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Sound Devices MixPre Firmware Version 7.13

Sound Devices has released firmware version 7.13 for its range of MixPre mixer/recorders. This is a fairly minor firmware update and it fixes the following issues: MixPre no longer enters a state where there are level discrepancies between channels. MixPre-3, MixPre-3M, MixPre-3 II, MixPre-6, MixPre-6M, and MixPre-6 II now provide a higher current on USB-A … Continued

The post Sound Devices MixPre Firmware Version 7.13 appeared first on Newsshooter.

Shure A81WS & A7WS windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filters

Shure A81WS & A7WS windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filters 2

Although I have mentioned the so-called “presidential” A81WS in several microphone reviews, I have never dedicated any article to it before now. On the other hand, so far, I have covered the A7WS in one microphone review so far. Beyond being just windscreens and pop filters, both filters from Shure are also somewhat unique since they also do a dramatically much better job than any other competitive filter to reduce excessive breathing sounds too. Most other windscreens I have ever tested (with the notable exception of the RØDE WS2) have been ineffective at reducing plosives (p and b explosive sounds), let alone excessive breath sounds. My ears are very sensitive to both of these two issues: plosives and excessive breath sounds, which (in my humble opinion) make audio and/or audiovisual productions sound both irritating and unprofessional. That’s why I am reviewing the Shure A81WS (US$30) & A7WS (≈US$20) windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filters, while avoiding the thinner and much less effective RK345, which I do not recommend. Although Shure undoubtedly intends them to be used for Shure microphones, the A81WS and A7WS are helpful for many non-Shure microphones too.

About plosives

Generally speaking, microphones give us their best quality when placed as close to the person speaking as possible, i.e. about 8-10 centimeters (3-4 inches) for dynamic mics and about 10-15 centimeters (4-6 inches) for condenser microphones. In human speech, there are certain consonants (especially b and p) which cause a directional microphone to “pop” when we are at that ideal distance. There is sophisticated and expensive software to eliminate pops in post, but —whenever possible— it’s best to eliminate this issue acoustically. That means less work later, and a signal more appropriate for live broadcast too. I must also clarify that if some individual actually creates a pop that is so severe (i.e. as some comedians do), then that will not be correctable by any of the filters we are reviewing, since they become part of the original sound.

Another solution to plosives is to resolve it with mic technique. However, I have discovered three things about that:

  1. With some microphones, even if you speak at a 45-degree (or even 90-degree) angle, it still pops.
  2. In many cases, the mic doesn’t sound so good that way, as opposed to addressing it directly with a proper filter.
  3. Even though professional voice talent can often conquer pops via mic technique, they have the luxury of reading and also of doing several takes. That’s a luxury that radio & TV hosts, interviewers, interviewees or others who speak extemporaneously often don’t have, especially when they are concentrating on deciding what words to say, not reading something that has already been written and proofread.

 

About excessive breathing sounds

It is well known that some audio/video editors attempt to eliminate all breaths while editing, even to the extent of eliminating the time it takes to breathe. In some cases, it is good to reduce long pauses to set a better pace, but in other cases, this can be taken to an extreme where the original human speech no longer sounds natural. In fact, nowadays even computer-generated speech adds fake breathing to make it sound more natural with text-to-speech software. The excessive breath reduction benefit in the Shure A81WS and A7WS filters does not reduce breathing completely, but it does reduce excessive breathing to a point that it is much less necessary to attenuate most breaths in post. This is very welcome.

The following is courtesy of the first part of Shure’s FAQ #4172, a primer on reducing wind noise (including plosives) in microphones, since it is a great introduction to appreciate the A81WS and the A7WS.

A microphone responds to the movement of air and it does not care what caused the air to move. This means that a mic cannot distinguish between air movement originating from a talker, and air movement originating from local weather. Wind noise is a persistent problem with microphones but there are multiple ways to minimize unwanted noise.

