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(Modulate This) Microphones Online Streaming Reviews

In Use – The RØDE PodMic and PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm for Online Meetings, Podcasts, Online Streaming Concerts, & Voiceovers

In this post I’ll offer some info on my journey to finding a good, budget-friendly, broadcast-style mic and boom solution to up my game for online meetings, online streaming concerts, podcast interviews, and voiceovers.

Note: I’m not an affiliate. Just passing on a solution that works well for me 😀

My Use Cases

I needed a broadcast-style mic and boom solution to satisfy the use cases below.

1 – Zoom and Online Meetings

Of course, we’ve all been on a zillion zoom meetings by now, and I wasn’t really happy with using what I had on-hand (more on this below).

In particular, I’ve been hosting a lot of meetings for the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet and coming up this week, I’m a guest presenter on anther online event – Subs Up & BAUG present: Using the Launchpad Pro MK3 w/ Ableton Live and Hardware on Monday the 18th.

2 – Talkback mic for Online Streaming Concerts

I’ve started to get booked for online streaming multimedia concerts such as Boulder Experiments in Art & Technology meetup – Creative technology Performances and Demos meetup on Friday the 22nd.

I have my sit / stand IKEA desk on the right and my live streaming Elektron rig with Resolume on the left, so that with a boom I can use one mic for multiple applications.

BTW – here is a 3 minute teaser of my online multimedia set, which continues to evolve.

3 – Podcast Interviews

I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed for podcasts such as Darwin Grosse’s Art + Music + Technology Podcast #23 and #139, and Brian Funk’s Music Production Podcast #99. I have a few pending invites, so I thought I’d up my game.

4 – Voiceovers

It’s been a number of years since I’ve done video tutorials and I’ve been thinking about doing them again from time-to-time. For this use case I wanted to have some sort of standing boom, broadcast-style mic setup that wouldn’t pick up much room noise.

On a related note – here is a classic from 10 years back that is still relevant today.

My Recent Journey on Zoom Meetings for the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet

Prior to the pandemic, I was already working on plans to take the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet online. Since March 12th, I’ve hosted 9 online events. My first step was to use what I hand on hand.

Sure SM-58

In the first few weeks of being constantly online, I started with a Sure SM-57 with a foam windscreen on a mic stand that has a boom arm. The natural thing to do is have the mic pointing up at you so as to not block the screen.

This didn’t work because, of course, that then makes it hard to see what you are doing on your computer keyboard. I tried putting this set up off to the side to speak across the mic but it just didn’t sound great due to the mic’s pickup pattern.

RØDE NT1-A

Next, I tried using a RØDE NT1-A on a mic stand with a boom in a spider shock mount with a foam windscreen (I don’t like having the big pop filter for the meeting use case.) The spider mount allowed me to have the mic hanging from above, out of the way, and it sounded great.

Two problems arose for me at this point. First, the mic pickup pattern is broad so it was picking up sounds like my heater coming on. Also, at this point I was really over the mic stand with the boom option because I kept bumping into it or stepping on the legs which send a loud “bang” noise through the meetings.

RØDE PodMic and PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm FTW!

I started down the path of sifting through piles of reviews, YouTube videos, product pages, and specs of mics and boom stands. Talk about overwhelming 😯.

At some point, I said to hell with it and decided to take a chance on RØDE since I was already a fan of the NT1-A and they had a fairly affordable pairing of mic and boom arm.

I went with the RØDE PodMic and PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm.

RØDE PodMic – $99

I love this mic! It has a built-in pop-filter, and the mic pattern works well when you talk across the mic, yet it doesn’t pick up all sorts of background noise. If you get up on the mic you get a proximity effect giving you a nice broadcaster’s tone. Coming in at 2lbs, it’s beefy.

Here are some specs:

  • Broadcast-quality dynamic capsule
  • Optimized for speech applications
  • Internal pop filter to minimize plosives
  • Robust, all metal construction
  • Designed for use with RØDECaster™ Pro Podcast Production

On a related note, now that I have this mic, I noticed it’s the same mic that Nick Batt uses for the Sonic Talk Podcast 😀.

PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm – $99

I assume this stand is designed for use with this mic as the balance is perfect, even though the PodMic is beefy.

Here are some specs:

  • An ideal studio boom arm for radio, broadcast, and home use
  • Supports most broadcast-style microphones weighing between 1.5 lbs. and 2.4 lbs. such as the RODE Procaster or Podcaster
  • Full 360-degree rotation makes positioning your microphone easy
  • Maximum horizontal reach of up to 32″ and maximum vertical reach of up to 33″ provide ample desk coverage
  • Supplied hook-and-loop wraps keep your mic cables tucked neatly out of the way
  • Desk clamp attachment provides mounting to desks as thick as 2.16″
  • Insert attachment provided for use with standard desk inserts up to 2.75″ thick

In-Use

Attaching the mount to the desk is just a few turns of the clamp screw. Then, you just pop the boom into the desk mount and mount the mic. Installing the boom and mic took all of 5 minutes.

