• Art Ruiloba

How To Improve Audio Quality on Your Videos


Video equipement:  iPad & video cage, fluid head tripod, indoor-outdoor LED light, condenser mic, audio cable and wind sock
iPad & video cage, fluid head tripod, indoor-outdoor LED light, condenser mic, audio cable and windsock displayed. Image Credit: Art Ruiloba.


Because it is difficult to improve bad audio when you are editing your video, it's very important to record high quality audio at the same time you record your video. Here are a few tricks to help your audio enhance your video.


Most professional video cameras are equipped with a high-quality external condenser microphone used to record natural sound. They also have connectors to add additional microphones, such as hand-held (shown in photo below) and lavalier microphones. These microphones are used for interviews and narrations. Professional video cameras have

adjustment knobs or sliders that allow the videographer to control the volume or decibels of the audio recording.

Hand-held microphone.
Hand-held microphone. Image Credit: Tomilee Turner.

Unfortunately, mobile devices such as smartphones, iPads, tablets and DSLRs may not have these type of controls, so it is harder to manage the audio. But below are some hints that will help improve your recorded audio quality.

Image of a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera. Image Credit: Shutterstock, Inc

There are several audio recording devices and external microphones that can be used with a mobile phone, iPad or DSLR video camera (shown in photo right) to enhance the quality of audio being recorded during a video production.

One of these devices is a portable digital audio recorder, such as the Zoom brand below.

A Portable Digital Audio Recorder. Image Credit: Tomilee Turner.

The Zoom, and other similar devices, record audio separately from the mobile device (smartphone/tablet) or DSLR video camera. The audio is then synced with the video during the editing process. The audio recorded from the smartphone, tablet or video camera's internal microphone can be used as a secondary audio source. It can also help you sync the audio from the portable digital audio recorder with the video from a mobile device or video camera.


A clapper (shown in photo below) can also help you sync the audio recorded on your mobile or video camera with the audio from your portable digital audio recorder. The "clap" sound helps you perfectly match your externally recorded audio with your video.

The portable digital audio recorder is

versatile and can be used to record natural sound, interviews, or narration, even when you're recording yourself.

A Clapper. image Credit: Shutterstock, Inc.

It also has a removable SD card with several hours of storage capacity. Most of these devices can be configured to record in both WAV and MP3 formats. Most of them support 16- and 24-bit WAV audio

at sampling rates of 44.1, 48, or 96 kHz.

You can use an SD card reader or a port

that may be built into your computer to transfer audio files from your portable audio recorder's SD card to the computer.

A portable digital audio recorder and external microphones will greatly improve the quality of your audio during a video production, especially if you're using a mobile device, such as a smartphone, tablet or DSLR video camera.


Invest in external microphones for optimal sound


Another way of improving audio is to invest in external microphones that can be connected to a portable digital audio recorder or a mobile device, such as an Android smartphone, iPhone, iPad, tablet or DSLR video camera.


There are several external microphones available. The one below is called a lavalier microphone (sometimes called a pin mic).


A lavalier microphone is great for interviews!

A lavalier microphone & windscreen. Image Credit: Shutterstock, Inc.
  • It has a clip that attaches onto a person's collar, or to the lapel of a button shirt or coat.

  • It has a long cable that can be hidden under the speaker's clothing so your interviewee looks professional and the wire isn't a distraction. You want the audience focused on the speaker's message and not a messy microphone wire.

  • A long wire also allows your speaker to be a comfortable distance away from your camera.

  • The size and placement of the mic helps eliminate background sounds and elevates the speaker's voice.

The lavalier microphone is attached to a smartphone using a 3.5-mm TRRS standard audio jack. Image credit: Shutterstock, Inc.

Lavalier microphones come in various configurations and are adaptable to many mobile devices.


They are available with:

  • a standard 3.5-mm TRRS jack for use with older model computers, Android. smartphones, iPhones, iPads and tablets.

  • a standard 3.5-mm TRS jack for use with DSLR video cameras.

