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How to Improve Audio on YouTube

Let’s face it; YouTube is the ultimate platform for making yourself heard (and seen) whether you work with audio or video. And believe it or not, in terms of video production, the audio is equally as important as the visuals. That’s why videos are called audiovisuals in the first place.

This isn’t only limited to music videos. Say, you’re making a gameplay video. If the audio doesn’t match up with the quality of the visuals in terms of crispness and clarity, viewers are most likely to skip past your video and move on to the next one with potentially better audio.

That’s why, when I record a video whether I’m using a camera or my rusty old cellphone, I make sure that the audio is well taken care of by a device that’s actually designed for handling different levels of audio frequencies. In other words, make sure to use one or more external microphones.

How Would You Improve the Audio Quality of YouTube Videos?

Let’s say you have a dedicated Microphone to take care of the audio. Even then, one should follow certain steps to make sure the noises in your videos complement the content. Also, the audio should be just as important as the video is when you’re showcasing your talents on this social platform.

Let me teach you how you can alleviate the audio quality.

Choose Your Recording Location Wisely

The setting is important for videos. Not just for the aesthetics, but also because the location directly impacts its audio quality. How? Let me explain. You see, the sound that hits the diaphragm of your mic is affected by the atmosphere that it’s been created in.

If you’re shooting outdoors, you should go for a location that is less crowded, and less windy. Because wind noises, busy traffic sounds, sounds of planes landing, and taking off in airports will only add distortion to the sound that you’re actually trying to record.

But, if you must record in situations like this, the best thing you can do is re-record the sound in a studio later on and then sync it with your video. This is called dubbing, and it’s quite popular in the film industry as well as music videos.

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On the other hand, if you’re shooting indoors, try to avoid places with blank wooden or marble floors and large empty walls. These walls and floors tend to reflect the sound frequencies that hit them. Causing them to bounce off and create a lot of echo and reverb.

But if you must shoot in a location like this, you can use buffers. For example, carpets, wall mats, and big furniture such as couches that take up space preventing sound waves from bouncing from one wall to the other in an empty room.

However, that won’t always be an option. Simply ensure that there are two buffers on the two sides of the subject(s). You could hang blankets on the mic or camera stands close enough to catch and muffle the sound frequencies before hitting the walls without getting into the frame.

Pick Your Mic According to Your Location

There are a wide variety of microphones out there. Each having their own purpose and utility. It’s vital that you know about all these types, what they do, and exactly where to use them. To learn more about microphones, you can give my other write-up a read.

Basically, your microphone type will be decided based on what kind of sound you’ll be recording and in what kind of environment. If you’re shooting indoors, with mostly vocals and maybe instruments, you should probably go for a condenser microphone. It can catch even the slightest of change in audio frequency ensuring clarity.

If you need your audio to be loud and only focused on the sound coming from the subject and not its surroundings, then you should get a dynamic mic. It sort of muffles out ambient noises and concentrates only on the sound that’s coming from the main source.

For shooting documentaries and movies, a boom mic is the best option. Because it can catch sound from a great distance without getting into the frame.

And finally, when you’re shooting interviews or tutorial videos, it’s best to use a lavalier mic or lapel mic. They’re tiny and discreet, but they do their job with the sounds pretty fantastically.

Positioning Your Mic

I see a lot of videos that are technically supposed to sound good but they simply don’t. And that’s because the mic is positioned too far away from the subject. This not only makes the audio sound unclear, but also invites a lot of background and ambient sounds that turn into noise.

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When you’re using a boom mic or a shotgun mic, the trick is to position the mic as close to your subject as possible without the mic getting into the frame. The ideal distance is 2 feet max. You can even get creative with it and find hiding spots where you can keep your mic in the frame without it being caught on camera.

If you’re using a wireless lavalier mic, then you can just clip it onto the subject’s clothing keeping it six inches below their mouth. If you’re taking a close-up shot and don’t want the mic to be seen, just tape it onto the inside of the subject’s clothing maintaining the six-inch distance.

Although this compromises with the audio quality a bit, but that’s the only way to do it I guess. Also, when using a lav mic taped inside the clothing, make sure that it’s taped properly so that accidental rubs and ruffling don’t add any extra noise to it.

Test Audio Recording Levels Before Filming

Gain levels are important because they determine how sensitively the mic is going to respond to the audio frequencies that it’s exposed to. The ideal gain level is between -12 to -6 db or decibels.

If the gain level is too high, it’ll take in a lot of ambient noise and sound distortion. Also, if it’s too low, the recording would sound muffled. So make sure to adjust the gain levels before you start filming.

Also, the sound frequencies tend to go up and down as people tend to sound louder when they get excited or when they’re laughing. So, keep your hand on the gain dial at all times while recording to switch it up and down accordingly.

Use Windscreens, Dead Cats, and Pop Filters

Windscreens and pop filters may not seem like much, but they do a hell lot to block out the unwanted wind noises and plosives from your recordings. Another useful tool is dead cats. They absorb the extra gusts of wind from hitting the diaphragm of your mic and ruining your recording with stormy sounds.

Windscreens are used for recording outdoors to muffle the sound of bustling crowds and stormy winds to give you a crisp and clear sound. On the other hand, pop filters are more commonly used for indoor recordings where the mic is placed up close to the mouth of the speaker or the singer to block out the plosives that come out from their mouths.

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A good windscreen, dead cat, and pop filter can take off a huge load of effort you normally have to invest for killing the background noise in post-production.

Do A Sync Clap Before Each Take

Sound waves are usually seen as squiggles on an audio graph. The higher the frequency, the bigger spike it creates on the graph. When you’re syncing an audio recorded with the mic to replace that of the camera’s in-built mic, syncing the two sounds so that they go with the video can be a tricky job.

Videographers and filmmakers often sync clap to create an intentional spike in the sound wave before a take so that they know the exact point from where they should start syncing the audio with the video. Clap boards are used for the same purpose.

It’s always a good idea to sync clap your recordings so that you know where you need to start syncing and where you should finish.

Use A Portable Audio Recorder

At this point you might be wondering how you’re going to get the sound loud and clear in a video without recording it separately in a studio. The solution to this is, external portable audio recorders. These little magic machines can be used with most cameras and work wonders to deliver a crisp sound.

You might need to use extra cable converters or adapters to get the recorder to work with your mic, but that won’t seem like much of a trouble if you consider the convenience it provides.

Use Good Audio Editing Software

Before you sync up the audio with the video, make sure that it sounds just as you want it. That means no noise, clear and crisp vocals, well balanced EQ and compression, and all that technical stuff you probably know about already. Make sure to tweak and adjust each of the things before sync it with the video.

This is important before when a video is uploaded to any platform, they often tend to sacrifice the sound quality to make the video look better.

 If you pay a little extra attention and effort to make your audio sound slightly better than you actually need it to be, then it’d sound just about right even after the sound quality is dialed down by the video sharing platform.

Listen Up

It’s always a good idea to listen to what others have to say about your audio, because that way you get more perspective. Listen to the audio of other YouTube videos and take notes on what you think they may have done to make it sound the way it does.

Be creative about your projects and work with passion so that it reflects in the output. Try to find your sound, and once you do, hold on to it.

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