Centrance iOS & Android Entrance

MixerFace.FRONT-webYou know Centrance.  Though they’ve developed a host of products for musicians and audio production folks, most voice actors recognize them as people who developed the MicPortPro…the wildly popular device that translates your XLR mic into a USB output. After their lead into this realm, other names followed suit (for example, the Shure X2u), but the MicPortPro remains the standard.

michaelgoodmancentrance

Michael Goodman

But now, Centrance is entering a field where many others already have a toehold: recording on tablets and smartphones.  Digital media aficionados everywhere recognize this shift to smaller.  The tech world is moving lock, stock ‘n’ barrel to greater ease of use on the smaller devices that people take with them everywhere (and expect them to do everything).

Thus, the MixerFace by Centrance is about to debut.  The Managing Director and Chief Product Achitect of Centrance — Michael Goodman — is in Las Vegas for CES (isn’t everybody?), and answered some quick questions for me which you can read immediately below, and I’m also re-printing the Centrance News Release.

The important thing, here is that Centrance is — according to Goodman, “…spreading the word about the crowd funding campaign on indiegogo, which is the way for us to build the product ASAP and being it to market faster…”

 I appreciate that unlike other device and equipment designers, Centrance openly embraces the niche  community of voice-actors.  Sure, most musical equipment also works for VO, but somehow the marketing never mentions us.  Goodman, though says:  “We are offering some crazy deals to a limited number of customers in order to quickly collect the cash we need to get production started. As we are so busy with our other products, including our HiFi line, this financing method allows us to bring this important product to the VO community quickly.”  Hence the emphasis on Indiegogo.
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(click to enlarge this photo of the back panel of MixerFace)
MXF-back-panel-controls1I also asked M. Goodman where and when the product would be available in retail.
We anticipate shipping in April. It will be available on our website and from a network of dealers, who currently offer MicPort Pro, such as Voiceoveressentials, B&H and others.
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Goodman had this to say when I asked him what the perceived need was in the VO community for such a product:
I hear that people are starting to leave the laptop at home when they travel. My iPhone 5 and iPad are as powerful today as a 3 year-old laptop, which is more than enough computing power for audio recording and processing. So MixerFace does for the phone what MicPort Pro does for the laptop. Yet, MixerFace shrinks the size of your setup, making it much more portable.
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When I asked Goodman what he had to say to his competitors already in this market, he said:
MicPort Pro has competitors and yet, remains a strong seller to this day. It’s the audio quality, construction and professional features that set it apart from cheaper alternatives. There will always be cost-effective solutions, and there will always be a need for a professional-level solution that doesn’t cut corners. This applies to MixerFace the same way. It’s got redesigned low noise boutique preamps, 48V power, a sophisticated monitoring section that let’s you feed a cue into one ear and keep your vocal in the middle, etc. of course, the battery power is the biggest difference with MicPort Pro.
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Goodman envisioned use of the MixerFace in a mobile setting, saying:
Think recording a spot on beach or in a hotel, but instead if using the laptop, using your phone or tablet. You can edit, mix, compress, upload, etc. easily with apps like twisted wave, etc. 
 .
Now, here’s the official new release about MixerFace: (for complete specs, go to the Indiegogo site)
CourVO
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press contact: Paul de Benedictis pdbmusic@pacbell.net 1-(650)-303-2565


CEntrance Releases New MixerFace Product at Indiegogo
Company crowd-funds its new mobile recording interface for smartphones and tablets

Chicago, IL – January 6th, 2013 - Today CEntrance, a leader in Digital Audio, announced a crowd-funding effort to speed up the production ofMixerFace(tm), its new mobile recording interface. MixerFace connects professional microphones with smartphones, tablets and laptops. The small, battery-powered mobile device includes two studio-grade microphone preamps and rich digital connectivity options, enabling professional-quality recording on the go.

