Tag Archives: Podcast

Producing the ‘WTF with Marc Maron’ Podcast

Throughout the pandemic, Marc Maron (left) and producer Brendan McDonald have continued to record the WTF podcast in Maron’s garage.
Throughout the pandemic, Marc Maron (left) and producer Brendan McDonald have continued to record the WTF podcast in Maron’s garage.

Los Angeles, CA (June 9, 2021)—When the popular podcast WTF with Marc Maron debuted 11 years ago, the iPhone was only on its third iteration and couldn’t muster downloads larger than 20 MB. That’s an important fact in understanding the evolution of podcasting fidelity from tinny and flangey in the early ’00s, as the podcast’s producer Brendan McDonald describes, to the comparatively crystalline audio available from podcasts today.

“When podcasts were a fairly young medium, there were a lot of data concerns about them from users,” says McDonald, “people with early data plans or devices that did not hold particularly a large amount of data and did not have cloud storage plans yet. So, you had to be very mindful.”

As MP3 compression technology progressed and the show upgraded to a server whose bit rate was 128 Kbps, he found some listeners still preferred the original 22050 Hz mono file, which was 32-bit at a constant 40 Kbps. Those longtime listeners can still find that format on the podcast’s website, while podcatchers and platforms like Spotify get a modern formatted file.

Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast Spotlights Shure SM7

“I was like, if the default setting is [128 Kbps] and I’m compressing down, [then] we’re getting like a VHS copy of a copy here,” he says. “Now we’re using a more standard, almost stereo MP3 style setting of 44.1 stereo, 16-bit and 128 Kbps—which is a much bigger file, but in the style that people are generally listening to podcasts now.”

McDonald has been with WTF with Marc Maron for all 1,200-plus episodes and worked with the host in terrestrial radio in New York and Los Angeles before transitioning to the podcast format. While he can hear improvements in the quality of the show and audio over that time period, the equipment he used to get the show to today has changed very little. Maron, in his home studio, still tracks with a Shure SM7 microphone and a Samson MDR6 tabletop mixer with Garage Band. McDonald edits in Adobe Audition, the latest version of the Cool Edit software he used in the show’s earliest days.

The only measurable changes to the show’s production, in fact, came with COVID-19. Maron and McDonald had to ease off their policy of only taping interviews in person, but maintaining the easy, conversational vibe that comes from conducting face-to-face interviews was a top priority during the upheaval of 2020.

True Crime Sound Design on ‘Anatomy of Murder’

“These interviews, and this show in general, really connect with people because the conversations feel so intimate,” says McDonald. “Marc, over the course of a decade, has gotten very good at that—basically creating an environment for people to feel like they’re comfortable and they can share with him. It doesn’t have a lot of pretense, it doesn’t have a lot of roadblocks to actual conversation, as opposed to feeling like it’s stilted or a list of Q&A. He wanted it to be personal; he wanted it to feel like two people connecting. And so that was really important to us.”

Social distancing protocols meant that videoconferencing became a necessity. For interviews in which the subject has a home recording setup, McDonald is able to get a tape sync recording, but most audio now comes through Zoom with the Audio Hijack extraction tool by Rogue Amoeba added to the mix. In the software’s Voice Chat mode, McDonald can select Skype, Zoom or another videoconferencing platform as the audio source and tweak the audio on the fly while Maron conducts the interview.

“It’s actually brought me back to my early days of live radio production, in that now I can actually sit on the live call with Marc and I can tinker with the sound if I need to,” he says. “It’s been more work in the last year, but we’ve been able to make it work and largely have been very satisfied with the way things have sounded.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

PreSonus Revelator USB Microphone – A Real-World Review

PreSonus’ Revelator USB microphone is aimed at content creators of all kinds.
PreSonus’ Revelator USB microphone is aimed at content creators of all kinds.

