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.
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.
Chicago, IL (November 9, 2020)—Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute, a Christian institution of higher education with its main campus in Chicago, Illinois, faced the same issues with its music programs this fall that thousands of other educational facilities have—how to safely hold real-time rehearsals in the time of COVID-19. Dr. David Gauger, D.M.A., an Artist/Professor of Music at Moody Bible Institute, found a solution that worked for his groups, centered around Jamulus software and TASCAM recorders.
“Our plan is to have all of our live rehearsal groups use TASCAM DR-05X recorders as a front end for the Jamulus low-latency software,” Gauger explained. “We purchased 30 recorders in August 2020 [so that our] Collectives each rehearse twice a week for 90 minutes, the Jazz Band rehearses once a week for an hour, and the Worship Leading course has had several online rehearsals.”
As an example of the process, Gauger described the situation with his vocal ensembles, “The solution to safe, ‘social distancing’ in a rehearsal environment caused us to seek another solution, which was to put every singer in their own room. College dorms function well for this, as each room provides isolation and does not raise the risk of infection, assuming that precautions are adhered to, such as opening the window for ventilation.”
“Allowing the singers to hear each other and be heard can be accomplished using the Internet,” Gauger continued, “but typical video conferencing software works very poorly for this due to long and somewhat random latency differences between singers. Singing together requires much tighter tolerances than typical video conferencing solutions provide. In the last few years, several developers having been writing low-latency software to solve this problem. We chose Jamulus because of its data requirements, the ability to set up and run your own server to keep your data ‘in-house’, and the fact that it’s open source software.”
According to Gauger, the signal chain starts at the TASCAM DR-05X and goes to USB input on a computer running Jamulus. Next, it heads via Ethernet connection to the Jamulus server on campus. Students hold the DR-05X like a handheld stage mic and are instructed to sing over the top of the unit as opposed to directly into it.
Gauger described a typical rehearsal, “In worship teams, there are singers plus a rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, guitars, synth). While the six singers are in their dorms singing, the rhythm section is assembled in a recording studio that has mics, a mixing board, and a headphone monitoring system. They are all socially distanced and are wearing masks. There is a screen with a projector showing the Zoom meeting with all the singers in their dorm rooms. There is a camera in the studio feeding the Zoom session. This enables the singers to see and hear the studio musicians while the studio musicians can see and hear the dorm-based singers. At the same time that Jamulus is handling the audio, we run a simultaneous Zoom video conference, enabling everyone to see each other—but the Zoom audio is muted, and the only sound heard is from Jamulus.”
“The DR-05X’s ability to serve as a stereo microphone, low latency USB audio interface, and standalone recorder is huge,” he added. “I also found the DR-05X’s sound to be impressive and its omni mics mean it is much less susceptible to the proximity effect typical of cardioid mics. The fact that the DR-05X not only functions as a mic, but also as a recorder and interface to other audio software is huge. The unit is truly multifaceted.”
New York, NY (November 5, 2020)—Two weeks after a massive three-day fire ravaged the Nobeoka City, China factory of semiconductor producer Asahi Kasei Microsystems, pro-audio manufacturers around the world that are dependent on AKM’s high-end audio chips are still looking for information and determining their next steps.
AKM produces a variety of ADCs, DACs, ASRCs and Receivers for numerous pro-audio and high-end consumer audiophile manufacturers, including Solid State Logic, TASCAM, miniDSP, Merging Technologies, SPL of Germany, Focusrite, RME, Schitt Audio, SMSL, Monoprice and others. All of AKM’s audio-related chips were produced at the now-closed factory.
That all of AKM’s audio-related manufacturing could be wiped out in one fell swoop blindsided many of its customers. “We were unaware that only one facility manufactured the AKM DACs and ADCs—that shows how small our industry really is,” said Hermann Gier, managing partner of SPL of Germany. AKM officials have said publicly they hope to be operational again in six months, and the company is expected to engage independent fabrication houses in an effort to keep production going, but nothing concrete has been announced.
“I still have close to zero information as far as the AKM prognosis is concerned,” said Chris Hollebone, sales and marketing manager at Merging Technologies. “As far as we are concerned, we are taking stock, literally, over the weekend and trying to ascertain whether an order that was about to be delivered was destroyed in the fire or might still make it…. We have enough parts in-house to keep us going for a while, but not knowing when any production might start may cause us headaches down the line. It is a bit like COVID-19—very hard to predict!”
