Before you set off on your next family vacation, it’s important to consider how you will want it to be remembered in the years to come. You and your loves ones are about to experience a series of precious moments together. When you post on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll want others to feel what you’re feeling in those moments. When you get back home, you’ll want high-quality footage to form into a perfect cut. Even as the memories fade, the videos and photos you produce on that trip are going to last a lifetime. And you know what they say: pics or it didn’t happen.
So you need to come prepared. A smartphone and a selfie stick aren’t going to cut it. Are you traveling with a baby? You’ll want to invest in a system for recording videos hands-free. Is swimming involved? A waterproof camera is a must. (There’s a reason why GoPros are just as popular with vacationing families as they are with thrill-seekers.) And when it comes to shooting your family portrait, you’d rather not have to rely on a fellow tourist with shaky hands and an eye you can’t trust. Best case scenario: there won’t even be any fellow tourists around. Better pack a tripod.
Yet here’s what they don’t say, or at least not enough: high quality audio is just as essential to capturing the essence of your trip as all of that camera equipment combined. When gearing up for a family vacation, we tend to focus on how our videos will look to the exclusion of how they will sound. But when you’re playing with your kids on a windy beach or weaving through the crowd at an amusement park, using your smartphone’s built-in mic can produce all kinds of unwanted noise that is liable to distract from your moving images. A clear audio recording will enhance those images, making them feel more true-to-life.
There are tons of high quality portable and external microphone options to choose from, and a savvy traveler will always make room in his or her carrying case for at least one mic. Take Dave Dugdale, who filled his Case Logic bag with 18 pieces of tech and accessories before taking his family to Kaanapali Maui Honua Kai Resort in Hawaii — including a GoPro, a GoPro harness, a DSLR camera, a tripod, a mini tripod, and a wireless microphone system.
Dugdale has a healthy sense of humor about his pro-level preparation for family vacations. (As he writes at the top of his gear list, “I like to travel light.”) But if you’ve ever been to Yosemite Valley in June, walked through Central Park on a crisp Autumn afternoon, or visited pretty much any other major tourist destination during its high season, you already know that Dugdale is hardly alone in being ready to capture any and all types of precious moments at a moment’s notice.
Dugdale uses Sennheiser’s camera-mount system with two lavalier mics, which costs $630. But if you’re looking for an even better audio solution for your family vacation, it’s well worth looking into purchasing a binaural 3d audio mic. Binaural audio captures sound as you actually hear it — spatially, in 360 degrees. When you listen to binaural audio with any ordinary pair of stereo headphones, it produces the incredibly immersive sensation of being in the same exact spot where the recording was made.
The appeal of binaural 3D audio is clear for today’s geared up traveler, so it’s no surprise that new 3d audio travel sites and apps are starting to pop up. The Sound Traveler, an offshoot of Destin Sandlin’s hugely popular educational YouTube series Smarter Every Day, immerses you in experiences that range from catching a 100-pound tuna to riding the New York City subway to sliding down a 12,000-foot mountain.
The Travelear, a new app that bills itself as “A vacation for your ears,” takes listeners to destinations as a far-flung as The Flower Market in London, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Capturing binaural audio used to be reserved for professionals with big rigs and big budgets. That mic The Travelear is holding is a 3Dio Free Space Pro II, a binaural microphone that sells for $2,000. If you’re willing and able to shell out for it, the 3Dio is an exceptional professional binaural mic to take on your family vacation. But now there’s a much more affordable, hands-free option for recording binaural audio on the go — and it’s a lot less cumbersome than the 3Dio.
Released by Hooke Audio this past summer, the Hooke Verse is the world’s first binaural audio recording headset. The price? $239.99. These Bluetooth headphones have microphones embedded in each earbud and pair with your smartphone. You can also connect the Verse to a DSLR or a GoPro.
Whether you’re climbing a mountain, taking in a fireworks display, or cruising through a foreign city, the Verse will enable anyone who watches your video to hear exactly what you heard, how you heard it, as though they were listening through your ears. If you want to step out of your present surroundings and go on someone else’s vacation, check out the videos below.