Oh Shure, part two

February 08, 2023

(Continuing from yesterday's part one.)

There is always a period of getting used to a new microphone setup, a time before you really start to use it where all I see are problems which will magically melt away once I use the microphone for real once or twice. This time, I was worrying about volume and plosives (popping sounds you can get by being too close to and speaking straight into a microphone).

On the volume side, I found it hard to hear myself at the volume I like without making everything else (including my recording volume) a bit too loud. I would still like to hear myself just a little bit louder, but minor adjustments brought everything close enough that I feel no need to play around with anything when a recording is about to start.

For the plosives, the large part of the solution was to borrow (I intend to givet it back … Real Soon Now) the pop filter from my Zoom H2n. The smaller part was probably minor adjustments to speaking distance. Somehow I always worry a great deal about my exact distance and position in the beginning, only to magically find myself able to speak decently in a much wider range of positions in no time at all.

I was unusually thorough getting set up, actually doing a handful of test recordings in different positions and volumes before doing a "real" podcast recording. The last one did come out better than the first, and I think I learned something from it, but things still did not click into place until I did a real recording and noticed it came out just fine. Sometimes (perhaps even all times?) you just have to jump in.

And I do like how the recorded audio comes out. I want my tracks to look dead quiet where I am not speaking or making other intentional noises, and that ideal is a lot closer with this setup than ever before.

Some people pay a lot of attention to how various microphones make them sound. I do not, so I have no insights to share about how my voice interacts with the Shure. I notice and dislike it when I sound too boomy, but that is always a quick matter of just getting away from the microphone just a little bit more.

Vocaster details

The Vocaster just sits around and does its job. Additional hardware is in one way a bit cumbersome, but it is also kind of nice. I use the setup for all my podcasting, and also for most of my meetings, and it is pretty fun to click a few real buttons to get started.

My Vocaster two in its natural habitat My Vocaster two in its natural habitat

There are some settings to play with, and a decent computer app which makes some adjustments a little easier than on the physical device. But now that I have my settings in place, I never really touch anything. I just turn the interface on, enable phantom power, whisper "You got phantom power" into the microphone because I can not help myself, and go.

After using this setup for a while, one fact has become clear: it is really nice to have a physical mute button which cuts my audio before it ever reaches a computer. No matter what app I am in, no matter what strange settings it uses, no matter which machine I am connected to, the button is always there and completely reliable. Plus, a large part of the Vocaster turns red, clearly indicating my muted state.

Verdict after about two months of use: Four stars, would buy again. I can think of no complaints, so I guess I am just saving the last star to combat inflation or something … ?

(If I had more time, would I have written a shorter post? I find that unlikely …)