The new product comes on the heels of CEntrance’s successful “HiFi-M8” (pronounced HiFi-Mate) portable DAC and headphone amp for the audiophile listening community. MixerFace integrates the smart phone into the audio production workflow, creating mobile recording capability for the modern, on-the-go musician, broadcaster and VO artist. The Indiegogo campaign starts January 6th, 2013 and can be found at:http://igg.me/at/mixerface

Michael Goodman
, Managing Director of CEntrance, stated, “Getting the latest gear first has its advantages, so we decided to crowd-fund MixerFace to speed up the product introduction. This parallels our recent crowd-sourced efforts with the HiFi-M8, but takes that a step further by opening the process up to the general public.” MixerFace shares battery-powered technology with the HiFi-M8 and leverages our experience with small recording devices such as our popular MicPort Pro,” adds Goodman. “Today’s smart phones and tablets have become serious music production tools, and with Mixerface we are adding a professional, mobile audio capture solution.”

MixerFace
 offers two Neutrik(tm) combo jack inputs with boutique low-noise microphone preamps, independent gain controls with LED level monitoring, switchable 48V phantom power, sophisticated monitoring options, a headphone amp and 24-bit/192kHz converters. Mixerface offers the choice of connecting to a laptop or to a smart phone / tablet for recording or playback. The attractive, handheld, battery-powered device is made from tough, road-worthy extruded aluminum and works for over 6 hours on a single charge.

MixerFace
 is set for release in April 2014 and will be priced at $599-US, while Indiegogo contributors can save a significant amount and be the first to receive the new product well in advance of stores.  For more Mixerface product information, visit http://www.mixerface.com

About CEntrance, Inc. 
Founded in 2000, CEntrance develops innovative audio products and licenses its technology to industry leading brands, such as McIntosh, Playback Designs, Bel Canto, Benchmark, PS Audio, and Lavry. The company’s portable recording and playback solutions have earned rave reviews, industry awards and enthusiastic endorsements from artists such as Harry Shearer, Nathan East and Will Lee, and mastering engineers Bob Katz, Brian Gardner, Tom Jung and sound designer Frank Serafine, among others. CEntrance is headquartered in Chicago and distributes its products worldwide.
CEntrance is expanding its dealer network. To inquire, please call +1 (847) 581-0500 or e-mail sales@centrance.com.


All Trademarks are the property of their respective holders. MicPort(tm), AxePort(tm), DACport(tm), DACmini(tm), MasterClass(tm), Audiophile Desktop(tm), HiFi-M8(tm) and MixerFace(tm) are trademarks or registered trademarks of CEntrance, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Apple iPhone(r), iPad(r), and iPod(r) are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.

iRig Pre vs. Pro

irig proNew smartphone and tablet devices are getting churned out at a dizzying pace.  Apple and Samsung lead the pack, but the new Nokia/Microsoft merge promises some surprises, while HTC and LG continue to innovate.

Because of that, 3rd-party device manufacturers are having a heyday keeping up.  Not only is that good for those of us in voice-acting seeking a new mobile solution, but it provides almost never-ending blog fodder.

I’ve written time and time again about mobile solutions.  Tascam iM2, iRig, iAudioInterface2 for iOS from StudioSixDigital, Tascam iZX, Alesis iODockRØDE iXY and Blue Mikey to name a few.  Within weeks the reviews are superseded by the “next best thing”.  That’s not gonna stop me.

Fellow VO Blogger Paul Strikwerda recently wrote an excellent article Recording Voice Overs on Your iPhone, which includes info about the iRig Pre…an incredible value for the price.

What you don’t want to miss, though, is the iRig ProAlthough the name and even the look are are similar to the “Pre”, the fundamental design difference explains the disparity in the price between the two.

Both offer:

  • a pre-amp interface between your standard USB or XLR mic and your iOS device
  • 48V Phantom power for your condenser mic
  • Android device adaptability
  • handy apps for use with the device
  • a compact, handy form factor

Where the PRO differs, however is at the point of interface with the smartphone or tablet.  The PRE plugs into the headphone jack, wheras the PRO plugs into the 30-pin connector for older iPhones, the Lightning connector for the newer iPhones, and even comes with a USB connector for your Android, Mac, or Windows device.