The Revelator is PreSonus’s latest venture into USB microphones, touting three different microphone polar patterns—Omni, Cardioid, and Figure 8—as well as onboard DSP, software, accessories and more. We recently used it on The Art of Music Tech Podcast throughout an entire episode as I tried each polar pattern and even featured my co-host Denis performing a song on an acoustic guitar. At $249, it’s meant for podcasting, solo musical performances, livestreaming and more, and it handles those duties well.

The microphone comes with an optional table-top weighted base with a great sleek appearance, but it can also be mounted to a traditional mic stand using an included adaptor. We used that adapter on the podcast so it was easier to record Denis and myself on the couch in our studio.

The Revelator comes with access to PreSonus’ Universal Control software, which can also control other PreSonus products like its StudioLive console and StudioLive RM32 audio interface. It also controls the Revelator’s audio preferences like sample rate (44.1-96 kHz), clock source, input and output format, and Device Mode.

One of Device Mode’s key features is the Multi option, which lets you send audio simultaneously to three different platforms—for instance, YouTube, DAW and Skype. A pop-up software control panel lets users control every aspect of the mic, providing four preset modes that can be tweaked and room for another eight user-definable presets.

PreSonus Unveils MicroStation Bluetooth Monitor Controlle

On the mic itself, those four main preset modes can be changed via a preset button, while both gain and headphone levels can be adjusted via the monitor button and volume knob. If you’re familiar with PreSonus’s StudioLive consoles, this is where you can dig into what they call the Fat Channel settings that control the gain, EQ, limiter, high pass filter, compression, gate and effects.

Revelator’s software mixer simplifies sending dedicated mixes to certain destinations by providing two dedicated channels just for loopback audio on both macOS and Windows. This means users can mix and record the audio from two different applications on a computer along with a voice, all at the same time. Everything that’s tweaked in the Universal Controller can be recorded or heard through the platform being used, whether it’s a DAW, Zoom, Twitch, Skype or something else. This is also useful for musical performers who want to use a preset reverb or delay effect for a livestream.

I recorded our podcast using the Revelator to Logic via my MacBook Pro and the results were great. For podcasting purposes, this microphone can be used for any situation you could possibly run into, whether you’re home and recording a podcast via Zoom, or face-to-face with a guest but with only the one microphone. As an audio professional, I’d stick with having multiple mics, but I would suggest this set up to a beginner that needs a budget-friendly set up. At times in omnidirectional mode, I felt there was a slight delay, but I just needed Denis to get closer to the microphone for the best sound. Overall, I’m very impressed by the Revelator’s flexibility and possibilities for so many content creators.

PreSonus • www.presonus.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

The Cinematic Sound of the ‘Sammy the Bull’ Podcast

 

Former Mafia hitman Salvatore 'Sammy The Bull' Gravano on the set of his podcast, recording through a Shure SM93 lavaliere microphone.
Former Mafia hitman Salvatore ‘Sammy The Bull’ Gravano on the set of his podcast, recording through a Shure SM93 lavaliere microphone.

Phoenix, Arizona (March 25, 2021)—Emmy-award winning sound designer and FX editor Angelo Palazzo has worked on blockbusters such as Disney’s Frozen, Stranger Things and Bridgerton, but he hit the curveball of a lifetime last year when COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. Palazzo was working with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez on another project when the pandemic halted production one Friday afternoon in early 2020; by the following Monday, he was on board with Our Thing with Sammy the Bull, a Mafia podcast that puts his cinematic skills to use in a new format.

Emmy-award winning sound designer and FX editor Angelo Palazzo
Emmy-award winning sound designer and FX editor Angelo Palazzo

“I’m steeped in feature films and the TV world,” says Palazzo, “[and] it’s a real fine line when you’re putting sound to narration. The music is what is emotionally leading you through the story, but the sound design and sound effects root you in the reality of it. I didn’t wanna go too deep, because if you go too deep, then it can get corny.”

Instead of relying on gimmicky, on-the-nose audio cues that closely follow the action of a story—for example, the sound of a door creaking on its hinges when the protagonist walks into a dark room—Palazzo strives to put listeners in a scene without them even noticing.

