Video Is Great … Unless Your Audio Stinks

By Melissa Hahn, Director of Communications, Illinois Chamber of Commerce

We’ve all clicked on a video and then strained to hear the sound. Whether the underlying music is too loud, or the speaker’s words are too low, it can ruin a viewer’s experience. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good audio, and it’s definitely worth the cost.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Audio EquipmentSony Electret Condenser Mic (ECM-44B). This is a Lavalier mic, so it can be clipped to a lapel, scarf, shirt pocket, or whatever clothing isn’t going to rub over the mic. I use omnidirectional. These come with an XLR output, which has three prongs. I’m a big fan of XLR because they’re very sturdy. It’s hard to accidentally unplug it. And no one wants to find out back in post-production that the cable got loose and there’s no audio. You can certainly purchase a lav mic with either a mini-plug or a 1/8” plug. Takes batteries. This once cost $156.
  • Mic Cable: Mine is 10’. I like a longer cable so that you don’t have to be on top of someone during an interview. I recommend a cable that goes to a mini-plug. Mine goes to 1/8”, so then I had to buy a connector. Stores that sell some audio/video equipment only have XLR to 1/8”. You can get a good one for less than $15. Be careful storing these. Prevent bending, or anything pressing against them.
  • 1/8” to mini-plug connector. They’re cheap. And why would you want to avoid a connector? Because the more pieces you have, the audio quality lessens. And there’s a higher chance of a short. Hello, static! They mini-plug will fit into a smart phone, so you have to have this.

If you notice in the photo, the mic has a male end. So your mic cable’s XLR has to be female. I’ve seen a few people grab the wrong cable.

This will give you terrific audio even on your cell phone.

Other options:

  • Lav straight to mini-plug for smartphones. They’re making them now! I’ve seen them priced at $79. If you’re hesitant about price, you could try this one first. But I’ve seen several negative reviews.
  • 50’ cables. These are good when you’re recording someone at a podium or in front of a group, and you can’t be close.
  • Hand-held mic. This is what you often see news reporters with. If you want your questions in the video, you’ll need a hand-held to point at yourself, and then your interviewee.


MelissaHahnMelissa Hahn is director of communications for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and president-elect for AWC Springfield. Is there an area you can provide professional tips and tricks in our next newsletter? Email Ideas for future tips/tricks are welcome, too!