The headphone/jack mic port has a radical “telephone filter” eq baked in, so there is no way to get broadcast quality audio through it.  I’m not sure I could tell, maybe you can’t either, but we’re not the audio engineers and producers that will be receiving demos from these portable devices, and my money is that THEY can tell the difference.  I’d prefer to have that edge, but the you’ll have to ask yourself if the $110 price difference is worth it.

Check out the iRig Pre, and the iRig Pro.  Then take a hard look at your budget.

My thanks to Dan Tucek for the tip about iRig Pro.  He notes that the only drawback to the Pro is the lack of any headphone jack for monitoring on the device.

CourVO

Your Next Smartphone Purchase: A VO Necessity?

lgg2My long-stated opinion about social media?  You can’t do it right without a smartphone…and now there are all-new reasons to own one of the new crop of smartphones.

I don’t care if you like iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, or Blackberry….just make sure it’s equipped to handle tweets, FaceBook, texts, and… a microphone?

So advanced are today’s smartphone devices, that they CAN be relied-upon for a quick audition, or even some dedicated voice-work that doesn’t require any steep production values…like IVR, some website narrations, maybe an explainer video or possibly some E-Learning.

While “on the road”, most of us have been able to make cogent excuses to our clients that if they could hold on for just a couple of hours for your mobile set-up recording, it’d be worth the wait.  But lately, the smartphone is capable of BEING your mobile set-up.  Which leaves as the only consideration:  your recording space.moto-x

Think I’m overstating my case?  Then maybe you haven’t seen the latest Smartphones.

While dedicated iPhone fans sit around waiting for Cupertino’s latest offering in this realm, new and vastly-improved Android-based phones are coming out of the woodwork.

Samsung Galaxy IV
Google’s new Motorola Moto-X
LG G2
Samsung Note 3

Here’s a wonderful comparison summary of the new Android phones on Gigaom.

ALL these devices, plus the HTC, and even the Windows phone are just killing it, while all we hear about the next iPhone is a lot of rumour.

iphone-jI’m using the venerable iPhone 4, but by the end of the year — mark my words — I’ll have a new smartphone. And even though I’m absolutely deep into the IOS world of apps and capabilities, I gotta admit, Android is looking pretty good.  Most every industry-watcher is reporting that Android has stolen the lion’s share of the smartphone market away from Apple.

Add to that the wonderful new apps USB Audio Recorder Pro, and it’s partner, Audio Evolution Mobile for Android make a considerable leap forward for quality mobile recording on the Android OS.  See my blog for an audio comparison Android mobile vs. home studio.

Having said all that, there is NO WAY the smart folks at Apple are just going to roll over.

Here’s a great article that summarizes a lot of the probable features of the new iPhone.
And another.

Either way…we’re winners in VO with all these incredible smartphone offerings!

What are you gonna get?

CourVO

Meet Luci Live

lucilivelogoLuci Live is an app for iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android.  Don’t ask me where they got the name, but here’s what it does, according to the website:  “…LUCI LIVE transforms your PC or Smartphone into a high-quality, live internet broadcasting source. With the availability of mobile or fixed-line internet access and the use of LUCI LIVE, the cost of live broadcasting is practically zero…”

The full application for the iPhone is $350!!!  But wait, there’s a “lite” version for only $30, and the difference is that the Lite version: “…removes the record, edit and ftp functions from its big sister, and limits your codec choice to the slightly lower quality G.722. But in all other ways, it echoes the pro interface of Luci Live, providing an extremely easy to use application for budget broadcasters who need simplicity in both setup and operation…”

“That’s great, Dave, but I’m not a broadcaster, and don’t need to send a live signal anywhere as a voice-actor,” you might say.