Paul Youngblood, director of Product Marketing at TASCAM, admitted “This has all happened so fast that all we can say is we are still in the process of analyzing the situation.” A spokesperson for RME echoed that sentiment, stating that company was “currently still ascertaining information, and it’s too early for them to comment.”
SPL of Germany’s Gier noted that his company was “fortunately…in a comfortable position,” adding that while it uses AKM converters in a number of products, including its Crimson, Madison, Phonitor range of headphone amps, and the new Marc One interface, among others, SPL has stocks in-house that it estimates will last between six months and a year, depending on the product.
That hasn’t stopped some from trying to capitalize on the situation, however. Gier noted, “It is unfortunate that stock brokers take advantage of situations like this, making it increasingly worse by charging ridiculous prices for remaining parts. We already rejected various unethical offers; now it looks unlikely that our industry can sustain production and keep the prices stable.”
For now, the pro-audio industry awaits news from AKM.
New York, NY (October 15, 2020)—The premise of Earios podcast The Alarmist may be farcical—host Rebecca Delgado-Smith uses her “superpower” of catastrophizing to assign blame for infamous moments in history—but the show’s sound design isn’t all lighthearted.
While shifting weekly from topics like who’s to blame for prohibition to episodes on the NASA Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, producer Amanda Lund bends standard stock audio to her creative needs.
“I have music that I pull from a royalty-free site, but I actually really love it,” Lund says. For the Challenger episode, she employs “very intense but almost neutral music, like drone beats,” while for other serious topics she plays the audio straight and digs up news clips if available. “Usually if there’s no news clips available, that means the tragedy happened like 100 years ago and it’s probably okay to be a little bit lighter in tone with it.”
Case in point: upbeat percussion and boozy horns usher listeners into the speakeasys of the 1920s for the episode on prohibition, while a stately church organ and Middle Eastern music set the tone for a discussion on who’s to blame for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. But each episode carries at least a bit of the team’s sense of humor.
“I knew I wanted to [make the] sound design a little bit tongue-in-cheek, because I feel there are a lot of really straightforward history podcasts and true crime podcasts that use this robust soundscape in a really sort of sincere way,” she explains. “With The Alarmist, we try to mimic that—but undercut it with some humor.”
Lund has spent most of her career on the talent side of the business, as an actor in TV shows like The New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She wrote and created the critically acclaimed audio series The Complete Woman (Earwolf, Earios), where she also began to hone her editing chops. But while that series is a more tightly produced package, working on The Alarmist is a looser affair.
“You can manipulate so much in editing,” she says. “It’s amazing what you can do by taking out a split second of silence or adding a split second of silence. But I don’t do that too much with The Alarmist, just because Rebecca and Chris [Smith, live fact checker] are both improvisers and comedians.”
Conversations are presented more or less the way they occur live. Delgado-Smith prepares for each topic and commits to the arc of the episode, which makes Lund’s job easier.
“I try not to rearrange because I feel like it’s a house of cards, and the minute you start moving stuff around, you make 100 times more work for yourself,” she says. “I really try to just take out full sections if I [have to edit]. I really don’t have to worry about manipulating the conversation that much.”
Recording remotely hasn’t taken the fun out of producing the comedy podcast. The setup is straightforward, with the show’s host and guests communicating over video conference. Lund runs a Sennheiser E 845-S dynamic cardioid mic into Avid Pro Tools via a Behringer U-Phoria UMC404 interface. Delgado-Smith and Smith use the same mics, with a Tascam DR-70D audio recorder. Guests record locally, typically to QuickTime, and then Lund assembles the episodes. So far, she says she has only had to remove minor background noises in iZotope RX.
“We’ve been pretty lucky,” she says. “You never really know what you’re going to get, and you can’t control it because you don’t know really how it’s going to sound until you get the file. It really is a kind of crapshoot.”
New York, NY (June 16, 2020)—MI and pro audio retailer Guitar Center is giving away a Complete Podcaster Recording Bundle, aimed at podcasters and content creators. The sweepstakes runs through July 29, 2020.
One lucky winner will receive an all-in-one kit that includes a RØDECaster Pro full production studio; a pair of Sterling SP150SMK studio condenser microphones; two Tascam TH-200X studio headphones; a pair of Proline MS112 desktop boom mic stands; two 5-foot Livewire Essential XLR mic cables; and a 16GB Delkin MicroSD card.
The Bundle, which Guitar Center sells for $999.99, is intended to provide everything that users need to start recording professional podcasts right out of the box, resulting in a turnkey solution for getting usable results in just a few minutes with a system capable of recording interviews, op-ed segments, news, reviews or musical and vocal performances.