So far, I’ve tested this setup in online meetings and for test streams with talkback mic. These use cases are similar enough to the others I mentioned that I feel confident this solution is going to work really well for all my use cases.

Transitioning from other use cases to the Talkback mic for Online Streaming Concerts use case is great. As I mentioned, my studio is setup so that my sit / stand IKEA desk is on the right, and my live streaming synth rig with Resolume is on the left. If I swing the boom to the left, I have a talk-back mic for live performance. If I swing it to the right, I use it for online meetings, video tutorials, and podcast interviews. When not in use, I move the boom and mic up and over the monitor and it sits out of the way.

For $200 bucks it ticks all the boxes for what I was looking for. From my perspective, the solution offers great quality and value for the money.

Links

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(Modulate This) Lighting Live Performance Online Streaming

Inexpensive Rechargeable Lighting Recommendation for Online Meetings and Dark Performance and Studio Environments

In this post I wanted to share a recommendation on an inexpensive rechargeable light I’ve been using. I’m NOT an Amazon affiliate or anything like that. Just wanted to offer a tip :^)

First up let me explain my use cases, then I’ll offer the recommendation.

Use Cases

Use Case 1 – Playing in Dark Environments

Back in January I played a set on all Elektron gear in a near dark environment for the Zodiak Free Arts Lab West concert series in Lafayette Colorado. This event was presented by @tiertwolive.

The lighting in the space was super cool with shimmering blue lights painting the walls. It kind of looked like you were in the bottom of a swimming pool at night. On top of all that, one of the other artists Redwing Blackbird brought lasers and a smoke machine! Here are a few picks of the venue, Victoria Lundy, Me, and Redwing Blackbird performing in the space.

So while I was performing I was almost completely blinded – haha. Check out this short video clip from the set and you’ll see what I mean.

Video courtesy of Michant Metrique. “Gonna Rise Up” is a song from the album Fear Cannot Save Us and is also on the Live at Mountain Skies album.

Rewind to sound check. I realized while being immersed in smoke, lasers, and dark blue light I could in fact make out the buttons and controls on the Digitone and Octatrack MKII thanks to their backlit buttons – yay!. Not so much with my trusty Analog Four MKI which has LED dots with screen painted labels – boo! The show producer was kind enough to point a blue light on my gear which helped as did playing the muscle memory I acquired by playing Analog Four MKI for a number of years.

I had a goose neck LED but I forgot to bring it. It only had one intensity so I think the light would have ruined the aesthetic.

Use Case 2 – Front Lighting for Zoom Meetings

I had already started to make plans to take the Rocky Mountain Synth Meet online in February as I was having some problems finding rooms. Of course all that work helped us when we HAD to transition to online.

I found myself as all of us in a whole lot of Zoom meetings from a location in my house where the lighting isn’t great. Therefore, Use Case 2 was to see if I could find a light that would do double-duty for front lighting for online meetings.

The Hunt for a Cheap Rechargeable LED Light

After some research and trial and error buying some lights on Amazon I found one I really like.

The BIGLIGHT Book Reading Light which costs all of $12.99.

3 LIGHTING MODES — With the touch switch on the book light head, you can switch for 3 lighting modes at 3000K(Warm White), 4300K(Warm White + Cool White), 8000K(Cool White).

STURDY & SECURE PADDED CLIP — With strong & robust rubber padded clamp, you can clip the reading light on almost anything like music stand, piano, orchestra pit, book, desk,bed headboard, etc.

SUPER BRIGHT & DIMMABLE — Each music stand light has 8pcs longlasting LEDs, 100 lumens, very bright. And the brightness can be dimmed from 100% to 5%, no flicker, no shadow, no dizzy light, good for eye protection.

RECHARGEABLE — The built-in rechargeable polymer lithium battery is 1500mA. Fully charged can use for as long as 12 hours.

EXTENDABLE LIGHTING HEAD — The piano light’s head can be folded or extended 180 degree, which can provide a wider lighting area.

In Use for Performing and Online Meetings

Some things that make this light a winner for me are:

  1. The clamp can opened quite wide so you can not only use this on a music stand but clamp to a desk or mic stand
  2. I haven’t done a timed test, but the battery life is great
  3. The warm light mode means you don’t have to use a gel (like with some other low cost solutions) to use it as a meeting front lite for Zoom meetings and such
  4. It’s bright enough that if you want to splash it off a wall for more diffused lite it works pretty well
  5. Being able to dim this down means you could use it for gigging without competing too much with the stage lighting vibe. Also you being able to adjust the intensity for an online meeting is essential.

It’s the Little Things

I’ve been gigging for many, many years now and it’s always the little things that can screw up your live set. Not being able to see is one of them. Throw this handy light in your gig bag and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Plus you’ll look less ghostly on online meetings – bam!

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(Modulate This) Online Streaming Web Cams

Online Streaming Tip: How to Save Logitech C920 Webcam Settings

If you reading this post you are either 1) a longtime Logitech C920 webcam user 2) managed to have incredible timing and get a camera before they sold out like toilet paper 3) hope to get one real soon 😀. I’m in category #1 and have C920 C922x.

