How to Choose a Microphone for Your Videos

How to Choose a Microphone for Your Videos

How to choose a Microphone for VideosCreating videos as part of your content strategy entails a lot of moving parts. When you first start sharing your ideas, knowledge, and expertise with others using online video, it’s only natural to focus on the quality of content first. You’re going to think about the topics, video formats, publishing frequency, and you may even experiment with different video sharing platforms.

But once you spend some time recording actual videos, you’ll see that there’s a technical side to video that’s equally important to consider.

Make Sure your Audience Can Hear You

You don’t necessarily need the highest video quality to provide your audience with real value, but you still need to aim for quality if you want more people to watch and share your videos. A lot of viral videos are not professionally shot and produced, but they still garner enormous attention. So, the perfect equipment is not always the only requirement for creating a video that strikes a chord with your audience.

But there’s one thing that makes a big difference – the sound. Even if your video is low quality, you could get away with it if the sound is impeccable. This especially applies to videos where you want to share your thoughts on a certain subject or interview someone. Making sure people can actually hear what you have to say is a first step towards capturing their attention and driving them towards desired action. That’s why it’s essential to choose the right microphone for your videos.

We may not be experts in sound, but we’ve learned some practical tips over the last year that I want to share with you.

There are too many articles that over complicate sound and use a lot of technical terms. This is not one of them!

Choosing the Right Microphone for your Videos

There are many different types of microphones out there, each with different characteristics and price points, and this abundance of choice makes it harder to decide which ones to use and when.

The following are some practical tips on different types of microphones and their uses.

 A Lavalier Mic

A Lavalier mic is really small and you can clip it onto a person that is speaking. You can use it as a wireless mic or wired. Regardless if you have a fancy camera or you’re recording with an iPhone, you can typically connect a lavalier mic to it.

The advantage of a Lavalier mic is that it’s positioned right beside the person that is speaking and it’s omnidirectional. This means it picks up sound from all directions. So, for example, if a speaker turns their head you’ll still pick up good sound. This can also be a disadvantage since it can also pick up the unwanted sound from the surrounding.

We use the Road SmartLav+ which is a high-quality mic and reasonably priced (we had to order an extension cable with it).

Microphone for Videos - A Lavalier Mic
A Lavalier Mic

 

A Shotgun Microphone

A Shotgun microphone is a directional mic. This means it picks up sounds only from a specific direction. The Shotgun mic is held at the end of a boom pole and pointed in the direction of the person speaking, typically just outside the view of the camera frame.

So if you don’t want to pick up any surrounding noise and you only want to record the sound in the direct area of the mic, then a shotgun mic is the right choice.

People often call this a boom mic. But a boom mic is any microphone that is at the end of an extended (boom) pole. It’s called boom because it’s at the end of the pole not because it’s the type of microphone!

We use the Rhode Shotgun mic with a boom pole!

 

A free standing mic

You may decide to have a microphone(s) sitting on the table in front of a person you’re interviewing. There’s a whole selection of microphones and set up’s that would work for this scenario. Your first decision is whether you go for a condenser microphone or a dynamic microphone. You can read hundreds of articles on the differences between these two types of microphones and it’s all very confusing. But the short summary is this:

  • Dynamic – These mics don’t pick up surrounding sound and your mouth needs to be right up to the microphone. They also don’t require external power.
  • Condenser – These mics are a lot more sensitive so they’ll pick up more surrounding sound (which you may want) and they typically require external power.

We use a HeilPR40 which is a dynamic microphone. It’s connected directly into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and has 2 inputs for microphones. For example, if I want to do an interview I can connect two microphones into the Scarlett and then connect this to my PC where everything is recorded.

Video recording setup
Heil microphone with mixer

Check out this YouTube video which was recorded using this mic:

An example condenser microphone is the Snowball which is a lot less expensive. However, if you want to pick up sound only from the immediate area then the HeilPR40 is better.

Your Location!

You may need multiple microphones depending on where you are recording. For example, I have a wooden office. I use a dynamic mic (the Heil PR40) because it doesn’t pick up any sound in the surrounding area and the sound is perfect. You would expect that in a wooden office there would be a lot of sound bouncing off the hard walls and causing sound distortion but it doesn’t happen with a good dynamic mic.

If you are outside, you may want to use a Lavalier mic because it’s easy to carry.

Recording Your sound

You may have your mic connected directly to your camera and sound/visual is all recorded through the camera.

However, it’s typically better to record sound separately.

We use a Roland R-05 recorder. When we’re recording in our office we use the Heil mic which is connected to the mixer. We then connect our Roland R-05 into the mixer also and record the sound. This gives us awesome sound. Next, our Editor mixes the visual and sound together.

Summary

Whether you want to start your vlogging career or share some industry tips and tricks via video as part of your content strategy, make sure people will be able to clearly hear what you have to say. Today, you can make videos using just your mobile phone and video quality will be okay. However, this does not necessarily apply to the sound, so choose a microphone for your videos wisely!

Think about what your exact needs will be. Where will you be making your video? Are you going to be the only one speaking or you plan on bringing guests? Only when you have an idea what you want your videos to be like, you can start choosing a microphone.

What microphones are you using for your online videos?

 

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