“If it’s too literal, it can backfire, so when there was a major plot point, I wanted to kinda ease you into it and set you up for the big moment,” he says. “Then, slowly fade that reality out and bring you back in with just the narration with the music. If you’re nuanced about it, before they know it, you’re out of it and there was no distraction.”

Sammy the Bull with Richard Miller
Sammy the Bull (left) with podcast producer Richard Miller, the general manager of the Sammy the Bull organization.

The protagonist of Our Thing with Sammy the Bull is Salvatore Gravano, the notorious mobster whose hit list runs 19 murders deep and who served as underboss of the Gambino crime family under John Gotti.

Palazzo works with Richard Miller, the general manager of the Sammy the Bull organization, to produce each episode of Our Thing with Sammy the Bull. Miller, whose background is in seminar production, records the narration with Gravano on a Shure SM93 lavaliere microphone (Gravano’s preference over typical podcasting models) into a Zoom H6 recorder. Miller says they’ve since moved on to the Shure MX150 lavaliere, which doesn’t pick up as much ambient sound.

After a few rounds of editing in Adobe Audition, the narration tracks and archival sound clips go to Palazzo for placement and mixing with the score, which he composes and records himself using Native Instruments and vintage synths.

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“Most everything starts with a piano idea, and as I get a certain progression or vibe, piano and strings are where I usually start,” says Palazzo. “There’s these moments where there’s a lot of flutes riffing in the background that has a real ’70s vibe to it that I liked. Also, in the beginning, I went with this beat bassline thing with a Fender Rhodes, just to set the city vibe.”

Our Thing with Sammy the BullElements of Palazzo’s original score pop up in various moments throughout the podcast, including a piece he wrote for the finale that is now the signature opening and closing music for each episode of the podcast.

“They wanted a big orchestral thing—a big, sort of swelling finale,” he says. “If someone gives me a reference, I’ll check out the reference and I’ll listen, and as soon as I get into the vibe of it, I’m almost immediately off onto my own tangent. And then it becomes its own thing, which is what happened with that.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Immersive Audio Developer Nomono Hires Cedmer

Peter Cedmer
Peter Cedmer

Oslo, Norway (March 24, 2021)—Nomono, a spatial audio research firm focused on processing spoken word content in podcasts, broadcast and VR/360 video productions, has brought on Peter Cedmer as its vice president of Product Management.

Prior to joining Nomono, Peter served in similar roles at Dirac, and as both chief product officer and chief technology officer at Jays Headphones. He brings experience in the field of connecting signal processing technologies to audio products, with the focus on providing quality sound to end-users.

“To have someone with Peter’s experience join our team at this time is just what we need to help take our research, and build it into compelling tools that will help podcasters, journalists, and other audio content creators tell their stories, while simplifying their workflows,” said chief executive officer, Jonas Rinde, Nomono. “Many years of research and development have led us to this point, and the whole team is energized to start incorporating our findings into the next generation of audio creation tools.”

“This is an exciting time for spatial audio. We’ve seen major manufacturers make noteworthy progress in bringing immersive, interactive audio playback capabilities right into the mobile devices and headphones we use every day,” said Cedmer. “Our mission is to make it easy for audio storytellers to capture and distribute great sounding object-based audio content, while at the same time minimizing bottlenecks on the content creation side.”

Nomono • www.nomono.co

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Podcasting Pros Ready for Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit

podcast panelNew York, NY (March 17, 2021)—A panel of top podcasting professionals will share their insights and knowledge at the upcoming Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit on April 1. Produced jointly by Mix magazine, Pro Sound News and Radio World, the event is a free one-day virtual trade show where radio and pro audio professionals can learn about new products and technology and network with colleagues and manufacturers.

Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the last five years, inspiring millions of people to start their own shows, in part due to the low cost of entry-level audio gear. In reality, however, the DIY days of podcasting are long gone; today, audio quality is a crucial factor in building and keeping your audience. In the kickoff panel, Podcasting: ‘Good Enough’ Audio Is Not Good Enough, Chris Crump of Comrex Corporation, Fela Davis of One of One Productions, Dallas Taylor of the hit podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, and Frank Verderosa of Digital Arts NY, will share their insights and real-world experiences, discussing superior audio tools, developing and applying best practices, and more.

