Audio quality can often be overlooked in the managed chaos of web video production. And that’s entirely understandable. Between scripts, talent, location, video quality, lighting, editing and so on, there are already enough concerns that demand your attention. But poor audio quality can drive viewers to abandon your videos as surely as shortcomings in other areas. In this article, we’ll explore why audio matters, and what steps you can take to ensure that your videos sound as good as they look.
Why Audio Matters
Good audio is seamless. It becomes a part of a cohesive whole and allows the content of your video to come to the forefront. Bad audio, such as garbled voices, poor acoustics, intrusive background noise, or audio that’s out of sync with the video, doesn’t blend. It stands out. At best, it’s a minor annoyance; at worst, it degrades the perceived quality of your video and drives viewers away in search of more compelling content.
How can you protect your videos from poor audio? Let’s start with location.
Your shooting location can impact your audio in two ways: acoustics and background noise.
Acoustics have to do with the way sound travels around a space. Locations with lots of hard surfaces tend to exhibit poor acoustics because the sound bounces off the walls and floor. This can result in a hollow sound, almost as though you're shooting underwater.
The best way to avoid acoustical hassles is to shoot in a location with good acoustics. Failing that, you can bring in soft, absorbent materials to help "deaden" the sound. Heavy curtains, blankets, and rugs work well.
Depending on where you shoot, background noise can be far more difficult to overcome. Overflying airliners, barking dogs, sudden gusts of wind, and even the sounds of heating and air conditioning systems can interfere with your shoot. Minimize distracting, intermittent noises by waiting for them to pass and shooting another take. When dealing with persistent noises, such as HVAC systems or nearby construction, consider changing locations, putting up sound insulating materials if you’re shooting indoors, or using microphones designed to focus on a single subject.
Equipment and Capture
Location scouting and setup can give you a canvas for great audio, but you still need to capture it, and for that, you need to consider your equipment.