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Why you Need to Improve the Sound in Your Videos Today

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Getting better at your craft is usually a case of incremental performance improvements. Here’s why upping your audio game should be your next step to improve.

Whatever type of content creator you are, and whatever your technical or creative background, the sound quality in your videos is of paramount importance. When a YouTube video is uploaded in 480p, you can bet money on the top comment being about the quality of the video. People don’t like to consume videos of sub-par quality when they’re accustomed to watching other content in 1080p and above, and the same is true of audio quality.

Common audio issues include:

  1. Lack of clarity or fidelity
  2. Changes in volume
  3. Unwanted background noise
  4. Badly timed sound effects
  5. ...or just bad sound effects altogether.

It’s not always immediately obvious what’s wrong with a piece of content’s audio, but even to the layperson, poor audio quality can turn viewers off the video and off of you as a creator. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you need to improve the sound in your videos.

To Increase Clarity

Regardless of the type of content you create, if it contains any form of dialogue, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s clear and transparent throughout. This is particularly challenging if you are recording audio outdoors or in otherwise noisy environments, but that makes it all the more important to take the time to get it right.

You’ve probably come across a piece of commentary, narration or dialogue in the past where the volume or clarity fluctuates to the point that you have to constantly adjust the volume or rewind parts of the video. In which case, you know first-hand how much it can take away from the enjoyment of the content.

In order to maintain optimum clarity in your content’s audio, always record it with the highest quality equipment and settings that you possibly can. It’s also important to get the recording volume correct as this avoids clipping the signal or having to crank the gain in post, thus introducing other problems. You should also try to minimise background noise where possible, and use a wind muff on your microphone to control wind noise when recording outdoors.

To Create a More Immersive, Engaging Experience

A good game will captivate you with its audio, as well as its graphics and gameplay. A good movie will use audio in such a way that you feel as though you’re one of the characters. By the same token, you can massively enhance the immersion and engagement of your video content with professional and realistic audio.

Poor quality audio on the other hand, whether that’s music, dialogue or sound effects can hamper a video’s realism. This may prevent your audience from engaging with the video in the way you want them to. If a video is badly shot, you may be inclined to rerecord it, and sound quality should be held to the same standards.

In addition to the audio recording tips discussed in the section above, ensuring that you apply professional sound effects and foley to your videos will help to promote a sense of immersion in your content. This is not just about using high-quality sound effects, but applying them in a realistic manner too. Krotos Studio makes this particularly easy thanks to its huge library of professional-grade sound effects, and the expressive XY pad allows you to ‘perform’ your effects in real time for a more immersive audio experience.

To Heighten Drama, Tension or Peril

This next motive for improving your sound quality is particularly relevant to those working with audio for TV or film, but the idea applies to any form of content in which you want to create or reinforce a sense of tension. Tying appropriate music into your content is a great way to add a professional polish to the overall production, and can even help to make the experience more engaging and memorable for viewers too.

Take this scene from The Titanic for example, in which the ship finally splits in two. In the movie, a quiet bed of music is used to heighten the sense of peril in listeners. A minor key is used to evoke a feeling of sadness or negativity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEQ8FGXWeQ8

While the music is relatively quiet and accompanied by the sound of the ship fracturing and passengers screaming, the same clip without the music takes on a different feeling altogether.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhjb10Og_l0

That said, the version without the music has a slightly more eerie feel to it, and in some ways could be described as more immersive as the passengers wouldn’t have had a musical accompaniment at this point. This demonstrates that it’s not only important to have music of a high quality and suitable style, but it should also be applied in such a way that it reinforces the theme and intended message of your video.

To Reinforce Emotionality

As well as being able to heighten drama and tension in your video content, music can also be used to reinforce the emotionality of a scene or theme. Again, this is not a new thing when it comes to audio for TV and film, but the likes of TikTok and Instagram are now home to huge libraries of slowed and pitched-down audio that is intended to sound more emotive.

In this video of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo after his team’s World Cup match loss, notice how the audio becomes increasingly pitched and filtered down as he becomes more emotional. Once again, music in a minor key is used to evoke a negative feeling in the listener.

https://www.tiktok.com/@futt_ronaldo2/video/7264519754931572000?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7122420500454295045

On the other hand, music in a major key can be used when you want to create a more positive feeling that is uplifting for the listener. A great example of this is in Despicable Me 2, after the main character has a positive first date. Not only is the musical content more uplifting, the song is Happy by Pharell Williams, and the word is used liberally in the lyrics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ9Tdvqlo_Y

The nature of the scene in the film combined with the musical and lyrical content is a guaranteed recipe for giving the audience a sense of joy. Correctly matching the audio in your video with the context is a quick way to improve the sound in your videos. 

To Avoid Distracting Your Audience

There are some cases when video content only requires very simple or minimal audio, and you might be asking yourself how you can improve upon that. The best way to look at it is that many viewers won’t notice really good audio, but all viewers will notice really bad audio. Much of getting high-quality sound in your videos is about avoiding or removing anything that may distract the audience.

For example, when you’re watching two people speaking in a video and their dialogue perfectly matches their movement, you’re unlikely to consider that the audio and video are well-synced. However, as soon as the audio falls out of sync with the video, you can’t unnotice it and it distracts you from the rest of the video. This clip from The Lion King depicts this well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdypP_qOVI0&t=106s

At the start of the video, the audio is correctly synced with the video, but towards the end of the video they fall out of place with one another. This makes it hard to concentrate on what’s really going on, and subtracts from the enjoyment of the experience. This is not only true for dialogue, but for inappropriately selected music, bad or loud sound effects, wind noise or other poorly-implemented audio.

FAQs

Why is audio quality important in video?

As with poor video quality, poor audio quality can devalue the authenticity and enjoyability of a video. This may stop people from continuing to watch a particular video, or from watching future videos from the same creator.

What is the importance of recording quality sound?

As well as judging videos with our eyes, we also judge them with our ears too, even subconsciously. Videos with low resolution audio, unintelligible dialogue, lots of background noise or highly variable volume can really deter from the overall quality of a video, sometimes making it difficult to watch.

How can I improve the sound quality of a video?

Start by recording with as high-quality settings and equipment as you are able to. Capturing the best quality audio at the source will make your job as a video editor and creator much easier. It’s also important to record audio at the correct volume. Take your time when editing and applying post-processing to your audio, and consider how an audience will hear it. It’s also important to use professional sound effects and music if you want your videos to be of the utmost quality.