How to Optimize Audio for Your Videos
By Lewis Hiigel
Whether you’re making videos for your fitness studio, gym, salon, spa, or wellness business, you want to make sure that you’re providing quality content. A big factor is your audio. Ensuring your audio is clear, balanced, and free of background noise contributes to a smooth experience for your clients. Let them focus on your killer workout or tutorial rather than any sound issues.
If you don’t have professional recording equipment on hand, no problem! In this post we’ll share tips on how to produce quality audio using minimal equipment.
What’s the difference between live stream audio and pre-recorded audio?
As you plan your virtual service offerings, you’ll need to determine which of your services will be live streams and which will be pre-recorded videos. You can offer live stream workouts, virtual consultations, pre-recorded tutorials, etc. With video, you can boost your business’s impact in a myriad of ways.
The greatest benefit of live streaming your services is the ability to interact directly with your clients–taking questions, giving feedback, and more. However, this also means that you need to balance your audio elements live and aren’t able to edit or correct mistakes.
If you pre-record content, you can edit your video and audio for the ultimate control over your finished product, but you will be unable to interact directly with your clients.
One option may not apply to all of your service types, so it’s good to choose the best path on a case-by-case basis.
How much control do you want?
In any audio or video production, you will need to strike a balance between complexity and control.
Greater control of the finished product typically requires separating the various elements of your recording (for example, recording audio separately from video), which creates a more complex, higher-effort setup. Inversely, the simplest setup (for example, a phone on a tripod) gives you the least amount of control over the quality of your finished product.
Which option you choose will depend on how comfortable you are with the audio recording process and your personal preference.
How will you narrate your video?
The next factor you should keep in mind when planning your setup is how you want your video’s narration to work. You can choose to:
- Lead and narrate the live session simultaneously
- Lead the session and separately record any narration later
Which option you choose may vary from service to service, so don’t feel like you have to settle on one option and stick with it. Either way, the option you choose will determine your recording setup.
What’s the best environment to record your video in?
One of the most important contributors to the quality of your audio is the environment in which the recording takes place. Therefore, finding an ideal room for sound should be the first step in creating your audio recording setup.
The ideal recording room should have as few background noises (for instance appliances, voices, outdoor noise like yard work) as possible. It also shouldn’t be too “loud.” Too many hard surfaces in a room (for example, brick walls, tile flooring, large windows) can reflect sounds in undesirable ways, creating unpleasant reverberations and audio feedback. If you don’t have alternatives, try laying down rugs and blankets on a hard floor, or hanging quilts on the walls. This will help absorb reflected sound, making the overall sound in the room clearer. If your video requires a hard floor (like a fitness class), try covering non-essential parts of the floor with blankets or rugs.
That said, you don’t want to minimize noise entirely. Some reflection is beneficial, and too much dampening can lead to a “dead” room, making it more difficult for sound to travel from you to the microphone.
What audio equipment do you have on hand?
Once you’ve established your recording environment and your priorities regarding your recording setup, the next step is to choose the hardware you’ll be using to record your audio.
If you intend to use the simplest setup possible (as discussed in the previous section), some of the following options may not be applicable to your needs. However, all options should be considered to achieve the best possible results.
A microphone that is purpose-built for recording audio will always be the most ideal solution in this situation, and they’re far more common than one might expect. If you or someone you know uses a microphone for vlogging, music, or karaoke, you can repurpose for use in this case.
If you decide to purchase a microphone for your videos, remember that price and quality typically go hand-in-hand with recording equipment. Be sure to research your options, and make sure the hardware you’re purchasing will fit your needs.
Consumer-level microphones can range from $30-$150 (including clip-on lavalier mics that connect directly to a smartphone). High-quality professional microphones start anywhere from $200-$500 and go up from there. When budgeting for audio hardware, don’t forget to factor in accessories like a stand, cables, and pop filters.
Most consumer-level microphones can connect to your computer via USB and don’t require additional power to use. If you opt for a professional or semi-professional microphone, you’ll likely need a preamp to use it with your computer.
If you have a modern smartphone, you also have a high-quality microphone that is built to capture the human voice. Because of this, using a smartphone to record your audio can be a great solution when on a budget.
