Tag Archives: microphone

The Ultimate USB Microphones

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One live caller recently told me he had just ordered the same USB mic that I use because he loved the crystal-clear sound that I have. Unfortunately, he didn’t use the coupons that I have available. He wondered if I used any special settings with my mic, because the sound really is fantastic. All I’ve done, though, is plug it in… honest. My mic provides me with the ultimate audio experience.

The Audio Technica AT2020 USB Condenser Mic has a clear natural sound that works well for podcasting, home studio recording, field recording and even voiceover use. I use it on my live stream, of course, and you hear the results. It plugs right into your computer’s USB port, and functions seamlessly with your favorite recording software.

I also happen to have a beast of a USB microphone… the Yeti. This thing is pretty powerful, and works well for recording vocals, instrumentals or interviews. The sound is amazing on this thing, plain and simple. There’s a mute button right on the front, which I really appreciate. There’s also a gain button on the back, which allows you to change the gain within the hardware instead of just the software.

One of the things I wish the Yeti had is a version in black, instead of just silver… and possibly a bit slimmer. The AT2020 has a low profile on my desk, which is important to me. The Yeti, however, is a giant. I will likely use it for conducting interviews though, or anything that might need even higher quality than the AT2020 gives me.

If you like the Audio Technica USB microphone that I’m using now, you may be interested in the Yeti. Both are excellent USB mics, and neither of them will let you down in any recording situation you can think of.

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Wireless Mic Review

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One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “What microphone do you use?”. If I’m recording something in my home office via the live stream, then I use the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone. However, when I’m recording on the go, that just won’t work.

The Vado 3 happens to allow an external mic. Therefore, I decided to try and see how it will work. The Audio Technica ATR-288W VHF Wireless Microphone was sent to me for review. What perfect timing!

The kit includes a lapel mic for hands-free use, as well as a traditional hand-held microphone. The lightweight transmitter operates on one 9-volt battery, and allows for up to 8 hours of continuous usage. The wireless mic will work from about 100 feet, but can reach up to 300 feet under optimum conditions.

According to the live chat room and the comments I”m seeing on the video so far, the sound isn’t the greatest with the lapel mic. However… you CAN hear it, right? It works, and it’s mostly clear sounding. The quality may not be as good as it is with the hand-held mic. However, it is clear enough to be heard. I think this is going to be true with any wireless mic, as compared to a wired one.

All in all, I am pretty happy with this Audio Technica mic. What are your thoughts? If you’ve used it, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. If you haven’t used it, what do you have to say based just on this video alone?

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How to Produce a Successful Video Shoot

Geek!This is Keegan Blackshear’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Whether it is a live video stream, or a video that you are going to put on YouTube, there are many things that you have to keep in mind. Through my trial and errors in making videos, I have found many important items that need to be addressed to make an all-around decent video. I have arranged them according to what I think is the most important first, to the tip that affects you the least.

  • Video Quality – Good video quality is a must for almost every type of video that you may plan to shoot. In the case of showing small items, you need to make sure that the audience can see what you are holding or showcasing. If you appear as a blur on the screen, you should adjust the video quality. This can be achieved by adjusting the focus. Good video quality is a goal that you need to work towards each and every time you shoot video. Try finding out what quality your device has, and attempt to use it to its fullest. If you can use a video camera or photography camera that can record video, then try to use that. If possible, stay away from webcams as they can have a lower quality picture than that of a video camera. If you must use a web camera, purchase one that is of higher quality instead of one that is less expensive.
  • Lighting – Lighting, along with video quality, is important. If you do not have good lighting for your video, then your audience will not be able to see what you are trying to show them. Placement of lighting is important so the viewer can see what you are showcasing. For example, if you place a lamp to the side of you with the shade taken off, then the viewer will typically be able to see only half of your face. If you can move the lamp in front of you as much as possible, it should cut down on the shadowing of your face. Another example of this is if you are standing in front of a window that is open. The light coming in from a window can darken the things in front of and around it. A simple solution would be to close it, or put a sheet, towel, or a curtain over it. If it is necessary for the window to remain open, then you can brighten the area in front of the window with some artificial light from a lamp or ceiling lights. If there is a brighter window behind the camera, then you could let light in from that window to combat the light in front of the camera. Remember, too much light can be a bad thing. The video can become washed out, where it is hard to see what is on the screen.
  • Sound – Sound is another key item that you need to take into consideration when you are setting up, recording, or streaming video. The placement and surroundings can effect your decision greatly. If you have a microphone on the device that you are using to record or stream video, then you may want to think about getting another microphone. The most convenient spot to place your microphone may not always be the place that you should put it. If the easiest place to put the microphone is behind you, you should automatically think about a different place. If you can not find another spot for the microphone, then you can attempt to make the best of the original microphone on your video recording or streaming device.
  • Information – The information that you give in the recorded or live video is an important factor, because it will help you express your message to the audience. You have to be able to convey what you’re saying to your audience properly, or they may not be able to understand what you are trying to get across to them. You will want to take some time to plan out what you will say ahead of time to prevent the need to redo the shot. Before you stream live video, take some time to look at the material that you will present… rehearse it, then shoot it.
  • Editing – Editing is important mainly to recorded video, as it is difficult to edit a live feed. However, you can record the live video that you streamed, to edit later. Some people prefer to upload raw footage and do nothing with it. That is understandable, because it can be a hassle to edit video. However, it is a good idea to edit video in the event that you made mistakes. Editing may also come in handy if you are unable to get the same camera angle again, because of the time of day, position, or equipment change.

