Meine Mikrofone

Das sind die drei Mikrofone, die ich regelmäßig verwende, wenn ich gut klingen will:

  • HyperX Quadcast oder Quadcast S wird per USB angeschlossen. Das S-Modell kann ich vielen Farben leuchten, das einfache nur in rot. Außerdem hat das S-Modell einen USB-C Port und das einfach nur Mini-USB. Funktional sind sie gleich: Kondensator-Kapseln, Kopfhörer-Ausgang, vier Charakteristiken (Niere, Stereo, Doppelniere, Rundum). Sehr praktisch: Mute und Gain sind direkt am Mikrofon
  • Shure MV7 wird per USB oder via XLR an einem Interface angeschlossen. Das kann alles. Ich habe den besseren Pop-Schutz des SM7B aufgesetzt. Als Interface benutze ich den Zoom Podtrak P4. Wer nur ein Mikrofon braucht, greift zum Focusrite Scarlet Solo.
  • Beyerdynamic DT-297-PV-MKII-80 Headset mit Kondensatormikrofon für Phantomspeisung, 80 Ohm hat die überlegene Tonqualität und braucht in jedem Fall eines der oben genannten Interfaces.

Tablet + Touch + Pen + Keyboard + Trackpad

iPad Pro & 2x Surface Pro, Logilink Mikrofonarm, Shure MV7, Marshall Major IV

Das Smartphone ist für viele Menschen die Fernbedienung fürs Leben und der einzige Computer, den sie brauchen. Und wenn es ein Computer sein muss, dann am liebsten ein Laptop. Meine Empfehlung ist einfach: iPhone plus MacBook Air. Beide sind derart ausgereift, dass man nichts falsch machen kann. Beide sind langlebig und Apple hat bei den aktuellen Geräten zurück zu alten Tugenden gefunden.

Bei mir passt der Laptop leider nicht mehr. Sonst hätte ich wohl auch so einen Air. Ich bin ein Tablet-Typ. Ich mag das iPad, am liebsten als großes iPad Pro mit Magic Keyboard. Ich komme damit auch ziemlich weit, aber nichts bis ins Ziel. So wie ich im letzten Jahrtausend OS/2 brauchte, um im Hintergrund meine Mailbox betreiben zu können, fehlt mir beim iPad das letzte Quäntchen Flexibilität. Ich brauche Audio-Routing über mehrere Kanäle, eine externe Webcam, will einen Mixer mit mehr als zwei Kanälen anschließen. Ich muss gleichzeitig mehrere Sachen im Hintergrund laufen lassen.

Von der Hardware her ist der iPad Pro für mich perfekt*, aber ich brauche einfach viel mehr Software, die Apple in dieser Form nicht hat. Was kommt dem iPad Pro am Nächsten? Ein Surface Pro. Ich mag Windows 11. Nicht das Windows, das von der IT mit Policies und Systemsoftware verkrüppelt wurde, sondern so wie es Microsoft gebaut hat. Ich habe einen Behringer Flow 8 angeschlossen und kann dort mit drei Stereo-Kanälen rein und dem fertigen Mix zurück zum Surface. Ich habe eine Tastatur, ein Trackpad, einen Stift und einen Touchscreen. Wenn ich den Dock Connector abziehe, wird es zu einem einfachen Tablet. Am Dock hängt noch eine Logitech BRIO, am Mixer ein seriöses Mikrofon. Der Sound kommt per Kabel aus dem Marshall Major IV, den ich beim Garantie-Austausch behalten durfte.

So oder so, ich bin ein Tablet-Typ. 🙂

*) Die Kamera gehört wie beim Surface an die lange Seite.

How to bring excellent sound into Clubhouse

Note: this article is partially obsolete. There is now a simpler way.

Shure MV7

This is a summary of what we learned during our 100 soundchecks on Clubhouse. We heard around 2000 setups and we made dozens of artists and their instruments. We means two people: Ralf Rottman and myself.

Why is this difficult? iOS handles Clubhouse like a VoIP app, providing bi-directional audio even when put into the background. These apps cannot use USB-connected devices, so anything that connects USB through Lightning does not work. iPadoS with USB-C equipped iPads actually do, but I am describing iPhone setups here.

We have three challenges:

  1. We want to connect audio equipment through a TRRS audio adapter to Lightning.
  2. We need to bring audio equipment from AUX level down to Microphone input level.
  3. We don’t want to send audio output from Clubhouse back into Clubhouse. This is called mix-minus: send everything to the iPhone, minus what is coming from the iPhone.

