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Finally, an Affordable Ambisonic Microphone

twirling720lite-200pxLong, long ago, in a city far, far away I was a college student. I was studying media arts, and somewhere along the line decided to do a paper on an emerging new approach to recording called Ambisonics. This is a most elegant approach to recording conceived by Michael Gerzon, a brilliant, English mathematician. Beyond simply the theoretical, Gerzon developed a microphone in support of his idea, which became the Soundfield Microphone.

How I lusted after a Soundfield microphone, and the four-channel recorder necessary to make field recordings. Manufactured in England by Calrec, the Soundfield microphone cost upwards of $10K on its own. As a not quite starving, but certainly hungry student, this was far beyond my reach.

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A Boom Stick on the Cheap

A little over a year ago I offered up an observation of a little audio gadget called a Boom Stick from BoomCloud 360. I remain more than a little incredulous with respect to the makers claims about the device. Still,…

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Dolby Voice From a Distance

In my gig at ZipDX I work with some very interesting people. Barry Slaughter-Olsen is one of those people. Barry is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where he teaches the art of simultaneous interpretation to a new generation of language professionals. He’s also the co-founder of Interpret America, a group dedicated to raising the profile of interpreting. Further, he’s the GM of Multilingual Operations for ZipDX.

All of the above builds upon the fact that he’s a tremendously skilled conference interpreter. He also happens to be a self-professed geek, which is handy in business that, like so many others, is facing an onslaught of new technologies.

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The other day Barry posed a question via twitter. In reference to Dolby Voice he asked “is this any better than #HDVoice?” It’s good question, so I did a little digging.

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Introducing VB-Audio’s Spectralissime

It’s been said that, “You can’t manage what can’t be measured.” While this idea is most generally true, it’s definitely true with respect to various types of signal systems. Throughout my career I’ve focused on audio and video production, so I find myself drawn to new tools in that space.

A couple of years ago I discovered Vincent Burel’s VB-Audio software. His Virtual Audio Cables, VoiceMeeter, and later VoiceMeeter Banana, have fundamentally changed how I handle sound on my computers.

A short while ago he released a new software package called “Spectralissime.” This program is a real-time audio analyzer (RTA.)

RTAs are used to evaluate the spectral makeup of a sound. That is, they create a visual representation of the loudness (Y axis) vs the frequency (pitch) along the X-axis.

RTA’s are profoundly useful. In the most simple case, I’ve used them to evaluate a signal path for HDVoice capability. I’d send a white noise tone across a SIP link between two soft phones, comparing the the result against the original tone.

A more common use would be to setup a music playback system. It would help you to balance the low, mid- and high-frequency playback elements. They’re routinely used to analyze the acoustics of a room for unwanted resonances.

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The Big Blue Yeti, Soft Phones & Audio Sample Rate

dialpad-windows-desktop-yetiA short while ago friend and telecom luminary Dave Michels contacted me about a problem he was encountering with his Blue Yeti USB microphone. While he appreciates the benefits of a headset, he prefers to not use one when there’s video involved.

Dave uses the Yeti when recording videos and participating in various UC podcasts. He’s recently started to use it with the Dialpad soft phone. That’s the service that provides his home & office phones.

The Yeti is a fine microphone for many purposes. The combination of USB convenience, handy level controls and low-latency monitoring makes it an excellent choice for podcasters. I recently wrote a blog post for ZipDX that describes its use by a professional interpreter in the UK.

In Dave’s case, when using the Yeti with Dailpad others on the call would complain that his volume was very low. So much so that he was forced to switch to his Plantronics Savi headset. They also complained that “he sounded bad.”

To solve these problems the two of us set about a quick investigation. What we found is potentially useful, so I’m sharing it here with y’all.

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