Audio Gear for the Digital Production Buzz at NAB 2010

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the March, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]


As we gear up for our coverage of the NAB 2010 Show, I thought you’d be interested in the gear we are using.

This year, like last year, The BuZZ is all audio. Which means I get to leave my make-up kit at home. However, that doesn’t mean we are just traveling with a single mic.


Our traveling reporters and producers are using:

Note: Thanks to Carl Gustavson and the people of Marantz for providing the field recorders. We used these same models last year and they worked great. We attach them to a MacBook Pro via USB to transfer the audio files.


Our broadcast studio allows us to interview up to four people at a time. These interviews are recorded for our one-hour NAB Show Special Reports every evening.

NOTE: Thanks to Marvin Caesar and the folks at Aphex for providing some of the Aphex gear. (I say some because each year I buy more of it. You need to listen to what your voice talent sounds like after the Voice Channel gets done beefing it up!)

All recordings are made on a MacBook Pro laptop running Soundtrack Pro.

For the hourly live News Briefs, we use all the gear in the recording studio and add the following:


We are running all our audio and data on a gigabit Ethernet wired network, through a NetGear 16-port switch, using a MacMini Snow Leopard Server, and recording to a DroboElite; partitioned into two volumes with 5 TB of protected storage.

NOTE: Thanks to Mark Fuccio and Drobo for loaning us the DroboElite.

It is a fascinating collection of gear and I think it creates a great sound for our show. If you are going to NAB, stop by Booth SL8826 and take a look at all of it up close.

UPDATE — MARCH 23, 2009

Mark Schultz writes:

Using a handheld cardioid dynamic such as the dependable SM58 for interviews in the field is not always the best choice. At a similar price point you could add the EV RE-50 to your kit, and move into the smoother sound and friendlier angle of acceptance of an omni pattern mic. You can use the 58 in a noisy environment for a bit more off-axis rejection, but with the 50, the subject of your interview can lift/lower and turn his or her chin and it won’t ruin high-frequency response and require loads of EQ. Try it, you’ll like it.


I see you are using the least expensive gear on the planet as a front end to your rig. I guess it makes sense — lose it, break it, who cares, and it is super lightweight, with the minimal specs to spit out a wav file.


Still, It is disheartening to see you recommending an Aphex product that includes a “big bottom” knob as well as the dreaded “Aural Exciter.” I think it is safe to assume that most folks can figure out what to do with a fixed ratio compressor, hard to screw that up, but I doubt that rank and file video editors have the ear to understand what the parametric EQ does. And, then we have the two huge pitfalls of Big Bottom and Aural Exciter waiting to completely change the sound on the way to hard disk. This is a disaster waiting to happen, and a terrible recommend for someone who doesn’t know audio filtering and phase intuitively.


Throughout the world, in radio studios, in cars, in homes and in sales showrooms, excessive indistinct bass is invariably misinterpreted as a good thing. Not everybody is James Earl Jones, recorded on a U47 in a dead room. With few exceptions recorded voice contains clear evidence of the space it was captured in — this goes for booth records in high-end studios as well as catch-as-catch can stuff from the field. I for one can guess the size of the room and the nature of the wall surfaces pretty quickly and accurately. In post, you can always sift through the low end and remove energy from problematic fundamentals and multiples, and find some intelligent place to start hi-passing. Or you can add “BIG BOTTOM”! Yeah baby.


PHASE, and Aural Exciters specifically, may be the only thing people understand even less. They are certainly the worst thing since cotton candy. The first bite is great and ten minutes later you puke.


Used incorrectly, the worst recordings since Edison are only a few knob turns away — excessive sibilance, brutal over compression, bad EQ. You know bad color correct when you see it, right? It takes some experience to handle it and it’s not for amateurs.


I am certainly not saying you don’t know what you are doing. But please be careful not to recommend something (even something you get from a friend) to people who don’t know what they are getting into. Field audio guys wearing headphones and Video editors, per se, do NOT hear their audio well enough to judge it, and they often fail to understand what to do with filtering tools. Video bays have many hard drives humming, speakers at odd angles, doors open to the hallway, producer(s) on the phone — lots of noise to contend with.


A much smarter setup would be a clean preamp — for example the John Hardy Twin Servo 990, the Millennia HV3C, The Frank Forsell preamps — try any of them and YOU won’t believe how good a clean signal with enormous dynamic range can sound. EQ it, Compress in post.

Larry replies: Thanks, Mark. One thing I’ve learned is that just as there is no one perfect camera, there is no one perfect audio setup. I appreciate your thoughts.


Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Larry Recommends:

FCPX Complete

NEW & Updated!

Edit smarter with Larry’s latest training, all available in our store.

Access over 1,900 on-demand video editing courses. Become a member of our Video Training Library today!


Subscribe to Larry's FREE weekly newsletter and save 10%
on your first purchase.