More and more of my work seems to involve production, audio or video. Yes, I do own some pricy little gadgets, but sitting down and writing a blog about $4,000 microphones or $8,000 video upsamplers didn’t seem to make much sense. So instead, I’m going to talk about some of the very practical and relatively inexpensive great buys I’ve found in the past year or so.
First out of the gate is the CEntrance Micport pro. It is about as simple as it gets. At one end, there is a connector for a microphone cable. One the other end is a little port that you hook a USB cable into it. This goes into your computer and you are left with a very small and useful phantom powered mic pre, that works with just about any microphone on the market. I have yet to find any software that won’t work with it and it works well under just about every flavor of Windows you can toss at it as well as most of the Mac OS’s.
It’s about the size of a cigar. On the back end is a single button that engages phantom power and in the middle are two dials. One is for gain and the other for headphone volume. Yes, there is a very cute little 1/8″ headphone connector built into this puppy.
I ran some relatively unbiased tests with a male v.o., female v.o. doing some relatively straight ahead commercial copy. I then ran a couple of tests with them singing. I used a Neumann U87 and the Micport pro for test A. The other tests swapped out some fairly well known high-end mic-pre’s, along with an Apogee Rosetta to handle getting everything into the computer. The results were that all of the engineers polled seemed to hear differences among the various mic-pre’s, but nobody could pick the Micport pro out. It offered a very transparent and high quality sound. And the street price for the Micport Pro, $150. The other amps we used were an Aphex 230, Milennia ST-1, John Hardy M-1 and an Avalon 737. None of the recordings used any eq or compression tweaks.
For more info visit www.centrance.com/products/mp/
Another item that most audio recording professionals will love is called the Mic Thing. SE electronics came out with an item called the Reflexion filter, but the folks at SM Pro Audio have come out with a larger and in my opinion better product. This is straight from SM Pro’s site “The Mic Thing is a portable multi-purpose acoustic treatment panel suitable for minimizing room artifacts and improving separation during microphone recording sessions. Great for a range of applications including helping to control room ambience, minimizing spill from instrument amplifiers, or even creating temporary control rooms the Mic Thing is certainly one handy thing!” I simply couldn’t describe it any better.
For home recording studios it will help as part of an overall approach to keeping you noise fllor at a low and managable level. I use one in my main room when we have to do ADR or dubbing and it not only keeps out the computer noise, but cuts down on transients sounds and bounce back. It’s not a sound booth. It can however be employed along with other measures to help create a clean environment for recording.
www.smproaudio.com/produkte.html When I bought mine, it came with a very good quality stand thrown in for around $250, with the shipping. One hint, replace the washers that come with this with some good quality washers. (I used plastic ones)The 2 side wings otherwise will have difficulty staying in position.
For around $300 or so, you can have two channels of either passive or phantom powered XLR inputs into pretty much any camcorder out there. You’ll never get caught short trying to match great sound to your great video. Clean and quiet, Beachtek also has several other flavors both higher and lower prized if you require more bells and whistles or simply don’t think you’ll need phantom power. For more info visit www.beachtek.com These adapters are also carried by most of the usual suspects online and some brick and mortar.