In this episode of the How To Make YouTube Videos series, I'm going to talk about the audio equipment that I use to record my videos. Part 1 was all about the DSLR and lens that I use - go check that out if you haven't yet.
Importance of Audio in Online Videos
Audio plays a huge roll in the success of a video. I'd say that you should value the audio just as much as you value the visual aspect of a video. A person is more likely to watch a video with great audio and sub-par video than a great video with sub-par audio.
If you intend to do a lot of online video, rather than spending your entire budget on a camera and lens, make sure to save a fraction of it for better audio. It'll make a world of a difference.
My Audio Setup for YouTube
My setup has evolved throughout the years, but I think that I've managed to find a system that works for me. I'm not a huge fan of dual-system sound recording and having to sync up the audio and the video in post, which is the reason why I use what I do.
The equipment I use are a Zoom H1 Recorder/Mic and an Azden EX503 lavelier mic. The lav mic is plugged into the Zoom H1, which is plugged into my Canon Rebel T3i.
DSLR Audio Preamps
To understand the reasoning behind my audio setup, I have to talk a little bit about some of the limitations of the audio in most DSLRs today. DSLRs are notorious for having bad audio. They're getting better with each new generation of cameras that come out, but they're still not that great. One of the work arounds to this to to lower the gain of the DSLR preamps to its lowest setting. You'll then have to get a mic with gain that can go high enough, and is clean enough to get good audio when plugged into the camera.
The Zoom H1 is a great tool on its own, and it something that I see myself keeping as long as I'm doing videos. It is a handheld recorder unit, which is typically spoken into while the audio is recorded on the memory card in the unit. However, the unit can also be used as a dedicated microphone that can be plugged into a DSLR.
In my earlier videos, I used the Zoom H1 as a mic, plugged into my camera, almost elusively. I loved the output from the combo, but mounting the Zoom H1 onto the top of the camera or on a mic stand didn't give me the freedom of movement that I wanted. That's where the lav mic comes in
I use a very affordable Azden EX503 lavaleir microphone. Something great about the Zoom H1 is that it has a mic input of its own, so you don't need to necessarily record with the mics that are built into the device. I use this to my advantage my plugging the Azden min in the the Zoom H1, and then plug the H1 into the DSLR.
Lavalier mics are great because they follow you wherever you go. Sound will be more consistent because of this. the Lavalier also has the advantage of being placed close to source of the audio (aka, the mouth). This will reduce the amount of gain that you have to use to get a good signal, lowering the amount of ambient noise that gets picked up.
Why Have the Zoom H1?
You might be wondering why I don't just plug the Azden mic into the Canon DSLR (Which actually works). The reason for this is, like I wrote about in the beginning, the preamps built into the DSLR are not great. In addition to that, The Azden mic I use is passive. It has no power. Therefore, to get a usable volume out of the Azdem mic plugged into the DSLR when the audio gain is lowered, I'd have to amp up the mic in some way. That's what the H1 does for me. It serves as an amp to the mic so that I can have a nice, high, clean signal coming into the DSLR.
Do You Want Something More Simple?
If you're looking for an all in one solution, you can pick up one of the microphones in Rode's videomic series. I haven't had a chance to use them for extended periods of time, but I only hear great things about them.
They are shotgun microphones, so they work to eliminate all of the sound that is not directly in from of the camera. They're good for stationary work, or run and gun style shooting.
So that's what I use to make my videos! Leave any questions, comments and suggestions bellow.
The next video in the series is going to be about lighting, so stay tuned!