Amateur Audio On Excellent Video

Here is yet another example of a really entertaining and otherwise excellent video made to appear amateur-ish by the audio quality.  I have written repeatedly about why this seems to be so common while simultaneously being pretty easy to fix.  See these articles, for example:

Audio For Videos: Do Not Let Bad Sound Ruin Great Video

Pro Audio For Your Video – Review of the BeachTek DXA-2T Camcorder Adapter

So my wife was on Facebook and showed me a very funny video with terrific acting and awesome content.  But as I watched, I couldn’t stop wondering why they didn’t try a little harder to mic the actors.  Their voices were all echo-y and reverb-y, like the sound you’d get if you just shot the video with a camcorder (or even an iPhone) and the actors 6-20 feet away.  To quote a military friend of mine – “that dog won’t hunt.”

In order to get good sound quality on dialogue in a video is the get a mic close to the mouths of the actors.  This is done either by using hypercardioid (very directional while rejecting off-axis noise) on a long pole just out of frame, or by using lapel mics.

Sure, wireless lapel mics are a couple hundred bucks, but putting even a cardioid mic (you can get a Shure SM58 for under a hundred bucks) on the end of a pole (you can rig up a DIY version with a telescoping aluminum brush/broom pole at the hardware store, or use PVC pipe if you have to). The solution does not have to be expensive and it can make such a HUGE difference in the level of professionalism.

OK, stepping off the soap-box now.  Here’s the video I was referring to.  I think these guys are great:

0 comments on “Amateur Audio On Excellent Video”

  1. Hi!

    I’m very excited that I found your products & web page, as your Newbies Training Part 1 is just what I need right now!

    My wife & I filmed our first video for our business, & given our in-the-moment inspiration-led filming, we did not have a lavalier mic while filming, & so I just used the on-board mic on our video camera. This was a kitchen studio shoot, so the audio is very echo-y & sounds like she’s in a box.

    I used your 2 techniques in the Newbies Part 1 of amplifying the signal & removing the noise. The sound is better, but it still sounds echo-y with reverb.

    In Audacity, is there a way to remove the echo & reverb sounds? If so, how do I do it &/or could you point me to an article, video, or other that would show me how?

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Lindsey,

      You’re probably stuck with that audio now I’m afraid. The room sound (especially bad in kitchens, as you mentioned) is now an integral part of the audio, so you can’t “remove” it without removing the meant of the audio itself. As you have probably sussed (since you mentioned the lav mic), the way to do this in the future is to make absolutely sure there is a mic close the the narrator’s mouth. If you don’t have a lav or if you don’t have a camera with an external mic input, you can use a portable digital recorder like a Zoom H2 or the like. Then simply import both the video and the audio from the H2 into your video editor, line up the H2 audio with the camcorder’s audio (from the built-in mic) until it is synced up, and then delete the camcorder audio, leaving you with the “good” audio for your video. Does that make sense? See my post here for more on this topic:



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