 

Method 1: Attenuation of low frequencies using electronics

Wind noise has a large amount of low frequency (bass) content, often described as “rumble.” Cutting out the extreme bass from a microphone signal is an effective method to reduce audible wind noise. For example, the Shure SM81 has a three position low frequency cut (roll-off) switch. One setting is a steep roll-off, the second is a gentle roll-off, and the third is no roll-off. This switch effectively reduces low frequency wind noise. Or the Shure A15HP accessory can be added to a microphone output to roll-off low frequencies.

 

Method 2: Layers of Metal, Cloth, or Plastic Mesh

Troublesome wind noise has a higher air speed than speech. A screen of very fine mesh or gauze will dissipate the energy of the wind air movement, and have minimal effect on speech. Essentially, the mesh takes a large gust of wind, and divides into numerous smaller gusts of wind, thus reducing the power of the gust. It is imperative that the mesh does not vibrate or rattle as this will cause unwanted mechanical noise. Layers of mesh, with different porosity, will increase effectiveness. The Shure SM57 has a fine metal mesh in the center of its rotating black grill. This mesh helps to minimize wind noise, including talker “P”-popping which is a type of wind noise. The Shure PS-6 “Popper Stopper” has nylon-like cloth mesh suspended in the middle of a rigid circle of plastic. Placed in front of a studio vocal mic such as the Shure KSM44A, the PS-6 slows down a blast of air from the singer’s mouth before the blast reaches the microphone.

Method 3: Open Cell Foam

A specific type of “foam rubber” provides a function similar to the aforementioned mesh. Open-cell foam is required for a microphone windscreen. Open-cell means there is a meandering path for the air to move from the outer surface of the foam to the inner surface. Close-cell foam, such as used for product packaging, cannot be used as air cannot pass through it. The inside of the SM58 metal ball grill has a layer of open-cell foam. Open-cell foam is also used for an external windscreen like the Shure A58WS. The external windscreen shape must be aerodynamic (no sharp corners) to eliminate turbulence noise as wind moves over the windscreen. The Shure A81WS is a very effective windscreen as it has three different layers of open-cell foam, each with a different porosity. Each layer works to slow down the wind noise and dissipate the energy. The effectiveness of an open-cell foam windscreen is a direct function of its diameter: bigger is better. However, too many layers of foam will roll-off the higher frequencies, so a balance must be found between audio quality and wind noise attenuation.

 

Physical differences between the A81WS and the A7WS

Shure A81WS & A7WS windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filters 3
Above, the Shure palindromic 545 microphone in a rare photo with the palindromic ABBA. In the upper right corner is the 545 with the A81WS as I reviewed it.

The A81WS (which I have covered in many mic reviews) is designed for microphones with very narrow diameters. That’s why —in order to install it on a Samson Q2U— it requires both removing the microphone head and also doing some intense stretching. Some stretching is even necessary to install the A81WS on the Shure SM57 (where it is officially supported and blessed) and on the palindromic Shure 545, which I reviewed in 2016 (illustrated above).

On the other hand, the A7WS is made for microphones with a much larger diameter. In fact, the A7WS is the larger of the two windscreens for the famous Shure SM7B microphones. I have even observed a recent positive tendency among SM7B users who have recently switched from the inferior and thinner RK345 in favor of the much more effective A7WS. So far, I have used the A7WS in my recent review of the Samson Q9U (illustrated below).

Shure A81WS & A7WS windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filters 4
Above, the Samson Q9U hybrid microphone with the Shure A7WS windscreen/pop/excessive breathing filter.

 

Ironic price differences between the A81WS and the A7WS

The A81WS is officially offered by Shure for microphones that are lower in price, but has a higher price tag of US$30. On the other hand, the A7WS is officially offered by Shure for a US$399 microphone (the SM7B), even though the A7WS costs only ≈US$20.

 

High frequency loss?

Some people are extremely concerned about potential high frequency loss with windscreens. I am concerned about plosives and excessive breath sounds. With every microphone from any brand where I have ever installed an A81WS or the A7WS, I have actually found that they make the resulting sound smoother than without it or with any other windscreen.

