Best Tip to Record Better Sound for Vloggers

iRig Microphone Lav box

If the sound on your vlog seems far away or has an echo, the best tip is getting the microphone closer to your mouth when speaking. This is what separates the professional quality video from the amateur. When you hold up your phone or camera at arm’s length away, the built-in microphone records your voice but it also captures the other noises in the room too. Having the mic closer to the person speaking makes them easier to understand and even helps when recording in noisy environments.

iRig lav microphone

Whether you’re doing Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, Snapchat or YouTube, this will take your video to the next level. I recommend getting a wired lavalier microphone that you can plug into the headphone jack on your phone and clip on your shirt or blouse. It puts the mic right where it needs to be which is in the middle of your chest near your sternum. The mic is usually just out of the camera’s view and people don’t even know you’re wearing it but it sounds so much better. There are a number of companies that make wired mics but the one I bought is from IK Multimedia called the iRig Mic lav.  A lav or lavaliere mic is a small microphone that clips onto your clothing.

iRig Lav Microphone Carrying Case

It comes in a little carrying case and has a small foam windscreen that fits over the end to help with breath noises and light breezes if you’re outside. You can even buy a two-pack microphone set and add an additional mic. This allows two people to connect their microphones to the same phone at the same time.

iRig lav mic clipped to shirt

For a more professional sound on your live or recorded vlog, get the microphone close to the person speaking with a wired lav mic. If you have questions on more ways to make your videos more professional, please email me. Happy recording!

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Review of Sennheiser HD25 Plus Headphones

Choosing the right headphones for location sound recording is very important. You want a flat frequency response from your headphones so no frequencies are boosted or cut unnecessarily. When recording, you want to trust that the sound your hearing is the sound that’s actually being recorded. That’s why headphones designed for listening to music are not the best choice. Many brands boost the low frequencies for more bass response and are great when listening to music but not so much when you’re trying to record accurate location sound. I’ve used a variety of headphones over the years primarily of the studio variety like the Sennheiser HD280 Pros, Sony MDR 7506 and AKG K 240s.

Sennheiser HD25 Plus Headphones

I recently picked up a pair of Sennheiser HD-25 PLUS headphones for doing location recording. The first thing you notice is the split headband. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on set and bent down to pick something up or looked up at something and my headphones started to slide off my head. The HD-25s are designed to be opened up so they fit securely on your head and won’t fall off.

split headrest Sennheiser HD25 Plus Headphones

The next feature is the flip away ear cup that can be moved off your ear when you need to listen to someone next to you or other sounds in the environment. Of course, you want to have ear cups that cover your ear to block out ambient sounds and these do just that. The PLUS version comes with an additional set of soft velour ear pads that can be easily switched out with the vinyl ones that come attached.

vinyl ear pads

The PLUS version of the HD-25 headphones include a 10 foot coiled cable and a 5 foot straight cable. If you’ve ever been on location recording and gotten your coiled headphone cable tangled up in a mic cable or other accessories, you’ll appreciate the 5 foot straight cable that eliminates that problem. I switched to the straight cable and velour ear pads when I started using mine.

spiral cable

Sennheiser HD-25 PLUS headphones are lightweight and can be worn for extended periods of time without ear fatigue. They include some handy options like the additional straight cable, extra earpads, 1/8” to ¼” adaptor and carry bag. But ultimately, how do they sound? With a frequency response of 16 Hz to 22kHz, and from my experience using them, these headphones give an accurate reproduction and sound great!

Sennheiser HD25 headphones

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How to Use EQ to Enhance Your Audio Mix

You’re working on the audio mix for your video project. You like the music selection and you like your voice-over choice too, but when you put the two together, it just doesn’t sound right. It’s like the music and voice are competing with each other. If you lower only the music, then the mix seems unbalanced. If you just turn up the voice, that doesn’t work either. Often, this is because the same audio frequencies that we want to hear in the voice are also present in the music.

10-Band Graphic EQ
10-Band Graphic EQ

An effective way to blend the two together is by using an equalizer. Try a 10-band Graphic EQ or a Parametric EQ applied only to the music. If you slightly reduce or cut the frequencies in the 2kHz to 5kHz range in the music track, it will help the voice stand out. That’s because these frequencies are the ones that give the voice its “presence.” You’re creating a pocket in the music frequencies for the voice to sit in.

Parametric EQ
Parametric EQ

By cutting these frequencies in the music, the voice is no longer competing for the same frequencies to be heard. Don’t cut the frequencies too much or the music will sound hollow or flat. You can also do the opposite when the voice or dialog seems a little muffled or muddy. If you boost or turn up the 2kHz to 5kHz frequencies, the voice is a little clearer and has more presence. Experiment and see what works best. Try it next time you’re mixing music and dialog.

