Wistia Team Talks Video-Making Nitty Gritty: Choosing a Microphone

Wistia Team Talks Video-Making Nitty Gritty: Choosing a Microphone

Wistia is a video player (think Youtube and Vimeo) for businesses who want a high quality player but don't necessarily want the social features you get with the mainstream platforms. In addition to being a quirky and fun culture and offering a sweet product, the Wistia team also provides tutorials and tips on making your own great company videos. This one offers some great info on choosing a microphone. Hint: Don't use the built-in microphones.

We've written a few articles in the past regarding microphones, including picking our favorite audio recorder for DSLRS that weren't lav mics, and how to use an iPhone as a microphone, and this is just another great source for additional information on the subject.

If you even make it halfway through this video, you'll see that Chris is not a fan of the lav mic (I disagree with you Chris! I use them in all my videos for the primary interview audio, and I would be hard pressed to be convinced to change my stubborn ways). That said, I totally agree with their secondary choice when you realize you can't afford a shotgun mic as well as his editing technique. What do you think? What's your favorite mic?

Wistia releases new videos on a pretty regular basis to help people make better videos for their companies. Here is one more recently released on picking the right lens:

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Hey Jaron - Thanks for sharing! As folks that have watched the video have been pointing out, my lav mic-placement technique needs some work! It'd be awesome to hear about some lav mic "best practices".

For the record, we used the Sennheiser ME2 mic that comes with the Evolution G2 wireless packs. I took some "creative liberties" and added the windscreen to the mic which technically didn't need to be on with an indoor shoot.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Guest appearance by me in your studio for that "Best Practices" vid!

I also use the ME66 as my preferred mic, but have also used the Evolution packs and they are great. I do prefer a hard-wired mic when I can (I don't need to record or hear people as they go to the washroom and forget to turn off their microphones), and it keeps them from walking away still wired. So a hardwired shotgun or lav into either my zoom h4n or tascam dr-60d then into the camera (recording in camera and on the devices).

I haven't found that lav mics intimidate the subject at all. After a couple of minutes they forget it's even there. Whereas they may still see that shotgun mic in their peripheral vision, which reminds them they are on camera.

nice video but i wish it was less bias? I am in for Lav mic as well.

Lav mic for me with smaller productions. If I have the hands available I'll go for the boom and shotgun, sometimes with the lav as backup. People moving, and following them for a documentary.... way easier and better with a lav. And the subject forgets that they even wear this mic after one or two minutes. A shotgun mic (love my sennheiser 418!!) is always intrusive for a subject that isn't used to the whole video setup (lights, mics, camera). So depends on the situation, I guess

I agree 100% that it's all about using the best tool for the job with the caveat that it's also helpful to consider creating an inviting, non-intrusive production environment.

While the 'pain factor' was a TOUCH exaggerated ;) it is an enormous factor that I believe should not be overlooked. The comfort level of people that step in front of the camera is a tremendous help to getting natural, comfortable on-screen performance. The shotgun microphone is absolutely critical in my experience to keeping the the barrier low to hopping on camera.

I also think that in our case where we are making series of videos, you can't undersell the ability for multiple people to hop on and off camera without having to even think about getting miked up.

Great tip! I started using a Hyper Cardiod mic in small indoor interiors and I am now getting better results than when I used a shotgun mic. I am using the Audix SCX1-HC

...First off, the lav mic that comes with the discontinued Sennheiser G2 UHF kits should be thrown in the garbage. It's a terrible lav mic in terms of sound quality and in terms of physical size. ( the dang thing is huge! )

You want to use a high quality lav mic in order to get good sound, and one that is small enough that it's easy to hide.

For me, the least expensive lav mic that meets this criteria are the lav mics from Oscar Sound Tech, which sell for less than $100. ( http://oscarsoundtech.com ) Excellent sound, low cost, and they are small enough that they won't be distracting on camera.

Next up, most of the low cost shotgun mics are terrible when used to record sound in small and highly sound-reflective rooms. For good indoor sound in smaller spaces, I would use a high quality hypercardioid mic like the Audio-Technica 4053b mic or the AKG Blue Line Series CK93 mic.

If you have to use one mic for both outdoor and indoor recordings, then I would look at the Sennheiser MKE600 shotgun mic that sells around $400, or if your budget can afford it, the Rode NTG-3 shotgun mic. Both of these mics produce a full and "natural" sound, and won't break the bank.

Often I am shooting on location as a "one man band", so I will use lav mics to avoid having to drag around a mic boom-stand with me as I move from location to location. I prefer the sound of a good hypercardoid/shotgun mic, but a well placed lav can still produce excellent audio if you know how to place it properly.

Hey Guy - this is awesome information, thanks for sharing! I agree, one-man-band shooting with the shotgun is tedious and pretty annoying.

Good video, only thing i'd say is that Lav are extremely powerful tools if you know where to place/hide them, also you need to choose the right one. The lav showed in the video is very average quality, also given that it's signal is traveling with the HF wireless kit, you'll lose information. And true they will alway sound terrible when badly positioned (like in the video), But it goes the same with shotgun mics! even hidden they need to be placed as close as possible to the source to sound rich and pick up all highs mid and low frequencies.
I love both, but actually prefer the lav mics. When correctly placed, the sound is unbelievable, and will sound much better than shotgun that don't alway work well in every environment (echoey room).
I recommend the sanken cos-11d. Best sounding lav anyone could own. Place this guy properly (no collar/not on the shirt visible!) and you'll have sound that that can have cinematic value.

Hey Erwan - Would you agree that it's tougher to get good lav placement than good shotgun placement? I feel like you can be "close enough" with the shotgun but need to be super precise with the lav to get good sonic quality and no clothes rubbing, throat noise, etc. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, i'll try to check out that sanken mic.

Isn't there any suggestion possible for a shotgun mic thats not as expensive as the ME66? Thanks!

This is an awesome tip - thanks for sharing Keegan! I'm going to forward this link over to Elise at Wistia. I have the Rode mic stashed away somewhere in a bin...I need to (find it first and then) dust it off and give it another shot! Cheers!