 

Mic reviews where I have used the A81WS or A7WS

  • Click here to read (and listen to) mic reviews where I have used the A81WS.
  • Click here to read (and listen to) mic reviews here I have used the A7WS.

 

Conclusions

To date, the A81WS and the A7WS from Shure are the most effective screens I have ever tried and they do their great acoustic process to reduce wind, plosives and even excessive breathing. Fortunately, the A81WS and the A7WS both also work with other brands of microphones too. I highly recommend one or the other depending upon the microphone used.

NOTE: Even though —for many years, I have received sample microphones from many manufacturers for review —including AKG, Audio Téchnica, Betrun, Hooke Audio, IK Multimedia, Maono, Plugable, Samson, Sennheiser, RØDE, Zoom and other manufacturers, to date I have never received a single one from Shure. I voluntarily purchased the Shure 545 palindromic microphone I reviewed in 2016, as I did with the A81WS and A7WS. There must be some unusual email communication block between me and Shure. If anyone from Shure wants to attempt to break through the email barrier, here is the link.

 

(Re-)Subscribe for upcoming articles, reviews, radio shows, books and seminars/webinars

 

Stand by for upcoming articles, reviews, books and courses. Sign up to my free mailing list by clicking here. If you previously subscribed to my bulletins and no longer receive them, you must re-subscribe due to new compliance to GDPR. Most of my current books are at books.AllanTepper.com, and my personal website is AllanTepper.com. Also visit radio.AllanTepper.com.

Si deseas suscribirte (o volver a suscribirte) a mi lista en castellano, visita aquí. Si prefieres, puedes suscribirte a ambas listas (castellano e inglés).

Suscribe to my BeyondPodcasting show in English or CapicúaFM en castellano.

FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units, except Shure to date. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.

Copyright and use of this article

The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalitionmagazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!

Il CES torna a Las Vegas, dal vivo, per l’edizione 2022 

Gli organizzatori del CES confidano in un ritorno alla normalità entro la fine dell’anno, e quindi in una edizione 2022 ‘in presenza’, dal 5 all’8 gennaio

Non c’è bisogno di presentare  ai lettori di Tutto Digitale il Consumer Electronics Show, per gli amici CES, massimo appuntamento mondiale dedicato all’hi-tech. Nata nel lontano 1967 a New York, la rassegna è di effettivo respiro planetario, ed è stata capace di crescere nel corso degli anni fino ad essere capace di indirizzare il mercato.

Dopo l’edizione virtuale dello scorso anno, caratterizzata comunque da un notevole successo, per il 2022 è prevista la realizzazione di una manifestazione “in presenza”, anche se verrà mantenuta la possibilità di seguire l’evento online.

Al proposito, la Consumer Technology Association (CTA), che organizza la rassegna ha annunciato che il CES 2022 tornerà a Las Vegas il prossimo anno, dal 5 all’8 gennaio 2022; al momento è prevista la partecipazione di circa 1000 aziende, ma il numero è destinato a crescere…

https://www.ces.tech/

L’articolo Il CES torna a Las Vegas, dal vivo, per l’edizione 2022  sembra essere il primo su Tutto Digitale.

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen

Here is my detailed review of the ≈US$200 Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with the ≈US$20 Shure A7WS windscreen. In all of my history of reviewing microphones, this is the first time when more than a year has passed between the product’s announcement and its initial delivery. Samson first announced the Q9U at CES in January 2020. That’s the same month when I published my first look article about it. Ironically, I actually published reviews of two other Samson microphones between then and now: the Samson Q9U and the Samson Satellite. Now I finally get to review the Samson Q9U. As I did in 2019 with the Samson Q2U and Q8X, I’m doing it with a third-party windscreen, although not the A81WS windscreen I used those two times, since the A81WS would never fit the Q9U. This time it’s the A7WS, which is actually a third lower in price than the A81WS. Ahead are my observations, screenshots, photos and audio recordings made with this interesting combination, both via XLR and USB.

