Backing up Audio for Interviews: Equipment Test

by Alex Dunn on July 1, 2014

There are few things on the internet worse than having an awesome looking web video with atrocious audio. Maybe the music is too loud, perhaps its not the right song, but more often than not its a poorly recorded script, voice-over or interview response. Having noisy or poorly recorded audio of your video “script” will distract viewers from the key messages you are trying to communicate and reflect poorly on your brand.

So how can you avoid audio mistakes when the pressure is on and you only get 20 minutes with the CEO of a fortune 500 company to get it perfect? Like most things on a video shoot, the key to capturing good audio is redundancy. We always say “two is one, and one is none!” This means recording our audio to two quality sources … just in case.

Our main audio source typically comes from a sennheiser MKE600 Shotgun mic which is positioned above the subject as close as possible without being in the frame. We have tried a few different backup audio sources over the years, but when we saw the reviews for the MKE400 on camera shotgun we had to try it. It was small, lightweight, and directional. Although the reviews were solid, we needed to do our due diligence and test it.

If you watched the video above you can probably hear the difference. In a quiet studio environment the MKE400 is passable, but not perfect. In a noisy office environment on the other hand, you can clearly hear a stark difference between the two mics. The level of differentiation between the 600 and 400 was in the the category of “unforgivable” for our application. So the verdict is in. The MKE400 might be a good mic for a run and gun video shoot, in a relatively quiet place… but if you are looking for something that can work as a comparable backup to your shotgun mic, you will have to look somewhere else.

So what can we do. The best way to get comparable audio is to use the same mic. Our solution is to try and use the same MKE600 mounted on camera with a direct line into the XLR input of Canon C100. Not only will this sync audio to the clip before it hits post production, but it will give us the most directional and similar sound to the above mounted shotgun.