Recording Great Audio into Adobe Premiere Pro
Make sure your Adobe Premiere Pro recordings are as good as they can be with this handy guide
Recording audio to accompany video is an integral process in many types of projects. Advertisements, documentaries, films, and even vlogs often require a voiceover in order to strengthen a narrative or clearly articulate information.
Sometimes voiceovers are done by professional voice actors in a studio (or home studio). When this is the case, editors receive audio files that are usually ready to drop into the timeline.
In many situations, however, the editor needs to either record a voiceover themselves, or record someone else in person. Luckily for Premiere Pro users, recording a voiceover is simple to do directly within Premiere.
While this might be obvious, the first step to record audio in Premiere is to get your hands on a microphone. There’s a wide range of options, and usually the better the mic, the better the recording. If you don’t have access to a microphone but are working on a laptop, you can also use your laptop’s built-in microphone as a last resort.
Need a hand choosing a microphone? Check out our take on the Best Microphones for Recording.
Once you have your microphone plugged in, it is time to configure Premiere to choose it as the selected recording device. In Premiere, go to Preferences and select Audio Hardware.
Next, locate the selection for Default Input. Click the dropdown arrow to reveal all the input options that your computer recognizes, and choose your microphone. If you're working on a laptop, such as a MacBook Pro, the default setting will be Built-In-Microphone.
Now that your microphone is enabled, the next step is to prepare the timeline for recording.
First, create a dedicated track for the new recording by right-clicking on an existing audio track and selecting Add Track. Alternatively you can select an existing track that is empty.
If things are going as planned, you should now see the track's meters move when the microphone picks up sounds. Without hitting record, it's time to perform as test of the sound you're about to record.
Watch out for clipping here. This is signified by the audio levels reaching the top of their meter and turning red. If this is happening, you should reduce the level of your microphone at the source (using its volume control or your audio interface's), rather than in Premiere's audio mixer. If this isn't an option in your setup, you can move the microphone further away from the sound source it's recording, or simply speak quieter.
Once you are done with the voiceover, press spacebar to end the recording. A new audio file will appear on the track that was armed for recording. This file is saved in an automatically generated folder titled Adobe Premiere Pro Captured Audio, which is usually in the same directory as the project file unless otherwise specified.
Once you have the basic workflow down, you can then focus on other elements that contribute to the quality of your recording.
There are seemingly infinite options for microphones, ranging from extremely accessible to ridiculously overpriced. We cover microphones in more detail in this article, but it is useful to know that cardioid microphones are generally the best for recording the human voice.
These microphones have a pickup pattern that captures the sound coming into the front of the microphone, which works to record voices while not focusing (as much) on background noise.
USB microphones are usually a good choice as a first microphone because they don’t require any other audio interfaces or preamps.
Another handy recording accessory is a pop shield. These shields, or filters, get placed between you and the microphone to help soften plosives, which are the harsh consonant sounds that occur naturally in human speech.
In order to get the best recording, consider your signal-to-noise ratio. More simply, how loudly your voice (signal) is being captured by the microphone in comparison to everything else around you (noise).
The higher the signal-to-noise ratio, the cleaner your recording will be. Additionally, noise reduction software will be more successful when there is a clear difference in amplitude, or volume, between the signal and the noise.
Generally, the closer you are to the microphone physically, the better the signal-to-noise ratio because your voice will be the loudest thing the microphone records.
Additionally, many people find that standing up to record themselves results in a more lively, animated, and strong recording.
Apart from the quality of your microphone, the room in which you record is perhaps the next most important factor in how your recording sounds.
In an ideal world, we’d all have access to soundproofed studios that eliminate all noise. Instead, many of us record in our offices or homes, which are inherently noisy. The following list covers some tactics to reduce noise in your recording room.
- Turn off the air conditioning. Our brains generally tune out ambient white noise like air conditioning, but the microphones won’t!
- Unplug the fridge. Recording at home? The refrigerator is louder than you think. Just remember to plug it back when finished.
- Avoid hard floors. Wood, tile, or marble floors allow sound waves to bounce off of them, creating a natural reverb effect. Carpet floors will usually give the dryest signal, which allows the most flexibility in post-production.
- Record in the corner. While this might look silly, recording in the corner of a room can help reduce natural reverb as well.
- Put a pillow or blanket behind the mic. This technique helps absorb sound waves to prevent unwanted reflections.
- Invest in a foam vocal shield. If you regularly need to do high-quality recordings, consider a vocal shield like this that mimics the effect of being in a studio by dampening any unwanted noise and reflections.