Better Sound for Your Videos: Basics for Sound Newbies

How can you make your videos sound better? Here’s a quick overview for newbies who just want better sound but aren’t really interested in becoming a sound expert. 1) Get the microphone close to the person speaking. 2) Choose the right kind of microphone. Boom mics sound more natural but lavaliers allow the flexibility of moving around more. See the videos below to help you choose the right mic for you, and if you choose a boom mic, how to boom it close to the person speaking.

My recommended microphones and how to boom a mic for not too much money:

RODE VideoMic Pro+ boom/shotgun microphone - Incredibly convenient, flexible, and good sounding microphone

Aputure A.Lav Lavalier Microphone - the best sub $40 microphone I have found

RODE VC1 Extension cable for when you boom your camera-top shotgun microphone.

How to boom a microphone like the RODE VideoMic Pro:

3 camera top shotgun microphones compared:

6 Affordable Lavalier Microphones compared:

5 Indoor Boom Microphones compared:

5 Shotgun Microphones compared:

3 Professional Indoor Dialogue Boom Microphones compared:

3 Affordable Indoor Dialogue Boom Microphones compared:

Panasonic GH5S (My current favorite small camera)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5S most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Zoom F1 Audio Field Recorder

Zoom’s new F1 is a tiny audio field recorder which works well in place of a wireless lavalier system but can also be used as a camera-top shotgun or “wireless” shotgun microphone. Here’s our overview of the Zoom F1.

Thanks to B&H for lending us the F1 for this overview.

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:
Zoom F1 (with lavalier microphone)

Zoom F1 (with shotgun microphone)

32GB microSDHC Card (you’ll need one, not included with the F1. This'll give you over 30 hours record time at 48kHz, 24 bit)

Mic Stand Adapter (I used this to mount the shotgun mic configuration on a regular 5/8” mic stand)

Voice Technologies VT500 Lavalier Microphone (this does NOT come with the F1)

Panasonic GH5S (My current favorite small camera)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens - incredibly versatile lens that is on the GH5S most of the time

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

80K Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing to celebrate 80K subscribers! The lucky winner of the drawing was DAZ Studio - congratulations!

A big thanks again to Aputure for generously supplying the Deity microphone for DAZ.

If you'd like to see our review of the Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone, have a look here:

Thanks to EVERYONE for your support and encouragement!

Thank You Giveaway: Aputure Deity Shotgun Microphone

Congratulations to DAZ Studio, the winner of the giveaway and happy new owner of an Aputure Deity Shotgun microphone! Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing and to Aputure for their generous gift!

Our Light and Sound YouTube community just hit 80,000 subscribers - thank you! Our good friends over at Aputure have offered to give away a Deity shotgun microphone to celebrate. To enter the drawing, all you need to do is subscribe to my channel and Aputure's channel using the form above. Don't worry if you're already subscribed, this will just enter you into the drawing.

We reviewed the Deity microphone last year and found it to be a really versatile and dependable mic. If you don't have an XLR-based microphone, this will be a great start. If you already do, this will be a nice addition to your kit. 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement! Get out there and make some great sound. 

Sound for Video Session: What are Impedance and THD and Other Specs?

In this week's sound for video session, I talk through a couple of the specifications you often see listed for microphones, preamps, recorders and such: Impedance & Total Harmonic Distortion. We also talk about impedance bridging and what this means when choosing a microphone, recorder, mixer, or preamp.

Impedance Bridging article at Wikipedia.

Steve Hogan forum entry re: impedance bridging

Sound Reinforcement Handbook (2nd Edition), Davis & Jones

This episode shot/recorded with:

Lectrosonics PDR (Body Recorder with Timecode)
Lectrosonics HM172 Omnidirectional Headset Microphone
Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera (the noise you hear in the background was the fan in this camera)
Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 ART Lens

Outro music licensed from Artlist: Midday Moon by Vikings in Tibet. Artlist provides high quality music tracks for your film and video projects. You can receive two months off an Artlist account by using our link.

Copyright 2018 by Curtis Judd

Sound for Video Session: Lav Mics, Recording to Phones, Presets in RX, Headphone Volume

This week we have a question and answer session. These are the questions submitted:
- Best lav mic for recording in very noisy environments?
- Best microphone for recording to phones?
- Universal presets in RX?
- What do I set my headphone volume to so that I can tell whether I’ve set the gain correctly?