Hold on there, Bosco… check this out from the grand poobah of ISDN, Digifon’s Dave Immer:

For sheer coolness, it’s hard to beat this little IP codec software app. It’s well designed, easy to use and, with sufficient wireless bandwidth coupled with the right hardware IP codec on the studio side, will provide a stable connection for news LuciLive_iPhonegathering, auditions and production when voice talent is in the field. Now for a few technical details:

1. Since the iPhone/iPad is a mobile device, its connections are wireless – either wi-fi or cellular. I have tried it on a 4G LTE cellular network and it works well – often better than wi-fi.

2. While the on-board mic of your mobile device delivers passable audio, to get studio quality you will need a studio quality mic. If you use a condenser mic that requires phantom power I suggest the handy little Mic Port Pro plus a Plugable USB Hub, which requires AC power. Admittedly this diminishes the portability of the system.

3. Luci Live transmit protocols include SIP and RTP. The SIP implementation needs work, but the RTP protocol operates great with Musicam’s Suprima which features a special Luci Live setting.

I have no idea what SIP or RTP are, but I’m guessing it means Luci Live can sub for an ISDN connection from your phone, in the wild!  How this is accomplished will require me to check in with Immer, but I’m tempted.

I realize this is an extremely geeky blog for only a few dedicated gear-heads, but the point here is that even the most complicated and hi-res audio connections can now be accomplished through a smartphone (works on BlackBerry too).  I dunno… I find that amazing.

Just yesterday in this blog,  I recommended a smartphone as essential equipment for those who are serious about keeping up with their social media content.  Now, this!

Luci Live download page for Apple, Windows, and Android

Luci Live Lite download page for Android
Luci Live Lite download page for Mac
Luci Live Lite download page for Windows

Luci Live for iPhone/iPad

Luci Live Lite for iPhone/iPad

CourVO

Auphonic

auphonicThe reason I watch EWABS is because George Whittam and Dan Lenard are smarter than I am.  I learn something every time.

Among the many deficiencies in my voice-over self-wiki is the understanding of audio engineering.

I know some basics.  I try to buy good equipment.  I know I don’t have to understand it all…because (thank goodness), much of what falls on the human ear is just subjective.  Does it sound good to the client?  If so, then the spectral analysis of my sound wave doesn’t really matter, right?

Nonetheless, the more I learn about audio production, the better my stuff sounds.  Amazing how that works!  Thank you Dan and George!

There have been a number of attempts to automate the post-production of sound files…as if some all-encompassing solution would work for all your recording needs. (it doesn’t/can’t)  But they keep trying.

The Levalator comes to mind.

Anteres Technology offers some digital wizardry in their various plug-ins.

It was inevitable that someone would develop this sort of automated tweaking of your soundfile on a smartphone, though, and sure enough…the folks at Auphonic have done so.

The service claims to be, “…an automatic post production web service for broadcasters, podcasts, radio shows, screencasts and more…” 

[How is it that VOICEOVER seems to always be missing from these lists of services? Are we invisible?  Sounds like a mission for WoVO!]

Auphonic is available as an app for your iPhone and Android devices.   It levels, normalizes, reduces hum, offers restoration, filtering, handles all file formats, includes support for video input, and even makes popcorn!  (kidding about that last one).

Once you’ve registered for free, the app opens, and you can record from within the program.  You make presets, but you don’t edit the waveform.  It just automatically uploads to your account, and when you log onto the website, you’ll see it there, ready for production.

At this point, I see no costs posted on the site, just a mention to offer a donation if you like the service.

I’m not sure what Dan and George would say about Auphonic, but if you’re really caught in a pinch, and HAVE to get a good audition turned-in on a deadline, this might be worth a try.

Below is a quick explainer video of how it works…WARNING…these guys really NEEDED a decent VO talent for this video!

CourVO

 

Like Lightning!

iQ5_Black_slant-displayBarely had the digital ink dried on my blog from Monday’s unveiling of the RØDE iXY before my good friend Tim Keenan (owner of Creative Media Recording) chimed in with some welcome news.