To use a phone for recording audio, place the phone on a flat (preferably hard) surface, fairly close to you, and make sure the microphone is facing you.
If you’re pre-recording your content for a video-on-demand library, you can record the audio using a Voice Memo or similar recording app, then add it to your video later.
A good pair of Bluetooth earbuds are incredibly helpful, regardless of whether you use them to record audio. Using headphones instead of speakers for music or hearing clients prevent speakers from interfering with your recording or causing unpleasant feedback noise.
As a microphone, a Bluetooth headset has the benefit of being as close to you as possible. This benefit can eliminate a lot of environmental factors when it comes to your audio quality and make recording your audio easier for when a lot of movement is involved.
Just be sure that whatever headset you choose is secure and won’t fall off during a session.
While every laptop with a webcam has an integrated microphone, this should be your last-resort option. They’re difficult to control and are low quality.
If you plan on using your laptop’s webcam for your video content, record your audio separately using one of the devices listed above.
What the best audio editing software for pre-recorded videos?
If you’re recording all video and audio through a single source (like through a smartphone on a tripod), you can simply upload the recorded video to your library on Mindbody.
However, if you opted to record your elements separately for greater control, or you just want to cut out unwanted segments for a better-paced video, you’ll need some editing software. We recommend taking some time to research which software will be best for you.
Apple Creative Suite
If you’re using a Mac or iPad, you’ll already have access to a great suite of consumer-level production software, like Garage Band and iMovie. These tools are easy to use, work together seamlessly, and are the quickest way to get a video that looks and sounds great. The process is even easier if you plan on shooting your video on an Apple device, like an iPhone.
If you’re using Windows, you need to find a third-party software solution to access editing tools. Open-source software is free and community-developed.
With its low barrier to entry and basic feature set, open-source software is a great tool for a creator on a budget. On the other hand, open-source software may not have the features or smooth interface of a paid option.
The most popular choice for open-source audio recording software is Audacity, which is an excellent starting point for those new to recording audio.
Alternatively, you can opt for paid software. Paid-for software solutions cover a wide range of features and price points, from consumer software all the way up to professional tools. When researching paid software solutions, beware of cheap solutions that install additional software on your computer–the most inexpensive software is not always the best (or safest).
How can you add music to your video?
For many businesses, the music you play during a service is a major contributor to the unique experience that you provide. While your first instinct may be to add music to your pre-recorded and live stream video content, there are some reasons why that might not be the best idea.
Licensing and copyright
While many businesses use music services like Pandora Business to create an inviting atmosphere at their brick-and-mortar locations, the same licenses used for a physical business location do not typically carry over to online media.
Purchasing licenses to use specific songs in your videos can be expensive and using copyrighted content without permission can result in fines or legal action against your business.
Most video hosting platforms, including Mindbody, prohibit the use of unlicensed, copyrighted media. Therefore, any music that you add to your videos needs to either be original content you own or licensed songs that you've paid for.
Balancing audio sources
While it’s possible to add authorized music to your pre-recorded videos and live streams, there are challenges in balancing your music and any talking. Even when you feel that you’ve struck a perfect balance between your music and narration, there’s the unknown factor of your clients’ listening environment.
By including both music and narration in your video services, your clients will only be able to adjust the overall volume of your content instead of just the music or the narration. This can lead to clients having difficulty following your instruction.
The simplest solution
With all this in mind, the best way to approach music is often to not include it at all, and instead encourage your clients to play their own music at home (some fitness instructors even send a link to a playlist before starting their live streams). This solution provides a number of benefits: you won’t have to worry about competing audio sources in your video, your clients will be able to work out to their favorite music (and adjust volumes to their taste), and you’ll save money by avoiding costly licensing fees.
How to add music to your pre-recorded videos
If you’re using a software solution for video editing, adding authorized music to your video is as easy as dragging the audio file into your project and adjusting the volume as needed.
Recording clear audio is a crucial part of creating high-quality videos. By being mindful of your environment, using the best hardware, and balancing your audio sources, you’ll be on your way to creating great video content for your business.