The importance of audio monitoring for videographers

The importance of audio monitoring for videographers

What videographers don’t realize, professional and consumer alike, is that monitoring audio is as critical as looking in the viewfinder. As manufacturers improve the audio capabilities on their consumer-oriented cameras, the process of recording and monitoring audio has become better. But to acknowledge quality audio, the videographer must earnestly monitor the audio whether it is the camera, a camera interface, a second external recorder, or if you are using a sound person or not.

Until a futuristic, personal implant recorder with in-brain monitoring is created, today’s sound monitoring comes in 2 formats: headphones and speakers.

As of this time, digital technology has not permeated this sound group. There may be some audiophile or upper-end sound reinforcement speakers with digital audio connections, but the sound you hear is still the push and pull of analogue air waves.

Headphones

If you’re a videographer who wants to record high quality location audio, a pair of headphones becomes your dearest friend. Be sure to find a pair that you will be comfortable wearing for a long period. For better audio monitoring, they should have over-the-ear cups to isolate from the outside noise. They should have a relatively flat frequency response and be sturdy and durable enough to handle all weather conditions. I recommend a 1/8 inch mini stereo connector that’s adaptable to 1/4 inch stereo. After you find the one you like that meets these requirements, buy at least two and a few extra adapters — you won’t be sorry.

Many videographers wear “earbuds” for audio monitoring because the larger headphones get in the way from looking into the lens. With most camera shots now being viewed on a LCD screen, there is no excuse for wearing a proper set of headphones that enables you to hear full-fidelity and less background noise.

A good quality pair of headphones should run in the price range of $75-$125 — if you treat them right, they will last many years.

Tip: If your headphones have a coiled cable, DO NOT wrap the cable around the earmuffs when storing away. This will stretch the coiled cable and will eventually become a long tangled mess.

Tip: When using headphones on location, they become “weathered” where the black plastic covering the earmuff will start to deteriorate. Instead of re-purchasing new headphones or the over-priced replacement earmuffs, cover the earmuffs with women’s ankle high stockings — which are cheap, durable and easily replaceable.

If you’re serious about film, by not monitoring the audio from your camera, the chance you are taking is that 95% of the time the audio will be good; it is the other 5% that can break your career.