Audio is just as important as video!
It’s very easy to start making your own films now that most smart phones and DSLRs are capable of recording HD or even 4K footage. Beginning filmmakers have a tendency to place all their attention on capturing the best possible image, but they may fail to understand that audio is just as important as the visuals. Many beginning directors will rely solely upon the internal microphone on their phone or camera. In most circumstances, this will not produce acceptable results. It is common to end up with audio that is inaudible, muffled, echoey, dominated by background noise or completely marred by wind noise. In this blog post, we’ll cover the very best low budget sound equipment for filmmaking. Want some power tips for making great videos for social media? Click here.
Poor audio can totally ruin a great film
Recording dialogue and other sound on location is challenging and requires careful planning, preparation and the use of specialist sound equipment for filmmaking. Luckily, you don’t need to have a huge budget to capture high quality audio.
The best affordable sound equipment for filmmaking
Everyone knows about the excellent sound equipment for filmmaking made by RØDE, but their products are very expensive for a beginning filmmaker who has to make their budget stretch to cover a camera, lighting and sound equipment. Luckily, there is another company that makes excellent microphones at a much lower price point: BOYA.
Lapel (or Lavalier) Microphones
The BOYA BY-M1 3.5 mm Lavalier Microphone for Smartphone and DLSR (with microphone input) is an excellent lapel microphone. It is perfect for YouTubers or if you are recording interviews with only one person. It’s an excellent value at less than £15.
The BOYA BY-M1 is an Omni directional lavalier microphone, designed for Smartphones, DSLR, Camcorders, Audio recorders PC etc.
It has a stated Omni pickup pattern, for full 360° coverage.
Best of all, it has an integrated 6-meter (20″) cable which i much longer than that supplied with the much more expensive RØDE version. You really need this length if you are connecting to your camera or smart phone. It connects with a 3.5mm plug to the headphone socket on your smartphone. For DSLR users, this microphone includes battery power so that it will work with cameras that are not capable of supplying ‘phantom power’. The mic comes with a lapel clip, a foam windscreen, a 1/4″ adapter, and an LR44 battery. Sometimes, you’ll even find free carry pouch in the box. It’s probably best to contact the seller to check if a pouch is included before buying.
If you’re going to be shooting outdoors, we recommend that you buy a ‘dead cat’ or ‘furry’ wind shield for your lavalier microphone. This great option costs less than £10.
Click here for a great video showing you how to mount a lav mic.
Shotgun Microphones for Boom or general use
A boom mic is a directional microphone mounted on a pole and held just out of the camera frame, usually above the heads of the subjects. Boom mics are probably the most used sound equipment for filmmaking or TV.
The BOYA BY-PVM1000 XLR Condenser Microphone is an excellent broadcast quality shotgun mic. It’s perfect for use as a boom mic or for mounting on your camera. It’s an incredible value at less than £50. It comes supplied with a mount to attach it to a boom pole or mic stand and a ‘dead cat’ windshield that will minimise wind noise when shooting outdoors. It also includes a 1.5 M Cable, a sponge wind cover, jack adaptor, a shock Mount, four replacment rubber rings for the shock mount and a carry punch.
It can be connected to most DSLR cameras and smart phones. (Check that your DSLR has a mic input before buying.)
Looking for a boom pole? Many people will simply make their own, but this excellent option costs less than £30.
Digital Audio Recorders (DARs)
The great news for budget-strapped filmmakers is that you can use most smart phones to record sound directly from either of the BOYA microphones outlined above by using the iOS ‘Voice Memos’ app or, for more control over settings, using the Voice Record Pro app. Similar apps are available for Android.
If you want to take your sound to the next level, you will want to invest in a digital audio recorder. Many filmmakers will use a camera-mounted mic and a separate digital audio recorder connected to an external microphone. These professional audio recorders afford maximum control over audio, allow the microphone operator to get the mic closer to the subjects and provide a useful backup copy.
We recommend the hugely popular Tascam Dr-40 4-Track Portable Digital Recorder. It’s no small-change purchase at just under £160, but it’s money well spent as this recorder will be able to cope with your equipment upgrades as your filming career progresses. It is a handheld 4-track recorder with two adjustable condenser microphones and XLR / 1/4″ mic/line inputs with phantom power. The dual recording mode captures a safety track at a lower level to avoid distortion. The recorder boasts a stated 15-hour battery life from three AA batteries. It uses SD/SDHC cards, supporting cards up to 32GB. You can easily connect your Boom Microphone or Lav Microphone or other sound equipment for filmmaking to this device. This Tascam recorder is an investment that you won’t regret making.
Check out this great YouTube course to learn how to get better sound: