I was surpassed to share with you the blog early December. Unfortunately two major incidents happened that kept me off this keyboard. In summary, I had a boda boda (motorcycle accident) on my way from work and got sick for most of December and early January 2020. But as I learnt a long time ago, it is better tone late than never.
How to improve smartphone audio.
Film is 50% video and 50% audio. You need both good video and audio to make a great video. For many people today, the smartphone is their pocket camera they carry everywhere.
Unfortunately, the readily available smartphones have only two or three microphones depending on the make. These microphones capture all sound available. In the end, you will make a video with noise.
There is need to have an additional microphone for better audio quality. Let us explore the free options, budget microphones and adapters needed.
What is a microphone? A microphone is an instrument for converting sound waves into electrical energy variations which may then be amplified, transmitted, or recorded.
These are microphone options to use on a smartphone.
The headsets: Most smartphones come with a pair headsets. These have a microphone which can be used to improve sound quality. The closer it is to your mouth, the better quality you get.
If you are just starting out like me in 2014, this is the best way. Practice using headsets and be creative with them. This is what you can do;
1. 1. Set your phone on a stand and wear your headsets. Press record and you will notice the difference when playing back. This usually works best while recording video using the selfie camera. Try this right now and let me know if you noticed a difference in the video. The downside with this method is that you will have wires hanging from your ears.
1. 2. Wear the headsets underneath your clothes and connect them to the phone like in the first step. This is a better way to avoid wires hanging off your head. But you need to be aware of the position of the microphone on the headsets. Place it closer to your mouth for better results. This method will be affected by your choice of clothes and microphone position. It requires a lot of practice. It’s the most satisfying technique when mastered.
1. 3. Use two phones while recording a video. One phone can record the video and another can be in the speakers pocked recording only audio. Using the headset setup in step 1 and step 2 can deliver the same results. However, the video and sound recording should start recording at least a minute before the actual video stars. In the end, the video and audio can be synced and the video phone sound muted to use the audio phone recording. The downside: this needs a computer to get good results and technical skills.
Bluetooth headsets: These are wireless headsets especially those designed to answer phone calls. They are stylish and can be paired with your phone. Unfortunately, not all products on the market provide the same results.
Most in-built camera apps do not support Bluetooth microphones. You need to use film recording apps like FiLMiC Pro. In this app you can select which microphone to use including Bluetooth microphones.
External microphones: There are many of these on the market but I am going to talk about two types i.e. wired and wireless microphones. I can only remember five of the phones release in 2019 that had a 3.5mm headphone jack i.e. Xiaomi Mi 9T/9T Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+, LG G8, Asus ROG Phone 2 and Huawei P30.
Here are some of the best external microphones.
• • Rode wireless go: The Wireless GO is the world’s smallest, most versatile wireless microphone system. The transmitter works as both a clip-on mic or as the world’s smallest beltpack for a RØDE lavalier, sending crystal clear broadcast-grade audio via 2.4GHz digital transmission to the ultra-compact on-camera receiver. It has got good reviews from many people that have gotten units already. Its number one on my wish list. It promises the best user experience and audio quality.
• • Sure MV88: The MV88 records video with crystal clear sound, gets that interview with clarity, and captures the performance of a lifetime. This multi-directional masterpiece tilts, rotates, and is made to withstand demanding conditions. Like music festivals and influencer meetups. Unfortunately, it only works with iPhone. With a combination of good build and a great app, your imagination is the limit.
• • Rode Video mic me: The VideoMic Me is a compact and lightweight, high-quality directional microphone with that connects directly to the iPhone TRRS microphone/headphone socket. Its flexible mounting bracket accommodates a wide range of smartphones and allows the microphone to be fitted for primary camera or front camera (‘selfie’) use.
• • VideoMic Pro: The RØDE VideoMic Pro is a true shotgun microphone designed for use with camcorders, DSLR cameras and portable audio recorders as a source of primary and reference audio. The microphone uses a standard sized shoe mount for on camera use and features a 3/8″ thread in the base of the mount for easy boom pole mounting. The VideoMic pro is battery powered and provides over 70 hours recording from a single 9V battery. From personal experience, a battery powered mic is the best option to have. Powered microphones produce better audio quality. Unfortunately, they are not cheap to purchase.
• • Sennheiser XSW-D portable interview set: This wireless audio set that utilizes a digital transmission to seamlessly link audio sources. It comes with; 2.4 GHz digital transmission for worldwide operation, 75m range (250ft) in optimal conditions ans up to 5 hours battery life on a single charge.
• • Sennheiser EW 512P G4 and SK 500 G4: Both a common choice for TV stations. Rugged all-in-one wireless system for professional interviews and recording. The perfect solution for film-makers on large sets, operating up to 32 channels in parallel. The amazing bandwidth of up to 88 MHz and the increased RF output power ensure highest safety, no matter the conditions.
• • Azden SMX-30: With the SMX-30 you’ve always got the right microphone for the job. That’s because it is both a stereo microphone and a mono-shotgun microphone, allowing you to switch between the two on the fly. So for the price of a single microphone you’re actually getting two. This is the best of all for me.
There are many others I have not listed, you can chat with me about them in the comment section below or on my social media accounts.
How to connect any mic to your smartphone.
There are three way I could connect a mic to the smartphone; via Bluetooth, cable and wireless.
• • Bluetooth: This connection works with Bluetooth mics. It works best with apps like FilMic Pro. Its quick and easy but will be limited by Bluetooth range of the phone being used.
• • Cables: These physically connect the microphone to the phone via a 3.5mm headphone jack or adapter. The main limitation with this is mobility and cable management. The wire limits movement compared to wireless mic systems.
• • Wireless: These use GHz digital transmission. They have the best range and require a transmitter and receiver. The receiver is connected to the smartphone with a cable but the connection to the microphone is wireless.
Note: You need a TRS to TRRS cable or adapter to connect a microphone to the smartphone through the 3.5mm headphone jack or adapter. It is designed to connect to 3.5mm TRS devices such as cameras and audio recorders.
Budget audio hack.
You don’t need all the gear to start creating content. Start with what you have such as the headsets. Find the right spot to start the recording. I should have less environment guide.
App I use to manage audio.
FilMicOI use FilMic Pro to shoot videos on the smartphone. FiLMiC Pro for iOS & Android is the most advanced cinematic video camera app for mobile – ever!
If you are stuck, leave a comment so we can get in touch.