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 14
Photo I took of the Samson Q9U on the PL-2T boom with A7WS windscreen, using the Moto G Power (2020) Android phone, known as Moto G8 Power outside of the United States.

 

Multiplatform compatibility

As stated earlier, the Q9U has an XLR output and a USB-C. As a dynamic mic, the Q9U does not require any external power to be used with the XLR output. With the USB-C connection, Samson officially offers the Q9U to be compatible with iOS, macOS and Windows. All of my published test recordings you’ll hear ahead are made with a laptop running macOS Catalina 10.15. This applies to both the XLR recordings and the USB recordings. I also tested the Q9U with my current Chromebook and with my Android phone. Fortunately, the Q9U was properly recognized and made proper 48 kHz recordings in both the Chromebook and in the Android phone. I don’t know why Samson does not flaunt these important virtues.

 

Published specifications

  • Element Type: Dynamic
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz–20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Electromagnetic Hum Sensitivity (no weighting)
    • 60 Hz: 24 dBSPL/mOe
    • 500 Hz: 24 dBSPL/mOe
    • 1 kHz: 27 dBSPL/mOe
  • Impedance: 250Ω
  • Sensitivity XLR:  -57 dBV/Pa (1 kHz)
  • Sensitivity USB:  -16 dBFS/Pa (0 dB gain, 1 kHz)
  • Max. SPL: >140 dBSPL
  • Bit Depth/Sample Rate: 24-bit, up to 96 kHz (including 48 kHz, see details ahead)
  • Digital Output: USB-C
  • Headphone Output/Impedance: 3.5mm (⅛”) / 32Ω (usable only when connected via USB)
  • Headphone Power Output: 38mW @ 32Ω
  • Controls: Mute Switch (see details ahead), Low Cut Filter Switch, Mid Presence Boost Switch
  • Body Construction / Grille: Zinc Alloy / Steel
  • Accessories: 2m USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C female to USB-A adapter, foam windscreen
  • Microphone Dimensions: 178.5 mm x 60mm (diameter) (7″ x 2.4″)
  • Weight: 0.97 kg (2.13 lb)

 

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 15
Photo courtesy of Samson

 

 

Available sampling rates and resolutions (USB mode)

I am happy with the variety of sampling rates and resolutions available in the Q9U, although I only tested using our standard 48 kHz/24-bit (see Enter the 48 kHz alliance).

The Q9U can sample to 96 kHz/ 24-bit. (96 is exactly 48×2.) I could only justify recording such a high sampling frequency for vocal recordings if you plan to use slow motion as you edit your audio recordings (or audio/video recordings). In addition to our standard 48 kHz and the whopping 96 khz, the Q9U also offers 44.1 kHz (which I would never use for the reasons stated in Enter the 48 kHz Alliance).

As I have covered in prior articles, to set your audio sampling on Android or iOS, simply select it in any of the recording apps that offer such an audio sampling selection (i.e. Auphonic, FiLMiC Pro, FV-5 Cinema) or use an app that uses 48 kHz exclusively, like the RØDE Reporter app. (Stay away from the native camera app or GarageBand, which only support 44.1 kHz, which is kryptonite for video production.)

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 16

On macOS, first select in the Audio MIDI Setup (illustrated above) and then in your desired recording app,

 

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 17

 

which must not be GarageBand. See my 2015 article 48 reasons why GarageBand is kryptonite for video production (illustrated above).

 

Bulletproof and strong latency-free monitoring (USB mode only)

The Q9U’s 3.5 mm jack for monitoring is designed to be used with either TRS stereo headphones… and even works properly with TRRS headphones with a microphone included. The Q9U is fortunately designed to ignore the microphone on a TRRS headset, if present, while outputting the latency-free audio.

 

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 18

I call it bulletproof since it solves the issue discussed in my 2015 article TS/TRS/TRRS/TRRRS: Combating the misconnection epidemic (illustrated above).

