Mobile journalism audio apps and microphones

Broadcast quality audio is essential for professional mobile journalism. An external microphone and third-party apps will help you get the best sound for your video.

Use an external microphone

The microphone on your phone will capture audio of good quality if you are less than one meter from your subject and working indoors out of the wind, but you will get better results with an external microphone. There are plenty of options – from clip-microphones to handheld to wireless systems, and we have many recommendations in our Equipment chapter.

If you don’t have an external microphone, you could use the headset of an iPhone or high-quality Android phone as it will record acceptable audio.

Attaching a clip microphone

Clip microphones should be attached so that the microphone is about 20cm from your interviewee’s mouth. Record a short test video and listen back on headphones to make sure the voice is audible, and that it is not so close to the mouth as to be distorted by ‘popping’ sounds.

Make sure that the microphone always points at the interviewee’s mouth

Using a handheld microphone

If you are using a handheld microphone, hold it very still if it is going to be visible in the shot or consider a two-shot so that both you and your interviewee are in frame.

Wireless microphones 

Wireless microphones don’t require a cable to connect to your phone. They consist of two items – a microphone transmitter that attaches to your interviewee’s clothing, and a microphone receiver that attaches to your tripod or tripod mount. This allows you to film an interview from further away, or record consistent sound from an interviewee who is walking or moving around. Examples include the Rode Wireless Go II, and a range of microphones from Boya.

Capturing natural sound

When you finish an interview, keep the camera running and record 60 seconds of natural sound on location. This audio will help you transition from one shot to another when you come to edit your video.

Avoid wind noise

If you are working outdoors, you should use a windshield to protect your microphone from wind noise. Windshields are available for clip microphones, hand-held microphones, and wireless microphones.

How to record great audio

This tutorial from BBC mobile journalism trainer Marc Blank-Settle has excellent advice on recording great audio for your story.

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