Saturday, November 8, 2014

Zoom Q4: 1080p with LCD viewer and 24/96 kHz audio

For $299, I am amazed by this little "toy." I have locked my wallet and credit card in the trunk of my car for the last year to keep the "impulse buy" demons at bay from this sort of technology. The GoPros are also very hard to resist. When I had the chance to get one here to play with, without nicking my credit card, I did. After looking at both GoPro and Zoom, I chose the Zoom for a test ride because of the audio and because of the detachable LCD screen.

This review will be an editorial departure for me in that I'm letting the video do most of the talking. This first "show and tell" video is a tour of the Zoom Q4 features. Blogger doesn't seem to allow text beside videos, so there's more white space than usual.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Neumann TLM 107 - Medium Diaphragm, 5 Patterns, Quiet

Neumann TLM 107
With the U 87 ai, U 89 i and TLM 170 cresting past $3,000 USD, what’s an average guy or gal to do to get a multi-pattern Neumann in the studio? My ears told me that the TLM 107 has more in common with the U 89i than the U 87ai. I've always enjoyed the more natural response of the U 89 i, TLM 170 and TLM 67 mics in Neumann line. Here's my TLM 67 review. 

The TLM 107 is a pin two high, transformerless, five-patterned, medium diameter, studio mic with, high-pass and pad features. The three main patterns are augmented by a wide cardioid and a hypercardioid.

Christopher Currier
According to Sennheiser's Product Specialist, Christopher Currier, "The U-89i and the D-01 are the mics we compare the TLM 107 to in terms of frequency response. It’s not as bright as the U 87 ai or the TLM 103."  

"It’s designed to be a little more linear. The navigation switch is a cool feature. The new grille has been designed to reduce sibilance and popping. The headgrille mesh is new and it's breaking up the high frequencies more than with the TLM 103." 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

ZOOM H5 - Somewhere Between H4 and H6

This may be the longest review I’ve written in some time. No magazine I‘ve ever written for would allow me to put this much information in a review. There's just not enough space available. I felt obliged to cover the many features offered by the Zoom H5. If you begin to lose traction, swim to the edge of the pool and hold on until you get your breath. Then dive back in.

Don’t need six tracks that the Zoom H6 offers? (I know, who doesn’t need more tracks?) Like the idea of real level knobs instead of menu buttons? 

EXH-6 XLR/TRS Input Module
For $269, the Zoom H5 sits between the $229 H4n and $399 H6 and strikes me as a nifty little hand held 4-track recorder that’s capable of doing a number of odd jobs. Let’s see what it can do, and what it can’t. First off, no surprise - no SMPTE.

I was also sent the EXH-6 Dual XLR/TRS input module and SGH-6 Shotgun with furry, but not the MSH-6 Mid/Side mic or any other accessories. The H5 also takes the H6 modules. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Handy Phone Recording Rig Improves Webinar Audio

Sometimes high fidelity takes a back seat to content. In this case, a company that does a webinar series asked for my help in cleaning up and streamlining their audio. I heard their previous webcast and, wow was it bad! Way too much data compression. Intelligibility was suffering. Surely I could do better.

I was asked to record the panelists in different cities in advance of the event, sequence their audio with other voice recordings and create a master .wav file that would be the bulk of the presentation. There would be a live Q&A and a pre-recorded good bye. The webinar would run a little less than an hour. I was also hired to be on site for the show to help the producer.

There are lots of ways to get audio off a phone line. Perhaps the easiest is a phone hybrid and I just happened to have a JK AutoHybrid in my bag of tricks. The phone line plugs into the hybrid and although it has XLR in and out, it has no level adjustments.

Between the hybrid and Pro Tools, I put a Sound Devices MixPre-D so that I could adjust levels as needed. I could have used the MixPre-D's USB out to get into the computer, but chose my RME ADI-8 DS A/D converter. It uses ADAT optical to get into my Digidesign DIGI003R.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Getting US Service on a Neumann U 89 i

Five weeks ago during a session here in my studio, my client's head grazed the suspension mount for my Neumann U 89 i. A minor "bonk" was heard. The U89 i stopped working! My client didn't bang into it, just a slight bump and my favorite mic was gone!

I got the mic in a straight across trade for an RCA 44B ribbon mic over 15 years ago. Neither mic was new at the time. The serial number, C 615, on the Neumann seems to indicate that it has quite a few years on it. After emailing Neumann, I found out that my mic was made in 1980. Because of logos on the box, I do know it was sold by Gotham Audio in NY.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Schoeps V4 - Not what you'd expect from Schoeps!

$3,000 for the Schoeps V4, a cardioid only condenser microphone with no bells or whistles. I'll give you a moment to think about it. Oh, and remember, it's a Schoeps.


OK. That should do it. As you may know, Schoeps doesn't do anything halfway. I expect there was, first, some arm twisting from within the company to even entertain the idea of a vocal studio mic. And why bother to position a small diaphragm design as a Studio Vocal Microphone? 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Countryman B2D Cardioid Lav - Another Useful Tool

Small Size and Multiple Colors
As I continue to shine light on professional audio gear, I hope you'll join me in my search for tools that make the job easier and sound better.

This time I'm talking about a directional lav; the Countryman B2D Cardioid Lav. That's right, a cardioid lav that comes in five different colors. Most lavs are omnis, and as you may know, even omnis are somewhat directional at high frequencies.

You can see that the B2D is a pretty small mic. Not quite as small as a B6, but a lot smaller than you'd expect. The diameter of the diaphragm is inversely proportional to the selfnoise of any mic. That means the smaller the diaphragm, the noisier the mic. If your ambient noise is high enough, it'll mask the hiss of the selfnoise, but if you're in a really quiet environment and don't have something like music to mask the hiss, you'll hear it.

You can use some of the many noise reduction softwares to reduce the hiss. I like iZotope's RX3 Advanced. You may find you get acceptable results with the less expensive non-advanced version.  With any of these, you need to have a keen ear and know when to stop because at some point you can hear the effect of the noise reduction. The audio begins to sound "underwater" or unnatural.

Here's a short video that demonstrates the difference between a Countryman EMW omnidirectional lav and the cardioid B2D. Hear for yourself!
Detachable cables