Links to gear we discussed or used to record this session:
Countryman E6i Cardioid Ear Set Microphone:

RODE VideoMicro - miniature cardioid microphone you could use on a smartphone rig (with the adapter below)

RODE SC4 Adapter (Use the VideoMicro with your phone)

Aputure A.Lav Lavalier Microphone:

Previous Sessions where we’ve covered how to process dialogue audio in Izotope RX:

Izoope RX6 demo:

Reduce reverb with RX6:

Loudness normalization in RX:

Process dialogue demo with RX:

Clean up extreme noise in RX and Audition:

Electrovoice RE20 (recorded this session)

Antelope Audio Orion Studio Audio Computer Interface

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Voice Technologies VT500 Lavalier Microphone: Pro Quality Lav

We’ve had several requests to spend some time looking at pro-level lavalier microphones. In this episode we take a quick look at and listen to the omni-directional VT500 lavalier from Voice Technologies, a Swiss microphone company. For reference, we also have some sound clips from the Sanken COS-11D lavalier, one of the very common lavalier mics used by pro location mixers for film and video. And we include samples with male and female voice.

I was really impressed with the VT500 with it’s unusual front facing capsule and found it’s audio quality to be very good and its form factor easy to hide. The foam windscreen is thoughtfully designed with hard plastic backing to prevent noise from rubbing against clothing, and the RF shielding worked nicely to avoid those annoying interference issues. There’s also a waterproof model for those recording more exciting pieces in or near water.

You can find our previous review of the Countryman B6 lavalier microphone here:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:

Voice Technologies VT500 Omni-directional Lavalier Microphone

Voice Technologies VT500 O Eco (same microphone without the waterproof case or extended accessories and lower price)

Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro - for talking head shots. quite a lot of moire with this particular shirt

RODELink Wireless Lavalier Filmmaker Kit

Sennheiser EW 112p G3 Wireless Lavalier Kit (516-558 MHz)

Panasonic GH5 Camera - for product shots

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

RODE VideoMic Pro+ Overview

RODE just updated their very popular RODE VideoMic Pro to the VideoMic Pro+ here in late summer 2017. The new version of the camera-top shotgun microphone includes several new features which make it a very worthwhile upgrade or option for those looking for a simple way to improve their sound quality.

In this episode we have a closer look at the new features and provide comparison sound clips from the older VideoMic Pro and the new Pro+.

Remember that to get the very best sound out of your microphone, you really need to get it off of your camera and boom it over the person speaking like this:

Also, if you do use the new safety track feature on the RODE VideoMic Pro+, this is how you use that safety track in post when the main track clips and distorts to save your audio:

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:
RODE VideoMic Pro+

Adapter Cable to use the VideoMic Pro+ with a smartphone (RODE SC7)
(Note smartphones have a mono mic input so the safety track feature will not work with smartphones)

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Immersive Sound Recording: Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset

Sennheiser introduced their new Ambeo Smart Headset and were kind enough to send an early version to us to try out. I took it along on a recent canoeing day trip and put together a little sketch to get a sense for how it works. Pretty impressive, immersive sound with this set of binaural microphones/earbuds.

For those not familiar with binaural recordings, this is a stereo recording where the microphones are placed at your ears. So the recorded sound is much more lifelike and immersive, and results in a more three-dimensional type of recording.

Please listen with the best set of headphones available to you!

Canoe sequence shot with iPhone 7+ and Ambeo Smart Headset

Links to Gear Discussed and Used to Record This Session:

Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for iOS (iPhone and iPad) - Coming Soon

Sennheiser Ambeo Smart Headset for Android phones and tablets - Coming in the future

Music in canoe sequence: "Cosmos" from Meta-Music - Save 10% with coupon code JUDD

Talking head sequence shot with:

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera

DPA 4017B Shotgun Microphone

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Indoor Boom Microphones: Oktava MK-012, RODE NT5, Audio Technica AT4053b

In my efforts to help you choose a microphone for recording dialogue indoors, here is another comparison of three cardioid (to hyper-cardioid) options: The Oktava MK-012 (cardioid), RODE NT5 (cardioid) and the Audio Technica AT4053B (hyper-cardioid). We take a closer look and listen with female and male sample clips, demonstrations of off-axis sound rejection, off-axis phase issues or coloration, handling noise, self-noise, and my overall impressions. I hope you find it helpful!

Links to gear discussed and used to record this episode:

Oktava MK-012 (cardioid capsule)

Oktava MK-012 (hyper-cardioid capsule “Movie Set”)


Audio Technica AT4053b

Sound Devices 633 Audio Recorder/Mixer:

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Camera (talking head shots were filmed with this:

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 OIS Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd