Lesson 5

Effective Audio

Video without audio is surveillance!

In this lesson, students will learn the importance of good audio in a live news broadcast, as well as understand the use of different types of microphones.

Any type of microphone will plug into an audio mixer’s audio inputs. Once the microphones are plugged in, look at the meters adjusting volume levels on each channel to where they are close to zero. Going above zero will cause distortion in the audio.

Three kinds of microphones

Handheld microphone
A type of microphone designed to be held in the talent’s hand. This can be wireless or hard wired, depending on the type. When doing an interview, the microphone should be held in front of the talent’s mouth.

Lavaliere microphone (pin mic)
A lavaliere microphone is a discreet wireless or hard-wired microphone designed for the talent to wear by pinning the microphone on an article of their clothing. If using a hard-wired lav, make sure to hide the wires out of the camera’s eye. This applies to a wireless, as well, be sure to hide the transmitter. The transmitter is usually pinned on the back of the talent’s pants or skirt. The microphone should be placed in the center of the talent’s chest for the best sound.

Boom microphone
The boom is a movable, adjustable arm that acts as support for the talent’s microphone when broadcasting. The purpose of the boom is to keep the microphone above, centered and in front of the talent while staying out of the camera’s range. The boom is able to move forward, backward or sideways and can be moved up or down. When raising or lowering the boom, the terms used are: “boom up” or “boom down”

Objectives/Knowledge Retained

Students will learn and understand how important good audio is in a broadcast, as well as learn how to effectively use different types of microphones and how to adjust audio levels using audio inputs and features.

Materials/Resources Needed:

Handheld microphone, boom and lavaliere microphone (if available)

Activity (Day 1, 2 and 3)

Activity One: As a group, students will learn the importance of audio by listening to good and bad audio examples. Bring in some home videos shot by an amateur (with a decent picture but bad audio) and show these to students. After showing parts of the video, show students a television news broadcast with an anchor segment and an on-location report. Tell students to pay attention to audio, and on the television news broadcast ask students what types of microphones they think are being used. After watching the footage, ask students if they noticed a difference between audio. Ask students how they think audio impacts video.

Activity Two: Students will divide into groups of three or four and experiment with different microphones (if available). Student groups will take turns recording audio with different microphones, as well as experiment with audio levels (distortion versus good audio levels) and compare.

Anticipatory Set (Day 1)

See Activity 1. This will introduce students to the importance of good audio.


Students will learn and understand how important good audio is in a broadcast, as well as learn how to effectively use different types of microphones and how to adjust audio levels using audio inputs and features.

Input (Day 1)

During the Activity 1 exercise, ask students to write down the differences they noticed in audio quality, as well as what types of microphones they think are used in the videos. Discuss as a class.

Model (Day 1 and 2)

After showing examples of good and bad audio, the teacher will show students the different types of microphones and how and when they are used. The teacher will also show how to adjust audio levels to achieve the right sound and show students how audio levels can be distorted to produce bad audio.

Check for Understanding (Day 2)

Student groups, or as a class, will demonstrate their understanding of microphones and audio levels by using the audio features. Students will take turns using the microphones and adjusting audio levels, recording audio so that they can listen to the outcome and compare.

Guided Practice (Day 2)

See Model and Check for Understanding


Students will compare and contrast the recorded audio. The teacher will observe students using an audio mixers features and provide guidance, ensuring that the students understand how to achieve good audio.

Independent Practice/Enrichment

Students are assigned a short research paper (no more than two-pages) on a specific microphone of their choice. The assignment should include the type of microphone, whether it’s wired or wireless, what functionality the microphone uses, who would use this type of microphone and the cost. This will reinforce to the students that there are many types of microphones with a variety of features, as well as placing a value on the equipment. This short assignment will be a take-home assignment and can be due the following class period.

Integration into live broadcast

Good audio is an essential part of live broadcast. Students will always utilize microphones and good audio techniques in live broadcast to ensure a high-quality show.


Additional MaterialResources and suggested reading