Registration for the free event is open.

Chris Crump has served as the Sr. Director of Sales & Marketing for Comrex since 2004. In 1987, he began his professional radio career at ABC/Cap Cities Detroit before taking the Features Editor position at MediaBase Research/Monday Morning Replay. On-air, remote broadcast engineer, Creative Services Director roles followed for Capitol Broadcasting (subsequently Paxson Communications) in Orlando and the Ron & Ron Radio Network in Tampa/St. Petersburg. In 1996, Crump moved to the manufacturing side of the broadcast business performing sales & marketing roles for Spectral, Inc., Euphonix, Symetrix and Klotz Digital America. Crump resides in Buford, Georgia (outside of Atlanta) with his wife Seval, 15 year-old daughter Zara and their Affenpinscher Olive. He is a CBNE certified member of SBE Chapter 5 in Atlanta as well an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troops 597 and 5597 in Dacula, GA.

Fela Davis is a graduate of Full Sail University with 20 years of experience in audio engineering and inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame in 2020. Her live mixing experience includes Ron Carter, Brian Blade, Jose Feliciano, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Bilal. She is front of house engineer for six-time Grammy Award winner Christian McBride, mixing sold-out shows across Asia, Europe, Canada, and America. Fela records, mixes, and edits at her One of One Productions Studio located 5 minutes from NYC in Fort Lee, NJ. The One of One Productions studio also specializes in podcast recordings for top 200 Apple Podcasts like Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams and The Art of Music Tech Podcast that she hosts with her business partner, Dennis. The Art of Music Tech Podcast highlights the latest in audio gear, mixing techniques, and interviews with top audio engineers, musicians, and producers (Leslie Ann Jones, Jeff Bova, Jett Galindo, Patrick Smith) about their journey in audio. It’s also featured with many of her writings for Pro Sound News Magazine & Podcast Pro Newsletters.

Dallas Taylor is the host and creator of Twenty Thousand Hertz, a lovingly crafted podcast revealing the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds. Dallas is also the Creative Director of Defacto Sound, where he has led thousands of high-profile projects ranging from blockbuster trailers and advertising campaigns to Sundance award-winning films and major television series. Dallas is a sought-after speaker at conferences, a regular contributor to major publications, and a respected thought leader on the narrative power of sound.

Frank Verderosa (www.frankverderosa.com) is a 30-year veteran of the New York audio industry, fighting the good fight for film studios, ad agencies and production companies, but secretly loves mixing music most of all. These days, he plies his trade at Digital Arts in NYC, but he has additionally taught hundreds of voice-over artists how to record professionally while at home during the pandemic, and is also a longtime engineer for a number of high-profile podcasts.

The Pro Audio & Radio Tech Summit will also feature a virtual exhibition floor, live chat and a separate track of presentations showcasing technologies and trends in pro audio.

Registration for the free event is open.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

True Crime Sound Design on ‘Anatomy of Murder’

Dayton Cole, handles all the post-production work on Anatomy of Murder using a variety of tools, including Avid Pro Tools, a Universal Audio Apollo Twin X interface, plug-ins on an adjacent screen like Waves’ WLM Loudness Meter, and a pair of Audeze LCD-2 Classic Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones.
Dayton Cole, handles all the post-production work on Anatomy of Murder using a variety of tools, including Avid Pro Tools, a Universal Audio Apollo Twin X interface, plug-ins on an adjacent screen like Waves’ WLM Loudness Meter, and a pair of Audeze LCD-2 Classic Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones. LEAF & PINE PHOTOGRAPHY | www.leafandpine.com
Anatomy of Murder executive producer Sumit David.
Anatomy of Murder executive producer Sumit David.

