So, Paul Strikwerda, a delightful Dutch-American voiceover artist, posted yesterday on Instagram wondering why he never sees women doing audio gear reviews. Then he put out a challenge:
“I hereby challenge particularly female voiceovers and other gear loving girls to start reviewing audio equipment for our community, starting now”.
Well, I don’t know if I qualify as “particularly female”, but I’m generally female, and a voiceover artist, so I decided to take the challenge, because, guess what, it happened to be issued on the day that I had some new studio gear arrive in the mail. Woohoo, new stuff! And so many commas!
The gear to which I shall subject this review is as follows:
- A Mogami Gold XLR-XLR cable.
- A Rycote Universal Shock Mount “Studio Kit” (which means it came with a pop filter).
That is all. Sorry, no thousand-dollar microphone purchases around here. Although, I should review my Shure KSM32 one day. (It wasn’t a thousand dollars though because I bought it second-hand and it has a lovely story of travelling the world before it came here, I’ll tell ya all about it one day!)
I was very excited to try my new cable because my old cable (a basic Rode one that came with my Rode mic a few years ago) has been getting hella noisy lately; if I so much as look at it sideways it starts fizzing at me. Rude.
I jumped in the studio – I did not jump – and recorded a paragraph of one of my favourite monologues on my regular setup. Then I changed the cable to the Mogami Gold. It’s so pretty. It has gold bits. It makes a very satisfying clicky noise when you plug it in.
The noise floor with the Mogami Gold was nearly 10db lower than it had been with the old Rode cable. And there was much rejoicing!
But wait, there’s more.
I then changed the shock mount to my new Rycote one. It has cute little red pads and tiny strong screwy bits. It looks like an alien. It’s adorable.
After a very silly moment… or seven… while I tried to figure out how to connect the connector from the shock mount to the mic stand, because the connector’s connector was the wrong size and, oh no, I’m going to have to go to Bunnings and find a new connector, but then I unscrewed the connector and realised I didn’t even need the connector, because the shock mount connects to my mic stand without a connector at all…
I put my old Rode NT2A in and tested both cables with it, because more tests is more fun than fewer tests, right?
Here I discovered that the Rode mic is noisier than the Shure mic. I had never tested that before. Yay tests!
Right about now Paul is starting to wish he hadn’t challenged particularly female people to write gear reviews…
The Mogami cable was definitely quieter than the Rode one again, but there was only a small difference. Hmmm, interesting, I thought. Wherefore art thou, noise?
So THEN, I put my Shure baby back, into the new shock mount, and tested again with both old and new cable.
Guess what? Have you guessed?
The noise floor was different again, yes, but by very little!
In my old setup, I used to generally get a noise floor of around -50 to -55db. When I set up the Mogami cable in my old shock mount, I was excited to see a noise floor sitting under -60db. Yay, I thought, I have invested in a fabulous cable and it’s made all the difference!
BUT, after setting up the new shock mount, my noise floor has gone down to -66db with the Shure KSM32 – with either the Mogami cable or the old Rode one. And it’s around -60 with the Rode NT2A.
I knew my old shock mount was kinda wobbly and not fabulous, but I had no idea a shock mount would make such a difference to noise. Audio experts, am I missing something? Please tell me if I’m totally making up nonsense here, but it seems to me that the excellent new – stable! – shock mount has made more difference, or at least as much difference as the new cable.
The Mogami Gold cable still definitely sounds better than the old one, because apart from the actual noise floor there is other fuzzy noise that I can see in the spectral display, but my big discovery today is the benefit of a good quality shock mount. Huh. You learn something new every day!
Needless to say – but will I say it? Yes I will! – I am very pleased with these new investments in my studio gear and looking forward to sounding even MORE fabulous for my fabulous voiceover clients.
I’ve been so excited about my glorious new noise floor that I haven’t even looked at the voiceover recordings to see how well the new pop filter performs. I’ll have to do that some other time. Perhaps I’ll document my long and painful journey with plosives. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Thus endeth my first ever “gear review” – it was far more of a new-gear ramble than an actual review but that’s the way I roll, darlings. Don’t ever tell me I’m not up for a challenge!
Please comment below with your thoughts, especially if you’re an audio expert and/or Paul Strikwerda!
First photo is mine. Other images by @MargJohnsonVA and @wiesmannnn via Twenty20.
Thank you for being the first one to take me up on my challenge, Sumara! Your story immediately proves why we need more girls, writing about technology. In blogging, it’s the personal perspective that matters, and not the boring technical details.
If you can write like Sumara, you can turn anything into a story. Even the act of connecting cables. Because blogging is about creating a connection. A connection between the author and the reader.
One way to do that, is to make your experience relatable. To make something personal, more universal. I’m sure we all recognize the excitement of getting new gear and trying to figure out what to do next. Is it a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, or does it indeed improve the quality of the sound?
You’ve taken us with you on that journey, Sumara, and made us laugh out loud. Anyone who can do that, has a voice in our community. A voice that not only deserves to be heard, but also to be read .
I am so thrilled by your comment, Paul, thank you! What a fabulous community we have here in VO land.
And thank you for running with the connecting connectors idea! 😂
I will definitely keep on trying to tell my stories so that they’re authentic and relatable – and hopefully entertaining. 😁
Haha! You had me at “Well, I don’t know if I qualify as “particularly female”, but I’m generally female” – BRILLIANT!! The rest was icing on the cake. One comment I would add however, is that Paul Strikwerda is “particularly male.” 🙂
Great review, my friend!
Thank you, Particularly! 😂
I’ll have one Particularly Cake, with Gear Review Icing, please. 🎂
Fun and informative!!
Thank you Terrell!