How I improve my audio and video

Since I started publishing content on youtube in early 2012, the sound quality has been on my mind at all time.


The audio and I

The recording

While achieving good video quality is rather easy with our modern DSLRs (even the entry level ones), when it comes to the audio, that is a different matter. The built-in DSLR microphone is rubbish, and one realises very quickly the need for some additional mic. Most of my videos have been recorded in the outdoors, and that adds another level of challenge: background noise, wind and distance between me and the camera.

I started with a lavalier mic and a very long cable that would keep on getting entangled. The I moved to a relatively cheap wireless solution while enabled me to move but I still was not satisfied with the sound quality and the signal range was rather poor. Finally, I gave up on the wireless and decided to separate my audio from the video recording using the Zoom H1 and the Rode SmartLav+. To this day this has been my solution of choice when recording both indoors and outdoors. However, there was still one issue.

Zoom H1 & Rode SmartLav+

Zoom H1 & Rode SmartLav+

Buy on Amazon

Click on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The post-production

Even when you have a good microphone, you often need to edit the audio in post-production before posting the video to youtube. This has always been a pain in my neck since day one. Although I’ve had access to amazing tools like Adobe Audition, Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro over the years, I am not a sound engineer, and I have been dreading that mandatory step.  As I am about to do a huge amount of video recording in my studio for a 10h online course on Adobe Lightroom, I decided it was time to invest in a more robust solution.

My new mic

That solution consists of a better microphone and a mixing console to record a great clean audio from scratch. After some hours spent online at reviewing my options regarding a new microphone, I decided to invest in a Blue Yeti Pro. This mic enables me to not only plug it directly into my computer via USB, but I can also record in analogue via an XLR cable. I will do a full review of the Blue Yeti Pro in the future if you are interested.

The Blue Yeti Pro microphone

The Blue Yeti Pro microphone

Buy on Amazon

Click on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Just a little pop

To improve the sound quality I decided to acquire a pop filter. It is meant to reduce the popping sound that occurs with plosives. There are so many on the market going from a couple to a hundred of pounds. Most of the cheap unit is quite big and therefore not so practical when broadcasting video as well as audio. I found the Pop filter by Blue is a good size and a good fit for the rounded shape of the Yeti Pro microphone. The only downside of that filter is its price tag.

The Blue pop filter

The Blue pop filter

Buy on Amazon

Click on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

A new arm

While the Blue Yeti Pro microphone comes with a solid thick metal stand, I knew I needed an additional piece of kit. To get the best audio possible, I like to have the mic close to my mouth. This is impossible if I want to be able to type on my keyboard or use my Wacom tablet. Also when using the mouse on the desktop, it creates a rubbing noise that reaches the mic by vibrations. I decided to acquire a solid studio arm and most of the reviews I came across pointed to the Rode PSA1. It is strong enough to hold the Blue Yeti mic suspended despite its weight.

The Rode PSA1 studio arm

The Rode PSA1 studio arm

Buy on Amazon

Click on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Limited sound editing

The solution to avoid the post-production nightmare of the audio resides in using a mixing console. There are many on the market. While I have no need for multiple input connectors, it seems that only the big units provide interesting features such as a HighPass filter button and a compressor knob. After numerous hours spent reading and listening to online product reviews, I acquired the Yamaha MG10XU which I will do a full review of in the future if you are interested.

The Yamaha MG10XU mixing console

The Yamaha MG10XU mixing console

Buy on AmazonClick on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com


Webcam to be seen

When making my Lightroom & Photoshop tutorials, I have been using my iMac 27″ 5K built-in webcam. It’s quality is very poor and is not worthy of seating on top of the 5K retina display. I am amazed by the video quality of the Logitech webcams. I have finally said goodbye to the FaceTime and welcome the Logitech C930e. Not only does it produce brighter videos but it has a wide field of view and shoot at 1080p 30fps.

The Logitech C930e webcam

The Logitech C930e webcam


Fast & tiny big

When producing HD videos, there is no need to invest in a super powerful computer if the hard drives are slow. Nowadays, SSDs have become the norm for video editing. The only issue with those drives are the price per gigabyte. However, when producing HD content, one needs a lot of space.

For the past year now I have been using my Drobo mini which has four 500gb SSD + a 120 mSata SSD. Unfortunately, while I was in Lithuania a few weeks ago, the unit stop mounting on my Macbook pro. I had to send the unit for replacement as it was still under warranty. In the meantime, this made me realise that I needed another external unit to edit my videos. Portability is not my primary concern but it turned out that the drive I picked is probably the smallest one on the market for its size. The Samsung T3 1Tb. It is crazy when I think of the size of the 1.44mb floppy disk we use to have when I was a teenager.

The Samsung t3 1TB

The Samsung t3 1TB

Buy on AmazonClick on one of these links to purchase it:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com


Conclusion

So far I am very satisfied with my acquisitions. I love the sound of the new audio and the extra SSD is giving me more space and speed to edit my HD videos. I am curious to know whether you have used any of this items and if so what are your thoughts. What was the latest gear you have purchased and do you have any regret? Let me know in the comment below.

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