Top 5 ways to make better audio recordings

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I've seen people make a lot of mistakes when they record audio. Often in low budget or student films, people will put a lot of effort into the video but don't think too much for the audio side. I might be slightly biased, but I think it's JUST as important as video.

Here are my top 5 tips to improving your audio:

5. Don't record too loud! What I'll often see when people are recording audio is they try and record AS LOUD as they can - which is fine until the talent begins to talk louder or shouting causing the recording to distort.

Best thing to do is record your normal talking level at around -20db to -18db this means that if the talent starts talking loudly it won't clip. Think of it like this, you can always turn it up if it's not loud enough, but you can't turn it down if it's too loud.

4. Get close! You want that sucker as close as you can. Take your hand, extend your thumb and pinkie fingers placing your thumb on your lips and your pinkie on the microphone - Maybe a little closer if you have big hands. This tip helps with your signal to noice ratio (voice to background noice ratio).

If it's for film, you want your microphone as close to the talent without it being in the frame.

This might sound obvious but make sure the microphone is facing the right direction and pointed directly at the talent's mouth.

3. If there's too much ambient noise try and reduce it. Whether it's closing a window, turning off your aircon or even the fridge can make a difference. One of my sound teachers use to say,

"Put your keys in the fridge so you don't forget to turn it back on when you leave".

If you come back and you can hear an aircon in the background DON'T STRESS, there's a lot of good software that can help reduce it (Adobe Audition's noise reduction plugins are quite good). But don't push the reduction too much as it will create weird artefacts in the vocals.

2. Reduce your echo. Ever listened to a recording and heard an echo? Well unless it's some effect you don't really want it, as it can be quite distracting. To reduce it you can use special acoustic panels and bass traps which you strategically place around the room to help absorb and reflect the echo.

But don't fret, if this is too much out of your price range. You can use something like a doona or other thick blankets to help. Just surround yourself and the microphone with it and it will help a lot. Or even sit in your closet, your jackets will do a similar thing.

1. My final suggestion is your microphone. Skimping on this will mean will result in naturally worse sounding recordings. This means putting away your phone, your computer's microphone or even that cheap $20 microphone you got off ebay and investing in a decent microphone. (You get what you pay for right?)

In saying that, by no means am I telling you to go out and buy the most expensive microphone on the market. No... Having the best equipment doesn't instantly mean you're going to sound like a million bucks, that will come with practice (and hopefully by following this haha). There are some great sounding microphones out there that deliver great audio for a reasonable price, check out companies like RØDE who are proudly Australian or Blue Microphones just to name a couple.

When you're looking, unless you want to go down the more professional route of XLR I'd suggest USB, as they will provide less interference than 3.5mm (headphone jack) microphones.

Well, that's it! My top 5 list of audio tips. Hopefully, this list has helped with any issues you might've had in the past. Let me know below if you'd like some recommendations of microphones and I'll make another post.