These are the five tips I find most important for beginners to have a successful video shoot. It is easy to incorporate these tips into your video-making routine. If you have any other suggestions that you find helpful, you can find me on Geeks, or leave a comment here.

What USB Microphone are You Using to Record Audio?

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What microphone do you use if you’re recording audio or video? If you’re looking for a mic, I have a new recommendation for you. Right now, I’m using the Samson CO1U, but I’ve picked up something that’s smaller. The Snowflake USB Microphone by Blue is very compact and lightweight.

Whether you’re recording your newest podcast, talking business on the web, or just narrating your latest great family movie, the Snowflake can capture it with amazing clarity and depth that’s head and shoulders above any comparable portable USB on the market!

The Snowflake works on both Mac and PC with no complicated drivers to install: just connect it to your computer’s USB port, follow the prompts and you’ll have high-fidelity sound in no time. It’s perfect for podcasting, voice recognition software, iChat, and VoIP software such as Skype and Vonage. Or use it for dictation, field recording, lecture recording, and narration for slideshows and PowerPoint presentations. The sky’s the limit. It’s even great for recording music via GarageBand and other multitrack recording software.

The Snowflake has its own digital converter. It’s extremely portable. It’s just this little mic that sits in the square, or you can pop it out. It kinda looks like an eyeball! You can have it sitting on your desk, or hang it off the back of a laptop or monitor. The mic head pivots around 360 degrees!

The sound quality is pretty nice. It records up to 44k 16-bit audio, which is more than enough if you are recording your voice for a podcast or something. You really only want to record at about 22k for voice. Anything more is overkill. You’d want 44k if you’re recording music.

Again, this is the Snowflake mic from Blue. I expect this will be the microphone that I will be using from now on!

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Where are all the PC Gizmos?

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How cool are all of my new toys? When the people at miJam asked me if I wanted to review a few of their newest toys, I jumped at the chance. I may be 35, but I still love toys! Seriously, who wouldn’t love things like this?

The miJam Pro Air Drummer allows you to play drums without wires. It simulates a full drum set with a pair of wireless drumsticks, a bass drum foot pedal and a speaker unit. You can jam along with any songs in your music player. The wireless speaker has 6 built-in rhythms, volume and tempo control, audio in cable and audio out jack. Wireless foot pedal can play bass drum sound. And with the wireless drumsticks, you can perform snare drum, tom tom, floor tom, crash cymbal, hi-hat cymbal and ride cymbal sound easily. Drum roll can also be done with the “follow” buttons.

The miJam Studio Mike is an easy-to-use microphone that will allow young people to experience the fun of jamming by masking out or temporarily removing the original vocals of their favorite tunes. In this way, they can sing with their voice blended into the original background music – whether it is a band or a symphony. To work with Studio Mike, all you need is an iPod® or a MP3 player. Studio Mike will do the rest for you. Studio Mike is perhaps the most simple and portable vocals jamming instrument you can find on the market.

PC Gizmo is a perfect companion to kids and teenagers who use computers. PC Gizmo is not only easy and fun to play with, it is also very useful as it helps you to manage your communication applications on your computer such as email, instant messengers, and Skype call.

The best part is that not only are these toys fun… they’re insanely inexpensive! Pick up one or all three for holiday gifts this year. Heck, buy some for yourself! Bring out the kid in you.

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