Let’s start with the audio conversion. Apple sells a small adapter that lets you connect an audio plug to Lightning. Better get something less flimsy. That can be headphones (TRS = tip ring sleeve, left channel + right channel + neutral) or headsets (TRRS = tip ring ring sleeve, left channel + right channel + neutral + microphone). Look at the 3.5mm plug. Does it have three plastic rings or only two? That is the difference between TRRS and TRS. You want TRRS in this adapter.

You can buy a splitter that connects TRRS to TRS headphones and TS microphone. They share neutral on the S connectors. One connector sends two audio channels to your headphones and receives one audio channel from the microphone. No matter what you connect here, you cannot send stereo into the iPhone in this setup.

Shure ANOIC 50, Shure MV7, Zoom PodTrack P4, iPhone 12 with dock

Some devices can connect to the iPhone directly through a TRRS cable, like the RØDECaster Pro or the Zoom Podtrak P4 which I prefer. They solve all three challenges: TRRS, microphone input level and what we call mix-minus.

Let’s setup a Zoom PodTrak P4:

  • Insert two batteries or connect USB-power, turn it on.
  • Connect a microphone to channel 1 via an XLR plug. Select whether it needs phantom power or not with the switch under your first dial.
  • Connect headphones to the first bottom connector
  • Connect the iPhone through a 3.5mm TRRS cable and either the iPhone dock or a TRRS-Lightning connector. Set the switch under channel 3 to the rightmost position.

Start with level 5..6 on channel 1, 10 on channel 3, and 5..6 on the Soundpad and headphones dial. The VU-meter will tell you if you got the level right. When you speak into the microphone you should hear yourself. If you play audio from the iPhone you should hear it if you set the iPhone volume to about 80 percent. When you connect to Clubhouse, everything should work just right.

If you want to connect a second microphone to pick up your guitar, plug it into channel 2 and level it so that the mix on your ears is balanced. People on Clubhouse will hear what you hear.

If you want to sing to playback then use channel 4 and play your background track on your PC into the PodTrak. Set the switch on channel 4 to the rightmost position. As on the iPhone you will need to set the PC volume level. My PC is on 50% and channel 4 is 5..6.

I am not a singer, and PodTrak provides everything I need. I can play jingles from the four soundpads, I can record to the internal SD card and I can record/playback over USB to the PC. But there is one killer requirement for musicians: PodTrak does not have an effects processor and cannot provide reverb. It’s a machine designed to record podcasts, even away from power in the field. Channel 3 can be used to call people into the podcast, channel 4 to connect Teams, Zoom etc.

Now let’s assume, you already have a mixer where your microphone and instrument are connected. For most mixers you need to bring down the instrument level on the main out to microphone level. This is where the IK Media iRig 2 comes into play. It replaces the TRRS splitter mentioned earlier. Plug the output of your mixer into the 1/4″ instrument input, set the volume dial on the iRig2 to maybe 20% and see where that takes you. You can plug your earphones into the 3.5mm plug on the iRig2 but you will not hear yourself.

This is where things get tricky. Connect a 3.5mm stereo plug (TRS) to the iRig and the other end of that cable to a channel on your mixer. Depending on the mixer, you will need two RCA or two TS mono plugs at the other end. You can now monitor your voice, your instruments and Clubhouse on your mixer.

Now you need to solve the mix-minus problem. You want to hear clubhouse, but you don’t want to send out this signal to Clubhouse. A simple DJ mixer does the trick, because it has two busses: one for Main, controlled by the faders, and one for Monitor, controlled by the monitor switch on each channel. Level all channel gains to your liking, open your mic, instrument faders, but not the one for the Clubhouse channel. You have all channels on your headphones, but all minus clubhouse on Main.

I have successfully used a Behringer Flow 8 to do the same. This one does not need an iRig since you can set the output to -10 dBV. I connected Main with a 2x XLR to 3.5mm TS cable to the input channel of the splitter and picked up Clubhouse with a TRS 3.5mm to 2x 1/4″ TS cable. I then mixed Main minus that channel (7/8) and Monitor 1+2 with the channel for my headphones. In the photo above you see the main mix: channel 2 (microphone) is up, channel 5/6 (USB from PC) is up, but channel 7/8 is down.

Your mixer will need different hacks to filter out the Clubhouse channel. The devil is in the details here.

There is one frequent issue: your audio cuts out like it is clipping. What really happens here is that your output level from your mixer is too high. Lower the volume on the iRig to correct for that, or in case of the Flow 8, the level on the Main out.