Wondering do drones record sound? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this popular technology.
Capturing videos and pictures with drones is a popular topic most people are passionate about. However, as a drone user, you might wonder if your flying companion can record sounds as well.
Present-day drones are not capable of recording sounds as they do not come with an inbuilt microphone.
If you want to record sounds with your drone, you need to attach an external microphone to your equipment.
Nevertheless, the biggest downside to recording audio with your drone is this. Drone motors are quite noisy during their flight and their noise will invariably dominate the sounds you are trying to record.
While it is a great idea to record the sounds of nature and scenes you are capturing with your drone camera, it is not a practicable idea.
At the same time, there are a few tricks you can try to record the sounds that can sync with the drone video you are capturing.
Do Drones Record Sound?
Is there a microphone in a drone?
You will be surprised to know that drones do not have a microphone at all. No manufacturer includes a built-in microphone with a drone. It is not uncommon to buy an external microphone and mount it onto your drone.
Since they do not have an inbuilt microphone, drones cannot record sounds. There are a few valid reasons why drones do not have an inbuilt microphone.
In the first place, when you fly your drone several hundred feet above the ground, there is not many sounds to record at such a height.
Even if there could be some sound to record, the noise of the drone’s blades will clearly dominate those sounds making the entire audio recording mission useless.
Even when you try to record something at low heights, the propeller noise will block out anything you might want to record.
If you want to give try to record audio with your drone anyway, the good news is you can always attach an external microphone to your flying machine.
Since the external microphone will capture the sound you want to record in addition to the prop sound and the prop wash, you must find ways to deal with this sound mixture later.
Quite a many people have tried to record audio using their drones. Later many of them use sophisticated sound editing software to filter away the prop sounds.
However, the results have never been encouraging. The reason is the noise source is too close to the recording setup. Some people use their drone controller device to record sounds.
Why don’t they add a microphone to a drone?
Talking of why drones do not come with in-built microphones, we can list quite a many reasons and three of them are very important.
Electric drones are powered by electric motors and hence they produce sound on the move whenever they are at flight.
A built-in microphone in a drone is not a viable idea as invariably it will keep recording the humming noise given out by the electric motors.
The loudest sound near a drone is the sound of the prop wash and this is due to the high volume air that the drone propellers displace. Usually, this is very loud.
Even if you discover ways to deal with the noise of electric motors and can make the prop silent, you can’t do anything with the noise of the wind around the drone during its flight.
Therefore, the wind noise around the microphone will make the sound an unpleasant experience.
Can I record sound with Mavic Mini?
The Mavic Mini does not have an inbuilt microphone and hence cannot record sound directly. If you want to record sound with your Mavic Mini, you must get an external microphone.
It is also possible to use your controller device to record sounds. Nevertheless, the problem you will face with this idea is that the external microphone and devices will also record the prop wash and the prop sound.
Can Mavic Pro Record Sound?
As is the case with the Mavic Mini, the Mavic Pro does not feature any microphone. Therefore, it cannot record any audio.
The audio you will be able to hear on your controller is recorded on it only through the microphone.
If you want to record audio with your drone, you must mount a sound recorder or Dictaphone to your Mavic Pro drone.
Can we ever use a drone to record sounds?
The idea of recording sounds with drones is never practicable given the technology available today.
This is because of the high noise level of the drone motor and the prop wash. Even if a drone has an inbuilt microphone, all that you will be able to hear and the record is the drone’s noise.
At the same time, we must never underestimate technology, what was unthinkable a few years back have been made possible today with the advancements in technology.
Though we might not be able to record sounds with drones over the next few years, the tech nerds might very soon discover ways to fit an internal mic in a drone and handle the overriding drone sounds effectively.
How can I record audio to pair up with my drone video?
Record sound using a standalone voice recorder
The two ways to record sound with your drone are to use a standalone voice recorder or record using the microphone on your controlling device.
If you want to record sound using a standalone voice recorder that you carry with you, you are depending on one of the most commonly used ways to record sounds with a drone.
Though the voice recorder will capture the sounds at the location where you are stationed, your voice and the voices of people around you, and the prop sound, it will not record the sound emanating from the drone’s flight.
While trying to record sounds with a standalone voice recorder, you can start recording after one or two claps of your hand.
This sound can serve as the reference point to let you know when to sync the audio you recorded.
A standalone voice recorder will provide you a separate audio track that can be added to the video later on.
This is relatively an easier method to record sound. However, you will need some technical knowledge and experience of working on editing software.
Record sound on your controller device
To record the sound that will go with video footage, you can also use a microphone on your controller device.
An app you can use on controller devices is DJI GO 4. This app comes with an in-built capability to record sound received through the microphone on your device.
This app works with most frontline drones like Mavic 2, Phantom 4, Spark and Air.
To use this app, you just have to enable the option for caching the transmission video. Once this is done, you need to locate the cache option under the general setting to let the app record the sound.
This method of recording can help record your voice or other noises present in the ambiance. However, this method cannot be used to record the drone’s sound.
When the sound is recorded, the sound file will be stored on the controller device you are using and not on the drone.
After this is done, you have to download the cache independently on your computer to blend with the video footages available on the device’s video cache.
It is also possible to record sound in one another way using an iPhone or iPad as the controlling device.
Simple steps to mount a microphone on a drone to record sound
If you want to record sound with a microphone attached to the drone, you can follow these three simple steps: Get sound, play sound and edit the sound.
Step-1: How to get the sound
This is the first step to record sound through a microphone attached to a drone. There are three ways to get the sound.
- On the video transmitter through an inbuilt microphone
- On the FPV camera through an inbuilt microphone
- Using an external microphone
Though there are many ways to get the sound, you can get the best sound quality only with an external microphone.
Amazon’s long-range switchable transmitter is known for its amazing sound quality. If you have a microphone, you can connect its white signal wire to the audio inputs of your VTX.
Step-2: How to play the sound
After you set up the connections, you can play the audio sound in it. While playing sound with the help of FPV monitors, you must ensure to work with built-in speakers and audio input to connect the video receiver.
While using FPV goggles, you must have an earphone jack to connect the headphones.
Step-3: How to edit the sound
When you play the sound, you might feel that the noise going into your ears is very loud. If this happens, many users turn down the noise level with the help of a potentiometer found on their headset.
If you are unable to use the potentiometer, you can reduce the sound with the help of a resistor added to it.
Steps to add audio to drone footage
We know now that drones cannot record sounds directly. However, it is possible to add audio to the drone footage.
This can be done with the help of an external microphone attached to a recording gadget. While the drone does the visual recording, the device records the sound.
After that, you may use the software to edit and blend the recorded audio with the drone footage. By using the audio edit software, you can enjoy the audio of desired quality.
If you want to add a music track to the video, you can use the video editing software to add the music track to the video footage. You will find DJI GO 4 app a handy tool for this.
To be able to use the app, upload the music to the local library and while editing, click the addition symbol ‘+’ you will find displayed on the music.
Once this is done, you may add the audio you want to the video footage. During the course of your editing session, you can add this at different intervals.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.