Tag Archives: Podcasting

Sennheiser MD 435 and MD 445 Microphones – A Real-World Review

Sennheiser's MD 435 and MD 445
Sennheiser’s MD 435 and MD 445

In November, Sennheiser introduced the new dynamic MD 435 and MD 445 handheld vocal microphones for use in live sound settings. The heads on these mics are based on the legendary Sennheiser MD 9235 wireless handheld microphone head, used on the biggest stages and artists in the world. Many of my friends that mix big hip-hop artists rely on 9235s for their ability to handle loudness and their cardioid rejection—great for avoiding feedback from the monitors.

Fela Davis
Fela Davis is a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee at Full Sail University. She also owns 23dB Productions and One of One Productions Studio, which specializes in podcasting, video, and music production. Clients include the Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams podcast, Sirius XM, Atlantic Records, iHeart Radio and numerous Grammy award-winning musicians. www.oneofoneproductions.com

Those features can be found in these two mics as well: The MD 445 is a high-rejection, super-cardioid microphone and the MD 435 is cardioid. Both microphones are great for loud sound pressure levels (163 dB) like a snare drum or guitar amps, but they can also handle a delicate human voice. They’re not as sensitive as a condenser mic, of course, but each one has a great natural sound in the higher frequencies. After checking out the frequency responses for each microphone, I noticed the MD 435 peaks at around the 5k-7k range in a way that reminded me of the Sennheiser 935, capturing very clean sound with a little help in the higher frequencies for vocals. Meanwhile, the MD 445 has a darker yet slightly fuller sound, because the frequency response has a smoother curve at those 5k-7K Hz frequencies. Both microphones needed a decent amount of gain from my mic pre to get a respectable signal, but there was little to no white noise created.

I’m a big fan of the super-cardioid polar pattern from my live-mixing days—and now in my studio, too, for getting for ultimate rear rejection—and in that respect, the MD 445 really knocks it out the park. The beautiful vocal response that it produces is second to none in dynamic handheld microphones, and I found I like this microphone on male vocals a little better for the darker lower frequencies.

In use, I found that handling noise for both the MD 445 and 435 handhelds was almost nonexistent, as you can hear for yourself on a special episode of The Art of Music Tech podcast that I recorded with my business partner, Denis. We recorded an entire podcast using the microphones, and at one point switched mics to hear them on female and male vocals. I was amazed at the silence of switching hands with the microphone and not getting those weird low-frequency thumps that are heard with all handheld microphones. That truly blew me away—and it’s exactly why I would use them for a live podcast setting: They sound excellent and reject the noise that’s happening behind the microphone.

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Out of the two, the MD 435 is my favorite for a female vocalist because of the sweetness around the 8 kHz range. I didn’t need to EQ frequencies as much as I would for the MD 445; I don’t like to tweak things if I don’t have to, so I would definitely have this in the audio toolbox for a female vocalist. As I mentioned earlier, the MD 435 sound reminds me of a richer toned Sennheiser 935, and they share similar frequency responses with the MD 435 at 40 Hz – 20 kHz, and the 935 topping out at 18k Hz. The MD 435 has a silky tone on the top end that’s not too harsh, but lets the vocals sit on top.

Overall, the MD 435 and MD 445 are amazing microphones. The bodies of the microphones are a slick, black finish and have that nice feel and shape that we’re used to seeing from the Sennheiser brand, along with a weight that is solid and but not heavy. Each microphone retails at $499, so it’s not a beginner’s microphone, but well worth it for a road warrior engineer or vocalist. I’d even suggest it to podcasters that record in a non-studio setting. Sennheiser has continued its legendary evolution in the microphone world.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Electro-Voice Brings on the RE20-BLACK

EV's RE20-BLACK
EV’s RE20-BLACK

Burnsville, MN (December 6, 2020)—Electro-Voice has introduced the RE20-BLACK, making available for the first time a new color option for the long-running RE20 broadcast microphone.

The designation BLACK is exactly that, as the new version sports a low-reflection dark charcoal finish. The RE20-BLACK offers customers an aesthetic alternative to the original’s finish, while being acoustically, electrically and mechanically identical to the original RE20, introduced more than 50 years ago and steadily adopted since by recording studios, broadcasters and podcasters everywhere.

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The RE20 BLACK still offers the original’s Variable-D design, which is said to minimize proximity effect, helping users work around the mic at varying distances. Additional features include a mid-bass tone-shaping switch, an integrated pop filter and a humbucking coil to guard against line hum.

The RE20-BLACK is shipping and has a street price of $449 US.