The same 3.5 mm jack also works just as well for playback monitoring (or listening to a remote guest or panelist), as long as your app and system are set to send audio playback to the Q9U. Unlike some other devices I have tested recently (which have a much weaker headphone amplifier), using my favorite CB-1 isolating headphones (which are rated at 32 ohms, reviewed here), the output level in my headphones fortunately was great even at about 60% when recording at -12 dB and setting the headphones. Since the headphone amplifier in the Q9U has headroom, even the popular Sony MDR-7506 headphone (which is rated at 63 ohms) should be fine. If you have extremely high-impedance headphones (I don’t), it may be a bit soft.

 

Mounting and shock sensitivity

The Q9U mounts via a ⅝” thread and that’s how I easily mounted it onto my PL-2T flexible arm. The official Q9 manual states:

 

“An internal air-pneumatic shock mount isolates the capsule from mechanical noise…”

 

However, as you’ll hear in my test recordings ahead, this seems to be an exaggeration. As a result, care should be taken to avoid touching the table, desk or boom arm while broadcasting or recording with the Q9U unless a compatible shockmount is added, assuming you can find one. If you do find one, it may make the use of the mute button (covered ahead) more difficult or impossible.

 

Built-in mute button (both USB and XLR modes)

The built-in mute button on the Q9U fortunately works well both with the USB and XLR modes. However, the user must be careful to avoid tapping on the microphone when pressing the button. The transition from unmuted to muted (and back) can be very clean if that is taken into consideration, as you’ll hear in my test recordings.

 

Rear connections and settings

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 19
Diagram courtesy of Samson

5—Low Cut – When engaged, this slide switch will cut low frequencies by 3dB at 200Hz.

 

6—Mid – When this slide switch is engaged, you will hear a boosted midrange presence in your audio signal.

 

7—XLR – Male XLR connector used to send an analog output signal to a mixer or other input device that accepts mic level signal.

 

8—Headphone Output – Zero latency monitoring from 3.5mm (1/8”) headphone output jack (as described in detail earlier).

 

9—USB Connection – C size USB connector (as described in detail earlier).

 

How the Q9U introduces itself to the system (via USB)

Like a few other USB microphones I have tested previously, the Q9U always introduces itself to the system as a single channel (“mono”). I like this, because it saves a step when recording in a multitrack audio recording app (aka DAW) like Hindenburg Journalist Pro, which continues to be my favorite multitrack editing program for conventional computers (macOS and Windows) and I have reviewed or covered it in many past articles. Because the Q9U presents itself this way, we can  save drive space and bandwidth when uploading a file without having to make a special adjustment in the recording app.

 

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 20

Above you’ll see how to do that in Hindenburg Journalist Pro. On the far left of this track, I selected the Samson Q9U. Because it is already a mono/single channel, no other options appear for this source. (With USB mics that present themselves as “stereo”, you’ll have to select either Left or Right to achieve that efficiency.)  In case you are wondering, Hindenburg Journalist Pro automatically treats signals made this way as centered if exported or published in stereo. 

There are no potentiometers on the Q9U, so even in USB mode, all level adjustments are to be made on the connected host device.

 

Why I prefer the A7WS windscreen than the included one with the Q9U

Even though the Samson Q9U comes with a windscreen which is much better than the one that comes with the lower-priced Samson Q2U microphone (which I reviewed in 2019), it’s still not perfect with preventing plosives.

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 21
Above photo of the A7WS windscreen/pop filter/breath filter, courtesy of Shure.

 

That’s why I am using the Shure A7WS windscreen (shown above and in the main image of this article) instead of the Samson Q9U’s included windscreen. The Shure A7WS is not the same as the Shure “presidential” A81WS I used with the headless Q2U and several other microphones. Instead, the A7WS has a much larger diameter and is the larger of the two windscreens that come with US$399 Shure SM7B and is fortunately also sold as an accessory for only about US$20 as opposed to the approximately US$30 for the A81WS. In addition to being much more resistant to plosives than the included windscreen that comes with the Q9U, the A7WS is also much better at reducing excessive breath sounds compared with the included Samson windscreen. If we’re going to use the Q9U at the ideal distance, then using it with the A7WS is the only way I’d want to do it. I know that some people (especially in videos) have the Q9U much further away, but that’s not the ideal position for the best sound. So using the Q9U with the A7WS instead of the included Samson windscreen is the absolute best way to use it, in my opinion. Whether you are using the Q9U for live broadcasting or pre-recording for a later edit, it’s better to make the breathing sound natural directly from the microphone, rather than having to attenuate it later, if you even have time to do that.

