Whether you're tuning in to a work meeting, video conferencing with clients, interviewing for a remote job or just hanging out with friends and family, more people are using Zoom now more than ever. And the one thing that can ruin your Zoom experience? Bad video quality.
Whether it's too much light, not enough light, fuzzy picture quality or the fact that no one can even hear you, it isn't enjoyable to fix mid-meeting and challenging to work with (not to mention you might not make the best impression in work situations).
Luckily, there are a few easy ways you can improve your video (and audio) quality on Zoom.
Make Sure You're Using the Best Zoom Built-in Features
If you're experiencing poor video quality (both on your end and incoming video streams), it may be the simple case that you're not using the right Zoom video features or settings.
Try to enable HD video (note that only Zoom Pro account holders can use HD video) via your "Settings" tab and then the Video function. If your device meets bandwidth requirements, the HD video will begin.
To adjust for low light, you can go to that same Video function within the Settings tab and enable the "Adjust for low light" feature. While this feature has an auto function, you can also manually adjust the filter.
The Video function also offers a "Touch up my appearance" feature, which is a little filter that helps you look your best, even if you're only on your first cup of coffee. The filter improves your complexion and reduces dark circles, among other quick fixes.
Don't enjoy your dull or messy background? Zoom also gives you some built-in features for that issue to enhance your video quality further. Within the Settings tab, look for Background & Filters. You'll see a range of options to use as a backdrop, some business-appropriate and some more on the fun side.
(Hint: Check out the Keyboard Shortcut features in the "Settings" area as well, for easy ways to adjust your video mid-meeting.)
But what if none of this really helps? If you can't find a solution to your low video quality within Zoom's built-in features and settings, it's time to turn to other options.
Buy a Better Webcam
One of the first things to try if none of the built-in Zoom features or filters help your video quality? A new webcam. Your computer's built-in variant might just not cut it.
Luckily, there are many excellent webcams available from vendors such as Best Buy and Amazon, which can instantly improve your video quality, resulting in a clearer picture, even in low-light settings.
Some options to try include:
The Logitech C920 is an HD professional-grade webcam built for widescreen video calls and recordings. As such, it's used by content creators, streamers and YouTubers, as it provides a significant level of clarity. The dual microphones capture your voice while blocking out external and background noise.
The webcam is compatible with a range of programs beyond Zoom, including Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime and Xbox One.
If you're on a budget, though, and don't want to drop $100 or more on a webcam, you might consider this budget-friendly webcam that's under $20. The HD camera offers 1080p video, low-light correction settings and stable audio and video transmission.
This webcam is similarly compatible with programs like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and YouTube. The noise-reducing microphone helps cancel out background noise, and there's even a privacy cover so you can keep prying eyes out of your space until you're ready to appear.
As far as webcams go, this Logitech option is pretty tech-smart. It features smart auto-focus and exposure features, AI-enabled facial tracking and image stabilization. It's an excellent pick for any of those who are creating content (educators, entertainers, etc.), as well as those who need a high-quality camera for work or play. The camera mounts on either your computer or via a tripod and takes photos and videos if desired.
Set up your Space
Depending on how much space you have in your home, it may be challenging to set up a home office that looks as professional as what you might have in your actual office. But if you can make an effort, it will improve your Zoom calls and how your video comes across to your fellow attendees.
Raise your camera to eye level, so everyone is looking at you, not up to your nose; this has the added benefit of helping you look your best.
It's also a good idea to position your computer or desk so that you take the best advantage of your home's lighting. During the day, try to position yourself facing a window. If that's not possible, try to set yourself so that you're facing some sort of light source, ideally right in front of you (and try to use white light versus yellow). When it comes to lighting, the most important thing is not to sit with the light source behind you.
It's likewise smart to reduce background distractions for your viewers by removing any eye-catching clutter.
Finding that you don't have enough natural or artificial light currently in your space, no matter which Zoom settings you use or which webcam you buy? You might want to consider purchasing a separate light, such as the Lume Cube. This LED light simply attaches via a suction mechanism to your monitor and then provides bright illumination at various brightness levels and color temperatures. The battery recharges with a handy USB cord, and you can position the light either horizontally or vertically.
For something a little less fancy and far more affordable, you can also try a simple ring light, the preferred piece of gear for many YouTube content creators and Instagram influencers. You can find a variety of ring light options, including some with tripods and several that offer various light settings and temperatures.
