Heil PR-781 Microphone

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The Heil PR-781 dynamic microphone.

An unlikely combination of professional components and construction, with design criteria for amateur radio make a very interesting sound.

The Heil PR-781 is a hidden gem for studio production, voiceovers and Podcasting/New Media. At record time, the 781 is available for a little more than half the price of a PR-40. It certainly isn’t a replacement for the PR-40, but it’s a great general purpose dynamic.

The high end is not as crisp (nor was it designed to be) as the 40, but it compares quite well with other sub-$200 broadcast mics. The 781 is a no-frills performer. Included is a standard boom/stand mount. Physically, the 781 is a little shorter than the 30 and 40 with its unique ‘bottle’ shape.

At a time when budgets are tight, the 781 stands out as an excellent value.

Have a look and listen to the Heil PR-781!

PR-781 street price at post time – $179

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

Sig

Studio1A, Podcast History and the Heil PR-40

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A Podcast legend, the Heil PR-40 large diaphragm dynamic microphone is also a great broadcast and voiceover mic.

Was it just by chance, or was the PR-40 destined to become possibly the most revered microphone of Podcasting? Bob Heil, (with input from Joe Walsh) designed the PR-40 as the ultimate on-air broadcast microphone.

Long, long ago (mid-2005), Podcasting appeared to jump from obscurity to mainstream overnight. There is much debate about when Podcasting was born or who actually fathered the name and technology. That is a debate I’ll leave to others.

For Studio1A, Podcasting became a phenomenon when Apple* first recognized Podcasting as a category in iTunes*. I think it was version 4.9.

Podcasters were, and continue to be a close knit group of people. At the first Podcast Expo, most people knew each other and their show. Monetizing a Podcast didn’t seem to be nearly as important as getting behind a microphone and getting your message out to the world. It was an exciting time and I’ll never forget that camaraderie. Early Podcasts were created mostly by highly technical people. Many of these early explorers were text bloggers or otherwise steeped in the technology of the internet. However, there was a problem.

Many of the very early shows suffered from poor audio. You name it – everything from low audio, distortion, low quality, over-editing …and the list goes on. I remember turning the volume up to hear a host and (quickly) turning it down to hear the co-host. PodSqod wasn’t immune to some of this as we found our footing creating a regular ‘show’. I’m a radio guy. Most of my reads were (and continue to be) dry. Putting together a Podcast was a new concept. There was show-prep, adding Laura to the mix and offering a start-to-finish audio program without News breaks, time checks, music intros or a Producer. It was the same and it was very different at the same time. Professional audio gear was getting infinitely cheaper, but still a pricey for the good stuff.

I still remember brainstorming with Laura about the theme of our show. I was ready to launch a Tech Newscast. Laura suggested I create an audio based show and PodSqod was born. How cool was it to actually let people hear what a microphone sounds like, instead of saying it sounds ‘dark’ or ‘light with a mid-range punch’. It still seems strange to describe sound …which is such a subjective preference.

It was right about this time that the Heil PR-40 started gaining critical ground. The word among Podcasters traveled quickly. The PR-40 was the mic to heard on.

The Podcasting landscape has changed. More accurately, technology continues to evolve. Podcasting is now utilized by most medium to large sized companies in some form. Call it Podcasting, New Media, Netcasting, RSS, Rich Media or On-Demand – the entire world of media has not been the same since Podcasting became famous.

Back to the Heil PR-40. Everywhere, we could hear and feel the buzz of this microphone as a few Podcasting celebrities became fond of that rich dynamic sound. The PR-40 is just one model of many in Bob Heils line of Professional mics. The PR-40 does, however, have one of the largest dynamic elements practical. A big pickup means big sound. The PR-40 is known for its silky smooth low end, the traditional Heil voice articulation ‘bump’ and a nice response curve that doesn’t sacrifice the high end.

The PR-40 is a front address model and it is important to stay on axis. The larger diameter element also adds to its directional, or on-axis characteristics. The huge element can add a lot of proximity effect if you’re a close-talker. I actually like the sound of the PR-40 about 6-8 inches out. That is when the mic seems to come alive and that voice articulation takes off.

Have you tried a PR-40? We’ll put a very special PR-40 ‘on-the-air’ for our next video cast along with an unlikely partner …and let you compare.

*iTunes is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.

Heil PR-40 street price at post time – $325

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…or, drop me a line with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig

Quiet Studio, Noisy World

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AudioTile

Auralex AudioTile helps dampen room noise by absorbing direct and reflected audio.

Notebook Cooler

The Aeolus USB powered Notebook Cooler helps keep your laptop cool & quiet.

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Electrically, and acoustically the world is a very noisy place. Whether you record musical instruments, the human voice or other forms of art and communication, noise can be a real problem. The quality of portable recorders and the availability of very high quality microphones only highlight the problem.

Recently, a listener asked me about quiet PC’s. I started thinking about not just PC’s, but different models of Macs as well. Add in ambient factors such as sound absorption, reflections, studio size (even the neighbors lawn mower), microphone type and a myriad of others. They all add to the bottom line of noise problems and the dreaded process of editing out “distractions”.

Join Laura and I for a talk about sound …and the lack of it!

Auralex 24-piece AudioTile kit [street price at record time] – $258

Aeolus Quiet Notebook Cooler [street price at record time] – $40

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mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig

Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone

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The Rode NTG-2 shotgun video microphone.

Whether on the boom or in the field (we will be trying the NTG-2 outdoors too), the Rode NTG series of shotgun microphones offer great value and professional performance.

I tried the middle of the line NTG-2. This mic works with standard 48 volt phantom power as well as offering the option to use a battery if phantom power is not available in the field. …very convenient

We expect quality from Rode and the NTG-2 delivers with solid feel and construction. A simple zipper pouch and basic boom mount is included. You’ll probably want to check out optional mounting, such as the SM3 ‘cold shoe’ that can mount to most pro/prosumer video cameras. Even cooler is the optional ‘Blimp’ and pole.

Of course, shotgun mics are designed to be very directional and the NTG-2 is no exception. A low frequency rolloff switch minimizes handling noise. For the money, it’s hard to beat this one. The (only slightly) lower cost NTG-1 deletes the battery option, but is also shorter and lighter.

If you’re looking for the ultimate in quality and performance in the NTG series, the NTG-3 is available at over double the cost. However, the NTG-2 hits a great compromise of professional performance at a minimal price.

Have a look and listen…

Rode NTG-2 street price at post time – $269

Follow Studio1A on Twitter!

…or, drop me a line with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com

Best,
MarkJensen
Sig