Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Interview: Monika McMahon chats Noiselace Necklaces - Fashionable Earplugs for Concert Fans!

I got to meet Monika during my recent adventure out at the Firefly 2014 Music Festival with the Microsoft Lumia and MixRadio crews. She's a concert and travel blogger who created the Noiselace Necklace, a MUCH more fashionable way to protect your hearing while out at shows than traditional gummy earplugs. She joined me for a quick chat about Noiselace, concerts, and going Paleo.

Noiselace Necklaces: http://www.noiselace.com/
Noiselace on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Noiselace
Monika on Twitter: https://twitter.com/monikarun

FFC VLOG - Firefly 2014 Music Festival!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Video First Impressions: Noble by Wizard - FR In-Ear Monitors

Taking things up a notch for professionals and audiophiles, we're taking this first look at Noble's FR in ear monitors.

With a switchable driver for accuracy or "full" listening experiences, let's see what a $700 investment gets you in the world of inner-aural headphones.

More info on Noble products.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Next Mic Master Class! Saturday May 31st at The Voicecaster in Burbank!

For those wanting to step up their recording game, we're hosting another Mic Master Class at the Voicecaster in Burbank on Saturday May 31st from 2-6pm!

This one day workshop is designed to teach students about the different microphones you see in studios, why they're used for different kinds of jobs, and what each person sounds like in front of each different mic.

Price per participant will be $250, and you will leave with samples of your recordings to compare at your leisure.

For more information regarding the workshop, and for scheduling and availability, please contact The Voicecaster at 818-841-5300 or "Casting@voicecaster.com".

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mailbag: Diagnosing Noise Issues on the Zoom H4n

Ask any engineer, and one of their least favorite tech support calls is diagnosing "noise" issues. Wilson writes in with this issue concerning his Zoom H4n:

I recently bought a Zoom H4N recorder. I'm generally pretty happy with it, but I do have a question.
You mentioned in the article "Messing Around with the Zoom H4n" that you particularly like it as a USB mic.
However, I've tried hooking it up to my computer over USB and I get a ton of hiss and noise, both with the internal mics and an external mic (which actually sounds much cleaner, though a lot quieter).
Does it require some kind of shielded USB cable or something to get rid of that? I'm not in a particularly noisy environment, so I think that most of the noise is not environmental.

OK. So there are a couple things to look at first. First of all is consistency. You say there's noise being generated via the built in mics and the inputs. Have you tested the H4n under battery and AC power? When it's recording to the SD card is it generating the same noise? I'm also assuming you've played with the distance between your mic and your computer to rule out fan noise? 

Now, how hot are you driving the H4n? All pieces of audio gear generate their own noise. I think the preamps on the H4n are competitive with most portable and "all-in-one" solutions at comparable price points, but they will deliver more noise than dedicated professional studio-grade gear. If you're having to max out the preamps to get the levels you want you'll be delivering significant noise as well. The Olympus LS-100 for example, has an almost -9dB noise floor advantage over the H4n, but comes in almost $150 more than the Zoom. Ditto the headphone volume you're monitoring with. 

If the mic you're connecting to the Zoom is a dynamic, that would explain why it's a lot quieter. Assuming nothing is wrong with the H4n, if you're making the move from a dynamic to a condenser, condensers will pick up a LOT more of your environment. You might just be hearing the "air" of your room amplified for the first time. 

Lastly you can try swapping out different USB cables to see if that makes a difference. You can also check for electrical gremlins by connecting to a different computer, or a laptop running off the battery. Does the noise stay consistent as you move the H4n to different environments?

If the noise or hiss can't be explained or corrected via any of the steps above, it might be time to contact you're friendly neighborhood Zoom representative to see if a warranty or return is in your future. Best of luck. Noise issues are bummers, and they can require a fair amount of voodoo to properly sort out.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Blue Microphone's Kiwi on ABC's 'Nashville', but set up improperly?

Ok, you uber-mic nerds are going to appreciate this one.

Nashville has become one of my favorite guilty pleasures, chock full of nighttime soapy drama, and some great music tracks produced weekly. It's also just fun as a gear head seeing what fancy recording equipment these fictional musicians will be thrown in front of next.

Like this Blue Kiwi, one of my all time favorite studio mics. I like this mic so much, that even my wife caught it as the show zoomed in on actress Chaley Rose singing in front of one.