Electro-Voice • www.electrovoice.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Earthworks Audio Debuts ICON Microphones

Earthworks Audio ICON MicrophonesWilton, NH (December 3, 2020)—Earthworks Audio has introduced its ICON USB and ICON PRO XLR microphones, both intended for use in podcasting, remote working, streaming and home recording.

Earthworks Audio ICON Microphones
Earthworks Audio ICON Microphones

The condenser-type ICON USB offers a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, used a cardioid polar pattern, and can take on up to 132 dB. Meanwhile, the phantom-powered ICON PRO expands on those specs with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 30 kHz and a max acoustic input of 139 dB. Both versions weigh 1.5 lbs.

Designed with an eye towards providing visual flair for those who appear on camera with their mics, the ICON series mics are stainless-steel constructed. Earthworks partnered with Triad-Orbit to design and build a custom desktop microphone stand that ships with the ICON microphones. The integrated M-2R swivel ball joint can be disconnected and re-mounted on any studio mic stand or boom arm.

ICON PRO looks and feels similar, but is hand tuned with an extended frequency response; the capsule has a faster Rise Time Speed of 11.67 microseconds. Because it is an XLR broadcast microphone requiring 48 volts of phantom power, it offers extended headroom and dynamics. The mic ships with an integrated Triad-Orbit M-2R adapter as well.

Both microphones are currently shipping. Since all components are machined and hand-assembled in Wilton, NH, the initial launch will cater to US distribution. ICON retails for $349 and ICON PRO sells for $499. As an aside, producer/engineer Russ Long recently reviewed the Earthworks Audio ICON PRO in his Pro Sound News Holiday Gift Guide 2020.

Earthworks Audio • https://earthworksaudio.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

StreamGuys Launches SGrecast 4.0 Podcast Platform

StreamGuys’ updated SGrecast 4.0 podcast management/livestream repurposing system includes a new UI, editing tools and more.
StreamGuys’ updated SGrecast 4.0 podcast management/livestream repurposing system includes a new UI, editing tools and more.

Bayside, CA (December 3, 2020) – Podcast solutions provider StreamGuys has upgraded its flagship SGrecast podcast management and livestream repurposing system. The new version 4.0 include an improved user interface to speed and simplify operations; an expanded waveform editing toolset; and built-out automated publishing capabilities.

New overlay windows enable users to access and edit information about a particular item or task – such as the details of a particular podcast episode – while preserving their current place in the main interface and workflow.

Meanwhile, the newly expanded browser-based Waveform Editor sports an updated user interface and expanded functionality. New interstitial cutting capabilities enable operators to remove unwanted sections in the middle of recordings and recombine the remaining segments for republishing. This aids potential content repurposing – for example, removing ‘baked-in’ advertising to enable subsequent dynamic ad insertion. The company sees this as a tool for repurposing already-produced podcasts and livestreams for revenue-expanding monetization opportunities and audience growth; the interstitial cutting tools will help pave the way for future functionalities within the platform, including multitrack editing and in-browser content production, enabling complete workflows in the cloud.

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SGrecast 4.0 also further augments the automated podcast publishing capabilities added to the platform earlier this year for repurposing broadcasters’ live streams without user intervention. SGrecast’s enhanced AudioLogger recording feature offers the option of preserving mid-roll ad break metadata from the livestream, thus enabling subsequent dynamic ad insertion in the published podcast without requiring manual marker insertion. Combined with the ability to automatically trigger podcast publishing based on metadata in the live stream, this enables fully automated, metadata-driven publishing workflows.

Version 4.0 adds new functionality for publishing to Google Audio News, including support for the mRSS format required for advanced Google News features. Users can specify episode-specific intro and outro audio files in the mRSS feed. The new update also expands the range of standard RSS fields supported by SGrecast, including linking to specific webpages related to particular episodes in a feed.

StreamGuys • www.streamguys.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

‘Speed of Sound’ Explores Pop Production

‘Speed of Sound’ PodcastWe’ve all heard about record producers who realized a song could be a hit, but had to take the track apart to rebuild it into a pop smash. It turns out the same thing can happen when record producers create a podcast about pop smashes, too.

Record producer Steve Greenberg (Jonas Brothers, Joss Stone)
Record producer Steve Greenberg (Jonas Brothers, Joss Stone) hosts the Speed of Sound podcast.

In the case of the Speed of Sound podcast, the iHeartRadio podcast that explores what makes a song a hit, it took some on-the-job trial and error by the production team to get their episodes just right. “What we found early on is we’d write the script, and then say, ‘Oh, let’s interview this person we talk about a lot,’” explains host Steve Greenberg. “Then we’d interview them [and] that would cause a whole rewriting of the script.”