Indianapolis, IN (March 18, 2021)—True-crime podcasts, by the nature of the stories they tell, tend to be underlaid with tense and ominous sounds. While each episode of the Anatomy of Murder podcast, produced by Indianapolis, IN-based Audiochuck, deals with dark themes and details, there is also plenty of room for light, says executive producer Sumit David.

“If you look at the color palettes of a Star Wars movie, they always [begin] white and bright, and as the movie progresses, it gets darker,” says David. “[We were] like, ‘That’s how we should approach the sound design of this. Let’s start not so true crime. Let’s not start very heavy. Let’s ease our audience into it.’”

Dayton Cole, who handles all the post-production work on Anatomy of Murder at podcast editing service Resonate Recordings (Lousiville, KY), likens the process to building a house, with the brooding sounds serving as the basement. Once they establish that baseline, Cole attends to the “brighter, sentimental moments,” which are his favorite to highlight. “More natural sounds, strings and piano—those kind of natural elements—rather than the synthetic, electronic pulsing and droning,” he says.

Anatomy of Murder's hosts Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, an NYC homicide prosecutor, and Scott Weinberger, an investigative journalist.
Anatomy of Murder’s hosts Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, an NYC homicide prosecutor, and Scott Weinberger, an investigative journalist.

David’s background as an editor on reality television programs prepared him for his role on Anatomy of Murder, which is also unscripted. Hosts Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi, an NYC homicide prosecutor, and Scott Weinberger, an investigative journalist, research the cases and keep a loose set of talking points for each episode, but otherwise the interviews and case discussions are fluid. The pair record on Blue Yeti USB microphones, while guests record locally on their own computers during video conferences with the hosts.

Before the audio files make it to Cole as an OMF, an open-source format that allows him to import David’s Adobe Premiere files into Pro Tools, David edits the interviews and compiles related archival audio collected from law enforcement sources.

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“I try and make it so that the story is all laid out, that all the bites, whether they be from Scott, Anna-Sigga, from the guests, or from archival material, are all put together in one big sequence, divided up into the four acts,” says David. “From there, it’s handed off to Dayton so he can do his magic of adding the sound design, pacing [and] music.”

David provides some creative direction, but after working together on dozens of episodes of the podcast, the pair have a largely unspoken workflow. Cole approaches each episode as a listener would, forming an outsider’s perspective on the structure and recordings David sends him. “I create blank tracks—little ‘slugs’ I call them—so I can just say, ‘This is kind of the emotion I want in this section,’” says Cole.

Many of the sounds Cole weaves into the podcast’s aural environment come from sound libraries, although he often manipulates the stems through processors like iZotope Rx to meet his needs. The main concern is to keep the music from distracting listeners away from the dialogue, so it is impactful but not overpowering. On a recent episode where he didn’t have access to stem tracks, he improvised to keep the bass and kick drum from overpowering the other instruments.

“I liked what all the other elements were doing,” so “I used the Elysia Alpha Compressor to be able to help the mids come back, and then open up the sides,” he says. “And, I was able to kind of blend that underneath so it wasn’t hitting you in the face so much.”

Transparency is key at the end of the day. Cole prefers to remain in the background and work without being detected. “My job is, don’t be noticed, but be impactful,” he says. “If people are in the story and they’re digging it and they don’t notice all the sound changes, that’s when I know I’ve done my job.”

Anatomy of Murder • https://anatomyofmurder.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Steinberg Unveils WaveLab Cast

Steinberg WaveLab Cast

Hamburg, Germany (March 17, 2021)—Steinberg has released WaveLab Cast production software, offering integrated tools for podcast recording, editing and publishing.

Created with an aim of helping podcasters improve the audio quality of their shows, the software includes sound correction tools, editing tools, features such as automatic ducking, a variety of signal processing tools and more. The Track Inspector provides simple 2-band EQing, while the signal processing offerings include a Voice Exciter, Compressor and Brickwall Limiter.

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The specialist DAW also assists with the distribution of podcasts, connecting directly with five different podcast directories, including Spreaker, Podbean and Soundcloud

For livestreamers, it also offers postproduction tools for live streams’ audio, allowing users to remove pauses, unnecessary filler words and unwanted noises while remaining aligned with the video. Its signal processors and meters assist with enhancing the audio to ensure the best results.

