These Audio Instruments Do a Lot, Many on a Funds

The creator is founder and president of Auralex Acoustics Inc.

I’m writing in response to a remark by Kevin Thomas of WDKC(FM) within the March 16 subject of Radio World. In Paul McLane’s column “Station hacks: How one can survive in a small market,” Kevin requested for an introduction to mic processing. 

After I hear “introduction,” I interpret it to imply “train me a bit about how I can accomplish what I must, for the least amount of cash potential.” So listed below are some items of kit that I’ve discovered useful and which may serve Kevin’s wants. 

These are all based mostly on my experiences and are only one man’s opinion. I’m certain that different Radio World readers will chime in. I hope these assist level Kevin in the proper course.

Important software

The most effective all-in-one voice processor that I’ve discovered, fingers down, is the venerable Symetrix 528E, now not made however obtainable used or refurbished for a couple of hundred {dollars}.

It features a mic preamp, de-essing, growth/gating, compression, three-band tunable EQ and voice symmetry circuitry. For some folks, the 528E is the one system they want.

Symetrix 528E, proven in a #TBT tweet from the producer.

Bonus tip: There are individuals who mod the 528E to make it sound “even higher,” resembling Revive Audio ($299 to mod your unit and ship it again to you), however for most individuals, the unit shall be quiet sufficient and the audio is linear sufficient to make use of as-is. 

I personal extra of those items than I can depend and would by no means be with out them. Even when you use a number of the gear I’ll describe under, you may nonetheless profit from the 528E by feeding it a line-level sign as a substitute of plugging a mic instantly into it.  

As an apart, simply yesterday I used to be a part of a LinkedIn thread with a high voiceover artist who said that he makes use of and recommends downward growth, such because the 528e provides and which, if used correctly generally is a godsend for folks in less-than-ideal acoustic areas. 

Some folks use it too aggressively and mistakenly suppose that it’ll clear up their acoustical issues, which it gained’t, however I’ve been beating the drum about light downward growth for many years and I imagine it may be an vital a part of the unique questioner’s strategy to his audio.

Making the connection

The quietest mic cables and interconnect cables I’ve discovered, at the very least throughout the realm of economic actuality, are Canare Star Quad cables

The development of those cables quiets the noise flooring and improves noise and dealing with rejection, plus they exhibit wonderful audio high quality. B&H tends to have respectable pricing on these. 

Canare Star Quad L-4E6S Microphone Cable as seen on the web site of distributor B&H.

Barring Canare Star Quad, take a look at the super-affordable Hosa cables, which punch above their weight and of which I used to be an early adopter 40 years in the past.

High quality mic

I primarily use the Shure SM5B microphone, now not manufactured however which in my expertise is solely the best-sounding mic for my voice and, I say as a former manufacturing director, producer, and many others., for most individuals’s voices. 

I see them on-line for $1,200 to $2,000, so this isn’t for everybody’s funds. (Individuals might imagine they will’t get substitute windscreens for them; I now have windscreens obtainable at right here.)

A photograph of a Shure SM5B from the James Steele Classic Broadcast Microphone Assortment, College of Georgia Particular Collections Library

The factor that most individuals overlook concerning the 5B is its off-axis rejection, which is implausible and which, in side-by-side comparisons, beats the off-axis rejection of even the esteemed Sennheiser 416, of which I additionally personal a bunch and use incessantly. However the 416’s sound merely doesn’t examine to that of the 5B for most individuals. 

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Off-axis rejection is vital for minimizing the quantity of room-tone (atmosphere) that will get into the mic, and it’s additionally crucial for maintaining everybody’s audio clear in a scenario the place there are a number of mics open in a room without delay. 

In case your studio and other people’s residence areas the place voice monitoring may happen aren’t as acoustically handled as they need to be, off-axis rejection and delicate gating by way of the Symetrix 528E talked about above, plus acoustical remedies after all, are your finest associates.

I don’t have a lot expertise with less-expensive mics which may supply the specified advantages of sound high quality and off-axis rejection. There are oodles of recent mics on the market today, on condition that the producers have been making an attempt to capitalize on the work-from-home world; these are primarily USB mics. 

The subsequent-best-thing could be the Shure SM7B, which I’ve used at plenty of radio stations and which is just $399 new. However it ain’t no 5B.


To most individuals, the factor that makes one sound “broadcaster-ish” is the compressor. 

Along with the compressor constructed into the Symetrix 528E, my different favourite gadgets are the FMR Audio RNC1173, the dbx 160X and the Aphex Compellor AX, all of which I personal a number of of and use often. 

The FMR RNC continues to be being made, a completely fantastic piece of substances. I’m certain it’s on a variety of people’ “desert island” gear lists. The nice gear designer and recording engineer George Massenburg has been quoted saying that if somebody can’t afford his GML 8900 — which as of this writing is $7,500 or extra on-line — they need to purchase the RNC, which is lower than $200. 

I exploit the 160X in sequence with the RNC, with the RNC compressing and the 160X doing peak limiting. The Compellor I have a tendency to make use of by itself, and it’s been an vital a part of the sign processing rack at stations the place I’ve been an air expertise and someday talk-show host.


The sound of any mic could be maximized (or, when you desire, “improved”) by plugging it right into a great-sounding preamp. 

To most individuals, “great-sounding” means heat and open, each of which I believe you’ll discover within the Scarlett line of interfaces by Focusrite. These even have a built-in high-end EQ function referred to as Air that many discover pleasing on sure voices and sure mics. 

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 Audio Interface

The mannequin I personal a number of of is the 18i8, which you’ll run 4 mics into and which tends to be lower than $300 used, so it gained’t break the financial institution.

Down and soiled

Now, if all that is an excessive amount of so that you can swallow price- or space-wise, my down-and-dirty advice could be to take a look at the Behringer Xenyx Q1204USB mixer.

It options 4 mic inputs, every with three-band fixed-frequency EQ and a compressor(!), all for lower than $200 road worth. 

Behringer Xenyx Q1204USB Mixer

The audio high quality of this little mixer is much better than you may count on it to be. I confess to proudly owning plenty of these and their audio high quality and low noise-floor are a pleasing shock.

Our stuff too

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that to maximise the sound of any gear in any room, it’s best to implement acoustical remedies, and ideally a range that gives broadband (all-frequency) management. 

My firm, Auralex Acoustics, has plenty of merchandise which might be revered worldwide by high broadcasters, recording artists and voiceover folks, so check out them. 

Auralex DeskMax provides transportable absorption therapy.

In the event you don’t have wall house obtainable for remedies, think about stand-mounted, transportable options. These can tame just about any room if positioned correctly. In actual fact, some world-famous voiceovers, I’m advised, are lower by a notable expertise in a big, reverberant house with a Neumann U87 (an ultra-expensive mic that’s super-sensitive) and surrounded by Auralex stand-mounted Studiofoam remedies.

I hope that Kevin, and maybe others, discover my enter useful. Listeners completely hate listening to ambient, poor-quality audio, so let’s feed ’em a clear sign and preserve ’em engaged!

Touch upon this or any article. Electronic mail [email protected].

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