While interviewing subjects for the recent episode “Rapper’s Delight: Inside the Song That Ignited Hip Hop,” for example, Greenberg had prepared a script based on commonly held beliefs about how the seminal rap group Sugarhill Gang came together. Instead of label founder Sylvia Robinson’s son discovering Big Bank Hank rapping in a pizza parlor, though, Greenberg discovered that Hank auditioned for Robinson in the back of a car while on break from his job making pizzas, still wearing an apron stained with sauce. It made for a better story, but it meant a script rewrite.

Debunking myths and telling the stranger-than-fiction stories behind how some of pop’s biggest songs, bands and musical genres soared to the top of the charts are why Speed of Sound is one of the most buzzed-about podcasts of 2020. Greenberg’s experiences as a record executive and producer who helped discover the Jonas Brothers, Joss Stone and Hanson thicken the plots as he puts the hits in historical context, both musically and culturally.

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During one memorable moment from the four-episode series on disco, Greenberg explains why four KC and the Sunshine Band songs are essentially the same while the podcast’s audio engineer Taylor Chicoine matches the beats and puts them together. In another episode, Chicoine lines up “The Monster Mash,” “The Mashed Potato” and “Please Mr. Postman” to illustrate their similarities.

Taylor Chicoine
Taylor Chicoine

“We really hoped to be able to integrate music in a significant way in the podcast,” says Greenberg. “Even though podcasts can’t play complete songs, we wanted to give people enough of a taste of a song that they understood what it is we were talking about.”

After Greenberg finishes the script, he and executive producer Lauren Bright Pacheco handle the pre-production, record the voiceover through a Shure SM7B into a Zoom H5 recorder, and talk through how they want to lay out each episode. Greenberg’s deep pop-culture knowledge comes in handy, as he often adds direction for Chicoine while recording.

“I can hear Steve talking about what clips he might want and where, or ideas he has for sounds,” says Chicoine. “Then, Lauren will translate that into some sort of transcript-paper cut for me to be able to read through, and make sure we have all the links and all the clips in order.”

Post-production work with audio sources runs the gamut in the COVID-19 era, but Chicoine takes a Zen-like approach when he has to use audio that doesn’t quite measure up. He treats the audio just enough to bring up annunciations and reduce phone noise when people record on smartphones, but he also plays into that weakness.

“If it’s phone audio, just own it,” Chicoine says. “Don’t try and make it sound not like phone audio, because then it’s just going to sound weird and no one’s going to know why. It’s a balance of making it understandable and clear, while also playing into the style of it and making that intentional, so that it feels right to the listener. It should flow, even if it is a difference in quality.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

TASCAM Launches US-HR USB Interface Series

TASCAM US-HR USB Interface Series
TASCAM US-HR USB Interface Series

Santa Fe Springs, CA (December 2, 2020)—Tascam has announced its new US-HR Series of USB audio interfaces, intended for use in project studios, content creation situations, podcasting, streaming and so on.

The three models – US-1x2HR, US-2x2HR and US-4x4HR – incorporate 24-bit audio resolution at sample rates up to 192 kHz; low latency with buffer sizes starting from four samples; Ultra-HDDA mic preamplifiers; and a suite of included software. According to Tascam, these interfaces, designed for ease of use and flexibility, are a good choice for any demanding sound creator, from beginners in recording technology to project studio operators to podcast and webcast producers.

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All models have a mono/stereo switchable Loopback function and support OBS Studio and other streaming software. Each of the interfaces comes with Steinberg Cubase LE (including Cubasis LE3) for recording and production; IK Multimedia Sample Tank SE 4 offering a 30-Gigabyte sound library; and a 3-month subscription to Auto-Tune Unlimited from Antares.

The US-1x2HR sports one XLR microphone input, one TRS instrument/line input (both switchable to line inputs on RCA connectors) and two RCA outputs. Stepping up, the US-2x2HR provides two mic/line/instrument inputs and two balanced line outputs as well as MIDI I/O to add keyboards, drum machines and other MIDI equipment to the production environment.

Topping the line, the US-4x4HR provides four XLR mic inputs, four TRS balanced line inputs (two of which can also be used for instruments), four balanced line outputs, MIDI I/O and two headphones connectors.

The series will ship in early December and is priced with the US-1x2HR (2 in / 1 mic, 2 out) at $99; US-2x2HR (2 in / 2 out) at $149; and US-4x4HR (4 in / 4 out) at $199.

