Friday, March 22nd, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
On the eve of Dynamic Range Day, the tribute/remake of the RUSH classic “Subdivisions” quite ironically came up on my iTunes playlist. I’ve always loved that song. But the remake, despite blistering performances, sounds lifeless and uninspiring. I keep feeling like I need to turn it up, but then it just gets annoyingly loud, and I still can’t hear the drums.
Is it just a problem of the arrangement, or a lousy mix? Well, maybe, but I think there is a more fundamental problem too: not enough dynamic range.
Yes, this is another post about the Loudness Wars!
(Looking to hate on Death Magnetic? Find jaw-dropping comparison audio files right over here in Metallica Wins the Loudness Wars — and by the way, for those wondering “if Metallica ‘won,’ then who lost,” the answer is: “everybody with ears.”)
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
The best mic mod platform in history just died. RIP. (more…)
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
The Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB and AT2005USB are inexpensive dynamic microphones with dual outputs, both analog (XLR) and digital (USB). Both mics impressed me in our recent shootout of dynamic USB mics.
Several readers asked for a direct comparison of these two mics, which differ in price despite sharing specs, capsules, and features.
So, we’ve tested these mics head-to-head, recording both simultaneously. Also we’ve compared the analog and digital outputs to see how well the onboard amplifier and ADC compares to outboard gear.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
You’ve probably seen engineers hang tube condenser microphones upside down. Do you know why they do it?
Maybe it’s just because of old studio photos of Frank Sinatra.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
My preference for dynamic microphones for podcast and broadcast use is well-established; see the Ultimate Podcast Mic Shootout, in which I tested every great dynamic mic the broadcast industry has been loving for 50 years.
Broadcast dynamic mics aren’t necessarily friendly to beginners, though. They tend to have low sensitivity levels, which means they require preamps with a lot of clean gain. That problem was precisely the reason we tested all the leading USB mic pre’s with the Shure SM7B in our Budget USB audio interface shootout. We reasoned that most podcasters can’t afford a high-end analog preamp and separate analog-digital converter, and would benefit from knowing that there are affordable USB audio interfaces that have enough gain to drive a low-output dynamic. (For the record, we made a couple great recommendations in that piece, so if you’re shopping for an inexpensive signal chain for your broadcast dynamic mic, click that link to find our picks.)
Recently, we’ve seen a couple intriguing new podcast mics come on the market: dynamic mics with onboard amplifiers, ADCs, and USB output. This means podcasters can plug these mics directly into their computers and get all the benefits of a dynamic voice mic with none of the hassle of needing a separate preamp and converter.
How do they compare to the industry standards? Let’s find out. (more…)
Monday, February 18th, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
Does your podcasting or voiceover microphone hum? Do you hear a constant, low-pitched rumble, whine, or buzz in your audio tracks?
The problem might not be the microphone. The hum might exist in your room. The mic is just making it obvious.
I recently had a bad hum problem with a particular USB mic. I tried everything I could think of to make the noise go away:
- changed USB cables
- added a ferrite choke to the USB cable
- changed USB ports on the computer
- changed from desktop to laptop
- turned off all the fluorescent lights in the house
- unplugged and reset every connection in the audio chain
- turned off the HVAC and every other appliance that might be causing line noise
None of these made any difference at all.
I tried a different USB mic. The hum was still there! It was less audible, but my spectrum analyzer showed a pronounced spike at 100Hz. Then I tried an analog mic through an external ADC. The 100Hz spike was still there. Clearly the hum was real — not a defective mic, not a bad cable, not some sort of weird USB crosstalk within the computer.
The problem was obvious, once I found it. (more…)
Wednesday, January 30th, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
I don’t usually get too excited about lavalier mics, but I think this one is going to be a big deal. Why? Because it turns your Apple smartphone or tablet into a high-quality voice recording device.
Saturday, January 26th, 2013 | by Adam Kagan
Which sounds better, analog tape or 24-bit digital recording? Los Angeles producer/engineer Adam Kagan set up a session to find out. Listen to solo’d bass, guitar, and piano tracks from session stars Carlos Rodgarman, Grecco Buratto, and Carlitos del Puerto; decide for yourself whether you prefer the pristine sound of digital recording or the “warm” tones of analog tape on electric guitar, bass, and piano. (more…)
Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013 | by matthew mcglynn
This post is almost entirely self-serving. In a nutshell, I’d love to teach you how to take better microphone portraits so that you can send better pictures to me for use here on the RecordingHacks website.
The Mic Database has nearly 1400 microphones in it, with at least one good photograph of each. These days, most vendors publish decent product photos, which we use whenever we can. But there are hundreds of interesting older mics for which no such photos exist. We need photos of all those mics. If you have mics in your collection that aren’t already on this website, please shoot photos and send ‘em in!
But first, read this so your photos won’t suck. (more…)
Sunday, January 20th, 2013 | by Sacha Müller
To say there is a lot of competition in the $250-and-under microphone market is an understatement. Nonetheless, several mics have stood out over time as favorites in this category. One such mic is the Rode NT1A. It’s favored for its affordable price, its sound, classy appearance and stunningly low self-noise level (5dBA!).
A new contender in this category is the sE Electronics X1. Like the NT1A, it also features a fixed Cardioid polar pattern at a competitive price. In this review, I will compare it to the established Rode NT1A. (more…)