The Best Podcast Gear of the Year – Core Studio Edition

New Media Gear

The Best Podcast and New Media Gear of the Year.

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In the spirit of the coming year, I wanted to compile a “who’s who” list of core studio gear.

Join Laura and I, for a glimpse at the foundation components of a New Media broadcast studio.

Let’s take a look back and forward at the gear that will allow more people to become broadcasters than ever before…


Radio Consoles

Listed below, are true Radio Consoles for your studio. You won’t find EQ or pan controls here. These are industrial strength workhorses based on decades of radio workflow.

Best Radio Console Buy – Broadcast Tools knows broadcasting. The ProMix12 is a true radio console at an unbeatable price. You won’t find chrome trim or fancy colors, but you will get broadcast quality and functionality. The ProMix12 is all about bringing multi-thousand dollar performance to a sub-$800 package.
$799.00 (average street price at publish date)

New Retro Radio Console – You don’t have to remember the Gates Statesman to appreciate round “pots” instead of faders. The SixMix by Henry Engineering mixes (pun intended) the best of old and new in a professional USB radio console. Check out the SixMix from Henry Engineering. The SixMix is all business. Under the hood is a true console at a high-end “mixer” price.
$1000.00 (average street price at publish date)


Vocal Strips

Vocal processors include a mic pre-amp, dynamic control (compression), filtering, voice EQ, and gating to give your voice presence and consistency.

Best of the Best – After trying quite a few, I knew that the Aphex 230 had the ‘sound’ I was searching for. A good vocal strip does a lot of things at once, and I can’t find anyone that does it better than Aphex.
$799.00 (average street price at publish date)

LegendThe Symetrix 528e is an excellent vocal strip. The 528e is a little more transparent than the 230. It has been around for decades and continues to be a strong player.
$499.00 (average street price at publish date)

Bargain – You won’t find a better value than the dbx 286a. This strip has proved itself over the years with classic dbx dependability and a price that is hard to beat.
$209.95 (average street price at publish date)


PC Software

Most of us utilize the power and convenience of our computers to capture audio. Here are a few software staples for capturing and manipulating pro audio.

ProSound Forge is THE stereo/mono recorder for the PC platform. Although multi-track is possible (with a multi-track interface), the real strength of Sony Sound Forge is its solid, professional recording and no-nonsense plug-ins. Sound Forge always gets the job done.
$299 (average price at publish time)

Multi-Track Staple – Whether you create layered voice overs or need to manipulate dozens of tracks at once, Adobe Audition has been tightened and tweaked into a World-Class recorder/editor. I’m never far away from Audition.
$349 (average price at publish time)

Value – Reliable, responsive, dependable and inexpensive are all words I would use to describe GoldWave. At $45, GoldWave represents a tremendous combination of value and power in a small package.
$45 (price at publish time)


Apples Logic Express and Studio

Multi-Track Intro – You may expect to find Garage Band here, but after looking at standards and features vs. price, the winner was clear to me. Apples Logic Express offers much of the power and multi-track performance/features of Logic Pro at an affordable price.
$199 (average price at publish time)

Multi-Track Studio in a Box – Logic Studio combines the power of Logic Pro, and then adds SoundTrack Pro along with a suite of instruments, effects and loops. Logic Studio is THE answer to Professional multi-track recording using OS X.
$499 (average price at publish time)

MarkJensen and Laura

The Best Podcast Gear of the Year – Mic Edition

New Media Gear

The Best Podcast and New Media Gear of the Year.

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In the spirit of the coming year, I wanted to compile a “who’s who” list of gear.

Professional Audio gear doesn’t change pace every year, or season. This gear isn’t trendy (some of these items have been around for decades), but trends do change. We have seen incredible progress in bringing Pro Gear to the consumer and prosumer in the last several years.

Let’s take a look back and forward at the gear that has made its mark on New Media and allowed more people to become broadcasters than ever before…

USB Microphones
Start with a good quality microphone element and add a digital converter for plug-and-play USB compatability.

USB Mic Trio
[left to right: Rode Podcaster, Audio-Technica 2020USB, Blue Snowflake.]

PRO – It’s hard to pass up the Rode Podcaster. With a nice flat sounding dynamic element and built-in headphone amp, the Podcaster is great for broadcasting.

BEST BUY – What do you get when you add USB to a well respected professional condenser? The Audio-Technica 2020USB.

VALUE – Leave it to Blue Microphones. The SnowFlake is compact, built well and sports Blue style. This is a great general purpose mic for everything from Skype to portable podcasting.

Microphones – Broadcast
These are the workhorses of radio and broadcast, built for reliability and versatility.

Broadcast Trio
[left to right: Rode ProCaster, Electro-Voice RE-20, Heil PR-40.]

PRO – I could see the ProCaster from Rode becoming a broadcast standard. It sounds as good as it looks. An excellent professional dynamic.

LEGEND - The Electro-Voice RE-20 or RE-27 are a staple of many radio stations throughout the country. A classic, tough dynamic.

NEW PRO – Bob Heil is a Rock legend and makes a great microphone. The new broadcasting standard is the PR line from Heil. At the top of the PR line is the PR-40. A rich, deep bass and silky smooth sound that could only come from the “Heil Original” large diaphram dynamic.

