How to Record Professional Sounding Audio

By Michelle Schoen   |  
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The quality of your audio really matters.  If you get your audio wrong, the perceived quality of your video will be lower than if you had reasonable audio but poor video! Here are some basics you ought to know to get the best quality audio possible.

1. Don’t use a 3.5mm jack-plug el-cheapo mic.  The 3.5mm mic is analogue, the sound is sampled inside your computer and typically electrical noise from the motherboard is introduced into the audio.  This raises the background noise level which lowers the audio’s perceived quality.  Also – cheap mic typically have poor-quality microphone components which distort your voice

2. Do use a USB mic or more expensive specialist hardware.  $60 USB microphones are far superior to 3.5mm mics.  My Microphone cost me $100 and it is much, much better than my first one that cost $29.

3. Only record in a quiet room.  Background noise like birds, traffic, rain can’t really be removed.  You can try with a tool like Audacity but the general rule is that you should always start with the cleanest audio recording you can.

4. Practice your script beforehand – this way you’ll avoid ‘ums’, ‘uhs’ etc.

5. Do some practice recordings to check for plosives (the popping sound you hear when you say the letters “p” or “b” to close to the mic)   You can edit these out with an audio editor but generally you want to practice moving your mic so the source recording has the fewest number of problems . If the plosives (above) are a problem, you can try using a pop filter.

One of my first problems when starting recording screencasts was knowing just how ‘good’ a mic could be.  Over at TechSmith (the makers of Camtasia) they have recorded the same voice to 6 microphones of varying quality.  Now you can easily hear how a better mic really improves the voice recording. These are the microphones they used

  • Samson C03U – $210.00
  • Lapel Microphone – $49.95
  • Logitech QuickCam Communicate Deluxe Webcam – $79.99
  • Blue Snowball – $99.00
  • Logitech Headset – $39.99 
  • Audio-Technica AT2020USB – $249.00

I use the Audio Technica AT2020 and got it for about $100 on Amazon. 

FYI-I make professional screencasts (see my portfolio) and also offer Camtasia classes (LearnCamtasiaFast.com) The next Camtasia class is starting on March 15. Make sure you sign up for my list below or to the right to get notified.

 

Best,

 

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3 Comments

  1. Comment by JudyAnn Lorenz:
    Friday, July 16th 2010 at 10:52 am | 

    I agree on the noise business. I was just sick the other day when there was a ‘whine’ in the background, then realized it was picking up my fan. It worked to ‘sweat’ for a few minutes and leave the fan off.

  2. Comment by Andrew Newey:
    Tuesday, March 5th 2013 at 7:56 pm | 

    I’ve recorded many video’s and agree on quality of microphone. Shopping around now and the microphone roundup you suggested would have been good, but the link is now gone. In addition to desk narration microphones, I’m also looking for microphones suitable for outdoor and distance recording… still shopping… :)

  3. Comment by michelle Schoen:
    Wednesday, March 6th 2013 at 6:47 pm | 

    You’re right- the link has changed but I did a little research and found where they had moved it to. Hope this helps!
    http://blogs.techsmith.com/tips-how-tos/microphone-round-up/

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