 

Test recordings (separate XLR and USB)

All below recordings are uncompressed 48 kHz WAV. Use Ethernet, wifi or unmetered data.

 


Above, XLR via RØDECaster Pro, flat unless otherwise stated in short sections, with normalization from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

 

Above, XLR via RØDECaster Pro, flat unless otherwise stated in short sections, with mild noise reduction and normalization from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

 

Above, USB flat, with normalization from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

 

Above, USB with mild noise reduction and normalization from Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

 

RATINGS

Looks and build quality

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

 

Connectivity via XLR

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

 

Connectivity via USB for standard computers

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

 

Connectivity for for mobile devices (USB mode)

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

 

Zero-latency monitoring (USB mode)

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

 

Sound quality

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 22

(in its price range, using the aforementioned windscreen/pop filter/breath filter)

 

Shock resistance

Review: Samson Q9U studio dynamic hybrid mic with A7WS windscreen 28

 

Conclusions

The Samson Q9U has great looks, sound quality and universal compatibility via XLR and USB-C. In fact, the Q9U surpasses the manufacturers offering, since it even works perfectly with Android and Chromebook. The Q9U is even better when using my recommended windscreen/pop filter/breath filter. While we find a compatible external shock mount, the only precaution is to have special care to avoid tapping the desk, table or boom arm while broadcasting or recording.

 

(Re-)Subscribe for upcoming articles, reviews, radio shows, books and seminars/webinars

Stand by for upcoming articles, reviews, books and courses. Sign up to my free mailing list by clicking here. If you previously subscribed to my bulletins and no longer receive them, you must re-subscribe due to new compliance to GDPR. Most of my current books are at books.AllanTepper.com, and my personal website is AllanTepper.com. Also visit radio.AllanTepper.com.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units, including Samson. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.

Copyright and use of this article

The articles contained in the TecnoTur channel in ProVideo Coalitionmagazine are copyright Allan Tépper/TecnoTur LLC, except where otherwise attributed. Unauthorized use is prohibited without prior approval, except for short quotes which link back to this page, which are encouraged!

Hollyland announces Lark 15 Solo Kit wireless lav mic for budget shooters who only need one mic

Hollyland’s Lark 150 dual wireless microphone kit has been quite popular since its release a few months ago. The original kit contains two transmitters and a single receiver that runs on 2.4Ghz wireless frequencies. A lot of users didn’t want to have to pay for a kit containing a pair of microphones, though when they […]

The post Hollyland announces Lark 15 Solo Kit wireless lav mic for budget shooters who only need one mic appeared first on DIY Photography.

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro

Our unstoppable friends from Australia seem to innovate 24×7. RØDE just released a simple yet extremely powerful software program for macOS or Windows. The free RØDE Connect software accepts up to four local USB mics. RØDE Connect offers activating compression, gating, aural exciter and more for each mic input. RØDE Connect records 48 kHz audio locally, either stereo or multitrack. RØDE Connect works seamlessly with our favorite remote audio connectivity platform Cleanfeed or with popular conferencing platforms like Discord, Hangouts, Meet, Skype, Teams or Zoom.us.  RØDE Connect lets you play pre-recorded audio clips from any other app, i.e. openings, closing, commercial spots and stingers. In addition to recording, RØDE Connect can also broadcast live. The only catch is that the local USB mics must be the RØDE NT-USB Mini, the same one that I reviewed in July 2020. Why only the RØDE NT-USB Mini microphones? Because they are the only current microphones that have a previously top-secret built-in Aphex chip that handles the compression, gating, aural exciter and Big Bottom effect. Ahead, I’ll explain all of the separate pieces of software RØDE Connect replaces while it simplifies setup and operation. Consider this to be a hands off review, with my opinions.

