Video Production

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

Master recording audio for video, creating your own voice over videos, sound effects, and getting pro audio when creating videos with this guide

Spending time learning how to get professional quality audio in your videos can seem like a thankless task. No-one ever seems to notice flawless audio, but everyone notices when you get sound wrong. 

Distorted or quiet voice recordings make your videos unwatchable whereas clean, rich recordings instantly give your videos a professional feel. Fortunately, getting professional voice over recordings doesn’t require much work and you can do it with cheap and accessible equipment in your own bedroom!

This article is full of recording wisdom to get you started on the right track. From an explanation of different types of microphone to proper recording technique all the basics are covered here, so read on if you want to level up your recording game!

Recording: Cheaper and Easier than Ever

The world of microphones can be daunting to the uninitiated. Different situations can require different types, and top-of-the-range models can cost a fortune – but don’t let that put you off. You can get professional standard recordings in your bedroom with no more than your laptop and a USB microphone, so don’t let equipment stand in the way of your creativity!

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

Of course, the best types of microphones for video production do cost more, and spending a lot of money on a mic will give you the best possible audio recordings. On top of that pro studios will have loads of extra gear such as mixing consoles, hardware processing units and acoustic treatment. The good news is that all that stuff is totally unnecessary! You can make excellent voice over videos using microphones costing around £100. 

For more information on the different types of microphones available, we’ve got a short guide in the next section of this article. Alternatively, check out our video guide to choosing microphone below.

The accessibility of video and audio recording equipment has levelled the creative playing field. An amateur video maker with a great idea can now produce incredible content that can go toe to toe with established media outlets.

Getting great audio recordings does require a little bit of technique and know-how – luckily we have loads of useful information and advice in this article and also elsewhere on our blog

Types of Microphone

There are lots of options to consider when choosing mics for video recording. The best mic for you depends on what you plan to be using it for and, of course, your budget. Here we break down the main types of microphones to help make your decision process a breeze. For more in-depth info, check out our detailed guide on choosing the best mic for video production on our blog.

  • Condenser Microphone

Condenser mics are the most common type of studio microphone, and a popular mic for video recording. They consist of a backplate and diaphragm which moves when soundwaves hit it, producing an electrical signal. That’s your audio signal! 

Condenser mics require external power to charge the backplate – this is known as phantom power, and requires a 48V power source from whatever you plug your microphone into. Luckily, this is quite a standard requirement, and many audio receivers will be equipped to work with a condenser microphone’s power needs.

These microphone types can be used standalone or often mounted and plugged into a a good video camera.

  • Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic mics have a diaphragm which, when hit by a sound wave, moves a magnet through a coil. They’re much tougher than condenser microphones and thus are commonly used in live situations. The Shure SM57 is an absolutely classic industry standard dynamic mic which will cost you less than £100 – not a bad deal for a mic that has been used in countless professional recordings over the years.

Like condenders, dynamic microphones connect via XLR cable, meaning they can be connected to and mounted on a video camera with the appropriate inputs and fittings.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide
  • USB Microphone

Every microphone we’ve mentioned so far is connected to your computer via an XLR cable as standard. These microphones require an audio interface to then convert the analogue audio signal into a digital audio signal that can be used by your computer. This means buying another piece of kit, which can be off-putting for beginner video makers – that’s where USB microphones come in.

USB mics plug directly into your computer using a USB cable – it’s super convenient and easy to understand for beginners. You won’t get quite  as good a signal as you will with a high quality XLR microphone, but most people won’t be able to tell the difference. 

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

As a beginner video maker, don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you need top of the line professional equipment to make high-quality videos. Most YouTubers aren’t sound engineers by trade, and so the convenience of USB microphones is very appealing. You’ll spot USB microphones like the Blue Yeti and the Rode NT-USB in the videos of bona fide YouTube celebrities – if USB is good enough for them, it’s good enough for almost anyone. A USB mic is often the best mic for video production for beginners

  • Lavalier Microphone

Lavalier microphones are those tiny mics you see all the time on TV clipped onto newsreaders and interviewers. They can often be wireless, which is a great option for recording yourself on the move.

They’re excellent for recording people who are talking on screen as they’re subtle and move with their sound source. But if you’re just making voice over recordings, they’re a little unnecessary – you’re better off sticking with a more traditional microphone.

