If you’re a YouTuber and want your videos to stand out with great audio quality, today’s article is for you!
YouTube has grown significantly over the past 10 years or so and the bar has been continually raised by content creators consistently offering higher quality videos. It has now become common practice to be uploading 4K content and I’ve also noticed an increase in content creators now also focusing on better quality audio to accompany their high quality videos. So, that raises the question. What steps can you take to improve the audio quality of your YouTube videos. Today, I’m going to outline a few basic steps that will help you along the way.
Most YouTubers are now often equipped with a decent SLR camera that comes with both a built-in microphone and an input to use an external microphone. The way you initially capture your audio is arguably the most important step to having a decent audio recording to work with. The microphones that come built into the camera (or your smartphone for example) are generally fairly poor quality and don’t give you the option to control the distance from the sound source. If you’re recording outdoors or in a noisy space, you might want to look at using a lavalier or lapel microphone. These microphones easily clip to your shirt or jacket and can be pointed in the direction of the person speaking to minimize the external ambient noise and provide a more upfront vocal sound. If you’re recording in a studio or a quiet space, you have a little more flexibility with microphone selection, so you can explore using a more detailed microphone that will help capture a higher quality recording. Now, it’s important to note, the more sensitive a microphone is, the more likely you are to capture sounds that are undesirable (such as creaks in your chair, mouth sounds and other audio gremlins). A great option is a directional mic, such as the Rode VideoMic Pro. These types of microphones are a good compromise, because not only do you get improved audio quality, they easily plug straight into the camera input, which means you don’t need to worry about external sound recording devices or additional work in post production with syncing audio.
NOISE REDUCTION & EDITING
Many people tend to skip the step of properly editing their audio before posting a YouTube video. The main reason is because it can be time consuming and the results are not always immediately apparent. But it is a really important step if you want your viewers or listeners to have the best possible experience when watching your videos. Most video editing software programs come with some form of audio noise reduction option, but if you really want to take your audio to the next level, then it’s best to use a specialised external audio editing program to get the best results. The RX program from Izotope is fast becoming the industry standard when it comes to audio repair and restoration. It comes with a plethora of individual modules, each one performing a very specific role in repairing your audio. For example, it has excellent de-noise modules, both for voice and instruments, it has a de-reverb module to help reduce room sounds and reflections, it even has a mouth de-click module. And believe me, once you’ve used this function, you’ll never hear dialogue and the human voice in the same way again. Cleaning up these elements of your audio will set a better baseline for the next step.
Equalization is an important step to shape the sound of the audio and remove any resonant frequencies and to generally make the audio more pleasing to listen to. If you’re a newbie when it comes to using EQ, I recommend treating it like you would the equalizer on your stereo system in your car, for example. If it sounds too boomy, reduce the bass, or if it sounds too piercing, reduce the treble. I know that sounds very basic, but it is a good starting point to avoid going to deep into the world of EQ and spending too much time worrying about the sound, rather than getting content out there. It really depends on the level you’re at and how much time you can justify in dedicating to improving your audio. Moving on to compression, in a nutshell, compression is used to reduce the dynamic range of your audio. If you have some really loud sections and really quiet sections, you’ll need to rectify this, so that your listeners are not continually reaching for the volume control. Compressing the audio will reduce the loud areas and raise the level of the quiet sections, to ensure a more balanced level. Now, the downside of compression is that it will make the background noise appear louder, so if you haven’t addressed those things in the previous step during editing and noise reduction, you can potentially make the audio sound worse with compression. Most video editing programs come with a volume limiting option, which is a reasonable compromise, if you don’t want to delve deeper into how to compress your audio for best results.
HIRE AN AUDIO PRO
If you have a booming YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers waiting with baited breath for your next video, you’re likely at that stage where outsourcing some of your production needs is becoming a strong consideration. Hiring an audio professional is the fastest and arguably most efficient way to ensure your audio competes with the best content creators out there. That way, you can spend the time doing what you enjoy most, which is creating content. There are audio professionals out there to suit all budgets, so it’s worthwhile thinking about how much you can realistically invest in outsourcing, to achieve the best balance in quality of your YouTube content over the quantity you intend to release.
I hope you enjoyed today’s overview of how you can improve your YouTube audio. All the best with your YouTube endeavours!
Until next time,