Most portable mics designed to work with iPhones, iPads, iPods, etc. come with the 19-pin connector common on the iPhone 3 and 4, and early models of the iPad and iPod.  But as I mentioned in the iXY blog, Apple is fond of designing away from 3rd-party vendors, just to keep ‘em hopping, I think.

But look at what our friends over at Zoom Electronics did!  They’ve already come up with a pretty snazzy mic

Zoom H4n

Zoom H4n

that fits Apple’s new Lightning Connector now installed on the iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone 5, iPod touch [5th generation], iPad mini, etc.).  Bingo!

As you know, Zoom is the innovator behind a number of pro-quality hand-held audio recorders…chief among them, the Zoom H4n…and now the new H2n as well.

zoomThe new unit is called the iQ5.  It has a unique ball-type design that they call “stereo mid-size microphone” that has both horizontal and vertical positioning.

From the SamsonTech website:  “…the iQ5 features a 3-position Mid-Side stereo field switch (90°, 120°, RAW) for selecting the width of your stereo field and creating incredible flexibility over your recordings. The iQ5’s 3-position gain control switch (Auto, Limit, Off) lets you quickly choose your volume settings, while its analog mic gain wheel allows you to fine tune your levels while recording.”

I don’t see a price anywhere for this unit.  It’s not even listed on the offiicial Zoom site.

The site I’m linking to here claims the Zoom iQ5 is available at Guitar Center, but Guitar Center’s online site doesn’t return any results on a site search.

Again, this disclaimer — so well elucidated by tech officianado and LA voice talent Bo Weaver:  “No mobile mic-with-tablet-and-app configuration will match the fidelity of your home studio.”  (paraphrased)

Innovation marches on!

CourVO

 

 

 

Rode’s New iXY Mic for iOS

rode IXY_02_1024x1024Let’s just put this out there first:  No mobile mic-with-tablet-and-app configuration will match the fidelity of your home studio. Those are the paraphrased words of top VO talent Beau Weaver, who is even more of a bloodhound on the trail of the perfect mobile solution than I am…and I’ve written extensively on it.  iODock, iRigMic, Tascam iM2 and iZX…the list goes on…and Apple keeps redesigning audio configurations with each iteration of it’s devices, so there will be more gizmos in the future.

HAVING SAID THAT:  Your audio –  no matter where you cut it, and no matter what devices you use –  is only as good as the ears of the person hearing it, and many will tell you they can’t tell the difference between such mobile devices, and the average home studio audio product.

People are cutting/sending auditions, and even doing paid voice recordings inside cars and hotel rooms with the latest clever portable recording devices available on the market.

The one that caught my attention just the other day is the RØDE iXY…so designated because of the opposing X/Y configuration of the dual mics.rode ixy-shopify_grande

Of course, RØDE is no slacker among microphone manufacturers.  The New South Wales, Australia-based company has been producing quality professional mics since 1967… many of which are workhorses in plenty of studios around the world.  The iXY is a bit of a departure for them, though…but a solid effort to be sure.

From their website:  “The RØDE iXY is the ultimate recording microphone for iPhone®, iPad® or iPod® touch.  With up to 24-bit/96k* recording and on-board high-fidelity A/D conversion, your iXY recordings are rich, smooth and accurate.  At the heart of the iXY is a matched pair of ½” cardioid condenser capsules, fixed in a perfect 90 degree ‘near-coincident’ alignment.  This results in immersive and true-to-life stereo recordings, captured in incredibly high detail.  The iXY is supplied with a foam windshield for outdoor recording as well as a reinforced protective zip case to ensure your iXY is available whenever you need it.”

As I alluded to above, Apple has already begun designing-away compatibility, as the iXY is built to fit the 19-pin connector on all iOS devices except the newest iPads.

The unit comes with it’s own wind sock and carrying case…and is listed for $199 in the RØDE online store, which currently states it’s sold out;  and suppliers like B&H, whose site says it’s on pre-order.

