How to Get Great Lighting and Audio for Your Online Courses - Part 24 minute read
While having great lighting is a critical ingredient for a great video, it is arguable that if one had to choose between better audio and better picture quality, better audio should be the easy choice.
Like video, achieving great audio for your online courses can get complicated and expensive, so in addition to our guide we will include some simple product recommendations for multiple kinds of setups at the bottom of this article. Now let’s get into how you can improve your course audio quality without needing to become an audio engineer.
How to Capture Great Audio for your Online Courses Easily and Affordably
First, try to choose a room or space with a few room reflections as possible. You’ll want to be close to the mic that you use to record to reduce room noise. Good audio makes a big difference. While it can’t be exactly quantified, many claim that good audio makes up more than half of your video experience.
We mentioned in Part 1 of this guide that recording in a larger room will require more careful lighting. Having a larger room will mean more considerations for audio recording as well because it will result in more potential room noise.
If you are in a room with strong reflections (clapping your hands and listening for reflections is a simple way to test), you might want to try adding some furniture or rugs to absorb some of the sound bouncing around. Hanging a few pieces of soundproofing foam can also help, however having the proper mic setup is much more important. The more room noise you have, the closer you will want your microphone to be to avoid capturing it.
Whether you are using a smartphone, a DSLR, or a more traditional video camera to record your course videos, the sound captured out of the built-in mic will leave a lot to be desired. It is important that your voice is clear and easy to listen to. So if you want a professional result you will absolutely need some kind of separate microphone.
Our Recommended Audio Gear for Your Course Creation
For great audio, there are two common setups that will get you the professional result you are looking for:
- If you are recording at a desk, a closely positioned, condenser microphone works great. In order to make sure that the mic doesn't absorb other room noises and noises on your desk you'll want a few accessories to go along with it. A boom arm to attach to your desk will help you position the mic close to your mouth, a windscreen and pop filter will help to absorb harsh plosives (“P” sounds and lightroom noise), and a shock mount will help absorb vibration coming from your desk and while moving your boom arm or typing. A great-sounding mic that doesn't require learning new equipment is the Blue Yeti: https://amzn.to/2AL5GXT. The Yeti is a USB condenser microphone so it can record directly on your computer without the need to purchase an additional audio interface and learn how to use it. You could also go with something like the popular Shure SM7B (https://amzn.to/2AHVuPI) used by many in radio and podcasting, but this will require a separate audio interface. Personally, I have both of these options, but vastly prefer a Blue Yeti in both its sound and its ease of use. Since it is also easy to set as the default input device on your computer you can use the Yeti for coaching calls and online meetings to give you a professional sound everywhere you are heard. (The fact that it is less than half the price and doesn’t require a separate audio interface and mic cable is even better!)
- If you are recording standing up or in a larger room away from your computer desk, then a lavalier mic is probably the best option. A lavalier is the type of small clip-on mic that you can wear attached to your collar. The benefits here are that the mic will be out of your way, will be unnoticed by viewers and will allow you to act and speak naturally. This also means no worrying about being close enough to the mic or having to reposition when you move. You can get a wired or wireless lavalier. The wireless models tend to be considerably more expensive, take more time to set up and will usually require a separate recording device so we recommend avoiding them. If your camera doesn’t have a built in mic input that is compatible and you need a separate USB audio interface or a small field recorder with mic inputs, then we have recommendations in our Kit.co links at the bottom of this post. That said, we want to focus on a setup that you can get recording with fast, so we’d avoid mics that require separate audio interfaces. This lavalier mic is great if you record into an iPhone as your camera: https://amzn.to/2SRH7Q6, and this one for use with many DSLR or mirrorless cameras/camcorders: https://amzn.to/2RPrPxQ
As an alternative to the above, if you are confident that your room doesn’t have much noise and don’t like the idea of hooking a lav mic on your collar every time you record, a shotgun mic mounted to your camera can also work if you are close enough to the camera when you record. The VideoMic Pro+ by Rode is one we recommend: https://amzn.to/2M7Ezef
After you’ve recorded your audio, learning how to add a simple EQ and compression to your voice can make a big difference in how professional your vocals sound. This can get complex and is its own topic to get into, so we’d recommend sending your audio to someone for processing (you can find someone on a site like Fiverr to handle this affordably).
See our guide for recommended tools and software for online course creators: Tools and Software Every Online Course Creator Needs in 2021
Decide on a Setup that is Right for you and Get Started
Remember, the goal here is to get great quality without having to learn how to be an audio engineer or spend thousands of dollars. What is critical is that you end up with a setup that is easy for you to use so that you can start recording new lessons without the roadblock of a troublesome setup. If you record from your desk, then a setup that plugs right into your computer like the Blue Yeti is great because you can hit record and go. Likewise, for a camera setup separate from your desk, having something that is easy to leave plugged in with your camera set up so all you need to do is turn on the lights and go is going to be your best option.
We’ve built collections on our Kit.co profile with some of our above recommendations:
UPDATE 2022: Below are our current recommendations for the best online course recording setup
If you haven’t already, take a look at Part 1 where we discuss how to get great lighting for your video courses.
See collections on our Kit.co profile for more audio recommendations:Create Your Online Course Today