30 June 2018

Microphone: our tips for better sound

Guidebook
4 minutes
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In a broadcast live, there’s not only image, there’s also sound! If the image is of course important, it would be silly to ignore the sound of your video. Here are some tips for a better sound recording and a recommendation of some microphones.

Sound or image? Both!

Depending on the content you choose to stream live, sound can be more or less important. But in most cases, it is essential and should not be neglected! Indeed, a viewer watching your broadcast can occasionally put up with a poor image (technical problem, flow, etc.); this is much less the case with the sound. Poor sound can quickly bore a viewer and cause them to turn off the broadcast, even if the content is good. With bad sound, the content is not transmitted.

Even Netflix applies this rule! When watching a series or movie on the video-on-demand platform, the streaming priority is always given to the sound rather than the video. They have found that viewers can handle a bad picture more easily than a bad sound: think about it!

Sound recording tips

How to get good sound? In addition to the essential equipment (we’ll come to that in the next chapter), there are a few rules to apply when broadcasting a video if you want to accompany it with clear and audible sound.

First criterion: the location. If you have a choice of locations for the event you’re broadcasting, choose a quiet location. Indoors, avoid windows (which create reverberation) or places that are too large and create resonance. Also be careful with the floor: tiles and hard floors will amplify the sound of footsteps or chairs. Outside, your enemy will be the wind, which, without the right equipment (quality windscreen), will make your recording inaudible, causing the sound recording to become saturated.

Next: the right equipment. Do you need tie microphones or are ambient microphones enough? Do you have to hide the microphones in the image or does it not matter? If possible, equip each speaker with their own microphone. For events such as a soccer game, each camera can be equipped with its own microphone, in addition to strategically placed room mics.

Finally: articulation. Yes, if the speakers aren’t used to expressing themselves in the context of your recording (in public for example), they may forget to articulate or speak loudly enough. It is always a good idea to remind them of a few simple rules, such as keeping a calm breath, remembering to articulate and speaking into the microphone (for a handheld microphone). You may save the sound of your video with this little reminder!

5 selected microphones

For DSLRs: The Rode VideoMic Rycote is a reference, used by many professionals who film with cameras. It is easy to use, compact and versatile.

Tie microphone: The Rode SmartLavPlus is a reasonably priced microphone, particularly suitable for smartphones with its dedicated plug. Beware of rubbing!

For voice: The reference is the Shure SM 58. Timeless and very reliable, it is used by many professionals and will capture the voice perfectly.

For commentary / voice-over: The Rode Procaster is an ideal microphone for recording a commentator or translator. If you have speakers around a table in a radio/podcast configuration, it will also do very well.

The all-rounder: The Zoom H6 is ideal for your recordings that will not be broadcast live. It is a recorder that has microphones (you can leave it on a table to record a conversation), but you can also connect different microphones in XLR for better quality.

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