Want “cleaner” audio for the marketing videos you’re shooting on your smartphone and posting to social media?

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Angela and Scott were live on Facebook and went over a few options you have.


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Angela: We’re live. Hey, happy Halloween, October 31st. It’s another Tuesday.

Scott: It is another Tuesday.

Angela: Yeah, and Scott and I are here. We’re actually not dressed up today and we’re doing this out of order, right? We’re not dressed up today for Halloween because we are moving, which is why we’re on this couch instead of our set. Yeah. We are here at home today. We’re moving offices. Our new office isn’t quite ready. We’ve gotta be out of our old office today, so we kind of had to mock up a set at home.

Scott: Which isn’t much of a set. It’s really just a couch. It was just a blank wall and a couch.

Angela: And a really dusty side table.

Scott: Yeah. I know.

Angela: I need to do my dusting.

Scott: It’s been really crazy at the business lately with the move going on. There’s lots of stuff going. We’ve got a big project we’re trying to get up for Junior Achievement. They have a show on Thursday, an award ceremony, so we had to get their video. City of Cambridge Sport Awards. We had those projects going on. A lot of you guys know that we’re also launching a membership site next month so we’re trying to get that going. We have a webinar today, another webinar tomorrow, so it’s been crazy, crazy busy but the reason I bring that up is what’s been really interesting for me over the last week and this is just sort of a tip for small business owners that I learned is it’s about prioritizing. It’s really interesting when you have a lot of really important things in your business that come up, like projects that have to be delivered for actual events at a launch date when you’ve got these things. It’s interesting what falls away.

Angela: Hey Charlene.

Scott: Hey Charlene. When I’m looking at my task list, it’s like, “Oh yeah, that is just not a priority,” so there’s all these things on my task list that have just fallen away and it’s interesting how productive I’ve been, although I feel like I’m running around with my hair on fire at times. At the end of the day when I look, it’s like “Wow, I was really productive today” because things like jumping on Facebook or going to Tim Horton’s to grab a coffee are not a priority. There’s simply not enough time, so it’s been an interesting exercise for me, prioritizing and trying to get things done on time.

Angela: Yeah.

Scott: That are important, like truly important. Urgent and important.

Angela: Yeah, so, yeah. Let’s get into it. We’ve got Charlene with us and a couple more people will join in. As I’d mentioned before, we know it’s Halloween. No, we’re not dressed up today.

Scott: We wanted to dress up.

Angela: We did.

Scott: That was the plan, but because with Facebook live videos, they’re topical or they’re news related or time based, so we really wanted to dress up, but …

Angela: Yeah, I could’ve dressed up as a mover because after we’re finished this Facebook live, we’re going to be moving literally, physically, moving our office, so I could’ve dressed up like a mover.

Scott: And I could’ve been a painter. I could’ve had my paint outfit on.

Angela: Yeah, we could’ve, but we didn’t. What are we talking about today? We’re talking about audio. How is our audio? For those who are just joining us, if you can hear us okay, give us a thumbs up and let us know how our audio is. Is it clear? Do you hear buzzing or background noises? I don’t hear any noises but it’s always good to know. That is our topic today because a few people have asked me about audio, and so, audio in different situations, so how do you …. Get a thumbs up so our audio’s good, yay.

Audio in different situations. Audio when you’re filming by yourself, audio when you’re filming with another person, and then recently someone said, “Well, what if you’re doing a panel or a group of people for your videos?” If it’s prerecorded or live I think it’ll depend on that, so why don’t we get into it now? Talking about audio. What’s the first step?

Scott: I think definitely the first step is stopping and listening. We talk about this all the time. If you’re concerned about your audio before you record, just stop and just be really quiet and just listen at what you hear and try and figure out what are the noises that I hear that I can actually eliminate? Is there fans on? Radios? Kids? Dogs? Anything? Can you remove those sounds? I think that’s the first step.

Angela: Yeah.

Scott: Before we move on, because, as promised, we’re gonna talk about some tools that you can get to make your audio better with shooting with your smartphone. We talk about this all the time and we’re so close to the camera right now, you probably don’t need an external microphone. I’m gonna say that first. The technology that’s built into these smartphones now is absolutely incredible.