  • Handheld/Compact Field Recorders

Whilst technically not microphones, field recorders are one of the most versatile recording options out there. Smaller handheld versions have microphones built in and recordings are made directly onto an SD card in the recorder so you don’t need to plug the mic into your computer. They can also attach directly onto the top of your camera, be placed on a mic stand, or be hand held – perfect if you’re making vlogs on the go.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

They also often consist of two separate microphones to enable stereo audio recordings – this can really up the immersiveness of your videos.

For more detail on the different types of microphone, and what is the best mic for video production, be sure to check out our microphone choices guide on the Accusonus Blog.

Connecting your Microphone

Once you have a microphone to use, the next stage is to get them connected up for recording. As mentioned above, there are many types of microphone available and also some variation in the types of plugs they use. 

If you’re recording on a computer, you may connect directly using a mini jack or have a separate audio interface with XLR inputs, and many mics now connect directly to your computer using USB. If you’re recording to a camera or mobile recorder you’ll most likely encounter a mini jack. So, make sure you have the correct cables and connections for your equipment. 

  • Signal Flow

With everything connected, it helps to think of the basic signal flow involved. In essence, the mic connects to a hardware input, and your recording software must be able to ‘see’ that input so it can record it. On a mobile recorder this is usually straightforward; on a computer, choose the correct input in your recording software.

  • Check 1-2

Now check that your signal is ready to record and has a good level. Depending on your software you may need to arm the track, but either way you should be able to see the level on a meter and hear the mic signal as well. 

At this point you can also manually adjust the ‘input gain’ up or down. On a hardware interface, there could be a knob for this, and if you’re using a USB mic or the computer input there will be software gain control. Make sure you know how to adjust the mic gain for your particular setup.

  • Test Recording

Finally, do a test recording. This will give you a chance to check for dodgy connections and also to play back some recorded audio, checking it sounds the way you want it to, so when you hit record for real you’ll be confident everything should work.

Making the Connection in your Video Editor

Connecting your mic to your video editor for recording will require a slightly different technique for each piece of software. However, at its core the technique will be the same – you’ll have to go into your editor’s audio preferences and select your microphone as your audio input.

For specific advice for your video editor we have guides on recording audio for video in Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro X.

Extra Equipment for Recording Audio for Film

You’ve chosen your mic, so now you’re ready to start recording, right? Well, kinda.

Technically, all you need to record audio for your videos is a USB mic and your laptop, however there are a few accessories which for very little money can lift your recordings, and your recording process, to new levels.

Most of these accessories will help to eradicate common problems people experience when recording audio for film. For more tips on improving your home recordings check out this guide.

  • Mic Stand

Mic stands, whilst not essential, are as close to essential as you can get. Yes you can hold your mic to record but most of them aren’t designed to be used like this. The handling of the mic can create unpleasant and unwanted bassy noise in recordings which renders them unusable.

People holding their mic whilst recording have a tendency to move their hand around which can create volume fluctuations in your recordings as the distance between the microphone and your sound source changes.

Mic stands also make the recording process a lot smoother. You can have your mic permanently set up on its stand and then just hit record whenever the urge to record hits you!

It’s worth noting that USB mics tend to come with a built in desk stand as they’re designed for people without loads of audio equipment – double check if yours does before picking up a stand.

  • Audio Interface

For microphones that use an XLR cable, an audio interface is an absolutely essential accessory. Microphones create an analogue signal which, in order to be understood by your computer, needs to be converted to a digital one – that’s where your audio interface comes in.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve just splashed out on a brand new mic it might be frustrating to then have to buy another bit of gear in order to be able to use it – however there are many affordable interface options out there.

Is the idea of buying more stuff getting you down? Then just stick to a USB mic. These excellent microphones convert the signal in mic so you don’t need any external gear.

  • Pop Shield

Plosives can ruin an otherwise perfect recording. They occur when we say ‘b’ and ‘p’ sounds which cause a rush of air to leave our mouth and hit the microphone diaphragm. This creates a large unwanted ‘pop’ sound in our recording.

Fortunately they're easy to avoid. Pop shields (or filters) are fine mesh screens that you place in front of your microphone – they disperse the incoming burst of air whilst allowing sound waves to pass through unaffected. 

