Pretty video isn’t much fun to watch if your audio is terrible. Sennheiser has partnered with Apogee to bring their popular professional ME2 Lav Microphone to iOS devices. How does it sound? Let’s take a listen!
I work in voice over and spoken word recording, and it’s kinda killing me how many people are still pumping out bad audio for their podcasts.
With all of the radical improvements in our technology, it really does drive home the point that nicer equipment doesn’t guarantee better results. If you’re wanting to produce more professional sounding audio, you’re still going to have to learn the basics of how recording works.
So, in true internet geek fashion, allow me to insult you for a bit while we take a look at some tips to improve your home recording.
Disclaimer: My primary job when I’m not tech blogging is commercial, animation, and video game voice over casting in Hollywood.
One interesting side discussion during this year’s Developer Summit was the utilization of new speech API’s from AT&T. It’s based on the Watson engine, which you heard as the HAL-like voice which spanked a couple of flesh bags on Jeopardy back in 2011. It’s an alpha API, but is already light years ahead of the basic Text to Speech engines in use for audiobooks.
As a voice over director and producer, I completely understand some of the challenges in recording with people. It’s an endurance match recording a 30 second TV spot, let alone a whole book. I’ve always been shocked by people who listen to the books recorded by artificial voices, devoid of any performance, and with tragically awful emphasis. Those older speech engines will say all the words in the right order, but they can’t tell you a story.
This new speech engine is working to change that. It’s still wholly artificial, but it can now represent several different characters instead of just one voice type. Plus it can be programmed to follow punctuation and energy levels for urgency and emphasis. It makes the act of listening to an audiobook a lot easier when there’s some sense of through line or narrative.
It’s obviously years away from replacing the terrific actors whole labor over these kinds of projects, but computer voices are improving rapidly. We all make jokes about Siri, but Google and Apple have delivered mobile data assistants with voices we would’ve thought impossible at the consumer level even just five years ago. And then there’s Watson, which can even learn the nuance of language well enough to pick up on swearing and other colorful metaphors.
Seth Stell from Smashing Ideas was on hand to demo some of the work they’re doing with Random House to replace humans. I shot video of the demonstration, but unfortunately the Galaxy S4 Zoom I used ate the audio, which is like the most important part of demoing a speech engine. Thankfully there’s a Livestream of the event embedded below.
Skip to 22 minutes to begin the piece on Speech hosted by Random House.
It still hasn’t come to Android. Plug a USB mic into an Android tablet, and it’ll likely power up, but Android wont know what to do with it. Microsoft might have the hardware to offer up a solution for us mobile audio junkies. Let’s take a look at how recording works on a Surface 2, and what happens to the files you create after you’re done editing.
How good is the Yeti mic. $149. Looking for something to dub review videos.
I’m a big fan of the Yeti. I recently reviewed the Yeti Pro (black version) here on the site. It’s one of the more versatile USB mics you can pick up.
But do you need that versatility?
If your main use is to record yourself for the voice over behind video, the Yeti might be overkill. Having variable polar patterns which change the “shape” of what the mic will pick up probably wont be necessary if you’re recording videos with similar tone and if you’re in a consistent space while recording those voice overs. I’ve also produced a video explaining polar patterns if you need more info.
The Yeti also makes for a fine interview mic, so maybe it’s worth grabbing it if you think you might want to do that. If that’s not really on your radar however, you’ll be spending cash on features you wont be using.
You could also take a look at Audio-Technica’s lineup. The AT2020 USB is an entry level standard, and many have started their home recording careers with that mic. If you don’t mind the price tag bump, A-T recently updated the AT2020USB Plus to include on-mic volume and headphone controls. Compared to the Yeti these mics aren’t as versatile, but in my opinion they do their one job better than the Yeti does that one job.
Now all of these will be fine options for dubbing a review video, but in terms of maximizing your bang-for-buck, you just need to be honest with yourself regarding what capabilities you actually need.
Available today, the Snowball comes in a variety of colors, now on offer in Black, SIlver, Purple, Green, Pink, White, and Blue. Now while recording your podcasts or voice overs, you’ll have something a little more colorful to look at.
$99.99 out the door for those of you wanting to improve your home recordings, and Blue’s reputation here is pretty much second to none.
Let’s take a look back at one of the best USB microphones currently on the market. The Yeti Pro is still chugging along as a great solution for those wanting to improve their home recording or podcasting capabilities.
Time to go hands on with this multi-pattern wunder-mic!
If you like to record audio, music, podcasts on the cheap, chances are you’ve heard of Audacity. This program actually stands as one of my favorites, and has a feature set which rivals many paid audio editors. Plus if once you learn how to use it, it doesn’t matter what computer you use it on. Mac, PC, Linux it’s all the same. You can even run it from a USB flash drive.
Well Audacity has received a nice little update. Focusing mostly on stability and bug fixes, there are a couple neat little new features included in 2.0.4. First a new reverb plug in will help you add all the echo you might want. Also, for Windows users, you can now record your computer’s playback by choosing the WASAPI host.