Angela: If you’re about an arm’s length away, give or take a finger …

Scott: Yeah, and especially if it’s just you. With Ange and I, we’re a little further away from the camera so the mic might not pick us up as clearly, so we do use an external microphone, but if it’s just you, on camera, the built in microphone on your phone is probably gonna be enough. Now, the one thing that I will mention about that is that the microphone … Do you have your phone on you?

Angela: Yeah. Well, it’s on the floor.

Scott: It’s on the floor. On your phone, most of you probably know this, that the microphone is actually on the bottom of the phone, so what happens when you’re speaking into it, it’s actually picking up audio in an omni-direction, sort of like every direction around here, so that’s why some people, when they’re talking on the phone, they point their phone at their face, so you do need to be aware of that. With that said, you probably don’t need an external microphone, but there’s gonna be situations where you do. Multiple people on camera where you’re further away from that built in microphone. Background noise, like say you’re shooting outside near a highway. How do you eliminate that background noise? What are some other situations? If you’re really far away from the camera like a personal trainer, the audio you’re gonna get from your phone is not going to be that good. Cooks. We always talk about cooks in the kitchen. Them as well, they’re away from the camera as well.

Angela: If you have a scenario specifically you want ask about audio, there is a few second delay so bear with us, but if you have a specific question about audio for you, just be sure to post it and we will answer that, or give you our best practice for that scenario as well. Let’s just talk about the first piece of equipment, because like you said, most people don’t need audio, but is this not your favorite?

Scott: This is definitely my favorite. Now, with our professional applications, my favorite microphone is what they call a shotgun, and it’s like this big. We’re actually using it right now because we want to actually show you this, but normally we use this guy. A shotgun mic is just that. It’s a shotgun, and the reason they call it a shotgun is that you point it right at the source where you want to record the audio. This is a shotgun, so on Ange’s phone here, I’m just gonna plug it in so you can see. Right inside the phone jack, this plugs right in so you can see, that way it’s pointed right at my mouth as I’m talking. If you were shooting away from the camera, you can just rotate this away and then shoot away. I love this device. This is absolutely my favorite. I use it all the time. You won’t notice a huge difference when you just put it in. You’ll notice a little bit, but you will notice, if there is background noise, like an air conditioner or a fan running, that it really eliminates a lot of that noise, so that’s the mini-shotgun.

We’ll include a link below if you guys want to look at some of these online. Not all of these are created equal. The first one I tested out …

Angela: It was terrible.

Scott: Was not very good, which was surprising because it’s made by a very reputable, professional company, but this one’s an Ampridge and I’ll post that link in the comments below after the video.

Angela: Okay. This is great if you’ve got one or two people.

Scott: Yes.

Angela: Right?

Scott: Absolutely.

Angela: The further you get from this, you might want to use a different situation, but what do you think, Scott? How far can the camera be with something like this and still get decent audio?

Scott: I think six feet is reasonable.

Angela: Six feet, so six feet, you should be able to get three to four people depending how snug they are, so up to three or four people in one shot with this microphone should work?

Scott: Yeah. The further you get away, the further the people speaking are away from your phone, even with that plugged in, obviously the quality does start to drop pretty quickly.

Angela: Yeah, it starts to get echo-y or tinny, right?

Scott: Yeah.

Angela: Cool. The other thing people like to use is a lav, so we’ve got two lavs today.

Scott: You’re talking about the wire … I think the wired one first?

Angela: This is the wired one.

Scott: I thought that but it’s actually the other way around.

Angela: That’s so funny. This is the wired mic, so now instead of that shotgun, and I’ll de-tangle this. Give me one second. This goes, it’s like a lapel, it clips on. This is just really good for one person. If you’re two people, you could kind of use it but it’s not great. This is if you want to get really, again, clean audio. You just plug this into your phone and this gets clipped on and now … This is about, again, is this a four foot cord? You can get the cords in different lengths, so you can get longer cords. Now your phone can be a little further away on the tripod and this can be clipped on.

Some people don’t like this and I get that. You’ve got wires, but this is another solution if, again, there’s a lot of background noise and you want people just to hear you. This is a really good solution for that.

