Audio School: Capturing Cleaner Audio

Tips to Improve Audio (image via Parker Wallbeck) Tips to Improve Audio (image via Parker Wallbeck)

Tips and tricks as useful for those just starting out, as for those who want to improve their process.

Parker Walbeck and his team helpfully demonstrate their tips for capturing cleaner audio, for us to see and more importantly hear, such as mic placement, room treatment, and post-processing:

The goal is often to eliminate as much room or environmental sound as possible. Interestingly, most of these tips are about being careful and resourceful at the recording stage:

  1. Choose your location wisely – a “clap test” will quickly tell you how noisy the location is for audio recording. If relocating isn’t possible, dampen the environment with anything from foam to bedsheets
  2. Get Mic as Close to Subject as Possible – seems obvious, but the demonstration here really illustrates the difference that distance makes
  3. Lav Mic – importantly, they mention testing for movement noise before recording (more on those here)
  4. Mic Placement – be creative in how you can get the mic as close to the subject as possible, with a particular eye on your edge of frame. Again, the demonstration here is helpfully illustrative
  5. Test Audio Levels Before Recording – ideally, audio levels should sit between -18dB and -12dB at their quietest, and -6dB at their loudest
  6. Windscreen, Deadcat, Pop Filter – whether blocking wind or reducing “p” sounds in the voice recording, once again, these demos say it all
  7. Sync Clap – the clapping-the-number-of-takes is a great idea, particularly for using the sync function in post
  8. Second Recording – if one recording distorts or fails, the other suddenly becomes a lifesaver
  9. Post Processing – Parametric EQ and Compression (Dynamics). Use specialised audio for more advanced features
  10. Monitor Through Different Speakers – the same audio will sound different on different systems. One suggestion (as a guide only): if dialogue is peaking around -6dB, then background sound or music should peak between -15 and -30dB.

… but before we do, Brian Miller from Audio for Content Creators also demonstrates his own tips for getting cleaner audio – without post-processing:

Curtis Judd offers these simple techniques all creators should learn for better sound for video:

While Gerald Undone‘s guide targets YouTube and Twitch creators, these tips and techniques for recording your voice well are universal:

Further Viewing

With your solid voice recordings, you’re ready to mix your dialogue or voice over narration in your video edit. Here are more tutorials on working with voice in your audio mix in Adobe Premiere Pro:

Despite your best attempts, things may still require cleanup in post – here’s a roundup of explainers and tutorials on dealing with various audio issues:

Once you have the basics down, refine your workflow further with these more advanced tips for working with audio in Premiere Pro:

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