If you’ve got a recording that has plosives in it then check out the Accusonus Plosive-Remover for a quick and easy fix.

  • Wind Shield

Wind shields do much the same job as pop filters – they stop unwanted bursts of air hitting your microphone and messing up your recordings. The difference is that they’re designed to protect against gusts of wind, not plosives.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

If you're planning on shooting outside then they’re a must have, they’re affordable and highly effective – even slight wind can spoil recordings and a wind shield will solve the problem instantly.

  • Shock Mount or Cradle

Microphones are very sensitive to vibrations, after all that’s all sound is. However, this can be a problem when unwanted vibrations shake your microphone – your mic, not being able to discern the difference between a wanted and unwanted vibrations, turns the shake into a loud bass response which can sound awful.

You can take steps to avoid this happening. Firstly stand as still as possible when recording – moving feet are a common culprit when it comes to these bassy rumbles. Additionally, try and limit actions which create vibrations like opening and closing doors whilst recording. 

If you’re still having problems it might be worth investing in a shock mount. These screw onto your mic stand and hold your microphone in a vibration insulated cradle – they won’t stop every vibration from getting through but they should make things a lot better!

  • Booms

Booms are most commonly used for shooting TV and Movies. They’re the poles that dangle microphones – often with a big fluffy grey sock around them – just out of shot. Beginner video makers and YouTubers are unlikely to want to use these, they’re a hassle to set up and for recording voiceover and YouTube videos you’re much better off with a simpler option. That being said, if you’re planning on shooting an internet series or short film then they might come in handy.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide
  • Longer Cables

Longer cables are certainly not a necessity but they can be mighty helpful. Flexibility and an easy workflow are so important when it comes to being able to quickly and easily create on the fly and if you’re dealing with cable that limits where you can position yourself it can be very frustrating.

Long cables simply give you freedom to position your setup however you like – don’t let your equipment hold you back.

Setting up Properly for Recording

Now let’s drill down into some specifics and get our recording chain completely ready. It’s important to emphasize that when you record something, you really need to consider two separate audio paths. The first is the recording path and starts at the microphone and ends at your recorder, and the second is the monitor signal that allows you to listen (most likely via headphones) to what you’re recording. 

It is possible to take a bit of a gamble and not monitor your recording signal, but if you do this, you’ll have no way of checking how it sounds until after you’ve recorded it. Let’s look at the record side first.

  • How should I set my recording level?

We’ve already touched on the subject of recording levels, and how we can use the meters on our recording system to ‘see’ an incoming signal to confirm that our mic is working. These meters also help us set the correct signal level and most importantly avoid us setting those levels too high. 

If we overload or ‘clip’ the input, sending in a signal at a higher volume than the system can actually handle, it can cause annoying digital clicks that can be hard to remove later. It’s possible to use something like the ERA De-Clipper to rectify this problem, but getting a great recording at the start is always the best policy.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

As ever, recording systems differ. If you’re recording on a portable recorder or camera, the input level may be set automatically – or there might even be some kind of overload protection circuit.

Set your recorder to record ready. This should allow you to see the input level on the software meters. Now adjust the mic gain. This could be a physical control on your interface or the mic level you set in your software. Either way, set the level so that the loudest signal does not reach zero on the meter. Sometimes this can be hard to judge, but there are no prizes for getting the signal as close to zero as possible, and if your loudest signal is -10dB or even lower that is fine. Note, if you have an audio interface with input meters, you should also make sure these meters do not show a continuously red reading. 

  • How can I be sure I’m recording the right thing?

Listening or ‘monitoring’ what you’re recording helps ensure that it sounds right and also helps you spot any problems as they happen. This means you can sort them out at source and this will save you time and improve your results. 

There are a couple of ways we can do this. The first is to listen back via your recording software. This will be listed as a ‘monitor’ option and we can usually adjust the level or mute it if desired. The only problem with this is that the software introduces an audible delay or ‘latency’. This can be quite small (a few milliseconds) and if listening on headphones this may work fine. However, if we are close to the original sound source and can hear both it and the delayed monitor audio it can be very confusing. To resolve this issue, many interfaces and USB mics incorporate real time zero latency monitoring. This routes the mic input directly to the interface headphone output before it gets to your recording software. 

