Nowadays, it is easy to produce video content for the web. Starting simply with a proper camera phone or all the way to using any sort of dedicated audio / video rig. Hence, my feeling that there is room for a ideas & suggestions regarding sound quality of productions.

Recording Sound levels

There is a finite amount of sound your system can take for optimal sound recording, too much or too little and it will sound bad. Too much will result in distortion, while too little will force you to boost the levels (signal) at a later production stage where you may end up boosting the noise floor (noise) of your system in the process too. Or the acoustics of the room or both. More on that later.

Setting up correct recording levels in a pro system, ironically, may be a tad easier, because there are a lot more info coming back at you from your tools. If you are using one of these, aiming for levels in the -30dB to -20dB range is good (That is 20dB below full scale) but with modern systems going for a bit more safety is OK, this will leave room for the occasional higher level to be accepted without distortion and will still be totally good in regards to signal vs noise.

If you have to do a bit of guess work with your amateur system, usually lighting a led in green means you get some signal while bumping it in red means you have too much of it.

In any case a bit of preliminary experiment before going into location recording is a good idea. It will also allow you to expriment with automated sound recording levels of some sort sometimes provided on your equipment. Depending on the audio you want to record, using such automated level adaptation might be a good idea… or not. Testing some recording of the same source with and without these in use is therefore of real interest to you.

This post is also available in: French