How to Select the Right Microphone for Video Recording

An important lesson to learn is that poor audio will destroy the best video. Nothing will send cursors screaming towards the right corner “X” faster than a poor audio. So, it is important to learn as much as you can about microphones and how to set them up properly for your shoot. Here are a few key considerations:

The Environment

  • Select a space without loud ambient noises, or try to select a location that allows you to control the ambient noise level.
  • Avoid sites near air conditioning units, generators, traffic noise, and anything else that creates a hum. Not to mention airports, fire stations, hospitals, police departments, ambulance services, heavy construction, etc.
  • If you are setting up a recording studio, hanging acoustic panels on the wall helps to remove room reverberation. If it is a temporary location, hanging thick blankets on the walls works well.
  • When shooting in an office, make the staff aware that you are taping and ask them to refrain from making loud noises. Also request that they mute their cell phones and turn ringer volumes down on desk phones. Hang a do not disturb sign in a conspicuous place.

Microphone Types

  • Lavaliere microphones (also known as a lapel mic) clips onto your guest’s shirt collar, jacket lapels or their tie. These are excellent for recording dialogue. A sound check should be done to be sure that you are picking their voice up and that the mic is positioned properly. Lavalieres come in both wireless and hardwired versions. The downside of lavalieres is noise from shuffling clothing or moving. Explain this when attaching it to the guest.
  • Shotgun microphones can make the guest’s voices sound close and clear. Unfortunately, it also picks up a bit of ambient noise. Everyone in the recording environment should be cognizant of whispering, coughing, or inadvertently hitting things when repositioning their feet. Shotgun mics can be positioned on a table stand, or set up out of camera view on a boom stand, pointing straight at the sound source. Once again a sound check should be performed to assure that you are getting the best sound possible or if an adjustment of mic position is necessary.
  • Video Microphones – These are a type of shotgun mic, but aren’t really for capturing the final audio for a production. Video mics connect straight onto the camera. They capture scratch-track audio that allows your editor to easily sync the video and high-end sound together in editing.

Pickup Patterns

Pickup pattern is how well a microphone hears different sounds from different directions. This will be key in deciding which type of production mic to buy and which to use for different types of shoots. These are:

  1. Omnidirectional – Omni mics capture audio in a circular pattern, pulling sound from all different direction. They are sensitive to sound coming from any direction and are useful when you need to cast a wide sonic net. Many camcorder built in mics are omni directional.
  2. Cardioid/Hypercardioid – These mics got their name from the heart shaped pattern in which they capture sound. These are great for capturing dialogue and make up the majority of handheld mics.
  3. Bidirectional – The capture characteristics for bidirectional mics is strictly right side and left side, with nominal sound captured from the front and back. These work well when recording music.

For an excellent video on audio capture patterns, go to

Mic Accessories

A quality boom stand for your shotgun mic is a must buy. K-Tek manufactures a great collapsible boom pole that’s more flexible than standard poles.  You’ll also want to pick up a wind screen to protect your mic. A pistol grip shock mount will help minimize unwanted vibration from your video.  For a lavaliere mic, a mini 3.5mm adapter to an XLR male adapter will come in handy. You also should grab some gaffer’s tape to help hide the mic in or under people’s clothing. Also a windscreen for each mic and some alligator clips come in handy for fastening the lavaliers.

Resources –

Read Our Previous Installments

How to Select the Right Camcorder Part Three

Selecting Video Editing Software

Thinking About Adding Video Content?

Using a Digital SLR Camera for Video

Setting Up a Video Studio – Part 2


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    Gerry Nason Written by:

    Gerry Nason is a Senior Content Copywriter for HiP B2B. He also has extensive experience with generating high quality executive leads. Gerry worked for six years as the Producer & Director of a weekly music show, appearing on cable access TV in New England. During those six years, In Tune won 18 awards for video excellence.

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