How to Make a $100 Microphone Sound Exactly Like a Far More Expensive One

As visual people, we photographers and videographers may neglect extensive post-production on basic audio recordings, but that would be a mistake. In this video, find out how to match the sound of a cheap microphone to one far more expensive.

The first time I had to do a voice-over for a video, I realized a number of things rather quickly. Firstly, the microphone appeared to matter a lot. Then, consequentially, that post-production of audio is as important as it is in visual fields. What helped me with improving my audio right from my first attempt is exactly what Unmesh Dinda does in this video: compare the audio to superior audio.

I spent time looking for YouTube channels with great voice audio and then I used that as a benchmark. I found that I needed to remove the "S" sound and that cheaper mics — of which mine was — were less receptive to bass, which can be added in. While I could never get the audio to exactly where I wanted on my first try, I now knew my limitations and how I could improve it.

In this video, Dinda shows how you can mirror the audio of an expensive mic if you can get access to one just once and record some speech on both. This will allow you to put them side-by-side, and using some techniques and plugins, bring them much closer together in the final result.

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6 Comments

Lee Christiansen's picture

I like Dinda's Photoshop tutorials a lot. But when it comes to audio, he should stay away - not least because the audio on his own tutorials is quite bad anyway... (I speak as an ex recording music studio engineer and broadcast recordist having recorded many albums - pop, rock, orchestral, V/O and TV sound).

There is soooo much more to a good mic than just EQ. Apart from the mic's ability to capture delicate nuances of sound with control over frequency dynamics (which goes beyond EQ), there are subtle things like harmonics and waveform distortion (the good sort) that distinguish a mic's sound. And then there is the pattern characteristics with smoothness of fall-off and proximity qualities. And with many fine mics there is how a mic will handle high frequencies and transients.

Mics have character. It is why I had so many different brands and types at my disposal in the music studio. Some better for certain types of voice or instrument, and no EQ matching would make up for that.

It is why I had multiple brands of compressor - with each having its own character or valve processors that sounded different to solid state toys.

This flawed video is a bit like saying a Hass camera can be replicated by a point and shoot, if we just match the resolution.

Quality sound comes from quality mics - and the ability to record the audio correctly with decent op amps, D/A conversions and processing, (and doing it the right way). Like with anything, there is a mastery that is required from anything of quality, and nothing is for free.

William Faucher's picture

I want to preface this by saying I don't totally disagree with you, but it's also important to keep in mind that 98% of people on YouTube, and even content creators, are not audio specialists or even audiophiles. Most people are using airpods, or the headphones bundled with their phones. Some will be using Bose Quiet Comforts which are good, but not the best headphones either.

That said, I myself can't distinguish the sound difference in the video PixImperfect made here. It doesn't help that I'm pretty deaf (actually), but I find his tutorial to be a helpful tip for someone who has NO IDEA how to EQ audio, or work with it at all. It is a totally foreign concept to me.

When I watch other tutorials from channels that are actual audio specialists, people who really know their stuff, it's just so advanced and complicated that they make me completely lose interest in the topic.

So again, you're not wrong, but I don't think recording music studio engineer is the norm here, nor are you his target audience.

Brian Albers's picture

Alternate title: ‘How to polish your audio turd somewhat using EQ, but it’ll never match the sound of an actual pro microphone’

J.d. Davis's picture

I'll just keep my RCA 77DX...

Jan Holler's picture

Please! That's about the same as all the super-polished and pushed photos that we can no longer look at. Don't make videos if you don't really know what you're talking about. And to Fstoppers, what's wrong with you guys? This website is slowly going down the drain if you keep drowning your readers in a mass of mediocre videos.

Billy Walker's picture

Sad to say I kind of lean to "Let the Reader Beware" on many of the articles in Fstoppers - You've got people writing about business who don't even use the most basic of business terms such as "Revenue" and "Cost of Doing Business" just throws out million dollar numbers with zero reference and doesn't bother to address my concerns when I commented.

I'm not a pro audio guy so I have to take the word of the pro's within this article - so many other stories just sound so crazy and absurd - it would be nice to see a publication that presents substantially more intelligence on a regular basis.

Sorry guys... maybe you're sitting on the beach too much of the time assuming you're still in Puerto Rico - please give your child, this publication, more time and intelligence and send some of these wanna' be writers packin!