  • a standard USB connector for use with older model computers.

  • a Lightning connector for use with newer model iPhones and iPads.

  • a USB-C connector for use with a newer model Android smartphones.

 3.5-mm plug iPhone Lightning Bolt Connector.

(Click here for an explanation about 3.5-mm TRRS and TRS audio jacks.)


Purchase a top quality lavalier mic from a reputable dealer. Paying a few dollars more for a mic could make a big improvement in the final quality of your video.


Adapters are available for those situations when the mic connection doesn't match the mobile. 3.5 mm plug with USB-C Connector

device. For example, a lavalier mic with a standard Image Credit: Tomilee Turner

3.5-mm TRRS jack can be adapted to an iPhone by

using an adapter.

Mounting microphones for mobile devices

When you're not using a built-in mic, it's a good idea to stabilize your mic. Although your phone, tablet, or video camera may have a built-in mic, often it will not capture the top audio quality you need. The case around your smartphone or tablet may interfere with the audio recording, and built-in mics rarely block the wind or other noises.

Condenser mic & windsock, pigtail cable, and clip. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Instead, consider using an external microphone, such as a condenser mic with a windsock. This will improve your recorded sound. The mic on the right is sturdy and is multi-directional and has a great recording pattern. It can be mounted on your camera's cage.


The condenser mic displayed here (photo right) is a Boya condenser microphone. It comes with two microphone

cables.

Pigtail audio cable for DSLR. Image Credit: Art Ruiloba

This audio cable (photo right) has a curled or pigtail cable. It has 3.5-mm TRS audio jack connectors on both ends. This cable is used with a DSLR camera. Plug the L-shape connector into mic. The straight connector goes in your video camera.


The other cable (photo below) has a standard 3.5-mm TRS jack (L shape) that plugs into the condenser mic and a 3.5-mm TRRS jack that plugs into an older model smartphone or tablet with a 3.5-mm plug.

Smartphone, cage, mic, wind sock, audio cable and adapter. Photo Credit: Art Ruiloba

In this configuration, the standard 3.5-mm mic cable is connected to a newer model iPhone that has a Lightning connector (no 3.5-mm plug). An adapter is used to convert the standard 3.5-mm cable.


The adapter has a 3.5-mm plug, which connects to the TRRS 3.5-mm jack. The other end of the adapter is a Lightning connector for the iPhone connection.


Try to capture authentic and clean sound for video projects. Sometimes this can become quite difficult because we are faced with issues that we may not be able to control or manage. But there are several things we can do to improve our chances. One of them is to use the appropriate audio equipment for the situation. (See checklist below.)

  • Planning is essential!

  • It's difficult to fix problems in post-production editing, so invest the time and money to record the best possible audio.

  • Try to use an external microphone with a mobile recording device such as a smartphone or tablet. Practice ahead of time to be sure you have the right microphone for the job!

  • If possible, visit the proposed recording location before you start recording. This is especially important for interviews.

  • Look for sources of problem audio, such as noise from air conditioners, machinery or construction. Ask ahead of time how to turn off the noise during your recording session.

  • Microphones used outdoors almost always need wind protection.

  • Consider capturing audio with a separate recorder, such as a portable digital audio recorder, rather than depending on the audio from a smartphone or tablet's internal microphone.

  • Carefully consider where you place the mic on your speaker's clothing.

  • For example, if the person is addressing the camera to their left, don't place the mic on the right side of the lapel.

  • Try not to use a condenser mic for an interview; it will pick up other sounds. If a lavalier microphone is not available, place your condenser mic as close as possible to the interviewee's mouth without it being in the shot.

  • Monitor the audio with headphones!

  • Use a dual input adapter to connect a mic and headphones to the single audio input common on most smartphones or tablets.

  • These adapters have a two-way input. One input is for the microphone; the other input is for your headphones.



Written by Art Ruiloba, NMSU-ACES Video Producer, aruiloba@nmsu.edu