Tim Keenan's Audio Gear Picks from NAB’11

MCAI Member, Tim Keenan, respected master audio engineer and owner of Creative Media Recording, scoured the recent NAB convention in Las Vegas for the newest and best audio gear. Here’s his audio picks and reviews!

by Tim Keenan, Creative media Recording.com

For those who may not know, the National Association of Broadcasters annual trade show (NAB) used to be primarily for TV and radio broadcasters but has evolved over the years to encompass all audio and video post-production services and producers as well. I would say the mix is about 50/50 between broadcast folks and non-broadcast folks. We’ve been attending this thing for years!!

It was a very cool show this year and the mood seemed much more upbeat than last year - related to the economy. We got a chance to meet a lot of the folks from the production music & sound effects libraries and equipment manufacturers, we got to test mics from all the major equipment folks, check out isolation booths, the list goes on. I want to touch on 5 pieces of gear I saw that I thought both voiceover folks with home studios as well as video shooters & editors would be interested in - all to make their audio sound great. That’s what we’re about here at Creative Media - making projects sound great.

First off were these very interesting tiny fuzzy windscreens from a little company in Denmark called Bubblebee. They looked like those tribbles from the old Star trek show and they come in a couple sizes to fit lavlier mics or headset mics. They cut down on wind noise outdoors or plosive sounds if you have a small mic close to your mouth. Very fun. Bubblebee windscreens: http://bit.ly/gGRvDe

Next was a very cool microphone shock mount for large diaphragm voiceover mics from Rycote. I’ve seen a few reviews of this but here we got to actually see it, touch it and test it out on the show floor. First of all it has a windscreen that easily folds down out of the way if you want—and it’s easily removable and washable if you have a lots of folks on the mic like we do and want to clean things up between gigs. It is really well designed with no rubber bands that can stretch or break and does a fantastic job of isolating the mic from bumps or thumps. This is on my wish list for the studio here. Rycote Pop Filter: http://radioworld.com/article/113076

3rd on my list was a new VO mic from Sennheiser (the sister company to Neumann). It is called the MK4 and has very affordable price point for the quality of mic that it is. We got to talk into it and test it out on the show floor—which is not the best environment for testing mics! But it sounds pretty cool, was great looking - really sleek - and has great specs. Sennheiser MK4 Voiceover Mic: http://www.proaudioreview.com/article/34160

The MXL booth - Marshall Labs - had a variety of mics we got to check out. You’re likely familiar with these folks for their affordable VO mics. But one new product that they were showing was an acoustic reflection filter that fits around voiceover microphones on the mic stand to help isolate the mic from extraneous noises. It was adjustable and could close up to move out of way if need that. It was well made and had a great price point for this type of filter of $199.00 MXL MICs: http://www.mxlmics.com/

And the 5th product I saw and liked can be used in a home studio set-up, a video edit bay, in the field on a video shoot or just on the go with a laptop. It was a 2 mic pre-amp and direct USB interface from Sound Devices called the USB Pre2. Sound Devices is already known for their high quality pre-amps and remote recorders but this was a tad different. They were demoing this on the show floor with a mic right into a laptop running Soundtrack Pro - the same recording software we use here at Creative Media. The Pre2 gives you two mic inputs if you ever find yourself in an interview situation needing that extra mic input and a direct USB connection to your computer using their A to D converters - all very reasonably priced considering the design quality. Sound Devices USBPre 2: http://sounddevices.com/products/usbpre2.htm

So there you have it. We saw lots of great stuff and I could have talked about more but these were fun new standouts for me. Check them out yourself. --Tim Keenan

About the author:
Tim Keenan is an active member of the MCAI, OC VO Peeps and the OC Media Aliance and has been producing award winning AUDIO post production projects for over three decades through his company, Creative Media Recording, in Cypress, CA. Services provided at the two-studio facility include, voice recording and editing, music scoring from over dozen stock libraries, voice talent casting assistance, foreign language conversions and ISDN Voice-Over connection to any ISDN studio or ISDN equipped V.O. talent worldwide. For more information, be sure to visit his website at www.creativemediarecording.com.