Poor quality sound can quickly ruin a video production and make your videos appear unprofessional. The human brain has limited patience with this type of issue and this can result in play abandonment and the loss of a potential customer. This article looks at some of the most common sound problems in video production and how to fix them.
Quiet sound with excessive echo
The most common problem is caused by the use of the camera internal microphone. This is rarely an acceptable solution as it is simply too far away from your subject. The result is usually a quiet voice, lots of echo and other background noises. The solution to this is to use an external microphone which is as close to the subject as possible. If your camera does not allow you to do this either use another camera or move the camera as close as possible and set the zoom to wide (within reason).
Too much echo (when using external microphone)
First of all check that there is not an option to move the microphone closer still. Then take a look at the room you are recording in. Hard surfaces such as glass and concrete will reflect sound and this will add echo to your recordings. The solution here is to move to a smaller room with softer more absorbent surfaces, this will make a huge difference and increase the professionalism of your production. If this is not possible or you feel that you wish to improve the sound further, consider hanging heavy drapes or similar materials closer to the camera.
Hum or hiss interfering with the sound recording
This is usually down to the way cables are run. If you are using a wired microphone then look at the cable path, is it close to any mains cables or electrical equipment? A simple re-run of the cable may easily fix this. Next try turning off suspect electrical devices until you eradicate it. Don’t forget to turn them back on when you have finished filming! If you are still having problems it might be down to the length and/or quality of your microphone cable. In some environments using a proper ‘balanced line’ system may be the only option. This is a special professional audio solution where the majority of cable induced interference is removed.
Low quality sound (weak, tinny or crackly)
A cheap or damaged microphone will degrade the sound quality before it has even reached the camera. Consider investing in a powered tie-clip or overhead microphone to provide a strong, well balanced and clean sounding output. Look for known brands and use Amazon for customer comments and ratings. Do check that the microphone type will work with your camera as they are not all compatible.
There are a number of other problems that can occur when recording sound. Most are due to low quality equipment placed too far from the sound source or a lack of consideration in the recording environment. Experiment with your microphones and if possible monitor it live on a good pair of closed-ear headphones. Finally don’t rely on just one recording, record at least three versions so you have a better choice in the edit.