A Beginners Guide To Choosing A Microphone

Anyone who’s spent a bit of time on YouTube can tell you that bad audio can ruin a video. Even the best video out there on your favourite subject can be utterly destroyed if you have to listen to crinkly, crackly audio. Audio that’s too loud too quiet, or skips between the two. Audio that’s fuzzy, with a lot of background noise that distracts you from the content. It might even be enough to stop you watching all together. Good audio, on the other hand, can make watching a video a more enjoyable experience, though you are unlikely to notice it as much, since it won’t be annoying you! So if you’re creating a video for your business, you want to make sure your audio is up to scratch. To do that, you need the right equipment.


The Importance Of Your Shooting Environment


Before we get into the details of your equipment, you need to give some thought to your location. Where you choose to film your video can make almost as much difference to your sound quality as your microphones, and you’ll have a much easier time of editing it afterwards. It’s incredibly difficult to remove ambient noise like crackling and shifting after the fact, so capturing good audio the first time around is a good way to avoid it. To make sure your shooting environment will give you the best possible sound quality, make sure that:


  • You choose a space without any loud ambient noises.
  • Avoid locations with air conditioners, generators, traffic noise, or anything else that creates a background hum.
  • Try to find a location that gives you control over the ambient noise levels.
  • If you’re using your own (or someone else’s) office space, make sure others in the area know that you may need them to be silent during filming.
  • If possible, you can deaden the echo and vibrations in a room by taping blankets to the walls.
  • If you’re setting up a permanent filming room, you could also invest in acoustic panels that control reverberation.


Lavaliere Microphones


One of the options you have for capturing spoken audio is a lavaliere microphone, more commonly known as a lapel microphone. These small microphones can clip onto your speaker’s shirt and are perfect if your speaker will be moving around, or need their hands for something. You can get wired and wireless versions, and they are a pretty cost-effective option. They are also great for capturing vocal audio with minimal interference, as the distance between the noise source and microphone is so small. But using them can be a bit tricky to get the hang of, and the quality largely depends on getting the perfect placement. We recommend you start by putting the microphone around six inches below the speaker’s chin and adjust as needed until the quality is right. You ideally want to create a clear path between the microphone and the speaker’s mouth.


Shotgun Microphones


Another option is a shotgun microphone (don’t worry, it’s much nicer than it sounds!). They tend to be long, thin cylinders, and get their name from the way they record sound – you just point it at what you want to record! They tend to grab not only the subject, but the surrounding sound. They can be hidden away from your speakers view if you want to get more natural dialogue, and tend to capture a fair amount of ambient noise too. This makes them good for space filling audio, but if you want to capture just the speaker and nothing else, you will struggle. That’s why we tend to use them in conjunction with a lavaliere microphone.


Video Microphones


Video microphones are a type of shotgun microphone, but they deserve their own special mention. These kinds of microphone aren’t particularly good at capturing the final audio for a video, but instead connect directly into the camera to create a kind of ‘scratch track’ audio. This scratch track will help the videographer sync the video footage together with the high-end sound from other sources seamlessly, creating a glitch-free end video.


Of course, there are all sorts of solutions out there for capturing sound, and there are hundreds of varieties of microphone within the 3 categories we’ve discussed. At Swanwood Productions, we pride ourselves on constantly investing in the latest and best microphone technology to bring high quality audio to our customers. No matter where you’re wanting to film, and under what conditions, we have the equipment to capture perfect audio every time. For more information, advice, or just to talk audio with us, just get in touch with the team today.