look and sound great! We live in the digital super HD age. We’ve come to expect high quality footage and our subconscious media brains refuse to accept anything less.
I had a client recently who was a youtuber using a high quality Cannon EOS M5. He neglected to buy a microphone relying solely on the built in mic. I couldn’t watch his video for longer than 10 seconds. The content was engaging, the picture quality was good but the audio was distant, full of echoes and pure amateur. The amount of videos I see with this problem is incredible. Big companies and media broadcasters all forgetting the importance of sound in a video. My biggest piece of advice to clients recording videos is always to get the sound right from the outset! Investing in a microphone can be done on a budget. Why pay £50 to pay an engineer to try and fix your audio, when you can invest that now in something that will fix it from the outset. It’s a no brainer.
Choosing the Best Microphone for Vlogging
I spoke previously about the best microphone for recording at home but you need to treat this one a little different. While condenser microphones I spoke about previously sound great. They are also big, bulky and not very good for transporting. You wouldn’t want it in view on a video. My suggestion would be using a good clip on mic (aka lavalier). This is the type of thing you see on TV broadcasts like talk shows. They are small and subtle but get right up close to your mouth meaning they give off a warm sound. This type of microphone will infinitely improve the sound on your vlog without a massive investment. As a starting point I recommend looking for something in the £20 bracket. It’s not going to make your audio sound sensational but it will be a marked difference from an inbuilt mic, ideal if you’re testing the water with Vlogging.
The great thing about the Zaffiro is it’s compatiblity. It works on most smartphones and cameras. It’s easily the most cost effective lavalier mic for vlogging on the market. It requires no battery and is easy to set up, clip on and begin recording. Obviously this is not going to make your audio sound fully professional but for the price I highly recommend it as a starting point so your audio doesn’t have that awful on board mic sound.
Another option, in this price bracket is the Boya BY M1. Coming in at an even cheaper £15 this is very similar, in fact I barely noticed any difference. The reason for the Zaffiro being a little more expensive is due to it’s compatibility. Just make sure your device is listed as compatible before you purchase.
Going for a full professional sound
If you are using a DSLR camera or camcorder why not push the boat out and make your video sound as good as it looks. Rode lead the way at the moment for the best microphones for home recording on a budget. This is what most major vloggers and professional video producers are using to record online video for Youtube and Facebook. It’s going to cost you in the region of £140. Like anything, the amount you invest really depends on your own situation. If you’re serious about Vlogging, representing a brand or using it as a business opportunity this is the level you need to consider. However if you are testing the water or doing it as a hobby, start with a clip on mic!
Below, an example of a video recorded by our very own Nails. He invested in a clip on mic to improve the quality of his online videos. Compare this audio to something recorded with an on board microphone. The results are clear.