How to Make Your Vlogs Sound Better (Improving Voice Clarity)

If your audience can’t hear you clearly, they’ll quickly skip to the next video. I’ve always focused on voice clarity when vlogging, and my YouTube channel has millions of subscribers and over half a billion views. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I process my audio in Premiere Pro and what equipment I use.

You can’t polish a turd

The first step is to set up your camera and microphones to capture the best audio because you can’t polish a turd.

Set your levels to hit between -12 to -6 dB. You don’t have to do anything if you’re using just a GoPro and its internal mics.

If you want to get the cleanest audio results with your DSLR and external microphone, Rode has written a fantastic blog post.

What microphone do I use for vlogging?

Most of my vlogs are shot on a GoPro Hero5 Session (yes, I’ve been using this camera for over 4 years!) and my GoPro Hero10 Black and using GoPro’s internal microphones. Hundreds of millions of views have come from those internal microphones!

In more recent vlogs, I’ve upgraded to using the GoPro Media Mod paired with the Rode Wireless GO II. When the microphone is connected to my collar, it provides excellent voice clarity. But this comes at the expense of strangers I meet in my vlogs having much lower clarity!

GoPro Hero 10 Black, Media mod, and Rode Wireless Go II

The GoPro’s internal mics do a great job of catching multiple peoples’ voices; the Rode Wireless GO II doesn’t unless you mic up the other person with a receiver. That’s not always possible when vlogging, and wearing a microphone makes people more nervous.

If I’m shooting with my Olympus OM-D E-M5, I always use the Rode Wireless GO II, and I’ll usually try to mic up any guest in the vlog. If they’re standing close to me while we film, their voice will usually be loud enough through the microphone I’m wearing.

My audio processing is the same whether I use an external microphone or the GoPro’s internal microphone.

If you’re using the Rode Wireless GO II with a GoPro, I’ve written an article on the correct gain setting for audio clarity.

How to process vlog audio to improve voice clarity

To improve vocal clarity in vlogs, we need to decrease the volume of common street sounds and then level the volume of our voice so it’s roughly the same throughout the vlog. I do everything inside Adobe Premiere Pro’s Audio Track Mixer with built-in plugins.

Adobe Premiere Pro’s Audio Track Mixer with 4 plugins I commonly use.

Remove street noise

It’s impossible to remove all noise and just isolate your voice. Plus, it’s a vlog, so we want to keep most of the ambient noise so the viewer gets immersed.

Highpass filter set at 110 Hz.

First, I apply a Highpass plugin set at 110 Hz. This filters out the low rumble sound of cars – essential when vlogging in cities.

To DeNoise or not?

If the environment is particularly noisy and you have a guest whose voice is drowned out by that noise, then I apply the DeNoise plugin set between 5% – 20%.

This does its best to remove any noise that isn’t my voice. Although it usually does remove some high frequencies from the human voice. I rarely use DeNoise.

Bonus tip: If you’re just recording a video in your room, and your room is echoey, you can try the DeReverb plugin.

Eq’ing to improve vocal clarity

Next, I add a little presence to the vocal using the Parametric Equaliser set to the Vocal Enhancer preset.

An equalizer, or EQ, is a filter that allows you to adjust the volume level of a frequency, or a range of them, within an audio signal.

An EQ lets you turn the treble and bass up or down.

It can also be used to target the audio frequencies of the human voice to increase clarity too.

The Vocal Enhancer preset needs a little fine-tuning, though! So here’s exactly what I do.

Parametric Equaliser with a boost at 1183 Hz.

I mainly use EQ when I use DeNoise because it removes a lot of high frequencies from the voice.

For most GoPro audio recorded with the internal microphones, I don’t bother equalising because it usually sounds fine to me.

Balancing the level of my voice

The final thing I do is use the Single-band Compressor with the Voice Leveler preset to compress the audio.

But what is a compressor? These plugins work by automatically adjusting the volume of an audio signal, reducing the volume of loud parts and increasing the volume of quiet parts.

So it’s balancing my voice. When I, or a guest, speak quietly, that will be raised in volume. When I speak loud, that will be decreased in volume.

Single-band Compressor set to bring down the volume of anything above -18 dB.

The overall volume will sit around whatever you set the Threshold to. I usually set the threshold somewhere around the quietest part of my voice – typically -12 to -14 dB.

Then just adjust the output gain so the audio is sitting around -6 dB.

Watch this video to understand compression better.

If this post helped you, please leave a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

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