Getting Better Sound from Your Camcorder
Consumer camcorders are providing better and better video quality each year. Many models now offer HD quality video and a variety of features such as image stabilization that help amateurs create some nice looking video that's enjoyable to view.
What's missing in most instances however, is good audio. If you're interested in improving your movies and getting better sound, this page should help. Below we will offer some tips for choosing the right camcorder for good audio, suggest other equipment that can help, and provide access to some tutorials to get you started.
Photo by Visual Dichotomy.
How You Can Improve the Sound You Record
There are some simple tips that can help improve the audio you capture with your camcorder regardless of the type of microphone you use.Move closer to the sound you want to record. In some instance, if you're using an external mic, this means positioning the microphone closer to the subject. However, if you are just using the internal camcorder microphone, this means you, the filmaker, need to move closer. Be aware of background noise and move away from it or try to block it. If you're filming in the living room, shut off the TV. If you're at a family gathering and want to capture Grandma telling you a favorite story, sit down with her closer to the camcorder than all of the other activity. If you're out on the beach and filming the kids building a sandcastle, use your body to block the microphone from the direction of the wind. Try to make adjustments while the camcorder is off. Zooming in or making other adjustments while the camcorder is recording can create a great deal of noise. It adds the noise of you adjusting the controls as well as internal camcorder noise. For those more serious about their audio recording, separate voice recorders are often used. You can learn more about them, and other more advanced techniques on this page.
How to Choose a Camcorder with Good Audio
Consumer camcorders generally don't offer great microphones, and in some instances they aren't placed well either resulting in a lot of extraneous noise that distorts the sound you want to record.
For the average consumer wanting better audio, they should look for:A microphone that is placed nearest the subjects you will be filming and away from the controls of the camcorder which will generate additional noise. For instance, it's likely you would be filming with your subject directly in front of the camera so this is often the best location for the microphone. Stereo microphones, which generally provide better audio quality. Zoom microphones, which can allow you to zoom in audio when you zoom in the picture. Wind screen equalization, which allows the microphone to pick up less of the wind frequencies while boosting voice. A jack for an external microphone. For the best sound quality, you may want to attach and external microphone to pick up the sound you want to record. This isn't an option without an appropriate jack. For typical purposes 16 bit audio is better than 12 bit audio. Manual audio control. If you can adjust the audio, you're more likely to be able to eliminate some of the unwanted noise and boost the chance of picking up the sound you want. A headphone jack and headphones can allow you to monitor the audio and make adjustments as you're recording.
A Couple of Tips About External Microphones
For the best camcorder audio, an external microphone is needed. If you choose to go this route there are a few things to keep in mind:There are several types of microphones. Each one has a specific purpose. For instance, a shotgun microphone is best at picking up sound directly in front of the camcorder while minimizing sound at the sides and back of it. Handheld microphones and clip-on microphones are great in situations where you want to capture the sounds of a speaker who is standing a bit further away from the camcorder. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all directions. The microphone you choose must be compatible with the jack on your camcorder. There are mini jacks and XLR jacks. XLR jacks are generally considered professional while mini jacks are on consumer camcorders. If you want to use an XLR microphone on your consumer camcorder, you will need to purchase an XLR to mini jack converter.