Audio for vlogging is one of the most critical aspects all YouTubers need to consider. Some of your favorites – the very best travel vlogs on the platform today – wouldn’t be successful if they posted videos with bad audio. But, of course, looking into how you achieve good, quality vlog sound can be daunting if you’re just starting a vlog.
From finding out what the best microphone for vlogging is to understanding how to set it all up and minimize the chances of capturing bad audio can feel like a challenge. That’s why today, we’re giving you the ultimate audio for vlogging 101, breaking down exactly how you can achieve the best vlogging audio.
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The importance of audio for vlogging
First up, why is your vlog sound so important? The best way to think about this is to ask yourself, how long do you watch a YouTube video if it has bad audio? The answer is not long, right? Because we can’t deal with it.
Interestingly, if the visual quality of a video is below average, there’s still potential for us to keep on watching, provided the sound quality is good. But as soon as the sound is bad, the audience is gone. So it’s arguably the most vital part of your vlog.
Why use a microphone at all?
You could argue that you don’t actually need a microphone at all, right? Any camera you buy today will come with a very competent built-in mic so…why spend extra? I think built-in mics certainly have a purpose – they’re small and inconspicuous, built right into the body so that you can move with the camera much more easily and not draw attention to yourself.
However, when you start to consider things such as wind noise and interference, they begin to fall apart. In comparison with purpose-built microphones (some of which we’ll take a look at below), built-in mics just don’t have the same quality. They’re good, but not that good. Seeing as this is all about improving the sound of your video, you’d do well to upgrade from the in-built mic to something a little more serious.
Types of microphones for vlogging
Now that you understand why owning a good quality microphone might be the most important part of your travel vlog equipment, it’s time to look at the different types of microphones out there. There are 2 main options to consider when looking at the best microphone for vlogging, and they both serve different purposes.
Perhaps the most common mic for vlogging (think Casey Neistat), shotgun mics are highly versatile and a go-to option for anyone looking to get great audio for vlogging. Long and cylindrical, these are directional microphones, meaning they pick up the sounds directly in front of them while rejecting and toning down other sounds from the rear and sides. With the camera so often pointed at you when you’re vlogging, they’re perfect for close-range, on-camera audio capture.
You’ll see these being used by an overwhelming amount of YouTubers, which is all the reassurance you need to know that these are the reliable, number one choice.
Lavalier mics (often simply called “lavs”) are your classic clip-on microphones. You’ll find these small mics used frequently for many interview situations and journalism/reporting. Their size is very small, designed to be lowkey and unobtrusive. Also, unlike shotgun mics, they’re usually fairly unidirectional.
However, because of their size and purpose, they won’t really pick up that much background noise, which can be both a hindrance and a plus. On the one hand, you’re not going to capture much sound and ambiance of the environment you’re vlogging in. So it could be challenging in the edit if you want to make things a bit more cinematic.
It depends on individual use cases, but I think a lav mic for vlogging is still a good option because it’s purely designed to capture human speech. So, for example, if you’re filming in a busy or noisy area, having a lav might actually be preferable to a shotgun mic as it hones in on your voice and blocks out unwanted noises.
If you do choose a lav mic for vlogging, one thing you’ll want to consider is getting one that’s wireless. As you’ll be moving around a lot and, at times, different distances away from the camera, getting rid of the interference of wires is a necessity.
Tips for getting the best sound for your vlog
You can do plenty of things to ensure you get the best vlog sound possible when it comes to high-quality audio for vlogging. Here are some common, useful tips:
Check your camera settings
Whether using a mirrorless or DSLR, or even a smartphone camera, most types of cameras will have some audio settings for you to look into. For example, in my GH5, there’s the option to limit the mic level, as well as a wind noise canceller setting that can be turned on and off.
Meanwhile, on my GoPro, I can switch between 3 different options for the in-house mic:
- Auto: “Sets your GoPro to automatically switch between wind and stereo for best quality.”
- Wind: “Use on windy days or if your GoPro is mounted on a moving vehicle.”
- Stereo: “Use when the wind is not a factor, and you want to ensure your GoPro records in stereo.”
By choosing the right settings for your filming environment, you can drastically improve the vlogging audio.
Think about where you film
Talking of environments you’re filming in, you should give this good thought. For example, maybe don’t film in the wind. If you’re in a storm with 40km/h gusts, the audio is simply going to suck.
Similarly, if you’re in a busy, public place, you may have lots of background noises that are unpredictable and out of your control. Meanwhile, if you choose to film indoors in your own room, everything is much quieter and easier to control. I’m not saying all your vlogs need to be shot in your own room, but give some thought to when and where you hit record. There are some clear and obvious places to avoid if you want to achieve great vlogging audio.
Use dead cats
No, not literally dead cats, don’t worry. In the industry, mic buffs and windbreakers are fondly known as “dead cats” because of their appearance. These fluffy shields protect the condenser (the part of the microphone that picks up the sound) from unwanted wind noise and even sharp exhales of breath that just annoyingly clip the audio. So no matter which microphone for vlogging you buy, I highly recommend getting one of these.
Another thing – when you’re vlogging, I’ve found that it always helps to project your voice a little bit. You don’t need to shout or anything crazy, but just make sure your voice is nice and bold. It will help bring higher energy to the vlog, too.
Furthermore, consider where your hands are on the camera. Sometimes, a glancing or shifting hand on the camera can be picked up on the audio. Using something like a gimbal or small tripod can help with this
In conclusion, whether you’re vlogging on a phone camera or digital camera, high-quality audio for vlogging is essential and should be your number #1 priority after visuals. Following the guidance and tips above, you can make an informed decision whether to buy a shotgun or a lavalier and begin vlogging with confidence, knowing your vlogging audio is the very best it can be.