The iAudioInterface2: New A/D for iPod, iPad and iPhone

Holy crap, I think I might have broken the “i” on my keyboard typing that headline.

As recording voiceovers on our iDevices becomes more common there have been a multitude of doodads released for us to choose from to just plug a dang mic into the iThing and get a clean signal.  Most of the test recordings iHave heard with them sound pretty lackluster though.  Perhaps this will be an iMprovement, it certainly seems iMpressive:

Announcing the all-new iAudioInterface2. Designed from the ground up to work with all of the current Apple iOS products, iAI2 is the perfect companion to AudioTools, and the perfect stereo audio interface for all your iOS apps.

Compatible with iPhone 4, iPod touch 4, and iPad, iAudioInterface has these major features:

* 48V Phantom-powered XLR microphone input, with up to 50dB of gain**

* Balanced line input for transfer function measurements

* Balanced line output for signal generation

* Toslink digital audio output, mirrors line out at full level, also supports Dolby Digital 5.1 AC3 test signals (optional in AudioTools)

* Internal li-ion battery, draws no power from your device

* When charging with the included external adapter, also charges your attached iOS device, including iPad.

* Digital audio link to iOS device for lowest noise, and best quality. Uses our own A/D converters and DAC with precision USB audio clock recovery

iAI2 is the perfect companion for AudioTools, and also works with many iOS audio Apps, including Garageband, Skype, SignalScope, Mulit-Track Recorder, and more. Note that Apple does not support dock mics with the phone app.

Roxanna?

iT goes for about 400 clams.

Geeky specs HERE.

Purchase info HERE.

 

Geeking Out Over Audio Interfaces

When I’m not busy “volunteering” at the cheerleading academy down the road or contesting these silly restraining orders from the cheerleading academy down the road, I seem to be fielding a lot of questions about audio interfaces from you guys.  This is one the most important (for some of you, the only) components of your chain between your mic and your computer so it is pretty important to choose wisely.  Talent who are having difficulty with their noise floor or buzzing/hissing in their files can many times blame their interface.  There are about a million options out there so I am only going to go over the ones that are among the most popular and basic choices or the ones that I happen to like for whatever reason.  Please try to contain your excitement.  I’m not going to go into the super pro interfaces either since if you have the scratch for those you probably know what you are doing anyway, thus, all of these are fairly within the budget of the average bear.  You can click on the titles for purchasing info.

M-Audio Fast Track USB:

Oh man, do these things suck.  The only reason you see so many of these sitting in newbie studios is because they only cost about 100 bucks.  You certainly get what you pay for.  They only record at 24/48, there is no pre to speak of and you can only use dynamic mics since there is no phantom power.  If you are thinking of getting one of these and pairing it with a 58 or something, don’t.  You would be better off with a Snowball.  As a matter of fact, don’t even click the title link for this one, just forget you even saw it.  If you absolutely have to get one, I would guess you can find one here.

M-Audio Fast Track Pro:

For only a hundred bucks more you can get what might just be the most ubiquitous entry level interface out there, even being used by folks who have been doing this for a while.  It is quite a bit better than it’s craptastic little brother up there offering 24/96, phantom power, MIDI input and improved circuitry.  The pres are not going to do much for you, but if you pair it with a decent mic you can get away with some halfway decent recordings for a no-frills chain.  Not fully recommended, but passable.

Digidesign Mbox 2:

These guys are super popular with the Pro Tools set, and for good reason.  They are comparatively inexpensive but they sound pretty darn good.  I have even been in some semi pro studios with impressive racks of gear and one of these sitting on the console.  Obviously, this isn’t going to sound like an Avalon if you use it on its own but couple it with some other gear and a good mic and you can be in business without breaking the bank.  This has a little brother as well but I know you’re not that much of a cheapskate.  On the other hand, from here you can upgrade to the firewire Mbox 2 Pro and then on to the impressive 003, but those might be a bit pricey for the purposes of this post and may be overkill for straight VO in regards to the number of inputs.

Apogee Duet:

These hot little numbers are pretty dang sexy, and they put out too.  Obviously marketed to the Apple fanboys and girls, its sleek minimalist design with its multifunction knob would make it seem right at home next to your Mac.  It offers 24/96, phantom power, firewire and a clean, quiet sound.  Not a bad interface for 500 clams.  You would have my blessing if you want to get it.  I hope the two of you are happy together.

M-Audio Delta 1010:

Lest you think I am anti M-Audio after my scathing review of the lackluster boxes above, I assure you I am not.  I have been using one of these for the past two years or so and I am pretty darn pleased with it.  This is just a straight-up interface but it has eight ins and outs at 24/96, Word Clock, MIDI and it connects via a PCI host interface card that connects to a one RU break-out box.  This thing is super clean and is as quiet as anything else I have heard.  It isn’t the most pro thing on the market by far, but for 600 bucks it sounds close enough for me right now.  Plus, if you have one you can say, “I use the same audio interface as Erik Sheppard!  Today’s Voice!”  If you can’t get lucky using that line at the local tavern then you might just be a lost cause.

