Gear and Cheer

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True – the Holiday show isn’t here [yet], but I like that graphic from years past. We’re deep in the gear. …audio coming soon

It’s that special time of the year again. Laura and I really enjoy the Holiday Season even though there will be no snow to shovel …no ice to scrape off the windshields.

In the States, we just had a great time with Family and Friends celebrating Thanksgiving. Those brave enough, are taking part in ‘Black Friday’ sales at the stores.

BUT… where is the NewMediaGear Annual Holiday Special? Closer than you may think. We are busily working on delivering a peek at the best Holiday gadgetry. As always, the Holiday show is sponsored by our friends at BSW and made possible by many participating companies.

Back to the eggnog and tree trimming (I mean show prep). Laura, of course, will join me for the Holiday Show, in traditional Studio1A audio-only form.

Here at Studio1A, we look forward to having you join us for a festive season and a great launch to 2010.

Talk soon!

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Neumann TLM 102 Microphone

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Amazingly BIG sound from a small mic. The Neumann TLM 102.

Just looking at the smallest Neumann of all is a thrill. The mere size of the box made me wonder where the mic was hiding? Opening the box revealed the smallest large diaphragm condenser I have ever held – with that beautiful Neumann label on front. My TLM 102 is black, but Neumanns trademark nickel finish is also available. Weighing in at a mere 9 ounces, I needed to weigh down the boom or it would fly upward.

The magic of the TLM 102 doesn’t stop at the eye. This minuscule wonder was designed with an emphasis on speech and vocals, making it a new favorite as my general purpose voiceover microphone. Perhaps to make up for it’s small stature, the TLM 102 is a strong little mic, able to handle percussion instruments and amps without flinching.

What makes it work? Traditional Neumann quality is a given. The TLM model prefix tells us this is a transformerless design. Starting with a newly designed large-diaphragm pressure gradient element, the TLM 102 includes an excellent internal blast filter. The element is also cradled by an integral shock absorber. Most notable is where Neumann added an articulation bump – at 6kHz. This would appear to be a bit high for speech, but I can’t argue with the results.

Smooth as molasses with a gentle proximity effect, the TLM 102 ignores what might become plosives in other large condensers. I found a sweet spot only 4 inches away from the very top of the grill.

The real surprise with this quality microphone is the price. As I record, the street price is $699 USD. For a Neumann that doesn’t hold back, that is a true bargain.

Big, mature sound in a small package – that’s the TLM 102.

Have a look and listen!

Neumann TLM 102 Street Price at Post Time: $699

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Sputnik Microphone – by M-Audio

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The versatile and Unique M-Audio Sputnik.

Ear catching name …very different microphone. The M-Audio ‘Avid Certified’ Sputnik has landed on the boom at Studio1A. As you may be thinking right now, this mic has a distinctive name and appearance along with being the focal point for what many have called ‘hype’. I was in that same boat until searching around for other pro opinions as well as trying it out myself.

The Sputnik is aptly named as it’s dressed in bright polished nickel plating with a retro-looking over sized mesh grill for the capsule.

What sets the Sputnik apart from others? The electronics are driven by a 6205M military grade tube. …a mini tube
The size of the vacuum tube allows for a stealthy power supply. 3 patterns are available – each one, giving the mic a unique sound. Omni really opens up the mic and gives it a nice ‘airy’ sound, although very sensitive. The figure 8 works as expected, allowing front and back address. Cardioid is my favorite, since this pattern gives the mic an entirely different, smooth character. An 80hz rolloff and 10db attenuation pad are switchable from the mic body.

The Sputnik comes in an aluminum flight case, well padded and ready for travel.

Almost everything about the Sputnik is a little different, including its sound. The proximity effect is subtle. I used the mic several times for high-quality Skype calls (using the new SILK_V3 codec). Every time, the other party made a comment about my audio.

After using the Sputnik for a few days, I can tell you that this mic is not all hype. …it’s a different mic with a different sound

Have a look and listen!

M-Audio Sputnik Street Price at Post Time: $799

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Shure SM-7B – A Radio Classic

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The Shure SM-7B. A Broadcast Pro.

Only a handfull of microphones can claim to be on-air radio classics. A relative newcomer (in the scheme of things) is the Shure SM-7, introduced in 1976. This mic succeeded the smooth, popular and sometimes physically overbearing SM-5.

True to it’s heritage, the SM-7B houses a modest dynamic element which is protected by steel and foam. Electronics aside, I always attributed the smooth, silky sound of the SM-5 (discontinued) and SM-7 series to the generous amount of foam surrounding the deeply planted element – almost 3 inches away if you actually touch the foam. There is also the ‘low output’ legend of the SM-7 series. It’s true that the SM-7B needs a boost, but not much more any other studio dynamic. Many modern mic preamps are designed around large diaphragm condenser models which are much hotter. Instead of a preamp that struggles with 40db, look for 60db+ of boost for the SM-7. However, don’t confuse power with quality. The SM-7 delivers rich, smooth sound in a busy studio.

A broadcast workhorse, the SM-7 series will hold up to the toughest of broadcast tasks while looking very distinctive. The SM-7B delivers two difference foam windscreens. You’ll also find a potent ‘voice’ boost switch as well as low rolloff.

Join me for a test drive of the classic Shure SM-7B.

Shure SM-7B Street Price at Post Time: $349

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