"Hey it's that green mic you like!" 

I look up from my laptop, enjoy a "hey cool" moment, and start to look back down until I double take back up to the screen. The mic's pins are still in...

You'd have to know your way around this particular mic, but when shipped, the Kiwi has three pins installed to protect the diaphragm during transport. We can zoom in a bit to see them a little better.

Yeah. They look cool, but those things are supposed to be removed before you use the mic. Out of the box there's even an angry little red tag that instructs you to remove those pins. Which means that setting up the shot, someone had to unpack the mic, set it up on a shockmount, look at the red tag, and remove it, all without pulling those guard pins.

It's a small gaffe, but if you actually work in recording, it's a funny distraction.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: The R0DE Classic II Anniversary Edition Tube Microphone

We haven't done a studio microphone review for a while, so it's time to come back with a biggie!

R0DE's Classic II is a modern twist on a vintage-y mic technology. Not only that, the Anniversary edition comes in Darth Vader black, and it's pretty sexy. Let's take a look (and a listen)!
Shop the R0DE Classic II on Amazon.
Save 10% on a Loot Crate by using promo code "SGLOOT" at checkout!

Review: The DacMagic XS USB Headphone Amp

It might be little, but this little USB DAC packs a wallop.

Cambridge Audio brings their audiophile expertice to bear on a tiny portable unit designed to imrpove your listening experience while at home or on the road. Let's take a look!

Shop the DacMagic XS on Amazon.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Sound Architect Interviews Some Audio Guy - My thoughts on Voice Over and Technology

I had a great time sitting down with Sam Hughes "The Sound Architect" to discuss Voice Over, home recording, and we took a brief detour through the world of technology. We struggled through a couple technical stutters, but we also managed to answer some viewer questions.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recording Terminology Pet Peeve: "Low Cut" or "High Pass" Filter?

You ever notice how the world of recording can get really dogmatic about an idea? How very often you’ll see someone doing something, but they can’t explain why they’re doing it that way? The answer I most often get in situations like that is usually along the lines of “that’s just the way you’re supposed to do that”, but without any explanation as to why it works. It’s the recording equivalent of doing a rain dance. When it works it’s great…

Even what we CALL a tool can fall into this dogma trap. 

Take for instance one of my biggest recording pet peeves. There’s a hardware process we use to help remove ultra-low frequency noise from our recording chain. It can sometimes be found on our interface, sometimes on a mixer or preamp, or even directly on the mic itself. It’s a godsend for reducing a little rumbling or buzzing in our audio.

What is this magic process called? 

Well, about 50% of the time it’s called a “High Pass Filter”, which makes just a little bit more than absolutely zero sense to me. I like being precise with my direction and communication, and I like knowing what tools are called, that there are standards. Sometimes this is a “High Pass” other times it’s a “Low Cut”, and you can almost always count on the fact that no matter which term you pick, your engineer will use the other term, and will feel compelled to correct you on it. I’ve just about dislocated my eyeballs from rolling them so frequently with every helpful correction I’ve received.

More to the point, the term “High Pass” is just obnoxiously imprecise. What does the tool do? It reduces low frequency sound, often starting the roll off around 80Hz. Even more aggressive filters rarely creep above 160Hz, still nice and deep. The mid range and high end are both left intact and largely unaffected. Is it a “Mid and High Pass Filter”? No. Just a “High Pass”, which makes it sound like the filter should be working on the high end of the EQ, that the filter is affecting the upper bands, which it absolutely is NOT doing.

Why are we naming filters based on what the filter ISN’T doing? 

It’s just so passive aggressive. If I were to walk into a studio and have the following exchange with an engineer:
Me: Hey Mr. Engineer, what part of the EQ are you cutting there? 
Engineer: Not the highs! 
I’d probably never work with that studio ever again. Communication is already hard enough. We’d despise working with someone who defined everything they do by what they’re NOT doing. Even the lunch order would be miserable.
Me: Hey Mr. Engineer, what do you want for lunch today? 
Engineer: Not tapioca pudding! 
So, as we approach a new year, with all new possibilities, it’s time. Time to let go of this backwards way of defining what happens when we flip the switch on our mixers and mics.

It’s time for the Low Cut filter to reign supreme.