Research shows that bad audio is the single most important factor in people stopping watching videos.
Simply put, bad audio means no viewers. And, of course, as video creators, we want viewers! So how can you improve the quality of your audio recording to get perfect audio for your videos?
As a beginner, it can be overwhelming stepping into the world of video. When you add audio into the mix, it becomes even more difficult to know what levers to pull to get the outcome you want.
Jake Pechtel is the Product Strategist for Camtasia and Audiate and has over seven years’ experience at TechSmith. He shared some high-level tips and more advanced insights about how to achieve that perfect audio for your videos and keep your viewers watching for longer.
You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…
Is there such a thing as “perfect audio”?
At TechSmith, we believe that striving for “perfect” is overrated…that being said, Jake believes there is such a thing as better audio.
Some audio is just plain bad. Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve the listening experience for listeners, video viewers, and yourself as a creator.
But audio is subjective. What sounds great to one person, may not sound good to another. So Jake advises that rather than aim for “perfect”, aim to craft an audio experience that “gets the job done”.
The three Cs of good audio
Jake suggests bearing “the three Cs” in mind when recording audio: clarity, consistency, and candy.
Clarity is the most important factor in any audio recording. Jake advises you focus on getting the levels right to make sure your listener can easily understand you.
The next goal is consistency. When your levels are inconsistent across different videos or pieces of media, it can result in an unpleasant experience for the listener. If you’re recording a series, for example, it’s best to check that the audio isn’t jumping around from too quiet to too loud, as this can be distracting.
The final aim is to sweeten the listening experience by being aware of how your voice actually sounds (aka add some candy). The recording devices many of us have access to, such as your phone or laptop mic, aren’t always the best for helping your voice sound as full as it could.
While you can use tools to get that bigger, fuller sound, Jake recommends experimenting with your voice to try and get it closer to how you sound in your head. His top tip is to “put a little bit more low end in to get more of that authoritative tone”.
Audio recording: where to start
When you first start creating video content, your focus is more likely to be on getting your visuals right and delivering your message correctly. As you dip your toe into editing software, like Camtasia, you may start to play around with the visuals and the audio.
But as any editor knows, it can be easy to dive into the deep end fast. Audio editing software tools are powerful and flexible, but if you’re just trying to correct some small mistakes, do you really need a program that can record a Grammy winning album?
If you’re just getting started, these tools can be intimidating and not a great use of your time. To achieve a decent result fast, Jake recommends keeping things simple and doing everything you can to get a good recording that you don’t have to clean up later.
The audio mistakes to avoid
“The more that you do to prepare, the less you have to do on the back end.”
Preparation for any video or audio project is absolutely key to a more efficient workflow and a much better end result. Jake suggests eliminating the more difficult editing work by just making sure that you’re getting as good a recording as possible first.
The first step to achieving this is making sure you’re addressing the microphone correctly. Understand how your microphone best picks up your voice and then be aware of your body. Moving around in the space and even turning your head can affect your ability to get perfect audio, so try not to do this.
The next step is ensuring that you’re using an even tone. If you’re recording a voiceover for a tutorial, for example, it’s better to avoid being overly loud or dramatic unless it’s absolutely necessary. A more even tone produces a much more pleasant listening experience overall.
Finally, be aware of your environment. While you may not always be able to control what’s going on around you, there are things you can do to improve your recording space. Here are some of Jake’s simple suggestions:
- If you have hardwood floors, lay down a rug
- Add sound absorbing foam squares to surfaces behind your mic
- Record in a smaller room or a room with plenty of furniture in to stop any dreaded echo
Or you could get really creative with where you record. Jake’s heard stories of people recording in closets and even cars “to get that real buttery voiceover”!
How to improve your audio recording skills
To level up your skills and get perfect audio recordings every time, Jake suggests using online resources. However, he cautions that there are thousands out there, and it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole. So his top tip is to conduct super specific searches for exactly what you want to know, or – even better – searching for gear-specific tips.
Getting to know your audio recording equipment is a great way to learn new skills fast. Plus, you may be able to find others with very similar setups to you, using the same gear for similar applications, who you can borrow tips and tricks from.
There are also plenty of free resources available in the TechSmith Academy, such as this short basics course, Recording Audio In Your Environment.
Jake also suggests there’s one more thing you can do to improve your audio skills – or at least help you become more comfortable with recording – try different microphones.
Like anything, it’s important that you find the right gear for you. Different mics often change how you sound – so if you’re finding it tough to listen back to your recording, it might not be you, it may be the mic! If you’re recording and editing a lot of content, having a microphone that makes you sound how you want to sound can make the entire process a lot more enjoyable.
How Audiate can help you get perfect audio
As the product strategist for Audiate, Jake also shared how this TechSmith software can help you create a much smoother finished product with your audio recording.
Audiate is to audio what Camtasia is to video. It’s a user-friendly audio editor that helps people get professional results with their audio recordings, as it allows you to edit audio files as if they are text files.
By transcribing audio files into text documents, it’s far easier to find your mistakes and correct them. The powerful thing about Audiate is, when you edit the text (e.g., deleting wrong words) it also edits the audio file. So even beginner users can achieve the perfect audio end-product in far less time.
Jake says the benefits of using an audio editor like this go beyond getting a great result, they also help you become a better audio recorder too.
Audiate has helped Jake become more aware of how he speaks, as speaking slower and more clearly gives you a more accurate transcription.
“I certainly speak a little slower and clearer now, which, especially when I’m making voiceover for video, has actually improved the pacing and the clarity of those videos a lot.”
This slower, more calculated speech helps to speed up the audio recording workflow for Jake. He notes that if he makes a mistake, he just repeats the sentence, then looks for the repeated text in Audiate, and removes the first one (or ones) with the errors in. This is far quicker than hunting for mistakes and it doesn’t disrupt his recording flow.
An audio-specific editing tool is a powerful addition you can make to your audio recording equipment and can make your workflow a lot easier. So, no matter what gear you have or audio projects you’re undertaking, Jake’s final tips for helping get the best results and making your audio process work for you are:
“Be experimental, get the right setup, and really get to know your gear – even if you just have a really simple setup.”
For more tips on getting perfect audio, creating videos, screen recordings, and much, much more, check out the courses and resources at the TechSmith Academy.