Is there a way to improve the audio of recordings mad in a car?
April 6, 2020 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I've been shooting a vlog with my iPhone in my car. You can check out an example here. The audio isn't awful, but it could certainly be better. I'm going to experiment with a GoPro and mics to help, but I'd like to improve the ones I've already shot. Is there anything that can be done to help?
posted by StimulatingPixels to Technology (3 answers total)
If you can record a few tens of seconds of "room tone", just you breathing and the basic car noises, it is sometimes possible to use that to seed a noise reduction filter, and applying that filter can help a lot. I've used the one in Audacity to take out refrigerator noise in a place where I had a refrigerator running in the background, and used it to take needle noise out of some recordings I was pulling from 45s on a record player.
posted by straw at 10:00 AM on April 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

That audio sounds fine to me on a phone speaker. In addition to noise removal, you probably want to do some form of audio compression to make sure your voice doesn't get too loud or soft. When you upload to YouTube it does some for you so if that's your end platform it's probably good enough. But if you want to release it as something like a podcast you'll need to do it yourself, audacity can do it for you.
posted by JZig at 11:01 AM on April 6, 2020

Personally/Professionally, I don't think it sounds bad at all. Sure there's some road noise, but hell, you're driving a car.

That being said, if you're set on eking the last 10-15% out of the audio, you could go one of two ways. As mentioned above using software you can find a point where you're not speaking and the radio isn't playing and take an ambient noise sample of that and use the software to phase that out. That may be more of a monetary/time investment than you're willing to put forth at this time.

Another way would be to look into an external mike of some sort, either a directional "shotgun" mike that would sit somewhere out of frame that would be pointed at you, or a lavalier mike, the ones you see attached to people's ties or lapels or collars. There are several available online that aren't expensive at all. ($20/$50)

The single biggest recommendation that I can give you is to prepare. If you can avoid a potential problem in pre-production, you save double that in post. Stream of consciousness video tends to look as such. I'm not saying to read from a script, especially when driving(!), but have some ideas and points that you want to get across. Rehearse it a couple times and get a feel for what you want to say so it comes out reflexively while you're delivering will also save you time after the fact and look better to boot.

One more thing, don't be afraid to do multiple takes so you can review them and see if you're actually getting across what you want to convey instead of putting all your hopes on one take. Virtually no one gets it right in one take.

Good luck! It appears that this subject is important to you and looking for advice when this is the case can be very difficult on a personal level. Kudos to you for asking for outside assistance here.
posted by Sphinx at 12:02 AM on April 7, 2020

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