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

Finally – and we’ll look at this in greater depth below – if you‘re recording a stereo signal you’ll need two inputs and a stereo track or two mono tracks in your recorder. Note that mobile field recorders are usually ready to record in stereo, creating a stereo audio file.  

Your Recording Technique 

You may have ticked all the technical boxes, but having the gear doesn’t guarantee great audio recordings. Sound for video is an artform. Boom operators, voiceover artists and audio technicians spend years mastering their craft. 

Even the basics are a little more complex than you may think. Where you position your head in relation to the microphone can have a big impact on your sound. Being close to the microphone causes your voice to sound bassier. Though the extra bassiness is often undesired, it can be used as a sound shaping tool to create unique and impactful voice recordings. If you want to add extra bassiness to your video by actually lowering your voice, learn how to with these 10 tips.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

As a general rule, positioning yourself about six inches away from the mic will give you clean and balanced recordings which are appropriate for nearly all situations.

For more information on the science of sound and the frequency spectrum check out our guide to working with EQ and understanding sonic character.

To get consistent levels in your recordings, you need to make sure you stay at a constant distance from your microphone. As you may expect, moving towards and away from the mic can lead to fluctuations in the volume of your voice over recordings.

The way you speak is also an essential consideration. You want your audience to be able to clearly understand what you’re saying and so pacing and pronunciation are really important. Even if you’re doing a dramatic voiceover in character with a crazy voice, you still want what you’re saying to be understood. To achieve this try doing at least one rehearsal of your script – this will help you work out any potential problems. Often a script may read well but when it comes to speaking it out loud it’s necessary to make a few changes.

Talking into a microphone is harder physically than you may expect. No, you’re not going to wake up the next day with aching limbs, but you may find yourself developing a sore throat and dry mouth pretty quickly. To avoid this try doing some vocal warm ups before you begin – it also always helps to have a glass of water on hand for emergency sips.

The Microphone and the Source – how Positioning Affects your Recording

Unfortunately your mic doesn’t ‘hear’ things in quite the same way you do, picking up a combination of your target sound and the surrounding ambience. Here we’re going to offer practical advice on how best to use your chosen mic to capture the sound you want. 

  • What does my mic pick up?

We’ve already discussed the various types of mics (condenser, dynamic and so on), but it’s also important to understand that mics also have an accompanying pick up or ‘polar’ pattern. This fundamentally affects what the mic hears. With audio for video production, we primarily use either unidirectional mics – which pick up more of what you point them at – or omnidirectional mics which pick everything around them equally. 

As we move on to look at positioning your chosen mic, these subtleties become more important, and if you want a more in depth explanation about the science behind microphones it’s worth checking out The Science of Sound Recording: How Your Microphone Works

  • How to position a microphone

When we position a mic, we’re essentially making a balance decision between our source or target sound and the ambience that it’s surrounded by. In essence, the closer the mic is to our source, the more the source will dominate that balance and the clearer it will be in the recording.

So, the distance from our source is vitally important, and you may need to try a few test recordings in your chosen space to get a feel for how close the mic needs to be. Voiceover tasks can let you get in quite close, with about 15 centimeters delivering a tight, upfront sound. 

If you need to keep the mic out of the frame of your video recording, your options are more limited, but it’s perfectly possible to get the mic 18 inches from the sound source while still keeping a tight enough sound. 

  • Does the mic type affect how we position it?

Most of the time we will be using unidirectional mics (cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid and shotgun). For these types, the area behind the mic and to some degree to the sides will be less sensitive than the area in front of it, and we can use this characteristic to focus the mic’s sweet spot on our subject. 

This is reasonably easy if the subject is stationary, however if it’s moving we either need to use a manual boom and follow the subject move for move, or use a lavalier which is actually attached to and stays with the subject. In particularly noisy environments, or where we want to use a handheld mic but keep it out of frame, a shotgun mic on a boom is the best option. This is a very directional mic, so skill is needed to keep it pointing in the correct direction. 

Omnidirectional mics have a very neutral sound and are great for recording location ambiences. These types are also commonly used for lavaliers, and where mic orientation isn’t really an issue, you’ll find them much easier to position on your subject. 

  • What about recording in stereo?

Although recording individual dialogue works well using single mics recorded as mono sources, there are situations where we may want to record in stereo. The most obvious would be location ambiences, room tone and ‘wild tracks’, the last of which is any audio that you record at the time that’s not accompanied by video. 

