How to Improve the Audio from a Zoom Call
Ever recorded a conference call, only to find the audio isn’t up to scratch? Not to worry, we’ll show you how to enhance your Zoom recordings using ERA, our suite of audio repair plugins. Check out the video below to see an example of a music production tutorial carried out over Zoom with unprocessed audio, and read on to see how we made it sound a whole lot better!
It’s no secret that video call audio isn’t exactly high fidelity. Video conferencing takes up a lot of bandwidth, and efficiency is always prioritised over audio quality.
The best way to improve your video call audio is before you start, by investing in a good quality microphone. Although the microphone built into your laptop or webcam probably works fine, it won't have anywhere near the quality of a decent external microphone. If you don't want a fully external microphone, you could also try a headset. A headset will sound better than a webcam microphone, and do a better job of isolating your audio from background noise.
Even if you do splash out on a microphone, you won’t have the same control over how other people sound on your calls. If you use Zoom or any other video conferencing software for work or social calls often, chances are you’re going to encounter muffled voices and poor audio quality, whether that’s due to poor equipment or unsuitable background environments.
In our video example, the audio is pretty standard for a Zoom call – super compressed and low quality. You might have to put up with it during the actual video call itself, but what if you want to record it for future use?
Once you’ve recorded the call and saved it as a video file, you can make use of some of the powerful plugins in the ERA armoury to work some magic on the audio. Local recording varies depending on the video conferencing software you’re using, but in general it’s pretty simple. We're using Zoom, so check out their full guide to local recording here.
The first thing we’re going to do is load up the Audio Clean-Up Assistant on the audio track with the recording in our DAW, and start building a plugin chain.
There’s a high level of static noise in the recording that we can knock off with Noise Remover. We’ll add it to the first slot in the chain, and set the Processing knob to 65%. The removal of the background noise allows us to better focus on the dialogue in the recording and make necessary adjustments.
Improving the voice in our Zoom call recording requires a combination of ERA plugins. In the second slot of our plugin chain we’ll add Voice AutoEQ, set to 5.5 Intensity and tweaked slightly towards the Body corner of the Tone Triangle. This gives the voice a little more fullness, building out from the rather thin tone that we were getting previously.
We can remove some of the annoying sibilance that’s coming through on the recording by popping De-Esser into the chain next. If we’d been using a proper microphone we might not have to push the de-essing too high, but as the audio was recorded with a laptop mic there’s quite a bit of work to do. We’ll set De-Esser at 80%, and now you can hear a noticeable decrease in slithery ess sounds.
Although it’s not super distracting, you can hear some mouth noise in the recording in the moments where the speaker brings his lips together. As his mouth is quite far away from the laptop microphone, it’s easily fixable by adding Mouth De-Clicker to the chain at 40% processing.
Last but not least we’ll tackle the inconsistencies in the volume levels, which jump around too much while the speaker is talking. Voice Leveler tames the peaks and troughs of the audio and brings everything at a consistent level. As the recording is already quite compressed, we don’t want to squash it any more than we need to, so we’ll set the Processing knob at 30%.
Take a look at the video below, featuring the audio that we processed in the Audio Clean-Up Assistant. We think you’ll agree that it’s a lot better than it was before! We’ve managed to clear out unwanted artefacts in the recording, and make the speaker’s voice sound fuller, clearer and smoother.
So, next time you have a Zoom recording that you want to enhance, load up the audio in your DAW and harness the power of ERA plugins! Don’t worry, you won’t need to be an audio expert to get the best out of your projects – the new Audio Clean-Up Assistant will analyse your audio in seconds and create a plugin chain to fit!