Microphones – Studio Recording
Want to capture every nuance in a voice? Maybe you need a mic that can do double duty in a band or instrument recording? These mics require controlled conditions – usually found in recording and project studios.

Recording Mics
[left to right: Neumann TLM-67, Studio Projects B3.]

BEST OF THE BEST – Neumann is THE recording studio standard. I have tried a lot of Neumanns for voice over work and their new TLM-67 brings out every nuance of my voice while maintaining a super-quiet noise floor. It doesn’t get much better.

BARGAIN – Studio Projects has surprised me in the past.
…they did it again with the Studio Projects B3
This is a great sounding studio condenser with stand-out consistency and sound that can compete with with $1000 microphones.


Neumann TLM-67 – A Classic Sound Reborn

New Media Gear

Neumann TLM-67 Set

The Legendary Neumann condenser with that “67 Sound”? The TLM-67 Set.

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Experienced or novice, I don’t have to tell you that there are a lot of professional microphones out there. Many incredible mics have passed through the sound absorbing doors of Studio1A over the years.

There is an ever increasing lot of USB mics, dynamics for the field, small electrets and shotguns for video …even re-releases of classic velocity microphones.

Neumann is a name that brings to mind quality, consistency and history. The Neumann logo has faced almost every major singer and voice actor that would visit a sound studio. If we condense the vast and various lines of microphones offered by Neumann down to a few of the current studio voice workhorses, we are left with models like the U87, the TLM-103 and the TLM-49. The BCM 104 and BCM 705 are tailored for broadcast and the brilliant KMS-150, used on stage by one of my favorite singers. These are all World Class microphones and just a sampling of the current lineup.

If we look at, not just the hits, but a few of the time-honored Neumanns of yesteryear, models like the U47/U48, the KM series and the U67. Finally the TLM-170 come into focus. Condensed even further, I would pick the U47, U67 and U87 as my own favorites for voice. Of course, there are many others depending on how old you are and what field you work in. Georg Neumann and his company is steeped in rich History, which is beyond the scope of this cast, but only a search away.

To over simplify things, and focus on current mics, keep in mind that the Neumann TLM models are “TransformerLess Microphones”. Perhaps, one of the most famous Neumann mics of present day is the U87, based on current transistor technology, replacing tube circuitry. If you prefer tube excitation, the current “M” models remain quite popular today.

In going forward, we must rewind, just a bit from the current day U87 (several different U87 models were produced) to its older brother, the U67. The U67 was actually an “improved” model of the (now highly sought after) U47.

If I could characterize and compress (pun intended) decades of History and dozens of models, I would say that the U47 and U67 had a “sound”. They had a unique sonic signature that was, and is, sought after. Some say the U67 softened the U47?

Fast forward to 2008. The U87 remains the “do it all” studio microphone.
…a highly respected centerpiece for almost any studio
Just a few of the duties the U87 can perform include spoken word announcing, micing instruments, along with radio/television/film voiceovers. The U87 is a favorite for many singers.

Throughout all of this, I had used many, but owned few Neumanns. Of course, with quality and precision comes a price.

When first hearing about the TLM-67, I was absolutely floored. I fell in love with the U47, but it can be difficult to find, and much harder to find without taking out a substantial loan.

Even though I’ve used vintage U47’s, the U67 is a model I have not.

When the TLM-67 became available, it wasn’t long before one was on the way to Studio1A. The white, double boxed TLM-67 Set, with a large Neumann logo and hand written serial number told the story. Something special was inside. A shock mount, a very nice foam filter, Neutrik connected cable and a beautiful rosewood colored wooden box make up the set.

The nickel colored body of the mic carries the famous red Neumann logo. Just above, commemorating 80 years, is the coin-sized bust of Georg Neumann, with simple lettering that reads “Neumann.Berlin, Since 1928″.

The TLM-67 is not a copy of the U67. Features include a pre-attenuator, along with multiple pickup patterns, both switch selectable.

For me, the TLM-67 offers sound that I have never heard articulated in the voice, with exceptional range and clarity. I won’t pretend to offer an explanation of the sound. It is simply captivating.

If you create voice work, in a reasonably quiet environment (and use a quality pre-amp), the TLM-67 has no equal. That is just my opinion. I was pleasantly surprised with the amazing detail and clarity, while not being overly sensitive. I didn’t need an iso-booth to work the TLM-67. The pre-attenuator is very handy.

The question remains. Why use a TLM-67 on a Podcast? I’m not sure if Podcasting is the foremost application for the TLM-67. I do see the TLM-67 as king of the spoken word. Perhaps you are a voice talent, a studio owner or want to capture every detail of an acoustic guitar.

Podcasting? Why not? I do like compression and we also use the MP3 format at a relatively standard low bitrate (to keep file sizes reasonable). Even so, I find the sound of the TLM-67 sneaks through. It just sounds “right” to me.

In the end, it’s always a balance of application, budget and personal preferences. Podcasting, studio vocals, dialogue replacement, voiceovers, or helping capture the nuance of an orchestral instrument. …perhaps the TLM-67 is also a chameleon?

For a Neumann of this caliber, I was actually surprised at the accommodating price. The TLM-67 embodies a unique character, based on a classic but with a sound of its own, that is nothing short of magic.

Street Price at Publish Time: $2299.00

MarkJensen and Laura