You can, however, acquire the attendant RØDE Rec app for iOS at $5.99.  The app is pretty advanced and feature-rich, allowing different recording file formats, and standard DAW editing within the interface, as well as choices for upload.  You don’t have to  have the RØDE iXY to use the app.

Anybody out there got one of these yet?  If so, what’s it like?

CourVO

New Artist App

For iOS users (iPad, iPhone), there’s a new app available that just might be the ticket for developing your business in a very productive way.

My thanks to voice talent David Sigmon for bringing this program to my attention.  It’s called Artist Growth, and is available in the App Store.  Their website is also ArtistGrowth.com.

Let’s be clear at the outset.  This app was designed with musicians in mind, but the feature set of the program is such that I believe it could be easily adapted to the needs of a voice-actor.

From the website: “:…Artist Growth…is a groundbreaking mobile software platform that gives both amateurs and seasoned professionals the tools to manage and track daily tasks, coordinate multi-dimensional projects, and grow a business steadily – all in one robust interface. The platform uses proprietary technology to integrate finances, gig calendars, inventory, industry contacts, social media, performing rights organizations, and even provide mentoring resources from some of the industry’s top experts. It puts the business of artist development directly in the artist’s hands…”

Signing up for the 30-day trial means a .99-cent charge, then $4.99/mo.  That’s a  modest fee if it works for you, but check out the website AND the app before sinking your hard-earned bucks into it.

By all accounts, the developers have done their homework in designing a site and an app that is logical, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing.

Check it out and let me know if it suits your needs.

CourVO

Tascam iM2 Arrives

Here we go again… the never-ending search for a hi-quality usable/sharable audio file recorded on a smartphone or tablet computer leads us to this:  The Tascam iM2.

Up to this point, the Alesis iODock is the only device this reviewer evaluated that really met the minimum recording quality most voice acting pros would be comfortable sending to client…and it’s not that portable.

A caveat:  ANY $3,000 microphone will not fill the bill if your recording environment sucks.  So the Tascam iM2 is no panacea if you’re recording in the men’s bathroom at Target.

Having said that, though, the iM2 is the closest we’ve seen to making the grade with portable, on-the-fly, smartphone-device recording that you won’t be embarrassed to send to your best VO client.

Right now, it seems to be available only from B&H Photo.  $80.

See my video below for a quick look at the device itself.  My previous blog on the iM2 gives the specs.  Most importantly:  this device plugs into the 30-pin connector on the bottom of the iOS device (works with iPhone 4 & 4s, iPad, iPad2, and iPod), giving it the best possible shot at a decent recording since the Blue Mikey.  Apple changed the internal wiring when it moved from the 3Gs to the iPhone 4, rendering the Mikey unusable going forward.

(ed. note:  see a similar review of this device by Beau Weaver in the comment section of this blog)

Match the iM2 with Twisted Wave’s iPhone/iPad app for the optimal recording.  Twisted Wave also gives you powerful editing and post-production tools, and lets you share by FTP, iTunes, DropBox, email, or Wi-Fi, but does not record in .mp3.  Instead you can convert it to mp3 through a service online TW supports. Save in .wav, AIFF, CAF, or AAC.   Not quite as good, but getting close in quality are the apps:  FiReMonle and  MultiTrack.

  • The dual-positioned mics rotate so you can direct these condensers to the direction of sound.
  • The unit works best when you set your iPhone to Airplane Mode, avoiding any interruptions.
  • The unit is also very sensitive to movement, so you need to get a comfortable grip and not move the phone around, nor move your fingers on the unit while recording.
  • To listen to what you’ve recorded, you must then UN-plug the iM2 to hear the speakers.
  • The iM2 does not come with it’s own headphone jack.
  • If you have the Apple-supplied earphones plugged in the phone will prioritize the built-in mic on the headset cord, and not record through the iM2.

Now the mic comparison.

I simultaneously recorded a couple of sentences holding the Tascam iM2/iPhone4 as pictured.

The saved .wav file on the iPhone, I uploaded to DropBox, opened in AA3.0 and converted to .mp3.