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 5

RØDE Connect replaces several pieces of software while it simplifies setup and operation

The free RØDE Connect replaces several pieces of software and is capable of 48 kHz audio sampling at 24-bit:

  • RØDE Connect replaces an audio mixer app with mute, gating, compression and more for each mic input.
  • RØDE Connect replaces a multitrack audio recording app.
  • RØDE Connect replaces a third-party app that creates a virtual destination to be fed by other apps (i.e. Sound Siphon).
  • RØDE Connect replaces a third-party app that creates a virtual source which appears to be a physical audio output for other devices to attach (Sound Siphon).

The RØDE Connect virtual devices work with services like Cleanfeed (Pro) for pristine remote audio with studio quality… or with popular conferencing platforms like Discord, Hangouts, Meet, Skype, Teams or Zoom.us. In all those cases, RØDE Connect has mix-minus so your guests or remote co-hosts will hear everything they are supposed to hear, but will not hear any echo of themselves coming back from the Internet.

RØDE Connect also assures that each local panelist will hear the program output with their own mix minus too, via the isolating headphones or earbuds connected to each RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone. As a result, each local panelist’s headphones will hear program audio (including any remote guests, the other local panelists, sound effects or stingers). In addition, each headphone plugged into a RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone will also hear its own microphone, latency free (without delay or echo) since that has always been a feature of the RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone. This unique combination of the RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone and the RØDE Connect solves a typical monitoring challenge problem when multiple USB microphones are connected.

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 6

Rather than purchasing and configuring several third party apps independently, with RØDE Connect, you download one free app that does everything you need for audio routing, recording and (if you want to broadcast live) feeding your streaming service. You just have to set each app or service to use the virtual inputs and outputs provided by RØDE Connect.

Who should use (or consider to use) RØDE Connect?

If you don’t already own a RØDECaster Pro and at least one microphone for it, the RØDE Connect proposal is quite compelling. Assuming you already own a macOS or Windows computer, the only things you may need to purchase will be:

  • One or more RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone(s) for you and your local panelists.
  • One WS2 windscreen per microphone. (As explained in my RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone review from June 2020, it sounds great when addressed closely, but really requires the WS2 windscreen to prevent plosives.)
  • Isolating headphones or earbuds for each RØDE NT-USB Mini microphone.
  • To avoid bending down, a taller desk stand or flexible boom.

What is different compared with a RØDECaster Pro system?

In addition to saving at least US$599, what other differences are there between a RØDECaster Pro system and a RØDE Connect system?

 

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 7
Photo of the RØDE NT-USB Mini with optional WS2 windscreen/pop filter and optional taller stand than the included one.
  • A RØDECaster Pro has virtual carts (sound pads) with physical buttons to play pre-recorded openings, closings, sound effects and stingers. With a RØDE Connect system, you can use any audio you’d like to play these things. if there will be many different clips, you might consider a professional app like Farrago (US$49).

 

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 8
Above, a photo of a took of the RØDECaster Pro to accompany the article RØDECaster Pro: How to connect it to unbalanced audio monitors.
  • A RØDECaster Pro has physical sliders and mute buttons, while RØDE Connect only has them on screen.
  • To facilitate taking conventional phone calls, RØDECaster Pro has two connections to smartphones: one via wireless Bluetooth and the other via TRRS. However, this can be accomplished in your computer with a Skype phone number, a Google Voice number or similar services piped into RØDE Connect.
  • A RØDECaster Pro allows the freedom to use virtually any microphone(s) with analog output you may already own or prefer. The RØDE Connect system currently gives you only one microphone option: the RØDE NT-USB Mini. For those who really prefer dynamic microphones instead of condenser microphones, RØDE might eventually offer a new dynamic USB microphone that could be compatible with the RØDE Connect software. On the other hand, RØDE might also offer an interface that might accept any XLR mic and be compatible with RØDE Connect. RØDE already offers the RØDE AI–1 which I reviewed in 2018.