TASCAM • www.tascam.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Røde Launches Vlogger Kit Range

Rode Vlogging Kit
As the number of podcasters bringing a visual side to their offerings rises, Røde launches a series of Vlogger kits.

Sydney, Australia (November 25, 2020)—Røde Microphones has introduced a series of three Røde Vlogger Kits, centered around a Røde VideoMic, tripod, phone grip, LED light and accessories.

Intended to be an all-in-one mobile filmmaking kit, the range caters to every type of smartphone, with options for iPhone, which includes a Røde VideoMic Me-L with a Lightning connector, and Android devices, which features the new Røde VideoMic Me-C with a USB-C connector. There is also a Universal Edition, which includes a Røde VideoMicro for use with smartphones that feature a 3.5mm input, such as older iPhones and Android models. This can also be used with Lightning and USB-C equipped smartphones using a certified adaptor.

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In addition to these compact microphones, each Kit includes the new Røde Tripod 2, a three-position tripod with a gimbal head, the new Røde SmartGrip, a lightweight all-metal mount with rubberised grips, and the new Røde MicroLED on-camera light, which slots onto the SmartGrip.

Røde’s history as a microphone manufacturer informs its vlogging kits, as the key feature is a Røde VideoMic directional microphone, intended to reduce background noise while focusing on what they are pointed at, ensuring audio is clean and intelligible. They include a furry windshield for filming outdoors.

The Tripod 2 supports both handheld and tabletop use and its gimbal head allows for flexible positioning. The MicroLED and its diffuser and eight coloured filters ensure vloggers can adapt to any recording environment, with over four hours of operation available on a single charge.

The Kits are currently shipping worldwide and will be available in-store in the coming weeks.

Røde Microphones • www.rode.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

How Four Podcasts Get It Done with Tight Workflows

A podcast is only as strong as the structure that enables writers, producers and audio engineers to communicate effectively and efficiently. No matter how straightforward or complex the production, establishing a sound workflow is crucial to pulling off a pro podcast.

We’ve pulled together behind-the-scenes stories of how four hit podcasts dealt with workflow disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, manage dozens of audio sources and more. Read on for insights that can help you nail down your podcast workflow for good.

 

The Dave Ramsey Show

Each hour of The Dave Ramsey Show becomes an individual podcast episode that uploaded to YouTube and audio streaming platforms.

The podcast team at Ramsey Solutions, home of the widely syndicated radio program The Dave Ramsey Show, had a problem—or what the company’s can-do namesake would call an opportunity. After experiencing rapid growth over six years with its lineup of eight recurring programs and a serialized podcast, the production team was strong but siloed.

“We’re trying to standardize our audio,” says senior producer Eric Cieslewicz, including “creating a better template in Pro Tools [so] everything would funnel through the right plug-ins. We’ve learned a lot from needing to work across different shows where it’s not just one producer with their chosen software. We need producers to share the work [and] cover for each other.”

[Find out more in The Dave Ramsey Show Rethinks Its Podcast Workflow]

 

All American: Tiger Woods

All American: Tiger Woods
Writer, co-host and producer Jordan Bell (foreground) and co-host Albert Chen recorded numerous episodes of Stitcher’s ‘All American: Tiger Woods’ Podcast at Earwolf Studios before having to move to a remote workflow due to the pandemic.

Don’t underestimate the value of a solid workflow in the formula for what makes a compelling podcast. “At Stitcher, we have a pretty great system in terms of giving our shows the proper treatment they need from an engineering perspective,” says Jordan Bell, who created All American: Tiger Woods and serves as the podcast’s writer, co-host and producer.

Working with co-host Albert Chen, audio engineer Casey Holford and the engineering team, Bell says the podcast’s switch from a typical production arrangement of writing, face-to-face meetings and table reads to a virtual process due to COVID-19 was seamless.

[Find out more in Inside the Workflow of Stitcher’s ‘All American: Tiger Woods’ Podcast]

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Mogul: Mixtape

Matthew Nelson, lead producer on Gimlet’s hip-hop history podcast, Mogul, and its new spinoff, The Mogul Mixtapes, works with a Marantz PMD661 MK2 and Rode NTG2 microphone as part of his ‘work at home’ setup.
Matthew Nelson, lead producer on Gimlet’s hip-hop history podcast, Mogul, and its new spinoff, Mogul: Mixtape.

The production team behind Gimlet’s Mogul podcast faced a significant hurdle when it decamped to work at home in March. Instead of compromising the podcast’s meticulously sculpted sound design, they reinvented the entire show from scratch. Each episode of the bite-size Mogul: Mixtape podcast is produced in concert among the production team members, with real-time collaboration through a Google Hangout.