Recording in stereo requires two mic capsules often arranged in a crossed ‘XY’ configuration. This is achievable using two separate mics but for convenience a single mic with dual capsules (Rode NT4 for example) is often a better choice. The XY configuration should be pointed so that the source aims between the capsules. And remember, a stereo recording requires a stereo audio track in your recorder. 

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide

Your Recording Environment

Your recording environment has a considerable impact on how your audio recordings sound, and although it’s possible to use post processing tools such as ERA Reverb Remover to reduce, tailor or enhance these aspects, getting roughly the right sound at the outset can save you time later. 

It’s not just your source sound that determines how your recording sounds; the environment you record it in has as much (if not more) of an effect. For an interview, for example, you may want a natural room ambience; for a voiceover, it might be better to get a very dry sound that can be processed heavily afterwards. For an outdoor location recording, you might want to capture the environment in all its glory – and likely in stereo. 

In most situations, the choice of environment and how you cope with it are both practical and creative decisions.

  • What impact does a room have?

Every indoor space has its own character, and this is particularly obvious in a big space like a church or concert hall. The reason for this is that sound waves bounce off any reflective surfaces creating a complex selection of quite obvious echoes and more diffuse reverberation. 

Combine multiple smooth reflective surfaces with a big space and you have a recipe for a complex sound that will dominate any recording you make. Thankfully, most of us record in much smaller spaces, but even in these rooms, direct reflections from surfaces can be invasive in their own way. 

But indoor spaces can be modified to taste, which we’ll discuss below, and they also offer a reliable and predictable outcome. For a more in-depth look at the science of room reverb check out this article: How your Room Affects the Sound of a Home Recording, and how to Stop it

For some insight into how a small untreated space may not be your friend check out this video: Audio for Video Myth #2: Closets and small rooms are ideal places for vocal recordings

  • Working Outdoors

Recording indoors provides a reasonably controlled environment that can often be tailored to our needs, but recording outdoors is much more unpredictable. We discuss some of these unpredictable issues in the next section. 

From an environment perspective, recording outside is quite neutral and doesn’t have the reflections and ambiences we’ve just discussed. However, even the quietest outdoor places will contribute their own atmospheric sounds and general background noise to your recordings. These are unavoidable, but as mentioned in our mic technique section above, you can balance this background noise by positioning your mic carefully.

Common Environmental Problems While Recording

We’ve already discussed how we choose and position microphones to better capture our audio for video production, and also how the surrounding environment combines with our source audio to create the overall ‘sound’ of our recording. However, there are other environmental aspects that can also impact the success of our audio recording.

  • Why is my mic picking up odd noises?

Microphones are great at picking up quiet sounds, and this makes it possible to capture great detail. Unfortunately this sensitivity also makes them susceptible to a number of issues. 

The most obvious noises to be picked up by your microphone are sounds such as rumble. This could be anything from quite serious ground-borne sounds generated by machinery, to simple localised sounds such as footsteps. This can be improved considerably by using decent mic stands with isolating clips. Some mics also have optional low cut filters, which help and applying a low cut filter in post production is also a solution.

Contact noises can also be a problem. These can be caused by handling the mic, or more careless bumps and knocks when the mic is in close. If you’re using a lavalier mic that’s clipped to clothing, make sure the clothing doesn’t touch the mic as this will create a rustling noise. 

Finally, mics also don’t handle air flow very well, and sudden or persistent bursts create a horrible distorted noise that’s very hard to remove later. If you’re outside this could be cause by the weather, and indoors it can be caused by mouth plosives such as ‘p’ and ‘b’.

  • How quiet is quiet?

When you come to edit and process your audio track, repeated listens will probably reveal background sounds you didn’t hear at the time. Even indoors in a reasonably quiet space, it’s surprising how many environmental noises can creep in, and this is why professional recording studios have to go to serious lengths and expense to create very quiet spaces. 

Nevertheless, typical pervasive sounds such as airplanes, birdsong and construction noise can be reduced considerably by keeping windows and doors closed, and this will make your post production considerably quicker. 

Noises generated within your recording space can be problematic too. Computer fans and mobile phone interference are good examples. For some tips on how to remove quite typical noises from your recordings check out this article 10 Types of Noise in Audio and how to Get Rid of it for Good

Improving the Sound of your Recording Environment

Your recording environment can have a considerable impact on how your audio recordings sound, so now let’s take a look at the things we can do to improve that.