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Using Sound Blankets to Reduce Reverb & Echo

sound blanket-folded

As a location sound recordist, it’s extremely helpful to know what kind of space you will be recording in before the production starts. Sometimes you’re included in that decision process and sometimes you’re not. Many times, you will show up on-location and you’ll have to figure it out then. When you walk into a room you have to determine how reverberant it is. People sometimes call it echo but it’s actually reverb, which is sound reflecting off the walls, floors and ceilings. Flat surfaces like tile and wood floors and high vaulted ceilings cause the sound to bounce around the space. If you clap your hands, you can hear the sound bounce around and trail off. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to remove the reverb after you record so you want to reduce it as much as possible on-location before filming begins.

sound blanket-hanging

In come the sound blankets! To help absorb the sound reflections and reduce the reverb in the room, hang up sound blankets around the set and put them on the floor around your actors. You can also use packing or moving blankets, which vary in thickness. The thicker the better. You probably won’t be able to remove all the reverb in the space but it will definitely help control it and make it less noticeable. If it’s a nice hard wood floor, it’s good to put down a blanket anyway to protect the surface from scratches as you set up the gear. Use a c-stand with a grip head and arm to hang sound blankets just off camera to create sound absorption around your actors.

sound blanket-floor

Of course, every situation is different and you’ll have to adjust as needed especially if the camera is changing positions, you don’t want to see the blankets on-camera. It’s always good to put a lav mic on the talent AND use a boom mic to capture the actor’s dialog and then choose the best sounding options in post. Remember to get the boom mic as close to the actor’s mouth without being seen on-camera to help with reducing the reverb the mic picks up. The further the boom mic is away from the talent, the more room sound you will hear. It’s always good to have at least 4 or 5 sound blankets available on every shoot to control the sound and to protect flooring and furniture. Happy recording!

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Be The Eternal Student

If you’re like most people, you’re happy you don’t have to go to school anymore. Remember those classes you hated and all the homework? But even though you don’t have to go anymore, we should never stop learning. Strive to be the eternal student. Keep learning all you can about subjects you’re interested in. With today’s technology, you can find information on the Internet for just about anything. If you’ve ever wanted to know something about any subject out there, you can find it online.  You can learn how to play a musical instrument, study astronomy or do home maintenance projects.

Over the past few years, I’ve been listening to podcast shows in the car on my way to work everyday.  I got tired of the same old local radio stations and found a whole world of content with podcasts on my phone. You can download the episodes when you’re at home and you don’t use any cell data as you listen.  There are podcasts on every subject imaginable.  Sports, food, movies, self-improvement, it’s all there. As time went by, I thought it might be fun to start a podcast of my own. I didn’t know much about the process but I found free online tutorials that walked me through the steps. Because of my audio background, the technical side came fairly easily and I just needed to learn about the infrastructure of it all. On top of that, I recently re-connected with a good friend, Chris Curran, from my New York studio years. He was going to a podcast conference in Tampa, Florida, Podfest 2016, and invited me to come hang out with him. Needless to say, the event opened my eyes to the world of podcasting.

up2u_working_CS-2

To make a long story short, I did it! I’ve started my own podcast show and it’s called the UP2U Podcast. I talk about what motivates people to get out of bed every day. We learn from individuals who have overcome challenges and strive to be the best they can be. Each episode empowers us to take the next step to becoming a better person. No more excuses! Whatever happens in life is UP2U! Please check it out and let me know what you think. You can find it on iTunesStitcherTuneInAndroidRSS. Don’t forget, never stop learning. Be the eternal student and learn something new today.

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Top Field Mixers and Recorders

If you’ve ever wondered what field mixers and recorders other location sound crews are using around the world, here are the latest results from our January 2016 poll. Top field mixers and recorders in our recent poll The majority of sound mixers are using gear from Sound Devices. They offer a wide range of mixers and mixers with integrated recorders from 2-tracks to 64 tracks and more. The second most used brand of mixers and recorders from our poll were from the Zoom Corporation.  Their new F8 8-input/10-track recorder is gaining popularity with its affordability and functions.  Then the H6 down to the H4n are being used as field recording alternatives. Continue reading “Top Field Mixers and Recorders”

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Importing a Premiere Pro Project into Audition

Adobe Premiere Pro has built-in audio tools, but nothing with the capability of Adobe Audition. Ideally, it’s much better to work with your final audio mix in Audition.

Once your video edit is complete in Premiere Pro, go to the Edit menu, choose Edit in Adobe Audition, and edit the entire sequence. For the path, you can determine where you want to save the files that Premiere is going to export. It automatically creates a folder called Adobe Audition Interchange, so navigate there to keep all the files in one place.

Exporting sequence to Audition
Exporting sequence to Audition

Continue reading “Importing a Premiere Pro Project into Audition”

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How to Protect the Microphone from Wind Noise

You’re on-location filming and your using a shotgun mic on a boom pole to capture dialog.  Suddenly, the wind gusts at just the right moment and the perfect take is lost due to wind noise on the mic. Fortunately, there are a number of windscreen options out there that can help reduce or practically eliminate wind noise altogether.

Boom mic with foam windscreen
Boom mic with foam windscreen

Foam windscreens that usually come with the mic are designed for use indoors. For example, they help reduce noise if drafts of air blow on the mic from an air conditioner.  It’s not a good choice outdoors. Continue reading “How to Protect the Microphone from Wind Noise”

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Removing Background Noise

We’ve all dealt with unwanted sounds when shooting on-location.  We’re recording dialog and an air conditioner kicks on or there is a noisy freezer running in the background that ruins an otherwise good take. Exterior sounds can cause the same problem.  In an ideal situation, we would turn off or unplug the offending sound and record another take.  Unfortunately, that is not always an option.

Record at least 30 seconds of room tone or location ambience whenever you’re on a shoot. Getting the sound of the space where you are will be valuable later.  Have everyone be quiet, leave the mic in the same position where you were set up for the dialog and then record. If you’re inside, record room tone with the air conditioner off and then on in the background.  And then there’s the noisy refrigerator or freezer too.  Get that background sound as well but leave the mic in the same location.

Capturing Noise Print
Captured noise print is now going to be removed

Continue reading “Removing Background Noise”

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