Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Great Microphone!

I had great service from an Audio Technica 2035 microphone. It might not rank up there with Neumann, but it worked well with my voice. But, I thought a "move up" might be warranted.

I tried the Rode NT1A, but for some reason, even though it's fairly highly regarded, I just seemed to have problems getting it to work right. No idea why. But, as many VO folks will tell you - "what's good for some people might not be right for you".

I had read stellar reviews about the CAD Equitek E100S . Even though it's been out for a few years, it's just starting to get "discovered" in my industry. The U.S.A. made mic got some great ink at recent conventions and in blogs. One top new demo company even now includes it in their mic "stable".

Intrigued, I searched online to see what it cost. Most places sell it for about $500. A few sites had it listed for about $100 less. However, in calling around, it looks like it's backordered at a lot of places. One quoted a CAD email that set the backorder at about 30 days. Another site had adjusted their page from 2 weeks to 30 days within an hour that I had looked.  Obviously the recent spike in publicity has the folks at CAD happy.

I lucked into getting my hands on one for far below even the lowest price I saw on the internet. Gotta love distress sales! (I swore to secrecy..and, no, they have no more). It arrived in it's wooden case (yes, a beautiful wood case). I couldn't wait to plug it in and give it a whirl.

In a word, it's fantastic. A very quiet mic, I had very little background noise. I have a somewhat deep voice but it didn't over-push it as the Rode does. And it also did a great job capturing the highs, an issue I had with the other two mics. So, in my final mixdown, there wasn't much EQing required. Granted, not a real technical just made my voice sound great with little software "help".

The CAD Equitek E100S is built with a low profile shock mount. It has adjustments for padding and roll off but I haven't had to use either of them. And it comes with a two warranty.

If you have the opportunity to test one, do it. Granted, not every mic is perfect for every voice, but you definitely should give it a shot.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Adobe Restructing Their Software

I use Adobe Audition 100% of the time in recording.  Since the days of "Cool Edit", which Adobe bought out years ago, I've grown comfortable with the layout, etc.

Today, Adobe announced they're going to sell software subscriptions versus the old "burn it on a DVD and package it" merchandising.  In one way, it makes sense for Adobe as it pretty much puts the software pirates out of business. I think no matter what "safeguards" they had tried to use before just plain didn't work.  Usually within a day or so the latest version was on Pirate Bay and other torrent sites.

At first I was pretty distressed as the cost of the cloud is around $600 a year.  And, since the only Adobe product I use is Audition, it was a bitter pill to try to swallow.  After all, you can buy the latest copy (CS6) for about $330 retail.

It wasn't until I started to dig a bit did I discover Adobe's full Creative Cloud pricing plan.  I found out for people like me, we can buy access to a single product for $20 a month.  At $240 a year, I don't think that's too much to have a constantly upgraded version of my software of choice. 

The Adobe program starts in June.  I'm going to investigate what, if any, improvements are in store for Audition.  If I see some significant changes, then I'll jump at the program and join their Creative Cloud.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

I'll start off by admitting I'm no website guru. I know very little about HTML coding, style sheets and all the rest of the stuff it takes to make a website properly work. 

For voice over pros, your website is today's version of the demo CD. In this digital age most producers, agencies and recording studios don't want a a physical CD of your best work. They want a digital file they can easily listen to and, perhaps, store on their computer for easy reference. A physical CD, in most minds, is nothing more than a coaster to prevent their Starbucks latte from leaving a ring on their desk. 

I'm not going to dwell on actual website design because, as I said, I'm no coding genius. And my site is definitely not an award winner. Your site needs to look professional but don't dwell on fancy graphics or effects. Prospective clients aren't there to hire a web designer. You need to make sure your demos are easily found and, most importantly, they "play".

The "play" aspect was my Achilles heel when I jumped into this business full-time. I'm a Windows user and admittedly know virtually nothing about iOS (iPads and Macs). So, I didn't realize that the Flash based player I embedded on my site to play my demos wouldn't work for any client using iOS. And, to make matters worse, most "creative types" use Macs or iPads in their work. They followed the link to my site but couldn't play my demos. So my "Hi, my voice will be perfect for you" mass mailing fell, literally, on deaf ears. Just wonderful!

I needed to find a player to embed on my site that worked with all the major web browsers; Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Making the task even more daunting, the player had to work with all versions. An example of that is Firefox. It wasn't until very recently that Firefox could play .mp3 files. However, you can't depend on every Firefox user to upgrade to the latest version. So the player had to be backward compatible.

I'm certain there are better ways than what worked for me. I found a few cross-platform players that required inserting code, but the web editor I used doesn't seem to allow pasting in Windows for some reason. And the lines of code were rather long to manually type (call me lazy).
Anyway, here's what worked for me. It combines two players in one, so it's compatible with everything tried. I used every Windows browser and had a friend try it on his Mac and iPad.

<object data="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="380" height="27">
<param name="src" value="" />
<param name="FlashVars" value="audioUrl=URL_PATH_TO_THE_MP3_FILE" />
<audio src="URL_PATH_TO_THE_MP3_FILE" controls preload="none" style="width:380px;"></audio>

What this code does is play your demos with the Google Reader MP3 Player, which is Flash based.  However, for browsers that don't/can't use Flash (I see you iOS) is uses HTML5 code called <audio>. Now they can hear you!  

As I said, there are probably more efficient ways or better ways.  But this worked just fine for me.  Now it's on to the studio to make some rockin' new demos.