Popular Types of External Microphones to Record Better Audio with Video Cameras

As you may be aware the built-in microphone on most video cameras leaves a lot to be desired in terms of audio quality. It is often so compressed that it has a limited range, and while it may be fine in a pinch – it far from ideal for video production.

Because of that if you really want to record high quality audio alongside your video – you should look into using an external microphone. Almost immediately you’ll probably realize that there are many different types that are available, but the three more popular variants are:

Shotgun microphones

Using this type of microphone will allow you to record audio coming from the general direction where it is pointed. It is highly directional, and so noise coming of the sides or rear won’t be picked up. Overall this is a decent type of multi-purpose microphone if you’re recording videos where the ambient noise is important, or involving conversations between several parties. In some cases your camera may be able to mount the microphone unit, or in others you may opt to use a boom pole to position them nearer the source.

Lavalier microphones

If you want a small and unobtrusive microphone that you can clip on to your clothes – you’re looking for a lavalier microphone. It is often used in news broadcasts, interviews, TED talks, and any increasingly in many YouTube videos involving a single presenter.

Because the microphone can be clipped close on clothing nearby the mouth, it is good at recording crisp and clear audio of speech. That being said in outdoor settings a windscreen may be necessary to avoid noise from wind.

Handheld microphones

The ‘normal’ type of microphone that you see at concerts or wielded by field reporters interviewing subjects on the street are handheld microphones. Typically this type of microphone can either be wired or wireless.

Needless to say if you’re using this type of microphone it is going to be very visible, but in many cases that is part of the idea. The fact of the matter is that handheld microphones have a ‘newsy’ look that the people using them often want for their videos.

Parabolic microphones

While much more situational, parabolic microphones are a great tool to record audio from further away. The highly-directional nature of this microphone will mean that it needs to be positioned precisely, and the quality of the audio may not be that great because of the distance. In short this type of microphone is not one for everyday use, but for specific types of videos where you need to record the audio from a longer range – it is essential.

The ‘best’ type of microphone will largely depend on how you want to use it and the type of video that you’re recording. That being said between the three options listed above you should be able to find one that fits your budget and requirements.

At the end of the day using a decent external microphone of the right type will help you to record far better audio alongside your videos. Still you may want to try to take other steps to improve it as well, such as recording in a quiet setting, minimizing ambient noise, and so on.

In some cases it may even help to be able to edit the audio after you’re done. At very least you should be able to trim audio, and for example you could use a tool such as MP3 Cutter for that. However if you want to take it a step further you should find an editor that lets you adjust the sound levels and process the audio more comprehensively.


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