The Studio Projects C-1 recording was into the AA3.0 DAW through a Steinberg CI2 USB interface.  That recording was a  native mp3.

The ONLY tweak was a boost to the gain in AA3.0 for the Tascam recording.  Even though I had the volume control on the iM2 at max, the two comparison sound waves were not equal in gain.  I had to boost the Tascam recording by about 30%.

Below are the two comparison sound files.  I think you’ll agree that while they are not equal, the Tascam recording — standing on its own — would probably pass muster for an acceptable audition, or even a final cut.

The first soundfile is the Tascam iM2/iPhone4 recording.  The lower soundfile is the Studio Projects C-1 recording.

Tascam-iM2 against StudioProjectsC-1 by CourVO

 

StudioProjectsC-1 against Tascam-iM2 by CourVO

Pretty close, eh?

LA voice acting pro Beau Weaver has also previewed this device extensively, and his analysis is included below in the comment section.  Absolutely a must-read if you are interested in the deeper technical side of this issue.  Beau is very thorough in his critique.

CourVO

For Your VO Christmas

The Holy Grail of mobile VO computing /auditioning: a hi-fidelity recording on your smartphone or tablet computer.  Most would likely agree that the leader in the software part of that solution is  Twisted Wave for the iPhone or iPad.

On the hardware end, many devices have launched over the last year, mostly for some version of the iPhone or iPad.

I’ve blogged about a number of these:  the iRig Mic, the Blue Mikey, the Tascam iZX, the Vericorder XLR Adapter Cable, the Alesis iODock, and probably a few that I missed.  Trouble is, only the Alesis iODock offers a means of input through the 30-pin connector at the bottom of the device…anything else is poor quality.

A guy who’s way ahead of me on the technology of it all — SoCal based professional voice-actor Beau Weaver – recently explained it this way in response to a thread about the technology in question: “…The audio input via the 3.5mm connector has a radical EQ curve built in, attenuating everything under 150hz and above 7khz…..which is to say “telephone filter” quality. There is no way around it, other than to introduce a reverse eq curve to compensate, which raises the noise floor. The work around with the camera connection kit USB adapter worked on the older version of the iOS operating system, but no more. The only way to get pro quality audio in is through the 30 pin connector. Several devices are in the pipeline, but none are shipping yet. For iPad, the Alesis iODock is the only thing that works…..at this point. iOS may be a pro recording platform at some point……but it is not there yet…”

So, why don’t equipment manufacturers develop more products that take advantage of this market?  Beau had an answer for that, too, when I asked him about it: “…they are just afraid to make a commitment because Apple keeps changing the API and  rendering their devices obsolete.  Case in point:  the Blu Mikey….which the second version of iOS broke, with no warning, and no recourse.  Equipment manufacturers are wise to be warry of making mac accessories……because there is a good chance apple will pull the rug out from under them…”

Still, apparently, some audio-equipment companies are willing to take the chance.  Case in point: the new Tascam iM2, seen above. 

It uses the 30-pin connector available in the iPhone and iPad, and according to the product website:  “…a high-quality stereo recorder.  A pair of condenser microphones – the same high quality as TASCAM’s best-selling DR-series recorders – plugs into the dock connector of your Apple device.  The microphones are adjustable over 180 degrees for the best sound placement.  The uni-directional elements are arranged in an AB pattern for detailed stereo imaging while capturing the ambience of your room.  The iM2 contains its own microphone preamp and analog-to-digital converter for low noise and great audio quality.  Unlike mics that use the built-in iPhone preamp, the iM2 can handle up to 125dB sound levels…”

Tascam certainly has a track record of making quality portable recorders like the DR-40, and the DR-07mkII…but this is a bit of a departure for them to release a hardware product that depends on the hardware/software of another device for their success.

Check it out.  I am.  When my unit arrives, I promise an evaluation with sound file samples.

My thanks to Beau Weaver for his help in this blog, and agreeing to my excerpting his comments.

CourVO