This Video Breaks Down the Basics of Sound Recording, from Sample Rates to Mic Placement

Bit depth and clipping and mics. Oh my!

If you're getting ready to record some audio, but you feel like Dorothy walking through a dark, scary forest, don't worry! You may find that with a little direction and instruction, you'll see that learning these skills is a lot less scary (and complicated) than you think. And if you're a beginning filmmaker or sound tech, you'll really benefit from this video tutorial from our friends at Filmmaker IQ.

Back with another installment of their sound series, John P. Hess breaks down the basics of recording audio for video: using single/double recording systems, sampling rates and bit depth, how to avoid clipping, the differences between audio cables, and much, much more. In fact, Hess shares such great little (and big) pieces of information that I'd suggest watching this with a pen and pad handy so you can take notes. There are several things like audio settings, recording rules of thumb, industry standards on levels, quality, and practices that you'll want to jot down so you can come back to them later when you need them.

Check out the video below:

Now, this is just a primer to get you familiar with the tools, concepts, and techniques of audio recording. You can always educate yourself by checking out more advanced tutorials, reading textbooks and/or articles, but one surefire way of advancing your knowledge and skill is by going out there and practicing.

If you're interested in strengthening your education on sound, we've got our coverage of Filmmaker IQ's series listed below:

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Your Comment


ya know, you can study this stuff for years and still screw up. Today I needed to record audio into a Nikon D800's unbalanced stereo lo-z input using a JuicedLink RM222 fed by a line level out Sound Devices 302 mixer. Darned if I didn't leave the JuicedLink in Mic-in (from a previous shoot) and overdrive the input with the line level output of the 302!

Bad audio kills more shoots than bad video. Believe it.

This is the curse of small-crew shoots. There's a reason an audio guy who does nothing but audio should be on your shoots.

November 25, 2014 at 8:03PM


Nice refresher... Everyone should watch this!

November 25, 2014 at 11:51PM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

Want to learn sound here are three authors

Jay Rose

Bobby Owsinski

John Purcell

November 26, 2014 at 5:55AM

Will Youngman
Sound Mixer

But if you are going to render your video with 44.1K or 48K audio, what's the point of recording at higher rates?

November 26, 2014 at 10:43AM

Retired unix sys admin

Sorry but I couldn't get past the overbearing sound effects for every graphic.

November 26, 2014 at 11:30AM

Craig Swanson

This is a pretty good resource. For those of you on a budget or doing business related film, this Wistia post is pretty helpful as well

November 26, 2014 at 1:07PM, Edited November 26, 1:07PM

Paul Kachris-Newman
DP, Writer, Editor, & SoundClown

Take into account that not all optical media and players can handle 96kHz or 24 bit files. The whole other issue of dithering and down-sampling is not covered either. For most cases, record at 48kHz/16 bit to remain safest - the human ear cannot distinguish between 16 bit vs 24 bit files and 48kHz vs. 96 kHz files. Source: Professional sound engineer.

November 28, 2014 at 4:00PM