February 2008 Gadgets & Problem Solvers
Have you ever lost a lead in the cable jungle behind your studio rack, trying to trace a loose or faulty connection? Sure you have. Well, here's a great solution from the Hosa people, in the form of a 60-pack of durable, smooth-wrap vinyl cable labels.
They don't leave the sticky residue associated with tape, and felt-tip pen ink adheres nicely to the smear-free label surface for long-term legibility. They can't fix the cable, but they sure make it easy to find.
If oxidation is adding unwanted pot and fader noise to your precious mix, make it go away with Hosa's DeoxIT. A little does a lot, the stuff lasts forever, and the surgically precise application needle ensures smooth, drip-free lubrication exactly where you need it, on the console or in the rack.
Here's an ingenious little device that allows musicians to neatly hang headphones, spare cables, and carrying packs off of a microphone, instrument, or sheet music stand, instead of piling said accessories on the floor. The unit is comprised of an all-metal clamp with a large, durable adjustment knob, and an attached hook. It's heavy-duty, lightweight and small enough to fit in a gig bag, along with the tuner and the spare strings.
These stretchable, washable, Lycra/Spandex dust covers are available in 3 different sizes, accommodating portable mixers and recorders up to 42” in length. The covers feature an adjustable cord for secure, form-fitting protection from dust, dirt and the elements.
The NB2 is an adjustable, behind-the-head headset designed to secure the Sennheiser MKE-2, 102 and 104 lavalier microphones, as well as models from a variety of other manufacturers. The mic cables secure seamlessly into the interior of the headset for a neat, professional appearance, and the lightweight, flexible construction offers a discreet, comfortable fit.
These unique removable protective caps provide moisture resistance and a frequency- contouring micro-grille. They're outfitted with a polymer surface that may be re-colored with felt-tip markers to better blend with complexion, clothing and set décor, or simply to match other microphone models. The B6 protective caps are available in 2 versions, offering either a flat frequency response or an 8dB@15kHz “crisp” boost.
This cleverly-designed lavalier mic clip is designed to protect delicate clothing, dispensing with the typical teeth or pin attachments in favor of a pair of magnetic clamps. The two halves attach to either side of your nice silk shirt or buttonhole, and the inner piece comes with an attached nylon lanyard, which can be hooked over a button, allowing for easy situation and retrieval of the microphone. The more adventurous engineer may find unusual high-SPL drum and percussion close-miking applications for the clip as well, mounting it right on the rim.
Kudos to the ART company for bringing the ultimate low-cost portable level-matcher and remote volume control to the marketplace. In a world full of multiple, mismatched impedances, this highly compact and robust device offers stereo RCA, 1/8” and ¼” TRS, ¼” TS and bare wire pressure-clip speaker-level inputs. The balanced 150 Ohm mic-level output is on a transformer-isolated XLR connector. The unit offers a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, a switchable 4.8kHz high-cut filter, a groundlift switch and variable level control. This humble little box will accept feeds ranging from a stereo iPOD to a self-powered speaker, and lets you set the volume at the source as you send the signal to a professional mixer or recording device.
The Duck is waterproof foam raincover, designed as a sort of roof for the Rycote Modular and S-Series windshield systems. The unit secures to the windshield with a pair of Velcro straps, keeping the microphone dry while minimizing rain noise during a shoot in the great outdoors. The Duck even has its own waterproof interior lining, which collects and releases water in a silent trickle. The corrugated foam design of the Duck simultaneously minimizes polar distortion while dispersing raindrops, a pretty cool trick dreamed up by Rycote's fanatical engineering team.
Do you find your diligent microphone placement technique suffering because of a continuously collapsing boom arm? Suffer no more. The good people at On-Stage Stands have developed a reliable and inexpensive cure called the Posi-Lok Clutch. This ingeniously simple little device has teeth, 104 of them to be exact, evenly divided between 2 clutch disks that rotate at a 300° positioning angle and are secured by a sturdy ergonomic knob. At either end of the clutch is a pair of 5/8”-27 threaded ends that attach to any mic stand and boom arm end, respectively. Make no mistake, this clutch locks, and it's cheap enough so that you can buy one for each of your stands and celebrate with a nice dinner out, too.
Speakerphone is a great creative plug-in tool for sound design and adventurous music production. It sports a 270-sound collection of speaker Impulse Responses culled from diverse modern and vintage sources such as cell phones, old radio speakers, guitar cabinets, and walkie-talkies. The program also includes 30 IR rooms from Audio Ease's highly successful Altiverb program, along with EQ, dynamics processing and delay, and esoteric models such as vinyl disc and radio tuning emulation. If you're thinking and hearing outside the box, you'll find the Speakerphone experience very stimulating.
The RE50 ENG microphone, first produced by Electro-Voice nearly 40 years ago, immediately saw active duty in the jungles of Vietnam, enduring the heat, rain, humidity, and incredible decibel levels of the battlefield while in the hands of both military personnel and network news correspondents. The often-imitated design of this omni-directional, dynamic microphone defines the standard in its category, combining the clarity, durability, and exceptionally minimized handling noise (largely due to its trademarked internal isolating shockmount) required for use in the broadcast media. The RE50 is still found to be the microphone of choice in the field kits of professional journalists and sound-gatherers worldwide, a lifetime investment available at a price any student or intern can afford.
Foam windscreens for lavalier microphones are inexpensive and in-demand. The WindTech white foam windscreens are particularly useful because they can be colored with a regular felt-tip pen to match any mic or to blend better with clothing on location.