Posts Tagged ‘audio’

Projects Galore

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

This week’s projects have had no really progress of which to speak, but at the very least I felt an update appropriate. My main goals for this week have been moving into my apartment with roommate Matt Keaton and getting myself further orientated with a range of technologies. So here is the general overview of the week:

  1. The apartment is getting more and more unpacked but still in rough shape
  2. Still clueless in HTML
  3. Working with audacity is now a breeze (with some kinks).
  4. Doing some research on recording and Skype
  5. What in the World is all this CMS whats it and how are they different?

The HTML has been a huge challenge for me, not because it is particularly to learntags but rather knowing what I need to know in order to get what I want done. As I debated over this past week on how to proceed with learning some basic coding languages, Professor Whalen mentioned that it is best to have a “real” project and build skills as you progress or hit barriers in your work. For me, learning in this fashion is a bit undirected, and I need a foundation or framework to know what I am looking at and have a sense of what I need. It seems that the skills I need involve HTML、PHP and MySQL. With those three I ought be able to dig around into WordPress and Drupal with only the normal setbacks and swearing at the computer screen when code explodes. As umwblogs is going to get hooked up with the awesomeness of WordPress 3 I want to be prepared to take part in as Jim Groomwould say “re-imagining the framework of the system.” Or something like this? Either way, the point is to get myself well equipped as an active member and not just using WYSIWYG! What I really need is some guidance on how I should be learning all of this material. Right now I cannot even quite imagine how my projects could shape on a widespread publishing platform. Submit thoughts!

This week (granted this week isn’t over yet!)I have devoted the majority of my time working with Dr. Kennedy’s students on their final communication projects. I mostly just keep an eye on equipment or help look at some of their editing work, but like most small projects, my student aid skills had some severe holes. I was entirely uneducated on how to use audacity. Frankly, it’s silly because audacity is awesome and easy to use. I found that a little bit of research and just playing with the program was enough to get acquainted with the program and how the program could meet the students’ needs. Since starting at DTLT I have not had a lot of opportunities to work directly with students on recording projects, but I hope to have some more of that type of work, especially with librivox’s project still in progress.

Helping other students record has recently sparked my interest in creating an audio blog for Chinese recordings, I am still not sure how to accomplish that task. I would need a place to store the files for my blog to grab. As I started fiddling with audacity, I realized that even using something like garageband would suit me well enough. What I really need is a solid microphone, because just using the built-in/headset-mic combo does not cut it for my tastes. For the purposes of language training, conversations with native speakers should be an important aspect of the journey to language mastery (but in all reality that is a cover word for competency). Thus, I started research recording my skype conversations with previous Chinese roommates and friends. I found that the crew for the amazing program headed by Dan Cohen,Digital Campus, had some great suggestions for at least getting started with this project. I downloaded a demo copy of a skype call recorder for the mac. I’ve done a conversation or two with the program, but it won’t be until tomorrow that I can start really cranking out some good work with New Media specialist Andy Rush.

Finally, I have a meeting with Jim Groom tomorrow on WordPress 3 and hopefully gain a fundamental understanding of how to start screwing around with wordpress templates, plug-ins and making the whole thing more customizable. But, Drupal is still out there waiting for me to make use of it. Your selection of CMS (if WordPress can qualify as one) really depends on what sort of content you are trying to connect together. So, who knows maybe a good brainstorm on projects is the next course of action. How do you internet literati work all this out?

Speak it through a Mic.

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Recently, I have been exploring the world of audio equipment thanks to the New Media guru Andy Rush here at DTLT. After spending some time working through’s material on audio, which is totally deserving of its own post, I started looking into a number of microphones that we have available here in the office. Before digging into all that rich audio goodness, I want to jot down what my basic set up was. Another student aid, Shannon Hauser, and I read a short excerpt from Paradise Lost, only about a minute or so long.  Andy Rush smartly suggested having both male and female voices for the recordings.  In order to test the microphones I needed to get a solid recording, so I used the small (but extremely powerful) Edirol R-09 connected to a small mixer to record 16 bit wav files. While you can easily do a recording in a high bit mp3, it makes more sense to use a file with all of the information left intact. Mp3s will truncate your information through compression. So while this works well for podcasts, when testing a mic you want the best recording possible.

So with that set up in mind, I went about testing three brands of mics (not all of them were the same model mind you!)  I used the shure, studio project, and the audio-technica microphones.  Each microphone has its own uses that makes it perfect for some tasks and not others.  On the whole, each of these mics are solid and come from a range of prices.  We will be starting with the core microphone for almost any job.  That of course is the Shure Microphone Dynamic.  It’s an absolutely solid mic which can survive just about anything.  For purposes of doing a good recording, it will pick up the sound, but leaves a lot to be desired.  However, floating around different shops and talking to performers, the Shure dynamic really stands out when you need to do live work.  The Shure’s strength lies not only in the live aspect but also how well it works for vocalists.  Shure dynamic, in its own light, is a great and very versatile microphone, but when you start to compare it some of the audio-technica equipment it just can’t compare.  I tested audio-technica’s condenser mic with a cardioid polar direction.  Condenser mics have to be powered by a sound board but are extremely sensitive.  The best way to describe what these types of mics sound like is warm and nuanced.  For the purposes of conversations and studio recordings, condenser mics perform beautifully.  The polarity of the mic (where it is sensitive and strongest for picking up sound) lends focus to the recording as it gives a sense of direction.  Another intensive mic I looked at was from Studio Projects.  This specific mic has three settings which will change what parts of the mic are sensitive.  The first option, cardioid, produces a recording not unlike the audio-technica condenser.  However, the multi direction mic also has bi-directional and omni directional settings.  These two settings, although they don’t produce nearly as nice of a recording, work awesomely for when you have to record multi sources of sound and don’t have extra mics.

Finally I checked out a wireless microphone system with two styles of mics.  Frankly, you probably should not be recording with wireless mics, but the wireless system is always great for performances when you don’t want to bother with having cables all over the place.  I used a basic lavaliere and also an audio-technica head set.  I didn’t really enjoy the recording with the lavaliere, if it is set to be a little too sensitive, the mic can pick up movement and undesirable sounds.  Placement of the microphone becomes the key issue when using wireless systems.  They are often place so close that the plosives will get picked up by the mic.  So this is where the head set shines.  Not only is it close to your mouth, but is just far enough away that all you will hear is the clear audio without all of the puffs of air.

At the end of the day, having access to a full range of mics is the ideal situation, but in a pinch what should you do?  Well, if all you are looking for is live, hang out with Shure Dynamic, even pros use these babies.  If you have a lot of different types of jobs and scenarios (recording two people at once, or just the ambient sound of an entire room) shell out a little extra cash and go for the multi-directional.  You can’t go wrong.  And most of all get a good pair of headphones and start exploring the world of microphones!