Again, there is also a dumbed down version without the rack unit but it uses a lesser quality card.

Lexicon Ionix U42S:

Honestly, I don’t know a thing about these.  I just saw it in one of my dorky audiophile magazines and I thought it had an interesting form factor.  It offers some standard stuff and is connected via USB.  Like I said, I have no clue, but Lexicon makes some other semi-decent products and, really, being designed to live above your keyboard like that is pretty cool.

CEntrance MicPort Pro:

If you have to record on the go, these little jobbers are rad.  It’s super tiny, 24/96, USB, phantom power, etc., and has a great little pre in there.  The lovely and talented Melissa Exelberth turned me on to these and I was pretty much floored by how clean it sounded.  Even the illustrious Harlan Hogan has been known to whip one of these out while on the road (cool video here).  Pack up your mic and your Porta-Booth and you will be good to go, Road Warrior style.  Seriously, I am really impressed with these, plus they are only 150 bucks!

Geez, this post is way too long so I hope somebody gets some use out of it.  Obviously, you need a good mic and quality cables but if you are rocking a basic setup and have a decent interface, you should be able to deliver a clean, quality file.

If I left out one of your favorites or you’re upset because I ragged on your box then let me have it in the comments.1

1. Crybaby.

Size Doesn’t Matter

I was looking around my studio space and it struck me how many simple, relatively inexpensive little things I have around here that make my life easier.  Perhaps some of these will help you out as well.  Click the titles for links.

Index Card Box:

I am far from being a Luddite1 and I keep contact information in databases and spreadsheets on my computer, but I always make sure information about clients, actors, agents, coaches, etc. goes on old-school index cards.  They are easy to update with notes and are impervious to system crashes.  I have info on some of you in mine that would make the Department of Homeland Security jealous.2

Page-Up Copy Stand:

These little guys are rad.  Get a few.  I don’t read copy off of them but they come in real handy next to the computer and for keeping messages and reminders out in the open.  They are real unobtrusive and work just as well as those big ugly jobbers that attach to your monitor.  You can get them in bright colors too, but that’s just tacky.3

Stedman Headphone Hanger:

Simple but effective.  These things go for like 20 bucks, which is outlandish, but they are pretty slick.  Jam one on your mic stand and you always have a convenient place for your cans.  I suppose you could MacGyver up something that would work just as well but really, live a little.

Proscreen XL Pop Filter:

Also from Stedman, and also a bit pricey, but totally worth it.  Ember turned me on to this a while back and I promptly replaced my fabric mesh filters with this.  It is metal so it will last for approximately ever and just kills your plosives without changing your sound.  I’ll recite “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” any day with this thing.

Logitech Trackman Mouse:

These are a must for me and I have one for each computer I use.  I even bring one with me to use with my laptop on the road.  There is a slight learning curve if you are not used to it but everyone who tries it out for a day or two never goes back.  They are especially helpful for us because you get super fine control to really be precise when editing waveforms.  I can’t recommend these enough for anyone who edits audio.  They are great for graphics folks as well.

Well there you go.  Don’t say I never did anything for you.  Let me know if you buy any of these things and you like them.  If you don’t like them, go cry to someone else.  Jerk.

1. Since Rumspringa.  Sorry Ezekiel.
2. Did you know de Nesnera was born a man?
3. Have some class for God’s sake.

Time To Come Out Of The Closet

This is a pretty neat new product from Primacoustic called the FlexiBooth.  It is due out in the next month or so for about 400 bucks and it might be a nice alternative for some of the moving blankets on the wall or recording in the linen closet folks out there.1 From the product description:

The FlexiBooth is a unique device that can instantly turn any room into a highly functional vocal booth by simply opening the doors! Built like a cupboard, the FlexiVoice hangs on a wall and opens wide to create a large 48″ x 48″ recording area that is both very quiet and does not suffer from the usual small room bumps in the lower mid range. Inside, deep 2″ high-density fibreglass panels fill the back while low-profile 1″ panels line the doors. These combine to effectively absorb sound energy throughout the voice range. This makes the FlexiVoice ideal for voice over, vocal tracking and pod casting.

Personally, I would like to have the doors be a little bigger and I can’t really see when you would close the thing once you have your mic positioned in there but it certainly doesn’t seem to suck overall,2 especially if you have a quiet room to hang it in. If you are interested, you can check out Mr. Excitement in the Oscar nominated video HERE.  (Let me know if the link doesn’t work for ya.)

1. You know who you are.
2. I’m a “glass is half full” kind of guy.