Audio Solutions

 

In this section of the blog will be helpful information on the subject of audio, particularly microphone choice.

It is a truism that most audio faults (wind noise, unwanted echo, unwanted ambient noise) can not be removed without severely affecting the voice recording. As we cry for help in solving these audio problems, the one repeating refrain in all audio forums will be, “It’s best to record it right in the first place”. And that is the function of a good microphone and good microphone placement.

It is easy to add things to a good recording (echo, effects, etc.) and it is fairly easy to enhance the voice on a good recording using various EQ tools available in all major NLE programs.

That’s why the Audio section of this blog will be mainly oriented to helping you with how to choose microphones to add to your kit along with advice on how and where to place them.

Microphones

If you’re not familiar with the world of microphones, it’s easy to get lost on an internet search for which microphone to buy. There is a lot of information, a lot of choices and a lot of specialized language and a wide range of prices. If money is no object, you’d do well to buy the most expensive which would probably be a Sennheiser or Shoeps. In fact, I’ve heard it said that if you want good audio, expect to pay as much for a microphone as you did for your camera…

In my studio days–to my shame–I was too often short-tempered with the audio personnel. Fortunately, the audio people I worked with were good at their jobs, but as it turns out, their jobs are not easy. Poor audio recording is the one thing that will make nothing of your best efforts at camerawork and lighting.

Good video + poor audio = bad video.

And too many videos out there have poor quality audio, some of mine included.

I was shocked into the realization that I needed better or alternative microphones one day on a corporate shoot when, unexpectedly, the primary interview had to be done on the shop floor. There were no quiet offices we could use. And the shop was noisy. All I had was a good quality lapel microphone, but being omnidirectional, it was impossible to record without the very loud and distracting ambience of the factory being prominent in the recording, even though I had the microphone as close to the lips as possible. The result was very poor indeed. I did my best in post production to notch out the worst offending frequencies, but that of course affected the voice as well. It was a nightmare and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

After that bad experience I bought an Audio Technica 8035 cardiode microphone on the advice of a shop owner. It was the best investment I had made up to that time in audio gear. It’s a ‘reporter’s mic” which, when held close to the lips, gives excellent voice presence in noisy environments.

More recently I felt the need to have a super-cardiode microphone (rifle mic) after another experience when it would have been good to have a mic that could get good sound in a noisy environment while not being present in the shot.

I lucked out in my research by finding the blog article I which will be the first link below this article.

This blog covers cardiode and super cardiode microphones (microphones with greater noise canceling properties to the sides and rear of the mic). It doesn’t cover lapel microphones–which are generally omni-directional. In that case there are industry standard lapel mics that are easy to find on a Google search. But in all honestly, they’re all pretty good (Sony, Sennheiser, Countryman and Rode). Just don’t get a cheap one.

But for the rest of your arsenal, you’ll find this blog article by Ken Stone to be very helpful in comparing the best of what’s out there, what’s good for what, what their prices are and where to buy them.

I count on the contribution of audio-savvy subscribers to add to the conversation and even to submit articles for inclusion in the blog.

As I Hear It–Choosing the Right Microphone

4 responses

  1. P.S. To clarify–most wireless lapel mics are omnidirectional and even when close-miced, can pick up unwanted ambience unless you are in a real quiet environment–which is why the short shotgun gets better sound because most of my stuff is done in non-optimum recording environments. However, if I’m going to do a ‘walk-about’ (following behind or leading the person talking), the only possibility is the Sony wireless.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mikos, I do have wireless systems; one Sony system which I primarily use and my old Azden system I used for years. Plus I can stick a transmitter on my Audio Technica mic for man-in-the-street interviews. So yes, I there are plenty of situations where I use wireless. For a controlled, sit-down interview, however, even though they’ve got a Sony wireless mic on, I usually use the Audio Technica short shotgun, closely placed, for best sound.

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    • Hi Joe, Silly me! On the train commuting back home I reviewed again in the book the contents/photo of your camera and audio bag, and of course I found a hell lot of wireless microphone gear. Thank You so much for the help. Your book is terrific!

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  3. Hi Joe, The Video Whisperer, I am thinking how to approach audio in my shooting. I’ve noticed that you don’t use wireless microphones, no Sony UWP-D, no Sennheiser G3, no Azden 330 wireless microphone gear. Have you ever been in a situation, where you wished to have a wireless microphone set? Thank You, Miklos

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