Viewers will forgive bad video imagery before they forgive bad audio. Nothing seems more immediately amateurish to an audience than bad sound production. Once the audio is captured, there are limitations on what can be done to correct or enhance it. That is why using the right microphone correctly during production is so important.


Different scenes will benefit from different microphones. Before production, review the audio needs of each and every cinematic moment. What needs to be captured? Is the focus on the ambience of the environment? Are there directivity and intelligibility issues regarding conversations, especially dialogue that is whispered or spoken with minimal volume? Are there sound effects or audio moments that need to be captured separately to accentuate their narrative impact?


Most professional-grade “big” cameras have a number of microphone inputs with the voltage to adequately power microphones. But more projects are being shot on smaller “photography” cameras like DSLRs that may only have limited power available and perhaps only unbalanced input. Extra gear is therefore needed in order to connect professional phantom-powered microphones. For example, you may need to purchase an external battery box or other equipment to access the necessary power.


Filming may benefit from a wireless transmission set, involving a transmitter and receiver. If you are mixing more than one microphone, it is important they all have the same polarity. Different brands have implemented different polarities in their wireless transmission systems. Make sure that you check the polarity compatibility on especially cheaper miniature microphones and wireless transmission systems. If it turns out that your system is out of phase you should consider introducing a polarity shift. In a balanced system this is easy as you simply swap the signal wires in the connector.


Being able to hear a recorded voice does not guarantee clear intelligibility. And the best dialogue won’t matter if the audience cannot understand your actors. Pay close attention to how the consonants sound. The major part of consonants is found in the 1-4 kHz range. Unfortunately, this frequency range is attenuated for instance when placing a clip microphone on the chest of a person, or when placed under clothing or when a microphone is equipped with heavy wind shielding. If that is the case, the signal must be corrected by equalizing.


Securing a microphone directly to your actor will reduce background noise and room reverb. However, the sound field will be different depending on where the microphone is placed. Therefore it is important to have a microphone that is either corrected for its actual position or has an output that is good enough for equalizing.


If you truly want to capture the full audio environment of a scene, you may need to use several different microphones placed subtly within the location. Though there are also individual microphone models designed for surround pick-up. It’s worth experimenting to see what will more accurately and impressively capture the audio and to consider what is actually needed for the cinematic moment.

What matters most is what the audience hears in the end. Take the time during pre-production to really think through what will need to be captured and what microphone models will do the best job of delivering the audio flavor and power. To help you find your ideal model, shop from a wide assortment of top brands for every budget at https://www.fullcompass.com/category/live-sound/microphones/. Or contact one of the Full Compass Sales pros at 800-356-5844 for experienced answers and expert advice.


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