“Process is key,” says lead producer Matthew Nelson. “Whether we’re working on a six-part documentary or a one-off interview with Ludacris, everything is agonized over. Everything is very carefully edited [and] constructed. It was very important for us to set ourselves up in a way that could facilitate this collaborative editing process that every show does at Gimlet.”

[Find out more in Hit ‘Mogul’ Podcast Goes with the Workflow]

 

Story Pirates

In non-COVID times, Story Pirates is recorded 'cartoon style,' with the cast in a circle using Warm Audio WA87 and WA14 microphones in front of each actor.
In non-COVID times, Story Pirates is recorded ‘cartoon style,’ with the cast in a circle using Warm Audio WA87 and WA14 microphones in front of each actor.

There are complex podcast productions, and then there’s Story Pirates. For technical director Sam Bair, editing the acclaimed Gimlet podcast isn’t about simply picking the best content and shaping a narrative—it’s about finding the best takes from a half-dozen actors reading their lines from a script, and then filling the audio spectrum with sounds that advance the story and appeal to kids.

“It really is a true post-production compilation of recordings,” says Bair, whose role includes sound design, producing, and recording and mix engineer. “We’re recording all the takes and pulling specific lines from different takes. We’re also taking whole sections from different takes.”

[Find out more in Flexible Engineering Helps ‘Story Pirates’ Sail to 20M Downloads]

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Podcave Podcast Production Management Platform Debuts

Podcave Podcast Production Management Platform
Podcave Podcast Production Management Platform

Los Angeles, CA (November 19, 2020)—Radio industry veteran Brad Noble has launched Podcave, an all-in-one podcasting management and publishing platform, intended to support users through every step of podcasting, from show planning and guest booking, to publishing and promotion.

PodcaveUsing SaaS technology to provide professional tools and structure on a single platform, Podcast offers audio hosting powered in the background by OmnyStudio with included IAB-certified analytics. Elsewhere in the software is a complete episode planning suite that includes guest management, a segment planner, a music library (powered by radio imaging company Benztown), a trending topic/source finder, and a‘Record Assist’ focus mode for while users are recording an episode.

An internal promotion engine includes scheduling social media, notifying guests of their episode release, email marketing and text/SMS marketing. Users also gert a stable, customizable (including custom domain) website powered by PodcastPage.io. Podcave also offers a 30-day free trial.

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Podcave’s founding team consists of radio veteran Brad Nolan, who has created radio shows now heard in hundreds of cities, and coached talent at the highest levels of radio broadcasting. John Michael has worked at some of the most influential radio stations in the US, including KROQ, JACK-FM, and AMP Radio in Los Angeles. Nikki Noble has managed online communities in the thousands, ran operations for major companies, and spearheads Podcave’s women in podcasting and social responsibility initiatives.

Podcave • www.podcave.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

iCON Pro Audio Debuts Duo44 Live USB Audio Interface

iCON Pro Audio Duo44 Live
iCON Pro Audio Duo44 Live USB Audio Interface

Nashville, TN (November 19, 2020)—iCON Pro Audio has released its new Duo44 Live portable recording interface, intended for podcasting, home recording, live streaming applications and more.

The Duo44 Live is a four-input/four-output USB recording interface allowing  full duplex simultaneous recording and playback. There are dual mic/instrument preamps accessed via front panel-positioned hybrid connectors (it accepts a standard three-pin XLR plug or a quarter-inch balanced TS connector) alongside potentiometers to control the input level of each of the associated analogue microphone/instrument inputs, while the rear panel also includes MIDI I/O on standard five-pin DIN connectors.

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A Master level potentiometer (to control the master output level of the analogue outputs) is available on the front panel, while the topside-sited singular Monitor knob allows for direct monitoring when turned clockwise and ‘computer’ monitoring (complete with effects while recording by using low-latency ASIO monitoring) when turned anti-clockwise. The unit sports DA/AD convertors delivering 114 dB dynamic range and provides 24-bit/192 kHz conversions.

The Duo44 Live is equipped with a +5V DC power supply connector, enabling external power to be supplied when working with a USB-connected iPad, for example, so no need, necessarily, to work with a computer-hosted DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). But beyond that, iCON Pro Audio’s (Windows-only) proprietary ProDriver 4 software lets users redirect audio from any source on their computer and also hosts VST or DirectX plug-ins without a DAW.

iCON Pro Audio’s Duo44 Live is available at $169.99 USD.

iCON Pro Audio • https://iconproaudio.com

 

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com