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Funny how things happen. I had this show ready to post on December 24th. Basically, our Macs are used for video and PC’s for audio. Laura and I recorded this show (and many others) on my trusty Dell XPS laptop, but didn’t post at the studio. It was time to shut down Studio1A for the Holidays, so I’d normalize, tag and post at home. As a precaution – I uploaded the raw WAV file to our off-site server. Always good to backup.
Surprise! I booted up later that evening and ‘POOF’. Well, the laptop didn’t really make any noise, but that’s part of the problem. My M1710 started displaying strange screen patterns – even at POST. It was toast. Of course, that has nothing to do with our show, except for timing …and the sad departure of a good ole’ Core 2 Duo audio partner.
Laura and I had fun talking about some of the stand-out gear of the year. I realized later that a lot of very cool field gear never made it into the categories. This really is a core, popular list of the gear that gets mentioned most in emails and on the channels.
In with the new. A very Happy 2010 from the people at Studio1A!
What makes a good (or great) voiceover microphone? That’s a loaded question.
My personal picks for this, and the other categories are based on my own studio, clients and preferences. A few things I always keep in mind (besides performance) is ambient noise and how the mics will be used. A large diaphragm condenser is great if your studio is well isolated. Otherwise, a dynamic may be the only practical choice.
Surprisingly, the two mics listed below are very forgiving (compared to some) of room noise considering one is a condenser and the other is an electret (form of condenser).
These mics weren’t so much picked by me as they were/are selected by broadcast engineers all over the country. Walk into a broadcast control or production room in the US, and odds are you would see one of the mics below.
BROADCAST VOCAL PROCESSING
Some like real time processing, while others will process in post. For me, a good vocal strip is essential for workflow. There is no right or wrong. However, if you prefer a hardware vocal strip, these are my favorites.
BROADCAST (non RF) FINAL PROCESSING
The idea of a ‘final’ processor, in broadcast radio terms, was originally to protect the transmitter from audio spikes and to stay within FCC guidelines. In addition, a final processor can act as a mechanism to master recordings, control dynamics of Podcasts, streams or any other form of aural medium.
Final processors for radio and television are prohibitively expensive and complex. Amazingly – in the last 5 years or so, much of this high-end processing power is now available to home studio owners. Typical functionality in a final processor may be multi-band compression, leveling, limiting and a myriad of other functions depending on the make and model.
Having said all that, the choices for a home studio final processor are still slim. I almost started to include others, but found only one that is currently under $1000USD and performs quite well. No doubt, prices will lower on other brands and soon there will be more competition. As it stands now, my personal pick is the Finalizer Express from TC Electronics.
Final Processing that Should Cost More! The TC Electronics Finalizer Express.
Audio mixers and consoles. Where to begin? There are almost too many choices out there. Many people (especially in the voiceover field) get along just fine without a mixer. For me, it comes back to habit. I like the feel of a fader and controlling levels with a nice long throw or liquid smooth Gates ‘pot’. Realistically – you could mix in software, or use the input adjustments on your audio interface. Maybe you have a USB or Firewire mixer that doubles as an interface? There are so many options.
First – a mixer and console. What’s the difference? Using my own definition, an audio mixer is designed for music recording. That means you can tailor the channel(s) with a trimmer, EQ or even pan.
A radio, or broadcast console doesn’t allow you EQ or pan audio on the fly. The reason? In a commercial setting, the dynamics and spectral sound is the job of an engineer; not the talent. The on-air personality should be able to adjust levels, assign outputs and select bus assignments, but that’s about it.
In the context of a small, but professional studio, I selected my favorite budget mixer and a few excellent consoles. There is a huge difference between a budget mixer and an on-air console – both in price and functionality.
The 10 Channel Yamaha MG102C-CA. Yamaha Quality on a Budget.
Drop me a line with comments, thoughts and suggestions:
mark at newmediagear dot com
Mark Jensen & Laura