Now at this point you have probably discovered that if you unplug a C920 series webcam or shut down your computer, the camera forgets all of it’s settings 😬.

So how do you save settings on a Logitech C920? Here is how I’m doing it. Oh, and this method should work for any camera in the series such as C920 HD Pro Webcam, C922, C922X, C920s, C920.

Overview

Logitech has a free app for MAC and PC called Logitech Capture. You can download it here https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/capture.

System Requirements

Windows®10 or above

macOS®10.14 or above

7th Gen Intel®Core™i5 or later

https://www.logitech.com/assets/65586/62/capture-video-editing-software.pdf

Select your field of view, aspect ratio, and recording resolution. Additional options allow you to adjust white-balance, auto-focus, and frames-per-second settings.

Create a Logitech ID to save all of your Logitech Capture settings in a profile. Save up to six profiles to conveniently switch between sessions.

https://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/capture

Here is How I Use Logitech Capture

Configure Settings

  1. Plug in your camera(s)
  2. Use Logitech Capture to change camera settings
  3. Shut down Logitech Capture
  4. Use your streaming app like Zoom or Facebook Live

Recall Your Settings

  1. Plug in your camera
  2. Start Logitech Capture
  3. For me this recalls the last setting saved
  4. Shut-down Logitech Capture
  5. Start a Zoom meeting or other video streaming app

Logitech Capture as an OBS Studio Alternative

Logictech touts Capture as an all in one content creation solution with the following features and even mentions you can “Broadcast yourself on YouTube come on Facebook live come up or twitch via OBS or XSplit”

In Use

When I tried it  on a Surface Laptop 3 with an snappy I7 Ice Lake processor I found Logitech Capture to be quite heavy on CPU. So you might want try the app for simple use cases.

I like the easy to user interface over say OBS Studio, but I personally found it too CPU heavy for say running multiple cameras plus Ableton Live at the same time. Your mileage may vary.

Bottom Line

Whether you use it  as an all in one country creation tool or not, Logitech Capture is a handy utility to have in your system for recalling camera settings.

Hopefully Logitech will continue to optimize this app.

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(Modulate This) Online Streaming Online-Streaming-Meetings

Optimizing Zoom Audio Settings for Streaming Music with Your Computer

My good friend and one of my mentors Dino J.A. Deane sent this helpful video “Zoom Settings for music performance” so I wanted to pass it on plus do some screen shots of settings that improve music streaming through Zoom.

Let’s Take This Step-By-Step

I already knew about some of these settings but somehow missed clicking the “Advanced” button – doh. So just to summarize the video I made some screen shots for you and will walk you though it step-by-step. Note I did these screen shots on Windows 10 so if you are on mac interface elements may be in different locations.

Enable Stereo in Your Account

“Enable Stereo Sound” is available in Free, Pro, Business, Education, or Enterprise editions of zoom.

  • Sign in to your zoom account via your web browser
  • Click “My Account” menu top-right in your browser
  • In the left menu click “Settings” then “In Meeting (Advanced)” Menu
  • Scroll down till you see “Allow users to select stereo audio in their client settings

In-App Audio Settings

Settings Panel

  • Fire up the Zoom app
  • Click the gear top right if you are not in a meeting yet. You can also get to these setting from within a meeting if you click the up-arrow icon next to the mic icon bottom left.
  • Select Audio
  • Make Sure “Automatically adjust volume” is turned off
  • Check “Enable Stereo Sound
  • Click the “Advanced” button

Advanced Settings Panel

  • Check “Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound” from microphone” (more on this further down the post)
  • Disable “Persistent Background Noise
  • Disable “Suppress Intermittent Background Noise

In Meeting – Toggling “Original Sound”

Now when you join a meeting you’ll see a new button in the top-left of the interface that enables you to toggle “Original Sound”. Note that this is a toggle so it can be a bit confusing. The label is telling which state you WILL switch to if you hit the button.

You’ll want to the label to read “Turn Off Original“. I show the two states below. On Windows it lights up blue when you are good to go. On MAC I’ve had friends report the color doesn’t change.

Original sound allows you to preserve the sound from your microphone without using Zoom’s echo cancellation and audio-enhancing features. This is ideal if your microphone or sound equipment has these features built-in and you do not need the additional enhancement.

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115003279466-Preserve-original-sound

Pro tip: I recommend that you do toggle between modes depending on whether you are speaking or playing music. In some testing I did, if you leave it in “Original Sound” mode it was reported that my voice was moving in the stereo field with a mono mic and had some artifacts.

How Much Better Is The Sound With These Settings?

I’ve did a round of tests with these settings with friend Huston Singletary and while they do help, you simply aren’t going to get the quality you’ll get say streaming from OBS Studio.

The other limiting factor when someone is performing through zoom is their network bandwidth. If their bandwidth is limited, the audio will suffer.