Getting the best from your Audio

Watching a video that uses poor audio is a bit like listening to someone with long nails running them down a classroom blackboard.

It proves an instant turnoff for your audience.

Even if you are delivering a performance to rival Robert De Niro or Al Pacino – they’ll still be heading elsewhere if they can’t hear what you’re saying.

However, there’s a range of basic steps you can follow to ensure the audio used in your production is slick and the engagement of your viewers is maintained.

Types of Microphone

Microphone often fall into four categories:

1 – Handheld ‘stick’ microphones

Most notably used for interviews or by singers & comedians performing when you’ll often see the microphone placed on a stand.

Pros -These microphones are fairly resilient and inexpensive

Cons – Microphone appears in the frame of your shot

2 – Lavalier ‘clip-on’ microphones

Often used when the subject needs to move around but still gesticulate with both hands versus a handheld mic

Pros – small and extremely discreet meaning it can be positioned to allow the subject to move around and gesticulate without losing any sound quality. Due to its small nature it also often allows the person to almost forget its there and concentrate instead on their delivery.

Cons – Due to its small size and position on the clothing, the subject can knock the microphone more easily and this is picked up meaning repeating a segment of filming. The price is expensive in relation to the outputted sound quality.

3 – Shotgun microphones

Often recognisable for their fluffy wind breaker coats. Apart from its long and thin body looking slightly gun-like, the name shoutgun refers to the fact that the sound is picked up in whatever direction the microphone is pointing at – shoot and fire style.

Pros – Excellent sound quality pound-for-pound, especially versus Lavalier microphones

Cons – You’ll need a boom pole stand or someone to hold the microphone during the footage. You will also need to frame your shot with care to ensure the microphone does not enter the shot.

4 – Using your camera’s internal microphone

Pros – Not Many.  Low cost. Typically included with the camera.

Cons – The quality of the recording is poor, as the microphone is situated on the camera and therefore may be a considerable distance away from your subject.

It is also prone to picking up background noise.

Best Practice

Follow these steps for a perfect production

Internal Microphones

The first rule is very simple. Never rely solely on your internal microphone for audio. Your internal microphone is for home movies only. Not corporate films. The quality is too low to consider using this for your interviews.

Assign Responsibility

Assign someone to manage the audio on the shoot. It should be their responsibility to check audio levels and ensure the output is crisp and clear by using headphones.

Location Scout

Work out your location ahead of your shoot. By identifying where the shoot is taking place, you can deal with any extra noises that may occur, such as filming in a busy street, which would dictate the type of microphone you will need. Even in a seemingly quiet office you will notice hard and soft spaces caused by different materials and surfaces, as well as background interference such as traffic, planes overhead, ringing telephones, doors shutting.

Right mic – right result

Use the right microphone for the right shots.
Shotgun mics are perfect when you require no trace of a microphone, such as short films and interviews when you just want to concentrate on the subject – however in a corporate production where your subject is constantly on the move, lavalier microphones are the preferable option.
So plan out what you’ll be shooting and ensure you make the appropriate choice.

Monitor…at all times

Monitor the audio throughout the shoot. You never know when a battery might die or the audio might drop off – so ensure someone is responsible for checking the audio levels throughout.


Record any narration or voiceover separately in post production. This allows you to only capture the audio you need with less wastage.

Adjust and Refine

You can make adjustments and refinements to the audio in post-production to fine-tune and this should be a mandatory step for you to ensure the best possible output.

And don’t forget – you can use more than one microphone at any given time – so you are able to simultaneously use a shotgun microphone and a lavalier microphone to pick up a combination of footage.

Never be lost for words.

Use quality audio for your films.

You’ll hear the difference. And so will your clients.

For more information or for a no obligation quotation for your corporate video production, contact the video specialists, Energise Media.