Have you tried everything and are still getting iffy sound quality in your videos? Want to know how to get that crisp, professional-sounding audio? In this article, we’ll show you all you need to get better audio for YouTube video for cheap.
Heck, we’ll even give some tips for instantly better audio entirely at zero cost. You may have already read our amazing YouTube Challenge Ideas guide. This article here will focus on audio quality.
Totally FREE Tips: Get Better Audio for Youtube at No Cost
1. Get the Microphone Closer
This works no matter if you’re recording audio straight on a phone, field recorder, or a studio microphone. Place the mic closer to the sound source, and the signal-to-noise ratio automatically gets higher.
The built-in microphones are not precisely fantastic on many cameras, and you might be better off recording the audio to your iPhone. In any case, you then have a separate recording from each microphone to choose from in post.
2. Record at the Right Time and Place
Getting clean audio for your YouTube channel might be a challenge if you live in a noisy place or your neighbor loves to vacuum clean at random times. Sometimes, you might have to get up with the birds or do your audio late at night. Worst case, go to a tranquil location or the quietest room in your house.
This leads us to the next tip…
3. Make Your Own Recording Booth
If you have some cushions, pillows, and blankets lying around, you can construct your own little vocal booth. Sure, it might not be as posh as a proper recording studio, but if clean audio is what you’re after, trust us – it’s worth a try.
You could even rearrange a closet or a small storage room and dedicate it to recording audio for your youtube channel.
4. Use the Best Cables You Have
The more connection points between your mic and your recorder or digital video camera, the more noise they tend to generate. However, if you absolutely insist on using cables, pick the best ones. Simply test the sound quality while swapping between the different ones.
5. Record in the Highest Possible Quality
This one should be obvious, but it’s easy to overlook the recording settings. For vocals, always aim for uncompressed file formats like AIFF or WAV at 16 bits and preferably 48 kHz sample rate.
Background music and other sounds are fine with 44.1 kHz. If none of those is an option, pick the highest possible mp3 quality available, which would usually be 320 kbps. Be mindful that the audio file gets bigger the better the quality is – and vice versa. This works exactly the same as with video quality.
It should also be noted that your audio needs to sync with the video. You might have to manually match the bit rate in post. When recording, you should strive for having a healthy audio level — not clipping, but loud enough to get a low noise floor.
A few headroom decibels are always helpful to have, but too low is just as bad as too loud.
6. Edit Using (Good) Headphones
What you want to listen out for in particular is any humming or low-end rumble, as well as the level of detail in the high end. Good quality open headphones like AKG, Sennheiser, or Beyerdynamic work like a charm for processing YouTube audio.
Pro Tip: If you want good audio referencing on a shoestring budget, Samson SR850 is a shockingly honest, transparent-sounding pair of open-back reference headphones for the price.
Although the sound quality might be fine for getting your daily portion of bass-heavy music, forget about critical listening on Beats by Dre. Those are not intended for professional audio work like editing, mixing, or mastering. Nothing stops you from trying, but don’t expect great results.
If you expect to edit video on the move and in noisy environments, a decent pair of tightly sealing earbuds would be your best bet. On the higher end, Etymotic is one of the best manufacturers out there. In the budget category, KZ provides excellent value In-Ear Monitors.
7. DIY Pop Filter
Make your own pop filter free of charge. Simply get a sock or a pair of pantyhose and wrap it around a circular frame or even just a coat hanger. Problem solved. Make sure to place the filter close to the mic and to speak straight into it. Experiment with the distance to get the best possible sound.
8. Write a Script
To make it easier on yourself (or your video editor), outline a basic script of what to say. There are even teleprompter apps for your smartphone to make it easy to read the text during the recording session.
You can place the phone just above your camera using a smartphone holder attached to the shoe mount. If you wanna get fancy with it, you can even get (or make) an iPad stand to make reading even more comfortable.
9. Find Decent Free Music
Although it might seem incredible, you can actually find royalty-free music as well as sound effects to use in your video content.
Free places to find background music for your videos include HookSounds, Artlist, and Mixkit. On Soundcloud, you can find tunes under the Creative Commons License. Often, up-and-coming artists are happy to have their music featured in YouTube videos.
No matter what you do, make sure you don’t use copyrighted music for more than a few seconds to avoid any music license issues.
Lastly, always think twice before you rip YouTube music for your projects. If you need something in a pinch, it’s much better to visit the YouTube Audio Library.
CHEAP Tips: Crushing Your Youtube Audio on a Tight Budget
That was it for the free tips, but here is how you can get better audio for YouTube video for cheap. As with anything, there is no real upper limit to product prices, but here we’re looking at genuinely dirt-cheap solutions for better audio quality for your video footage.
10. Use a Deadcat or Pop Filter
Don’t worry; no cats were hurt during this article’s writing – nor need they to be during your recording session. Deadcat is simply the common term for ‘windshield.’ In essence, it’s a furry thing sitting on the mic, just like when you see a TV news reporter caught out in a storm.
Some microphones and field recorders come with their own proprietary deadcat. Otherwise, you can get an aftermarket one. No matter if you’re using a Røde mic or a portable Zoom recorder, there is a dead cat available for it, probably in any color. Simply search Google for deadcat + your recording device.
