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How To Make Your YouTube Videos Sound Professional

 

In a prior entry I spoke of how to record audio for video in the best way possible mainly so you can provide the cleanest specimen to an audio post-producer. Post-production is an imperative and inexpensive way of raising the production value of your video to a professional level, and one that often gets overlooked by amateurs.

Your video looks good, and while the sound is understandable and reasonably loud, your speaker doesn’t sound like the pros do on TV or in professionally produced YouTube videos. That’s because there are certain elements of post-production concerning the voice that every form of professionally broadcast media performs as a part of the audio mastering process.

Mastering audio is a necessary process involving various types of compression and equalization. Compression, sometimes utilized while initially recording the audio, is basically smoothing out the loud and soft moments of your recording in an attempt to control noticeable drops and spikes in volume. Forms of compression can also be used to increase the overall volume of the recording, which is especially helpful when a mic is poorly placed or non-existent.

Equalization is a way of modifying certain frequencies in your recording to enhance volume and clarity, and also to remove unwanted noise. Equalization shouldn’t be considered a “cure all” by any means, but it is usually the savior of poor recordings, turning something virtually unlistenable into something functional.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, it is best not to attempt to try and fix audio issues by using preset on-board effects (especially before recording). This usually results in an ultra-compressed recording which makes you sound robotic, and it only gets worse when you upload it to YouTube. Contact an audio professional for assistance, and you’ll save time, and be much happier with the final product. The small amount of money you spend will reap dividends down the road.

The next entry will deal with taking your production a step further with background music!

How To Make Your YouTube Videos Sound Good

Picture from Mic Ad #1: Mic Placement = WRONG! (unless he has another head)

I don’t need to tell you how great a medium YouTube is for promoting your business, website, or endeavor. While making your video stand out amongst the 72 hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute may not require a professional studio, raising your own production values will certainly help. This is especially important if these videos are a primary method of delivering your message, or are featured prominently on your website.

Recently, I worked with a client who produced promotional videos for his business which contained great content, but were hampered by poor quality audio. He appreciated the tips I shared with him, so I’ll list them here. Remember that this advice is all based around the axiom of “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s much easier to avoid mistakes before recording than dealing with them afterwards.

1. Use a mic. Using a lapel (lavalier) mic should be top priority when it comes to getting good audio. The volume of your voice needs to be nice and loud, but must never distort. To attain this, the mic needs to be properly placed; close to your mouth, but not too high, and not too low. Clip the mic where the third or fourth button on a button-down shirt would be. Make sure it has the foam (pop filter) on it, and if you’re concerned with aesthetics, run the cord through your shirt, but don’t move the mic. If your local news station is OK with the mic being visible, why shouldn’t you be?

Picture from Mic Ad #2: Mic Placement = WRONG! Unless her adam’s apple is doing the talking.

2. Record in as silent an environment as possible. I’m not talking about an Anechoic chamber here, I’m talking about a room free from common household noise, like doors opening or closing, people faintly talking, cars driving by, etc. Some seemingly external noises like “hiss” can be dealt with after the fact, but any sort of external noise severely limits professional post-production, and really makes your videos come across as amateurish. Also, it would help if the room you’re recording in is carpeted, and preferably windowless. Glass, mirrors, and hard wood floors amplify (and color) all noises, not just your voice, so avoid these environments when possible.

 

3. Be careful what power source you’re plugged into. Wonder why you’re recordings have a constant hum that you didn’t hear in the room? It’s most likely some kind of ground loop, and it could be caused by many things. First of all, check to see if your camera and/or computer is plugged into the same circuit as an air conditioner, refrigerator, or large appliance. If it is, move it until you stop hearing the noise, even if that means running an extension cord from another room. Secondly, if you’re using an external camera or laptop to record your videos, try to use it on its battery as opposed to plugging it in. Sometimes the internal workings of the recording device can be heard, and those usually are related to charging.

With these three tips in mind, you should have no problem getting a great sounding recording that can be made to sound professional through post-production. More on that in my next blog! Any questions? Leave a comment or e-mail me!