  • The DIY option

Domestic spaces tend to be full of furniture and furnishings, and if you’ve ever completely emptied a room, to decorate it perhaps, you’ll appreciate how ‘lively’ that space becomes when it’s empty. Decor material also affects the acoustics, and this is best demonstrated by the effect ceramic tiles have on a bathroom acoustic.   

A good way to test a space is to do a single loud hand clap. This provides an overall sense of the space and will establish roughly how long the reverb decay is. If you listen carefully, it can also reveal any strange reflections including unpleasant ringing, twangy sounds. 

If your space is too reverberant, you can deaden it down and reduce reflections with additional furnishings. A particularly effective technique is to hang a quilt behind your sound source. Other options included using rugs or carpets on floors or reflective surfaces. However, it’s worth saying these techniques won’t influence the lower frequencies, and need to be used along with the microphone techniques already discussed. 

As far as isolation is concerned, the simplest advice is to keep windows and doors closed. Temporarily sealing under-door gaps with draught excluders is also very effective. 

How to Make your own Sound Effects

To deliver a professional sounding audio track we often need to add sound effects. Let’s have a look at what’s involved.

  • What are sound effects?

Sound effects come in many shapes and forms. It’s easy to spot the big dramatic impacts that dominate the audio track on Hollywood blockbusters, but there are plenty of more subtle atmospheres and effects that contribute to the overall audio mix. 

Sometimes these effects are created using synths and samples and at other times are actually recorded. 

It may be the case that you just want to replace or emphasize a particular sound that hasn’t come across on your original audio recording. Alternatively, a bunch of creative sound effects may be vital to the overall production. It’s not always obvious which techniques are used for which, and artificial sounding effects are often created by recording everyday items and everyday sounds that seem completely unrelated.

  • How can we make them?

Although audio samples are now used extensively in movie and TV productions, recording bespoke effects is still common, and the job of ‘Foley artist’ remains a key function for recreating location sounds particularly those associated with human and animal sounds such as footsteps, door noises and so on.

Recording your own sound effects can extend to all sorts of other sounds including location ambiences and weather, and can also be combined with further processing such as reverb and EQ. Although this is clearly more time-consuming than simply grabbing some stock sample sounds, it allows you to tailor things not just sonically but also in terms of timing and length. 

If you’re not confident or interested in this route, then there are also plenty of ready-made and royalty-free sample packs that range from typical impacts and everyday sounds to background atmospheres and so on. A great place to start is our own free SFX Cellar.

Recording Interviews and Voiceovers 

Recording interviews and voiceovers is a very common function for video makers. The requirements for these two can be quite different. While an interview revolves around a straightforward question and answer format, often live on camera, a voiceover is typically designed to work with particular screen action or an established video edit, and is performed off-camera. 

For interviews, keeping the answer audio clean without any question overlap is important, while for voice overs, the actual performance, pronunciation and sonics may be more important. Let’s look at the various recording options.

  • Interviews

Interviewing people takes many forms. The simplest but least satisfactory from an audio perspective is using a single handheld mic which is manually moved between the interviewer and interviewee as required. The setup time for this is minimal, and allows you to easily interview many people in succession. The problem is the mic is visible, it’s very hard to maintain a consistent mic position, and more often than not ‘quick’ soundbites will be grabbed in noisy or unsuitable environments. 

A better but equally quick solution is to use a directional mic. Attach this to a handheld boom stand and use a proper ‘dead cat’ windshield, and you will get better results and can keep the mic out of frame.

To achieve a closer recording and still keep the mic out of shot, the best option is often a lavalier mic. This may not deliver the best audio fidelity and does require a few minutes to set up, however the outcome is predictable. What’s more, it’s a technique that you can also use in a studio environment if a larger fixed microphone is not an option. 

  • When you need the interview to sound great

If the audio fidelity of your interview is important, it’s best to conduct the interview in a controlled space. If you need to keep the mic out of frame then a directional condenser (cardioid, supercardioid,  hypercardioid or even shotgun) either on a handheld boom or fixed stand works well. 