The software is exclusively available through the Steinberg Online Shop for 69.99 euros. It is also possible to upgrade from WaveLab LE to WaveLab Cast for 19.99 euros.

WaveLab Cast • www.steinberg.net/wavelabcast

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

After 500 Episodes, ‘Grumpy Old Geeks’ Has a Slick Audio Workflow

grumpy old geeksNew York, NY (March 4, 2021)—The first big lesson Jason DeFillippo learned about podcasting was a crucial one. When he and Brian Schulmeister started Grumpy Old Geeks tech podcast eight years ago, they were running two USB microphones on a glass desktop, in a hardwood-floored room, underneath an airport runway. It’s difficult to imagine a more unforgiving audio environment.

“If you go back and listen to the first episodes, it was right on the flight path to Santa Monica airport in Venice [Calif.],” laughs co-host and producer DeFillippo. “[In] the first 20 episodes or so, there’s a plane every five minutes.”

Jason DeFillippo, co-host and producer of Grumpy Old Geeks.

DeFillippo’s perfectionism and growing experience as a producer of professional podcasts like The Art of Charm, Foodist and The Jordan Harbinger Show helped accelerate his hobby podcast’s production values. These days, after nearly 500 episodes and millions of downloads, Grumpy Old Geeks has evolved into a force all its own.

“All of this stuff that I’m doing also translated to Grumpy Old Geeks,” he says. “Actually, a lot of times, I would experiment on Grumpy Old Geeks because nobody was listening to that show. We could get away with doing crazy experiments to see if they worked before we took them over to a show that anybody was actually listening to.”

His quest to make the podcast sound as smooth as radio coincided with the decision to begin recording remotely. After upgrading to a Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface, Electro-Voice RE27N/D broadcasting mic and Rode PSA-1 boom, now he carries a pack with him all over the U.S. and maintains consistent audio quality with an Electro-Voice RE20 dynamic microphone, Sound Devices MixPre-6 preamp audio recorder and his secret weapon: a PreSonus Studio 192 interface.

“You can do all sorts of crazy cable routing with it, and I still use it to this day,” he says. “It’s sitting on my desk in a [double rack unit] with a Furman power conditioner so I can pick it up and take it anywhere in the world, like a little briefcase. I’ve actually got two of them because if one ever broke, I’d be out of business.”

While DeFillippo previously used Skype to connect with Schulmeister and guests—through a three-computer setup of one iMac and two Mac Minis, one for each Skype feed—he switched to the Zencastr platform. “Once Zencastr came out and it got somewhat decent, we switched over to that full-time and got rid of Skype altogether,” he says. “I haven’t used Skype for a podcast in years at this point.”

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In their latest pivot, Grumpy Old Geeks has begun using Squadcast as well as Riverside to record audio for the podcast. The latter platform also records 4k video, which DeFillippo’s other podcast clients use to publish content to YouTube. “Riverside and Squadcast are so great because everybody’s got a browser, everybody’s got a laptop nowadays,” he says. “If you have headphones and a MacBook Pro, I can make that sound like you’re in a studio.”

There is another key benefit, particularly for DeFillippo’s outside clients: Riverside has a Co-Producer mode that allows him to set up clients and then login as a non-participating attendee. He can be “in the room” and communicate with the host and guests, but not be seen or recorded.

Still, one area remains off-limits in DeFillippo’s dedication to high-quality production values: Phone audio is not allowed.

“We’ll just reschedule the show if we have to go to a phone,” he says. “It’s just one of the conditions of any of the shows I work on: We don’t use phones. We want everything to sound like it’s in a studio. If we have to send you a mic, we’ll send you a mic and headphones. The people I usually work with, they want the best quality that you can get.”

Grumpy Old Geekshttps://gog.show

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

The Tula Mic – A Real-World Review

The Tula Microphone
The Tula Microphone sports a built-in stand that is removable and surprisingly robust noise cancellation.

