How can I professionally record audio?

What do I need for audio recording?

To professionally record audio, you need a microphone and an audio recorder.

Microphones are often distinguished by their pickup pattern, which describes how the microphone picks up sounds in its vicinity.
Omni - directional microphones capture audio in a 360° circle around the capsule.

Directional microphones capture sounds that are right in front of the capsule and filter out sounds that are off-axis. There are several degrees of directionality for directional microphones. 

There are a variety of microphones that are best suited for specific scenarios. Here are several examples:

  • Lavalier microphone: A clip-on omnidirectional microphone that is ideal for use both indoors and outdoors and perfect for when the  subject is moving across a scene or to be hands free.
  • Shotgun microphone: A hyper-directional microphone that is great for shooting dialogue outdoors. They are also perfect for recording speeches or presentations given at meetings, conferences, and lectures. In these cases, the speaker does not need to hold a microphone and talk into it, nor does he need to clip a microphone to his body in order to record his speech.
  • Cardioid microphone: A directional microphone that is ideally suited for capturing conversations inside. Less directional than a shotgun though, but with a better off-axis sound reproduction.

    Using professional XLR cables, your microphone will be connected to an audio recorder or camera. Audio recorders are available in a range of forms, sizes, and input counts. Smaller audio recorders will have two or three input channels, but bigger audio recorders can have more than ten.

    The pre-amps are the most crucial aspect of an audio recorder. Before being recorded, pre-amps amplify the analogue signal from the microphone to generate a line level. When you enhance a signal, you add gain and noise to it. Entry-level audio recorders typically feature weak pre-amps, which inject noise into the recording.

    How can I record clean audio?

    Audio is commonly described as either clean or dirty. Clean audio is clear of any distracting noises or frequencies. Distracting noises or harsh frequencies are heard in dirty audio.
    To capture clean audio, make sure you're in a suitable area free of background noise such as conversations, air conditioning systems, and traffic noise. You can also use sound panels or blankets to reduce reverb from rough surfaces, and wind covers to protect the microphone capsule from plosives.
    The following are some of the most common reasons for dirty audio recordings:

  • Traffic noise
  • Heaters and air conditioners
  • Refrigerators
  • Crowded places
  • Electrical phasing caused by crossed audio cables and power cables
  • Reverb caused by rough surfaces
  • Plosive sounds from unprotected microphone capsules.

    The majority of causes of dirty audio can be resolved on set. Certainly  dirty audio could be reduced in post-production by applying techniques as de-noising and equalizing. These techniques, however, will never be able to repair a recording as good as it might have been recorded on set.

    Capturing clean audio while you are on set is recommended to have the best possible audio recording for your project.
    You can always count on Headline's experienced cameramen and sound engineers for recording your audio projects. Please don't hesitate to contact us.