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Improving Audio Quality for Video Recording Without an Expensive Wireless Microphone

Technology > Video

Problem Summary. When recording video at an event, it is common to end up with poor audio quality for a person speaking. Usually, the video camera is placed at a significant distance from the person speaking, and amplification acoustics (if any) are often poor quality. Background noise can also be a problem. Wireless microphones are expensive. Patching into an XLR professional audio mixing system (if available) is only possible for professional-grade equipment.

Problem Solution. An audio voice recorder, such as the Olympus VN-5200PC (or similar recorder) allows for a separate digital audio recording to a small device. Even while using the internal microphone, the quality is generally quite good. Here are the steps to making this all work:

  1. Setup the camera in a location best suited for video recording, and place the digital voice recorder on the podium or have it in the speaker’s pocket and use a lapel microphone.
  2. Import the video into a program such as iMovie and choose to extract the audio from the video.
  3. Let the audio recording from the digital audio recorder be the primary audio track.
  4. Synchronize the two as needed. Inevitably there are very minute differences between two recording devices. To correct for any lack of synchronization, it’s possible to speed up or slow down the video clip by tenths of a percentage. For example, if the audio for the person speaking is synchronized at the beginning of the video, but not synchronized toward the end, making the video 100.1% speed may correct the problem. Or, taking out a few frames of video every 20 minutes (or as necessary) can help keep the synchronization.

This method generally produces audio that is much louder and clearer than you would otherwise have using the built-in microphone on the camera.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com