As the debut product from Tula Mics, the appropriately named Tula Microphone is pretty unique, and not just because of its lustrous exterior. Instead of being another pocket-sized recorder that can double as a USB mic, the Tula is a pocket-sized USB mic that can double as a recorder. That may sound like splitting hairs, but it’s indicative of where the mic and the company behind it are coming from, rethinking the familiar from a different vantage point.

Roughly the size of a deck of cards, the Tula Mic is a stylish prosumer microphone designed for use in podcasting, content creation, the work-from-home world and so on, and it has a price tag to match at $199. Housed in the Tula’s solid metal/plastic case—available in black, red and cream—are cardioid and omnidirectional capsules, Burr Brown op amps, a Texas Instruments audio codec and a custom iteration of Swedish music software company Klevgrand’s Brusfri noise reduction algorithm. The mic connects to computers and devices via a USB-C port on back, and comes packaged with a USB-C to USB-A cable, a built-in (but removable) stand, and a universal threaded mic stand adaptor.

For those who use the Tula as a recorder, there’s 8 GB of internal memory (no SD or MicroSD cards here) which can hold up to 14 hours of recordings captured in .WAV format. When used on its own without a computer, the Tula is powered by a rechargable internal 3.7 V 700 mAh lithium ion battery that can hold enough power to record continuously for 10-12 hours with noise cancelation on, and 14 hours without. The Tula recharges via the USB-C cable, and when plugged into a computer, it appears on the desktop as a USB drive, allowing users to copy audio files to their machine.

The Tula Microphone
The Tula Microphone with its threaded mic stand adaptor (mic stand not included).

Sporting a retro-futuristic look that vaguely recalls the Star Trek communicators of yore, the Tula has a minimalist design that underscores the usually intuitive controls on the mic. Aside from the detachable built-in stand, there are no moving parts on the Tula. All the control buttons run up each side of the mic and are under pressable mesh; notably, there is no screen on the Tula to convey information like settings, gain and so on, so crucial info is instead provided through two LEDs on the front face. Thanks to that minimalism, the mic may have a timeless look but there’s also far fewer parts to potentially break—a crucial factor for a mic that is likely to get tossed in backpacks and the like.

When used strictly as a USB mic, the Tula is pretty straightforward; it gets power from the USB-C cable in the back, but still requires the user to hit the On/Off button to activate it. The Tula defaults to the cardioid capsule, but a short tap of the Mic Select button switches to the Omni, and a long tap activates the Tula’s 3.5 mm lav mic input, which doubles as a headphone jack for playback.

Perhaps the Tula’s strongest selling point is its noise cancellation, because the onboard Klevgrand Brusfri algorithm gets the job done. In testing, I unfairly placed the Tula just six inches from a loud space-heater blasting right at the mic, started talking and hit the NC button halfway through recording. Upon playback, I found the algorithm had ripped that noisy heater out of the recording, leaving my voice very clear and usable, if unsurprisingly missing some low end. Lest that scare you off using the NC button, don’t fret; the Tula automatically records two copies of your audio file—one with noise cancellation and one without—so that you have options come edit time. Still, the noise cancellation is a real problem-solver, if not a miracle worker. It’s not supposed to offer the scalpel-like precision of your favorite audio repair plug-in, but it does an impressive job on the fly of creating more than passable audio in less than ideal circumstances; in those instances, the Tula’s noise cancellation really shines.

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Used as a stand-alone recorder, the Tula is slightly less impressive—it records well, but is somewhat hindered by the device’s sleek minimalism. Most of the buttons’ functions are relatively clear, labeled with familiar universal icons for ‘record,’ ‘stop’ and the like. Confusingly, however, there are two Playback Volume buttons and two Gain Level buttons, and both sets are labeled with identical +/- symbols. That aggravation aside, the Gain Level buttons work well (once you remember which are which); adjusting in 5 dB increments, they affect an LED light on the front that alternately flashes green, yellow and red to help gauge the right level.

