audio

AirPods get stuck in low-quality 16 kHz audio mode when starting a VM

I always love when I find a really dumb solution that works reliably to fix a problem that should never really be a problem in the first place. But having worked with audio devices before—though nothing nearly as complex as the AirPods—I am willing to cut Apple some slack in building a seamless aural experience with using AirPods across phone calls, VOIP, iOS devices, Macs, music, and Apple TVs... it's hard to execute perfectly, and as I said in my review of the AirPods two years ago, these little earbuds are as close to perfection when it comes to a wireless sound solution for someone like me.

Anyways, here's the problem:

Sometimes (maybe 10% of the time) when I run vagrant up to build a local development environment for one of my software projects, and I'm listening to music, my AirPods suddenly switch into super-low-quality audio mode. It sounds like you're listening to a song played through a long subway tunnel or something.

Refurbishing a classic microphone - the Electro-Voice RE20

In the world of radio and professional podcasting, there are fewer than a dozen 'go-to' microphones. Each of the classics (e.g. the Shure SM7B, the Neumann U87, or the EV RE20) has it's own advantages and a few marquee users, but one mic seems to rule the roost when it comes to versatility and ability to color almost any voice with the 'talk show' sound, and that's the EV RE20.

Electro-Voice RE20 classic black and white mounted in shock mount microphone EV
The RE20 mounted in the 309A shockmount.

Getting low input level with a USB mic or audio interface? Check your hub

A few months ago, I decided to get more serious about my recording setup in my home office. I do a lot more screencasts both for my YouTube channel and for other purposes than I used to, and I can't stand poor audio quality. Therefore I finally decided to get some sound absorption panels for my office, rearrange furniture a little for better isolation, and—most importantly—buy a proper USB audio interface and microphone.

So, after purchasing and connecting a U-Phoria UMC202HD and an Electro-Voice RE320 microphone, I was quite pleased with the sound quality!

Rebuilding an Electro-Voice RE20 microphone

The blog has been a little bit Drupal-heavy the past couple months, as I've been stalled a bit in terms of my 'maker'-style projects and other hardware-based projects. The main reason for that is this guy:

Electro-Voice RE20 microphone repair and rebuild

I'm halfway through rebuilding/re-foaming an old Electro-Voice RE20, beloved by many a radio personality, and the process has taken a bit longer than I expected!

I've been doing a lot more screencasts lately, and as part of my retooling of my downstairs office for better screencast quality, I'm also trying to get the best possible audio recordings. The RE20 is one of the best mics I've ever used in terms of taking a not-professional-voice (like mine) and making it sound halfway decent.

Replacing the foam speaker surround on my JBL speakers

About ten years ago, I bought a pair of used JBL J520m bookshelf speakers. They have nice, wood cabinets, a great-sounding woofer and tweeter, and a classic look (they don't really look dated, like 90% of 80s and 90s-era speakers).

JBL J520m speaker wall mounted with grill cover next to TV
Doesn't it look stately?

Whenever you buy used speakers, you should check the woofer cone and foam surround, as these are usually the first parts to deteriorate and cause terrible distortion in certain situations. In my case, the speakers had been stored in someone's garage for a few years, so I knew the foam wouldn't last long. When purchased, the foam flexed okay, but this year I noticed both speakers started making funny noises during explosions or low bass notes during movie and music playback.

Everything over Cat5 Cable

Whether you call it Cat5, Cat-5, Cat5e, or even the newfangled Cat6, it remains the best cable in modern history. Never has the humble element Cu (copper) been so adaptable, flexible, and amazingly helpful in so many areas.

This article explains how you can utilize Category 5 cabling to route just about any kind of multimedia or network signal over short, medium or long distances, and many tidbits of extremely helpful information and links to products to help make your life much easier.

A few examples:

Review: iRig Mic Cast

Jeff's Rating: 3/5

tl;dr: Offers little more than the built-in iPhone microphone, but it's a good mic for the price, and is very useful in certain situations.

iRig Mic Cast on iPhone 5

Since adding my comprehensive overview of audio input and microphone options for iPhones a couple years ago, there have been many purpose-built microphones that are made particularly for smartphones. IK Multimedia's iRig Mic Cast microphone is one of these purpose-built devices.

Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Stereo Headphones

Jeff's Rating: 5/5

tl;dr: For the price, these cans can't be beat. Durable, simple, and powerful.

In 2005, I bought a pair of Audio Technica ATR-M30 headphones. After helping a band record an album (Lost in Ecstasy, by the Priestie Boyz), three trips to Europe, and hundreds of hours of listening enjoyment at home, nothing except the pads on these headphones has needed replacement (and those are cheap and simple to replace—I bought a set of replacement pads for $10).

What's a good video camera to use for short YouTube videos?

I've gotten this question enough times via email that I thought I'd create a quick blog post mentioning what I think is a good deal for a video camera setup for recording short videos, ideally with one person speaking.

In such a situation, since you probably won't see a major difference in picture quality in anything under $500, I'd skimp a little on the camera itself and just make sure the video camera you buy has an external microphone input, then buy a microphone like the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 to clip onto the person being recorded.

A microphone goes a long way towards making quality video—many people think the camera's the most important part of a video recording setup, but it really isn't (unless you're doing a top-notch production!). That's how I can use the tiny iPhone camera as my primary video camera and record good videos, since the iPhone accepts external microphones so easily.

Review: iPhone 5 and External Microphone Comparison

iPhone 5 Safari

As I have done for my past three iPhones, I've put together a video that shows how well the iPhone 5 works with various wired and wireless microphones. You can watch the video below, and you can read through my comprehensive day-one review of the iPhone 5 in the Reviews section.

Under the video below, I've listed all the microphones and adapters I used in the video, with links to Amazon for each. (See my full article on iPhone and iPad microphones and audio inputs here).

Microphones and adapters used in this video:

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