We all know how frustrating it can be when we want to record a new song outside, only to hear those annoying wind noises all over the recording!
I’ve had this issue loads of times, so I did a lot of research and found some great ways to improve the quality of the recordings and also some ways to remove wind noise if necessary.
In this post I’m going to share my Eight tips to record music under windy conditions.
Tip 1: Look for Shelter!
Pick a location where you are protected from wind or wait until it dies down.
One would assume that this is an obvious point, but after watching so many YouTube videos where people don’t choose the right spot to record and the amount of wind plosions you can hear are just unbearable, I thought I’d stress the importance of picking the right location a bit more.
If you are recording a music video for YouTube, then I understand that getting a good shot is a priority.
But believe me, Image quality is not as important as Audio quality.
No matter the equipment you use, nothing will work as good as picking the right spot with the least amount if wind.
You need to get the best signal possible, rather than thinking that you can fix it afterwards, because even though there are some options, it’s best to get it right from the beginning.
Tip 2: Using a cardioid microphone
Using a cardioid microphone is a great option when recording in windy conditions.
Since a cardioid microphone picks up sound mainly from the front, there are less ways for the wind to affect it, specially if the wind is constantly changing directions.
It all depends on what you are trying to record. If your intention is to record a whole band with just one microphone, then maybe using a cardioid one isn’t in your best interest.
In this case you might want to use two in an X/Y pattern.
Tip 3: Put your back against the wind
Another great way to stop wind noise from getting to your microphone is by using your body or the instrument that you are trying to record as a wind shield.
That way the microphone won’t pick up any of the wind noises and your recording will sound a lot better.
Tip 4: Use a Deadcat windscreen
Not an actual dead cat, clearly the people who invented this gadget have a very dark sense of humor!
This Windscreen is absolutely fantastic.
Unlike the regular foam Windscreens, these ones work really well even under heavy wind conditions. They are not perfect, of course! But they are an amazing investment, I can tell you that!
Plus, they really are quite affordable and come in many different sizes and colors.
But there’s a catch;
The only con to this is that they can sometimes muffle the sound a bit. It’s still barely noticeable and really not bad, especially compared to what the wind will do to the signal if you don’t use one, but keep that in mind.
I use one with my Zoom H2n whenever I want to record outside and the audio quality is almost identical but there are zero wind noises.
Tip 5: Record inline with the wind
This method can work pretty well!
You place your mic so that the wind is blowing from directly behind it, towards the sound source.
Since the wind is not blowing directly at the mic, it is much harder for the mic to pick up unwanted wind plosions.
Even though this can work great, I don’t like this way quite as much.
Since the wind is blowing towards you, you will have to talk / sing / perform louder.
Tip 6: Avoid recording at a huge distance
Adequate recording distance is always important, and this is more so when recording outside. This way you avoid picking up unwanted sounds from your surroundings.
The best thing you can do is to get the microphone as close to the sound source as possible.
Of course, this doesn’t make the wind noise any lower, but it makes the sources signal louder without also increasing the wind noise.
Why does this matter?
Well, imagine you record the same song with two different microphones. You place one of them really close to the sound source, while the second one is quite a bit further away.
The one that is the farthest will pick up less of your instruments/voices signal.
You will need to increase the gain on that specific mic to get a better signal, which will also increase the wind noise dramatically.
Like with all recording related stuff, the most important part is to get the original recording as clear as possible. Many people think that you can take a bad recording and just fix it in post which simply isn’t true.
In some cases that may work, but it will never sound as good as getting it right from the get-go.
That being said, if you absolutely need to remove some wind noises from your recordings, here are two ways.
Like I said, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you had no other alternative.
Tip 7: EQ’ing the wind away!
Since wind plosions are usually a Low-Frequency sound, you can use a high-pass filter to let the high frequencies pass through and filter out the Lower frequencies.
Start increasing the range at which the filter is cutting off the Low frequencies until you hear that most of the wind sounds are being eliminated. This is usually around the 200Hz mark.
This will almost always make your recording sound extremely bad and tinny, since you lose a lot of the body when you remove those lower frequencies.
One thing to note;
All situations and recordings are different, which means that the EQ’ing process will be different each time.
A nice trick is to automate it. You can do this with the read/write option in almost any DAW.
Only make the plugin EQ those frequencies when the wind is actually affecting the recording. This way you will only remove certain frequencies at a given time and not for the whole song.
Tip 8: Try noise reduction Plugins!
Lastly you can try some plugins that might aid you, should you have too much wind noise going on!
You might try Izotope RX which has a few tools such as spectral repair and noise reduction that might help you out a bit as well.
You can download ReaFIR, which is a plugin that comes included in the Reaper DAW.
You can get this plugin completely for free on their website, along with a couple of others. Check it out here; www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/.
This plugin has many different settings, but one is that it creates noise profiles and it can subtract them from the signal.
Its effectiveness depends on how loud the noise is, since it can sometimes subtract some frequencies that change the whole tone of the signal.
I’ve written this post on how to remove unwanted noise from recordings, where I go into more detail on how to use some FREE software to remove it.
While there may be options to fix your recording in post, I highly recommend you to get the best recording possible, so you don’t have to waste time fixing something!
The way to do this is by following all the steps I just described.
The best and easiest solution, by far, is to get a deadcat windscreen. This will reduce the wind plosions drastically.
I really hope this was useful, see you on the next one!