Scott: Yeah, if you’re on a job site and it’s really, really loud, you need to get that microphone as close to your mouth as possible, so that’s a great solution for people who are doing outside where there’s a lot of background noise. One thing I wanted to say before we move on, too, these plugs, these are the mini-jack plugs. They obviously go right into your phone, but there’s probably some iPhone users out there where these don’t fit in your iPhone anymore if you’ve got a late model iPhone, so you will need to get an adaptor for that.

Angela: Good point, good point. This is one of my favorite ones. This is a wireless lav. Yes, people will still see it. It’s still gonna be clipped on. This is made by a company called Pyle. They make low end professional and consumer-based audio equipment?

Scott: I’m not sure.

Angela: Yeah.

Scott: I think they might call it prosumer maybe. It’s really a low budget wireless microphone.

Angela: Yeah, so the great thing about this, this is great if you’re really far away from the phone. I really like this if you’re gonna be in the kitchen cooking and it’s gonna be a wider shot so the phone’s further away. If you’re going to … Demonstrations, right? So cooking, exercise, movement.

Scott: When you have your back … I always think especially with cooks, like in a kitchen, if you’re demonstrating something and you ever turn your back to the camera, obviously the shotgun is not gonna work. That’s where the wireless lavaliere mic does work. As soon as you turn your back away, obviously the mic’s still attached to you and you can even walk into another room and still hear yourself clearly.

Angela: Yeah, you can, like the bathroom, which sometimes happens. Okay, so you clip the microphone on and this goes … I always put the wire under the shirt before I film, so obviously we’re not doing that today, but you can hide it by putting it under your shirt. If you’re wearing a dark color, then this gets hidden really easily. This just gets clipped on, so in your pocket in the back of your pants, so it just gets clipped on somewhere where it can be hidden, and then as far as your phone goes, this is the receiver. This won’t plug into your phone. You need to get an adaptor. This is the adaptor we got and this actually is an adaptor for a guitar. It’s a guitar, for musicians.

Scott: Yeah, so this is obviously a quarter inch jack, which won’t fit in your smartphone, so you need to adapt this. This is actually made for … I guess it’s for anything with a quarter inch jack, but yeah, I’m sort of hijacking your description here, but a lot of guys with their smartphones, they’re plugging their guitars right into it and they can record right into their phone, they can tune their guitar, there’s all kinds of really cool stuff they can do, but you need to have a quarter inch jack to go into your smartphone for your electric guitar, so this company has made this little adaptor guy, which is really cool. They plug their electric guitar into here and they can go right into their smartphone. Anyway, Ange’s hack was to use this to connect her whole wireless, affordable budget system together and it worked great.

Angela: Yeah, again, you just plug this into this, this goes into your phone, so now your phone can be quite far away, and we’ve tested this at 20 feet.

Scott: Oh, it was probably even further than that. You were across the street. There’s a video. I’ll post the link to Ange’s video. She did a video when she actually tested this thing. I was highly … I did not believe …

Angela: Skeptical.

Scott: Yeah, I was very skeptical that this would be very good, because it’s less than 50 dollars for this setup, so I thought there’s no way it’s going to be of any quality, and I was quite impressed for what it is. Now, it’s not … Like, our professional ones have a metal body. This is not going to last. You can’t drop it. You might need to buy a new one in one year’s time, but it’s very low budget. You get great value.

Angela: If you’re gonna not use it very often, like if you’re going to … If it’s going to be months between when you use it, a little tip, take the batteries out.

Scott: Yeah, yeah.

Angela: Take the batteries out in between uses and just keep the batteries separate, because again, sometimes with these cheaper things, the materials that are being made to use it aren’t great and the batteries corrode very easily. Use good, name brand batteries as well. For this system, now I’m completely un-wired but I still have nice, clean audio, so you’ve got your microphone here. It’s in your back pocket. This is hidden under your shirt. This is like 20 feet away, 10 feet away. You can now get more people in the shot and, again, this is just for one, maybe two people.

Scott: I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend just for one person.

