Webcams in general are fairly blunt instruments when it comes to audio. They are basically tuned to pick up noise that is close by so they are less likely to pick things like road noise, but they love the sound of keyboards and mouse clicks.
They are also omnidirectional, that means the microphone isn’t just pointing at you it’s picking up noise everywhere around you, including any close-by noise like your kids crying or your house mates laughing.
They can pick up the noise from your computer speakers, so you might occasionally get an echo when you’re talking, although this is pretty rare. You are most likely to get problems if you have another person in the room on another computer on the same Zoom call.
At a pinch, you can use them to record from a medium distance like the back of a classroom if you have a decent external webcam (not the one in you’re laptop). A smartphone will give you better video but poorer audio and people tend to tolerate poor video much better than poor audio. I’ll have an online course on smartphone video available in the next few months that will include tips on getting the best audio on your phone.
Getting the best audio from your webcam
- Find your quietest indoor space. Somewhere carpeted, away from traffic noise and with soft furniture is best.
- Check your heating/air con setting so they don’t kick in.
- Let people know when you are online or recording. I have sign I put in the kitchen.
- If you have the option, schedule a time when people are out or asleep.
- If you are in a noisy space or sharing a video call, the easiest solution is to connect your phone ear buds to your computer. Plug in earbuds are usually the best option as not all computers are compatible with Bluetooth earbuds.
- Avoid using your laptop webcam if possible. Laptop microphones aren’t great quality. They will pick up noise from your laptop fan and they are right next to your keyboard.
The webcam I use is a Logitech C920. I specifically chose this webcam for it’s audio quality. It means I can do quick on the fly “How to” screen recordings for people, without having to connect an external mic.