For the latter, position the mic above and just in front of the subject and about one to two feet away. Alternatively, if you’re happy to have the mic in frame, you could make a feature of it. There are plenty of stylish mics out there including some of the latest USB designs that look great in shot.

If you’re working with voice recordings, it’s important you understand the frequency range of the human voice.

  • Voiceovers

Voiceovers and dialogue replacement are typically recorded in a controlled indoor or studio environment. This provides the quietest and driest sound and this makes the audio flexible for further manipulation. But it’s perfectly possible to add acoustic treatment to any space, and this works particularly well with speech as you can create a small enclosed space using upholstered furnishings, quilts, duvets and so on. 

As you’re not worried about how things look on camera, you can choose the best-quality mic available, and if you need to get in really close to the mic, a pop shield as well.

Although your regular studio space is probably the easiest space to record a voiceover, there’s no reason you can’t capture a decent voiceover in all sorts of spaces if you find somewhere quiet and create a suitable ‘cocoon’ to deliver a dry sound.

  • What if I’m recording more than one person at the same time?

Using multiple studio microphones can create complex ambiences and phase issues between the mics, and when you mono the overall mix the balance and sound might change. If you’re in a studio environment, a round table set-up with stand or table mounted studio mics works well. If you’re outside, a skillfully operated shotgun boom is a good choice. In either situation you could of course opt for individual lavalier mics.   

Recording System Audio and Phone Calls 

Online content creation allows anyone to create tutorials, publish interviews, make gaming Let’s Plays – people can share any kind of content that they want with the world, using only their laptop as a tool. A lot of this content requires you to record system or phone audio – there’s not much point interviewing someone for a video if you can’t hear what they’re saying!

Of course you could just stick a microphone next to your computer’s speakers, however you’ll get the best quality results by recording your computer’s audio directly ‘in the box’.

We’re covering the basics of recording system audio here – we’ve got an in-depth guide with a wealth of information over on our blog.

  • How to record your computer’s audio

The good news for anyone wanting to record their system audio is that there are many excellent, free solutions out there.

How to Record Audio for Video at Home – A Comprehensive Guide
  • OBS Studio

Though it’s designed for broadcasting live streams, OBS Studio allows you to record audio on both Mac and Windows from multiple sources for free! It exports audio as an MP4 video file, so you’ll need to separate the audio from the video – fortunately this is a breeze in most video editors.

  • Recording Skype Audio (and Video)

Skype is an excellent tool for anyone conducting interviews online. It’s free and easy to use and it allows you to interview several people at once, face-to-face despite being dotted all over the world.

Skype also has a built in recording function which allows you to record not only audio, but video too. All you have to do to use it is press Start Recording.

  • How to record your phone’s audio

There are lots of apps available for both iPhone and Android which allow you to record phone calls for free, here we’ve got a suggestion for both Android and iPhone users. Recording phone calls on an Android phone is easy, but Apple makes it a little harder for iPhone users by not allowing third-party apps to access the phone app directly – fortunately developers have found  workarounds.

Ultimately many of them do the same thing, it’s a matter of finding the one which works best for you – give them a go and see which one you like.

One important thing to remember is that you should always get the consent of the person you’re on the phone with to record – not doing so is illegal.

  • Smart Call Recorder (Android)

Smart Call Recorder allows you to record any incoming or outgoing calls automatically. When it’s activated any calls you have will be automatically recorded and saved to the app. This is really easy but could also be a problem – not only are you going to start filling up your phone’s memory pretty quickly but you’re going to realise pretty quick how boring most of your phone calls are!

  • TapeACall

TapeACall uses your iPhone’s built in three way call function to record your conversations. You add TapeACall to your call and it records for you, simple! It does cost $10.99 a year, however that seems pretty reasonable for hassle free phone recording.

  • Better safe than sorry

When recording calls or system audio it’s always good to have a back-up in case something goes wrong when recording. Conversations aren’t easy to recreate and there’s nothing worse than asking someone to redo an interview because you forgot to press record! It might be worth sticking your phone next to your computer’s speakers with a voice recorder app running just in case

  • Extra quality

If your interview subject has a microphone you can record high quality interview audio whilst in totally different places. They can record themselves with their microphone whilst speaking to you over video chat and then send you their high quality audio afterwards – just remember to get them to use headphones so the audio from the computer doesn’t bleed into the recording.

January 21, 2021
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