In all, the Tula offers a unique sense of style and design for its intended audience of content-creators—a market where, once video comes into play, a mic’s looks can be as important as its sound. The cleverly designed controls can be a little too clever at times, but the surprisingly robust on-board noise cancellation is impressive and will come in handy, especially for users who take the Tula out into the real world. The Tula Mic marks a solid debut for its namesake company.

Tula Mics • www.tulamics.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

The Wonderly of It All

The Wonderly: (l-r) Ben Landsverk, Jim Brunberg
The Wonderly: (l-r) Ben Landsverk, Jim Brunberg

Portland, OR (March 1, 2021)—Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk, otherwise known as Wonderly, have made a name for themselves over recent years with their quirky podcast themes and indie film soundtracks. Now they’ve trained their spotlight on the “Pacific Northweird,” releasing the first of two collections recounting the true-life tales of 1970s skyjacker DB Cooper, the Japanese balloon bombs of 1944 and the 19th century Holy Rollers sect.

“We call it a film and song cycle; each is a musical film as opposed to a music video,” says Brunberg. “We were always the support guys, so it’s the first real effort to put our musical vision into the world.”

Indeed, the pair of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists met years ago through their many gigs as collaborators and sidemen for the likes of Smokey Robinson, Kristin Hersh, Van Dyke Parks and John Wesley Harding. “One time, we had six rehearsals in one week with six different bands that we were both in,” says Brunberg, who also fronted Bay Area Americana band Box Set.

Wonderly were working as an acoustic duo—”a little more eclectic and weird than the Everly Brothers,” says Brunberg—when Boston NPR station WBUR asked them to produce the theme for the Dear Sugar Radio podcast. When the New York Times launched its podcast, The Daily, he says, “They came to us. The soundtrack work cascaded from there.”

Wonderly’s credits include feature films At the Video Store, Last Ferry and Luz, and TV series Tending Nature and Bojack Horseman. The duo’s work has also featured on commercials by Kia, Honda and Budweiser.

The pair lead busy lives outside of Wonderly. Landsverk is a session musician and musical director in Portland’s indie music scene. He is also the founder and leader of the drop-in pop choir Low Bar Chorale. Brunberg produces and co-hosts a podcast with his daughters, tends to his farm and co-owns three Portland area live venues: Revolution Hall, Mississippi Studios and Polaris Hall.

Studio Showcase: Setting Up San Juan Sound

Although he and Landsverk have different backgrounds, says Brunberg, “We were both fascinated about trying to explore our own curiosities and support each other’s curiosities. The most exciting thing about making music, to me, is to maintain a curiosity and try new things.”

Readers of a certain age will remember DB Cooper, a mysterious figure who, 50 years ago, parachuted from a Boeing 727 with a $200,000 ransom and was never seen again. On Story We Tell Volume 1, Wonderly relate events, more or less as they happened, on “November 1971.”

As luck would have it, they have a friend who lives in a converted 727, where they filmed the visuals. “It’s exactly the same model as the plane DB Cooper jumped out of,” says Brunberg. “We made a lot of props to give it that Northwest Airlines feel and true to the period.”

Mississippi Studios began in a former street church as a recording facility—hence the name—before morphing into a live venue. “I always enjoyed being in the studio, so I opened a recording studio. As time went on, I got tired of working with bands who wanted to spend three hours to get the right snare tone. It lost its charm for me. And I wanted to go back to making music for myself,” he says

Brunberg initially moved his gear into another space. “But then I discovered I like to do it from home, lazy as I am.”

Brunberg says, “My whole house is a production facility. I’ve converted the garage into the drum, Hammond B3 and piano tracking room. I have a Pro Tools HD rig in there and can go to town on different microphone positions and different preamps.” He overdubs in the living room. “That has the trumpets, saxophones, acoustic guitars and a little vocal station with a different Pro Tools rig. I have two young daughters that I’ve trained to not trip over cables. I live a very cluttered life, but my family has been very patient with me.”

Wonderly Music • www.wonderlymusic.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com