Angela: Just for a single person. Maybe two, but if you have a panel, this is not the solution for that. Now this goes as far back as you want and you’re cooking and you’re turning and the audio doesn’t get worse as you’re moving around and I think you probably know what I’m talking about when you’re watching people who are doing maybe some workouts or demonstrations and you’re missing some of what they’re saying because they turn and also you hear what’s going on around them because usually when they’re doing those demonstrations, there might be music or sizzling, right?

Scott: What’s the budget on that one?

Angela: I think you’d mentioned under 50 dollars.

Scott: Was it under 50?

Angela: Yeah, it was under 50. I think the Pyle microphone itself was 34 and the newer adaptor was 10 to 15 on Amazon.

Scott: The wired lavaliere mic, I think for a decent one, is about 30 dollars, so 30 dollars again on Amazon. We’ll put the link below. These are a bit more expensive. This is the one I recommend if you’re doing a lot of marketing videos. This is the one I’d go with but it is more expensive, I think at 79 or 80 dollars, is what I paid for this guy.

Angela: Yeah, but well worth it.

Scott: I think so, absolutely. It’s so easy to use. You just pop it right in, whereas our other setup that we’re using today, which is part of our professional setup, it’s a professional shotgun. We have this special rigged … Because it has phantom power, and to get all technical on you, but it requires phantom power so we have to have a nine volt battery and then have to change it from quarter inch to mini and it’s a little more complicated but you don’t need to worry about that, but there is ways to use more professional microphones as well, like what we’ve done.

Angela: If you’re, again, that’s great if you’re doing quite often, you’re doing large panels of, when I say large, like three or four people on a panel, you want to be, I guess just really aware of that audio sound because if it’s not great, so the first thing I would use is this, and then if this still isn’t working, connect with us and we’ll tell you more about our shotgun.

Scott: Yep, and the sky’s the limit too. I always talk about this. You can make this as complicated as you want, and I’ll tell you, if you had a panel of six people and you want a really good crystal clear sound, get a mixer. You can go to an event place like we go to in Angus Audio here in town.

Angela: You can AV …

Scott: You can go to Long and McQuade or something and you can get six lavaliere mics, they all go into a panel or a board, and you set all the levels so it’s perfect, and then out of that mixer comes the mini-cable and it goes right into your phone and then you’ve got crystal clear audio from all those panelists. It’s a little extreme, but if you’re doing a really, really important event, like you’ve got a live event and you’ve got a bunch of panelists and you want them all to be very clear and you’re gonna shoot it live for Facebook, that is definitely the way to go and if you want to know more about that, shoot me a message and I’ll tell you all about it.

Angela: Yeah, so if you have any questions, let us know before we head out to go move our office. Before we go, I just want to do a quick checklist with you all, so if you want to make sure you’ve got all the equipment you need to film your marketing videos using your smartphone, obviously your smartphone. Make sure you always use a tripod whenever possible. That’s super important because nobody likes the shaky camera. Katie’s got a question there. So, smartphone, tripod, audio. We’ve given you some great solutions here and the one thing I think sometimes people forget, you don’t need lighting. We have a light. You don’t need lighting but if you’re going to shoot in an area that’s a little darker or you just want something even and you want your video to look more professional, then a cheap daylight balanced light will do the trick. Tripod, audio, camera, lights and you. The most important thing.

Scott: Okay, so we gotta wrap it up. Katie just had a quick question. Yeah, if it’s just two of you, like Angela and I today, and you’re this close to the camera, the internal microphone on your camera is absolutely enough. That’s what I believe, but do some tests. Do some tests with someone and see what you think. If you do want to spend a little bit of money and do get a little bit cleaner audio, I would recommend the mini-shotgun, but like I said, the technology that’s built into these phones now and the noise canceling that’s built right in, the technology’s absolutely phenomenal inside the smartphone, so you probably don’t have to worry about it. Okay, so we’re going to wrap it up. It’s 10:20.

Angela: Yeah, that’s it for the day. We’ll see you hopefully next week in our new office. I’m really, really hoping we’ll be there by then, but until then, if you have any questions about other equipment or scenarios or anything about making your own videos using your smartphone, post them and we’ll put them in our next live.

Scott: Okay, happy Halloween and be safe out there tonight with all the little kidlets. Okay.

Angela: Take care.

Scott: Bye bye.