Ensure the Best Audio Quality Possible
Once you have clear, well-lit and crisp video, it's time to think about your audio quality. You can do a few simple things to enhance audio quality before you consider purchasing an external mic.
For example, ask all of the meeting participants to mute their mics unless speaking, eliminating unnecessary background noise. You can also wear headphones with a built-in mic to further decrease any noise you might pick up on your end. Of course, minimizing your background noise is vital, too. Whether that's a barking dog, running appliances or street traffic, when it comes to setting up a home office space in general, look for an area that receives minimal external noise.
If you're still getting noise complaints when you're on Zoom calls, consider purchasing a new mic.
Some of our favorites include:
A trendy option for content creators, the Blue Yeti USB mic allows for stellar audio quality, good enough for use in recording and streaming. The mic comes with an easy-to-use stand and is compatible with most operating systems. You can adjust the mic's four pick-up patterns to record in various ways, but unless you're recording a podcast or educational materials, you likely won't need this feature.
More on the affordable side, this compact mic picks up only your voice while blocking out background noises, from typing to mouse clicks, which can be particularly useful during work calls if you need to access various documents and materials.
The professional recording quality offers a great range of sound and superior clarity. A shock-resistant mount also prevents unfortunate accidents from ending up in your audio.
If you want to get fancy, you can go with this desk-mounted mic kit from FIFINE. Easy enough to attach to your desk or dining room table, this mic kit is best for those who need high-quality, studio-grade audio that you just won't get from a streaming camera or your laptop's built-in mic.
Do remember, before purchasing a separate mic for your Zoom calls: If you're thinking of investing in a webcam or new pair of headphones for your calls as well, you might get a better built-in mic with either the two, at least something that works well enough to fit your needs.
You may even have some of the best headphones for Zoom calls already. Some of the top options include:
If you already use an iPhone and MacBook for your work, then Apple AirPods will seamlessly fit into your work routine. The earbuds are a great fit for the casual Zoom user, as they're comfortable, easy to use and feature a built-in microphone with active noise cancellation.
Plus, there are no clumsy wires or cords to fiddle with, and the wireless charging is an added perk.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are a bit more affordable than the Apple AirPods Pro and a good pick if you're not on the Apple bandwagon. Beyond the cordless convenience, these buds also last for 22 hours on a single charge, and the built-in mic quality is stellar. There are three mics built into the earbuds, including one internal and two external mics, all with noise reduction capabilities.
Take a Look at your WiFi
Is the whole problem just your poor WiFi connection? Ensure that you're using the best WiFi available to your home to ensure the best Zoom experience. Once that's done, you can also do a few things to make your current WiFi work a little better, such as moving closer to your router and limiting other WiFi use while on a Zoom call.
Test, Test, Test
If you're nervous about your video quality for work purposes, test things out with a family or friend call on Zoom ahead of time, or simply check things out on your laptop's front-facing camera settings right before you hop on a call. You'll be able to double-check your video quality, lighting, angle and other aspects.
If it's right before a call and you think things still look atrocious, there's one sneaky trick you can use if you're attending a meeting where you don't need to talk or interact. Simply use a screenshot of yourself in a previous Zoom meeting as your Zoom meeting profile picture. You'll look like you're actually there, unless someone cares to look long enough and realizes you're not blinking.
Do You Need Zoom-Specific Gear?
With tons of people asking how to create a better Zoom experience and more employees than ever using Zoom to stay in touch and stay productive, it just makes sense that Zoom would offer its own gear.
The Zoom for Home DTEN ME solution is "an all-in-one personal collaboration device for your home." Essentially a monitor, it features a smart camera, an ultra-responsive and multi-touch screen and annotation features, an eight-mic array and a sleek and portable size. It's intended to provide work-from-home employees with a distraction-free and dedicated space for work and connecting with teams to most closely mimic the in-office experience.
Make Your Next Zoom Call a Successful One
Whether you're leading a class, chiming in for a work meeting or hanging out with far-away friends or relatives, make your next Zoom call enjoyable and successful with the right gear. You'll be amazed at how much of a difference the proper lighting, mics and cameras can make for your Zoom experience.
You might also like: The 11 Best Desks for Small Spaces
How to Improve your Video Quality on Zoom:
- Make Sure you're Using the Best Zoom Built-in Features
- Buy a Better Webcam
- Set up your Space
- Ensure the Best Audio Quality Possible
- Take a Look at your WiFi
- Test, Test, Test