Where’s Dave? …and Hamcation

New Media Gear


Zoom H-2

The infinitely popular Zoom H-2 is turning up everywhere.

On the last NewMediaGear cast, Laura and I were off to one of the largest annual meetings of Amateur Radio operators in the country. From all corners of the USA, and the World, our hobby converged for a few days.

I met, and shook hands with people from all walks of life. Some were old friends while others were new acquaintances.

I talked with Bob Heil, while he was in Orlando, about what is new in both professional and Amateur Radio microphones. Bob had several new models we will be trying out along with an almost endless variety of finishes on current products. The custom camouflage clearcoat, designed for Ted Nugent was my favorite.

Along the way, several people contacted me to meet up and say ‘hi’ while they were in Orlando. Dave is a fascinating person. He is from the New England area. Dave always prefers to drive when he can, meeting new people and experiencing new places along the way. The trip to Florida, for a Family visit, and for Hamcation, was no different. I have only met Dave (in person) one other time, during a presentation I made in the North-East. He constantly writes a personal/family and hobby blog, …chronicles of his World travels to exotic places such as less-traveled parts of the Orient (and Dayton, Ohio). Before starting his trip, Dave set up a simple ‘tracking’ system using GPS beaconing. Connect a GPS to a transmitter and we [Amateur Radio Operators] have a system called APRS that beacons our position to others using a variety of maps and relays. I never really thought much of it, but he sent me a link that showed his position (including speed and altitude) throughout the drive. The technology isn’t new at all, but we could periodically click a browser tab and see a mapped page (called “Where’s Dave”) along with a blip and positioning information. It was very cool to watch his progress, and even know how fast he was going.

I also needed some help from a friend in broadcast television to let me know where the “good” antennas were located. He found ‘em, and I now have 2 new antennas. Laura was thrilled.

At the weekend gathering, I was introduced to other friends. Many people attending are in the aeronautical and defense industries, since we live less than an hour from NASA. I met a guy that works high-level security at large events. Another person coordinates frequencies for sporting events, so we talked about new digital communications technology. Yet another is an expert on public safety reception in the area including frequencies, modes and talk groups that accompany that facet of the hobby.

What an amazing mix of people.

I thought about the close friends Laura and I have cultivated, both new and old. Many (possibly all) of our friends were met via communications, broadcast or New Media.

As we walked around the weekend show, our group used a specialized, low power 900mHz. push-to-talk frequency hopping spread spectrum batch of handheld radios. All of that technology can be bought at your local electronics store for under $100 and used without a license. Your cordless phone likely utilizes the same type of technology for privacy, hopping across a new frequency every tenth of a second, controlled by a unique digital seed number.

Curiously, professional wireless microphones are nothing more than small, but specialized one-way transmitters.

I also spoke with several people about Podcasting and New Media. How does New Media fit into Broadcasting? …or, how does Broadcasting fit into New Media and the communications industry? I noticed several ‘radio’ people had a Zoom H-2 by their side, creating an audio chronicle of the show.

Some of the same microphones we use in Podcasting are used in Amateur and professional radio. Those same microphones may be purchased for a band or live stage event as well. Both professional and Amateur Radio people utilize the same type of microphone booms. Increasingly, high end communications radios are dropping proprietary microphone connectors in favor of XLR’s, so that the broadcast mics hanging from those booms can be utilized on communications gear.

Only if you are a Seinfeld fan, could you appreciate the phrase and meaning of “Worlds Colliding”.
Our World is filled with vehicles of communication. Whether you text or read email on your cell, Podcast, blog, tweet or use Amateur Radio as your “Social Network”, you are tapping into a vast communications network. That doesn’t even touch on Government, professional communications and broadcasting. We’re all conveying information while meeting new, interesting people.

Speaking of people, I have to run because someone from Australia is ringing me on Skype. Headsets are great for Skype. While on the call, I wonder – …where’s Dave? Click.

Drop me a line, any time with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig

Appliances and Computers: Broadcasting and Recording

New Media Gear


Arrakis Xtreme-Complete

For on-air, automation, production and much more, the Arrakis Extreme-Complete.

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I received an email that really made me think about the big picture of what we do. Just what is it we do?

Some would call it recording or production, while others may say podcasting, New Media, broadcasting or netcasting via RSS. To some extent, it’s ‘all of the above’.

In most cases, the term I use to describe this show depends on the person listening. Sometimes I succeed in conveying what I do, but mostly the ‘deer in headlights’ stare tells me I missed. To complicate matters a bit, this show is only part of the Studio1A service menu.

Here in the USA, as we ready ourselves for the transition from analog to digital television, I am reminded of the difficulty involved in conveying technical concepts to those that are interested in the end result. Although I suspect the NewMediaGear audience is more tech savvy than, there are likely many more people interested in the destination and not the trip.

Many times, I am asked why a rack of processing gear is needed when similar results can be obtained in post-production using plug-ins. There are several reasons why I go with hardware as much as possible. First, it fits my goal, which is to broadcast. Like my old air shifts in radio, I enjoy sitting down at the console, voicing a show, and submitting it for audience consumption. It still takes a bit of getting used to the delay factor of Podcasting, but it’s not all that much different. Via my phones, I hear exactly what the processing chain is doing and how to ride the levels, with zero latency.

That’s a big contrast to my “other job”, which involves voicing both dry and produced commercials, voice tracks and other recorded elements. This work is where multi-track/plug-ins and post-production come to play. There is a lot of tweaking, moving around tracks and layering. Sometimes the client wants almost no processing. It’s all about the job at hand.

Having a broadcast and post-production studio certainly helps me to move easily from task to task. I also realize that not everyone has the ability to devote this much space to multiple studios and uses.

The truth is that amazing things can be done with a simple microphone and laptop using software. Most often, the deciding factors will be your budget, time limitations, space and experience.

I haven’t decided if it’s more fun creating content or putting together the tools to create that content. Maybe it’s best that way?

Put your effort where your passion lies. If you’re a software techie, the sky is the limit in what you can create on a modest laptop. If you enjoy rack mounted equipment and the smell of solder, then custom design your masterpiece. Most people I speak with are somewhere in the middle.

In either case, you will want a great microphone to get the most out of whatever connects to the other end. Above all, have fun.

Drop me a line, any time with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig

Aphex 230 – The Sound

New Media Gear


Aphex 230

A look at the ‘rack back’ of Studio1A Aphex 230′s, with Pro XLR connectors supplied by Neutrik*.

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Last time, we took a look at the basics of installing the Aphex 230 Master Voice Channel. Today, let’s chat about how to make it sound great.

Even after using the 230 for years, I still find subtle changes and adjustments that can enhance the experience of the Master Voice Channel.

From the way the tube pre-amp reacts to your mic, the Easy Rider compressor and Logic Assisted Gate, …it’s all about understanding the action and interaction of the individual modules. How about the Big Bottom, Voice Tailored EQ and Aural Exciter?

Join me, and tune in, as I turn the pots and push the buttons of a Studio1A 230.

Drop me a line, any time with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig


*Photo Credit: Bob Garas for Studio1A Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.