FLIP-Tools: Sound Zoom-Tastic Part 2 of 2

Here are a couple quick tips to help you sound as good as you look

In the last blog we looked at making the video part of making videos and video conferencing better.  In this blog we are going to look at the audio side of the equation. Let’s take a quick look at a few things we can all do with little or no effort to up our game when it comes to video conferencing or even making videos, so feel free to keep reading or take a look at the video below.  

Tip #4: Good audio, No feedback.

At this point we have now seen enough celebrities doing talk shows from home with earbuds that it should be socially acceptable. Look, if the image-obsessed professionals do it, there is a reason. By its nature, video conferencing means there is a microphone and speakers on both sides of the conversation, and this can create real problems. 

Imagine the following situation:

I speak into my microphone.

My voice plays over your speakers.

Your microphone picks up my voice from your speakers and plays it back to me. (echo)

My microphone picks up my previous statement and plays it back to you. 

This is where the microphone squeal you have heard in person or in movies comes from as it creates a loop. 

Solution: Gets some earbuds Bud.

There are all sorts of audio solutions that can get crazy expensive but the quickest and easiest is when you are not talking in the video conference, “mute” your microphone. This prevents your sounds and everyone else’s sound from getting picked up.  Yes, this is how the U.S. Supreme Court got a flushing toilet recorded for …  umm… posterity (Badunk dunk).  The second cheapest and easiest thing to do is go to the discount store and for $1 get a set of wired earbuds/headphones.  Let’s be honest during this time no one will judge you for your Hello Kitty headphones as long as you got a great deal.  We will talk microphones shortly, but hey for a buck or two more, get the headphones with the microphone in the cord. 

Tip #5 Good Audio…again

We have already talked about stopping the feedback loop, so now let’s talk about being heard.  The whole point of video conferencing is not just being seen but being heard, so have a microphone. This is another area where you can spend a lot of money, but do not have to for 98% of what we are doing.  As I mentioned before, spending $5 extra at the discount store to get the earbuds with the microphone in the cord is just fine.  This microphone is likely horrible quality, but it doesn’t really matter because just like real estate; location, location, location.  Having even a bad mic within 8 inches of your mouth will often do so much better than a good mic in the computer two feet away. 

That does bring us to a small side discussion. I had to go to my father’s office and help him setup his video conferencing.  He had purchased a new monitor and was having trouble getting the microphone to work. “Well dad that is because a monitor does not have a microphone or a webcam in it.” … “Yes, I know your laptop does, but a desktop is different, where is the webcam I gave you?” (Sigh). There is truth here however as most laptops, chromebooks, and tablets have an integrated microphone and camera.  Just because it has an integrated microphone does not mean it is very good, or that because it is farther from your face that it is picking up good audio.

Solution: Test your equipment and only upgrade as necessary.

We have already talked about cheap wired earbuds, but as for the rest of the equipment things can get expensive fast so only upgrade the parts that are not working.  For example, if you make videos for your students and they can hear you clearly, then your audio is fine. If you are doing video conferences and everyone in the meeting can hear what you need them to hear then you are fine.  If you want to publish you videos to YouTube or want to do a Podcast then it might be time to step up to a nicer USB microphone.  If you are doing podcasts with multiple people then maybe a basic mixing board is in order.  If you are a musical arts teacher, then…  who am I kidding you already have your audiophile gear. You get the idea, if your tools do the job then fine, if not then make an informed investment. 

To see the video version of this blog click the picture or link below.


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