How To Give Your Webcam Video an Audio Punch: Use a Shotgun Microphone

How To Give Your Webcam Video an Audio Punch: Use a Shotgun Microphone

I interviewed video production expert Izzy Hyman for his recommendation on a basic shotgun mic to your webcam video recordings, making them sound much better without getting in the way of your video shoot.

The Challenge With Webcams for Doing Business-Quality Video…

If you're someone who likes to self-publish video to the Web quickly, webcams have made it possible for simple and fast video recording that everyone can do, and that looks pretty decent. But the big problem with webcam video is…

…Poor Audio…

The audio on webcams typically blows because the microphone inside them is very poor! Too often they pick up way too much room noise and can't hone in on your voice, and you often can really adjust their volumes properly, even with computer software.

I've been practicing with different webcams for years now in my own video clips for ReelSEO, and I've always wanted to find the right balance between the technical quality and a natural appearance; along with making it as easy as possible for me to just sit down, shoot, and be done with it.

How To Give Your Webcam Video an Audio Punch: Use a Shotgun MicrophoneNow, USB microphones paired with a webcam can give out pretty good audio quality, but they tend to leave too large of a footprint in your video image and can block some of your body language. I often use a Blue Yeti USB microphone for audio-only recordings, but it's more of a close proximity mic and it's huge. I need it close to my mouth to sound good, but it takes up way too much of the video frame.

… AND, not a simple enough setup for good audio.

I have tried a lapel microphone with a usb-to-xlr preamp (albeit a cheaper one, the Blue Icicle.) Unfortunately I found the audio quality to be subpar (not enough punch and too much room noise) along with experience latency issues. (Meaning, I hear what I say back in my headphones a fraction of a second after I say it, which is incredibly annoying.) And call me lazy, but I don't like having to fit myself with a lapel microphone and carry around the extra hardware.

I think many people like myself would be much more inspired to do video regularly if they could have the audio setup be as simple as possible – where they could just sit down right in front of their computer now matter where they are at, and just point-and-shoot-and-record. So is there a solution?

Well, I've been thinking that the solution for this group of people is to get a shotgun microphone. "With a shotgun mic, you can have it out of the frame and point it at your mouth from a short distance, and it will capture good audio." says Izzy.

So I also asked Izzy, what kind of shotgun microphone he would recommend for the needs of a typical web professional who does webcam recordings, that would need to meet all of these mic requirements crucial for simple and fast web video production:

  • Plug directly into a computer (laptop or desktop)
  • Run off it's own battery power
  • Have no latency issues
  • Adjust for audio quality, and;
  • Be a good value on a low budget?

But First, A Quick Video Overview of Types of Camcorder Microphones…

Izzy has a great video series over at his website, IzzyVideo.com, including both free videos and a premium video subscription for those who want to learn more about video production (which every serious video marketer should). Below is one of his free recommended videos, "Which Camcorder Microphone Should You Use?”

And Now, the Shotgun Microphone Recommendation for Webcam Pros

How To Give Your Webcam Video an Audio Punch: Use a Shotgun MicrophoneIzzy recommends the RODE VideoMic (pictured to the left) as a good solution, for the following reasons:

  • It captures high quality audio and attaches to your computer's mic input (if it has one) without needing an adapter.
  • It can also be plugged into any camcorder along with your own computer, and;
  • It's not too pricey, at just $149. (Plus you can get it less for used.)

How To Give Your Webcam Video an Audio Punch: Use a Shotgun MicrophoneRode also has a newer, more compact, and slightly more expensive model, the VideoMic Pro (here on the left) retailing at $229.

Now while both of these have a shoe mount on the bottom (as pictured above), they don't require a camcorder to work. They can be plugged in directly into your computer, be easily setup to reside just outside of your video frame, and give you a strong punch to your audio.

There you have it! Also, if you have at least extra 100 bucks to spare, there's the option of getting a preamp that can plug into your USB or Firewire port, which can give you more audio controls. But for direct plug-and-play, a shotgun mic for your webcam is I think the best setup and value for the budget-minded and professionally aspiring.


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About the Author -
Grant Crowell View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1076251407 Richard Norton

    I like it…well done…

  • Antonio Centeno

    Grant – First – great article and Izzy is a friggin video STUD! Awesome guy!

    I have to comment as I went through this earlier this year.

    I bought the small RODE Video Mic and it works fine outdoors but in a studio it captures too much echo (even with sound sheets from Audimute). I also own the Yeti – hence I knew my video sound could be so much better.

    My solution – I rigged it so my Yeti hangs from the top of my studio – just out of the video frame – and it stills captures my voice better than the shotgun mic. I then combine the audio with the video afterwards an extra step, but the audio is so much better.

    Feel free to checkout my videos on You Tube (just Google me) to see the difference – videos shot a month used the shotgun, the recent ones use the Yeti.

    Keep up the great writing!

    R/S
    Antonio

    • Antonio Centeno

      I have a secret weapon I didn't mention – my wife is an Izzy fan and member of his premium group (which is worth every penny) so she does the splicing. And since we run a tight ship with our small businesses – we weren't about to sink more money into mics when we already own 3 (I have the Yeti snowflake as well).

      The Lesson I learned is this: If you want to keep it inexpensive, you need to understand how to use the tools you have and work all angles. A quiet room (we shoot from 5AM to 7AM as we have kids), sound absorbing sheets, a good projection voice, and the equipment mentioned above can give you a great video product.

      Most people though want it simple and cheap – something I don't think video is at yet. But you can get good and inexpensive if you're willing to practice and experiment with the gear you have.

      Invest in good gear, learn to use it, and most importantly invest in your understanding of the video recording craft (which again – Izzy is the man for!)

      THANKS for your great writing Grant – as a content creator myself, I know how much work you do!

      R/S

      @[7954631:2048:Antonio Centeno]

  • Michael Krisa

    Wow great tips and what mics to use! Small point though – you mentioned using two mic to do a shoot but the typical consumer video camera only has one mic jac. They would need to get something like an xlr adpater for that.

  • Thomas Roberts

    Nice Article about consumer audio! You can also check out the Azden microphone for under $100 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=444022&Q=&is=REG&A=details.

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