11. Upgrade Your Mic
When you’ve done everything in your power, and your existing setup still sounds like trash, a new shotgun mic might be the solution to your problem. Make sure you pick up a mic that’s well suited for your primary use and check the product’s user feedback before hitting Buy.
Røde NT1 and Blue Yeti are both super popular and reliable mic options capable of excellent audio quality.
If you want to record audio on something highly portable and inexpensive, a lavalier microphone might be a good idea. That’s because a lavalier mic tends to deliver pretty good audio in a tiny package. However, you can find one in a wide range of brands, specs, and prices.
12. The Cable – a Much Overlooked Accessory
As for audio cables, make sure you get quality. There is nothing worse than silence, clicks, or humming in your one and only audio track because you cheaped out on cables.
If you’re recording music for your YouTube channel, it’s worth knowing which kind of mic works best for a particular use case. Mostly, you’d want a shotgun microphone for solo music instruments.
Pro Tip: Make sure you neatly roll your cables together when not in use. To keep them rolled up, you can get velcro cable organizers or simply use elastic bands. This way, your mic cables should last (and sound crystal clear) for many years.
13. Acoustically Treat Your Recording Space
It’s important to distinguish between sound-proofing and acoustic treatment. The first concept pertains to stopping sound from getting in and out. The latter means controlling the sound reflections within the confines of the room.
While stopping outside sounds from creeping into your recording has its place, we’ll focus on dealing with sound reflections in this article.
For recording vocals, a completely sound-dead room is a great starting point. You can always add reverb in post-production. Aside from installing a carpet, there are several solutions to this. Let’s order them from least to most expensive.
- Microphone Isolation Shield/screen
- Portable Vocal Booth
- Installing Acoustic Foam Panels
- Complete Custom-built Acoustic Treatment Solution
Although it’s absolutely possible to build your own bass traps and panels out of wood frames and Rockwool, it’s usually not necessary if you’re recording vocals for YouTube.
With that said, if you’re building your dream YouTube studio and the budget is no issue, GIK Acoustics can do a fabulous job to spec.
14. Process the Audio Correctly
Once you’ve captured the recording, you need to carefully process it for the optimum results. For Mac users, some of the best audio software of this sort comes from Rogue Amoeba.
They provide everything from intuitive recording to an elegant editing platform with a built-in mp3 converter. If you’re running Windows, Audacity is probably your best bet.
Otherwise, any Digital Audio Workstation such as Steinberg Cubase, Ableton Live, Propellerheads Reason, or Apple Logic is more than adequate to process your audio in post. With a DAW, you can create your entirely own music and sound effects to stand out from the crowd on YouTube.
Believe it or not, it’s even possible to produce music, sound effects, edit and mix audio, and generally manage most aspects of your production workflow on an Apple iPad.
Although, you might want to grab the Pro version to ensure low latency and high operation speeds. There is a host of hugely useful and popular audio apps, including mixers, DAW’s and synthesizers, effects, and plug-ins in the App Store.
How to Actually Process Vocals?
It comes down to the recording’s quality and characteristics, the use case, and the target medium for your finished video.
For the best results, you have to experiment. As a general rule of thumb, the process could look something like this:
- Editing out any ‘uhms’ and speaking errors. Don’t remove every breath – make sure it sounds clean but natural.
- Careful corrective EQ (removing extreme low-end rumble.)
- Manually reducing gain on extreme peaks.
- Compressing a Few dB to lift the quiet areas and squash the louder ones.
- De-noise/de-hum (Should happen after compression.)
- A noise gate effect might be needed in some cases of background noise.
- More EQ to taste (shape the sound so that it sounds pleasing.)
- Use a master limiter to avoid digital clipping—option to boost a few dB without overdoing it.
How to Remove Noise from Audio Recordings?
Again, it depends on the nature of the noise. Some video editing software has basic noise reduction features built-in. Otherwise, here are some capable options to help you remove any noise from your YouTube vocals and music recordings:
- Sonnox Oxford DeNoiser
- Waves Z-Noise/X-Noise
- Waves W43
- iZotope RX 7
- Cockos ReaFIR
- Voxengo Redunoise
15. Outsource Your Voice-overs
Sometimes, the best option is to hire a professional voice-over actor for your YouTube channel. On sites like Fiverr, you can get professional vocals. They are available in any gender, character, dialect, accent, and style you might need.
Often, these voice-over professionals (VO pros) have an acoustically treated studio environment including a selection of high-end mics with preamps and hardware compressors. Perhaps you happen to personally know someone with the exact voice you’re after. In this case, it’s an opportunity for collaboration.
Congratulations! Now you know how to get better audio for YouTube video for cheap as chips – or even for free. While this article provides all the information on how to get better audio quality, it won’t do the actual work for you.
Don’t forget that you can find the perfect cameras for vlogging right here in our roundup review.
And we also discuss the best cheap vlogging camera with a flip screen for vloggers here. Can you guess which camera it is?
The best way to improve is to try, fail, learn from the mistakes, and apply what you’ve learned.
At least, now there are no more excuses for not creating, so just go out there and start doing it.