If your audio is great people can forgive medicore video, but if it sounds bad people will turn it off. This episode we are talking with mic and preamp reviewer Curtis Judd and podcast producer Ray Ortega the simple secrets to audio production for some common situations.
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Audio for social media
The priority for quick social media videos like Instagram stories is to keep it simple and sounding great. When you turn on the selfie camera, you‘re off to a great start because the mic is only an arm's length from you face and most phones have decent mics these days. Just be extra careful not make the biggest rookie mistake of covering the mic with your pinkie finger.
Stay aware of which direction the mic is facing since phones have mics on the front, back and bottom. If you are pointing it away from you, your voice will get a lot quieter. If this is a situation, you often find yourself in, there are external mics that can help with that.
Audio for Vloging
Similiar to a phone selfie, the vlog format has the instant advtage of mic proximity. As long as you’ve plugged in a half decent mic, set the levels, and put on appropriate wind protection, it’s easy to get great audio. With this format, background noise isn’t a huge problem since it blends in with the overall context of the story you‘re telling. What matters most is that you can be heard clearly.
Audio in a YouTuber Studio
If people are going to be watching your videos on TV, laptops or with headphones you owe it to them to keep the audio as clean as possible. When they are focused on you‘re talking head, details like echo and background noise start to matter more. So after you’ve taken the first steps of turning off the AC and unplugging the fridge (TIP: put your keys inside as a way to remember to plug it back in), it’s time to treat the room for reverb. In real life, reverb is easy to ignore. Put a decent mic in a room and every echo is a distraction.
There are a few simple and affordable solutions, best of all is to drape sound blankets in front of any hard reflective surfaces. This will make the single biggest difference, ever more than you‘re choice in microphone.
And speaking of microphones the gold standard is Sennheiser MKH416, which now used by top YouTubers like MKBHD and Johnathan Morrison, but if $1,000 is out of your budget the Deity S-Mic 2 is incredibly similar for a fraction of the price. A favorite of Ray and Curtis is the AudioTechnica AT4053B.
Once you’ve picked out your mic, choose a field recorder and plug it in. For the budget minded, the Tascam DR-60DII is a great choice or if you want to go straight for the best pick up the SoundDevices MixPre-3.
And make sure you get some good Sound Blankets
YouTube Studio mics and premps
Rode VideoMic Pro+
SoundDevices MixPre-3 or MixPre-6
Rode NTG-1 or NTG-2
Deity S-Mic 2
Podcasting & Voice Over
All the rules of in studio videos apply, but your audience is listening a lot more closely so the pressure is on to make your audio production sound amazing. Ray Ortega has a great writeup on all your gear needs, but the basics are that you want decent mic that rejects background sounds, a low noise preamp and an echo free room.
Sounds blankets are your best friend here, so you might want to build a little fort, or at least make sure you’ve got some furniture and carpets in the room.
There are many great mics to choose from, for beginners the AudioTechnica ATR-2100 sounds shockingly good for it’s price and can be plugged in via USB or XLR. If you want to step up your game, Tyler likes the Heil PR-40 while Ray uses the Shure SM7B.
Less is often more in post production, but it is critical get the volume of your sound to match everyone else's. The easiest way is to run your final mix trough the free software Auphonic or if you're using Adobe Audtion, use it's match loudness feature. If you have background noise to cleanup, the absolute best is iZotope RX.