Regarding cabling, remember that if you are going to connect four (4) RØDE NT-USB Mini microphones to your computer, that will mean you’ll need four USB ports to the computer, not counting any other USB device you may be connecting, i.e. an external keyboard, external pointing device device (i.e. Apple Magic Trackpad 2, reviewed here). Therefore, you may need a USB hub to connect them all.

New, optional accessories released for your use with the RØDE Connect program and RØDE NT-USB Mini mics

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 9

  • COLORS to mark each microphone and cable (illustrated above).
  • New USB cables

 

 

What I would like RØDE to improve in a future update of RØDE Connect

  1. Currently, RØDE Connect exports either uncompressed WAV (for further production and editing) or the archaic MP3 format (for final distribution). For those who are unaware, the archaic MP3 códec was superseded back in 1997 (24 years ago as of publication time of this article) by a much more efficient códec called AAC. With AAC (and especially its latest version, AAC-HE) we can get much higher quality at lower bit rates than MP3. Despite a popular myth, none of the A letters in the AAC acronym stands for Apple, and Apple did not invent or have exclusive rights to AAC. The AAC acronym stands for Advanced Audio Códec and AAC files work fine on players on Android, Blackberry, iOS, iPad OS and Windows. (In fact, AAC is the exclusive audio códec inside of the H.264 video códec.) All of my audio podcasts and all of my clients’ podcasts are currently distributed using the superior AAC códec, no longer with the archaic MP3. I completely understand if RØDE wants to retain the option of MP3 export for those few archaic platforms (including some archaic ad-insertion systems), but RØDE should also include the option to export AAC-HE at 48 kHz. That is the way we have been doing it for years and have verified its compatibility with 19 different players on multiple platforms. With AAC-HE, we get the benefit of faster uploading times and less space on our servers. Our listeners get the benefit of higher quality audio with faster downloads and less space occupied on their devices. RØDE, please add this option. This is covered in more detail in my CombinedHosting.com FAQ section (part of TecnoTur), where leading podcasters host the whole package: website, media files and RSS feed using their own domain, not ours or anyone else’s.
  2. I am grateful that RØDE Connect can display its user interface in different languages, including Castilian (castellano), the language of my award-winning CapicúaFM show and many of my published books. However, RØDE has sadly fallen into the trap of calling the language “Spanish” (“español”) as you’ll see in the screenshot below. RØDE Please fix the Language menu to display the proper name of the Castilian language: castellano. There are currently six (6) official languages in Spain, and all of them are Spanish languages (in plural). These six (6) Spanish languages are protected by Article 3 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, by the respective constitutions of five other countries and by Federal law in Chile. By inaccurately naming the language as “Español”, RØDE is acting as an accessory after the fact to the linguicide (linguistic genocide) crimes attempted in the 20th century, and is even breaking the law in at least seven (7) countries where the Castilian language is protected by local legislation. For more details, please see my book The Castilian Conspiracy, which is the English adaptation. The original is available in Castilian as La conspiración del castellano.

RØDE Connect software is almost a free RØDECaster Pro 10

Conclusions so far

I am delighted that RØDE continues to innovate. RØDE Connect is the latest example. RØDE Connect has greatly simplified what previously took multiple apps to achieve.  RØDE Connect has also solved a tough monitoring challenge when multiple USB mics are used in a single location. I only hope that RØDE will add export in AAC-HE at 48 kHz and also fix the language menu to indicate the proper expression of the language of Cervantes, Castilian (castellano) as indicated in detail in the article and in further detail in my books. For more information or to download RØDE Connect free for macOS or Windows, click here.

See my many prior articles about the RØDECaster Pro here.

Image credits

Many of the images in this article are courtesy of RØDE.

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FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units, including RØDE. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.

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