USB Microphone ATR-2100 Field Test Review

atr2100 microphone picture

The Audio-Technica ATR-2100 USB/XLR Mic is available at Amazon and other retail outlets. I recently purchased one for myself and have been testing it with various programs and equipment. Check out the video below to see the results.

The mic has not been as good in some ways as I’d hoped, but in others it has been really great.

I was thrilled to get this mic, then I used it and I hated it. Then I used it some more and I liked it. Now I really like it and think is an awesome bargain, well worth considering. At least I think so. Let me tell you why.

The big draw for me, then and now, is the USB and XLR connection. The XLR does nothing for me as is, but using the XLR to mini-plug cable I can connect to my camera and to my audio recorder. If you’re not familiar with the term XLR, just look at the photo below. It’s the fat plug connector that most professional microphones have been using for years to plug into mixing boards and other equipment you and I have never had.

XLR cable with mini-plug

The ATR-2100 comes with an XLR cable but it does me no good as I have nothing to plug that into. What I purchased was an additional cable, which is XLR on one end with a standard mini-plug on the other. This allows you to use the mic withabout every camera and device there is.

The other add-on i recommend is the foam windscreen cover. For me it’s about the looks but it also helps for better audio too. Without this cover the mic looks a little too goofy, and phallic. Yech. Get one.

This mike is a type called Dynamic cardioid. The short version of this is that it takes in sound from straight ahead and close by. It doesn’t pick up too much sound from the sides or further away. This is where you need to figure out if this is what you need. This is the part I never considered before I ordered it, and why it took some time to learn to work with it.

I had wanted to use this mic on a stand on my desk for voice-overs and short talking head segments. The other intended use was for Skype and Google hangouts. I was glad to see the mic comes with a nice little desk stand. It looks cool in your space, and that’s important to me.

Now the cool looks are a plus, but for my use and tests I find the stand totally worthless. Now I have to buy another accessory, a desk stand. I’m shopping them now and have no recommendation. The problem is that the stand is too short. The mic doesn’t work for me when it’s 6 inches away. It needs to be like 2 inches from my pie hole or it doesn’t work.

This could be a good budget mic for podcasts and screen capture voice-overs. ¬†Want some proof? ¬†This is the mic used by Dave Jackson for his show “School of Podcasting” [.com]

Out in the field this turns out to be a benefit. As you can see in my video test, the background noise is minimal even in a loud environment. If you film in noisy place this will be a good mic choice. Just a little practice and you’ll get the hang of it.

The bottom line is that I’m now very happy with this mic. The sound is very good and the price is very low. I’ll work through the other issues with very little fuss.

As you can tell I’m no audio techno guy. I don’t understand the physics and don’t care to know a lot more than I really need to know.

I hope this may help you out in some way. Watch the video if you haven’t and you’ll get a better idea of what’s what.

Kindle Fire is In The House! My Review

The new Amazon Kindle Fire has arrived and is a winner. That’s my opinion of course but I think it’s a slam-dunk. Nobody’s going to top this tech candy for the $199 price-tag. Here’s a few first had thoughts.

First advice is just to hit my amazon affiliate store links here and buy one. Buy your spouse, parents, kids or best employees one for Christmas. They’ll love it!

Now, give me time to write the rest of this post over the weekend, and come back if you’re not convinced. I’ll have some real ideas and opinion to share. I’d just bet though that my review will be glowing ;-)

one tiny negative to some may be the weight vs the lighter kindles. its a few oz heavier, but boy is it worth it!

flip vs. Kodak Zi8. My test is in.

This little shoot-out was conducted with 3 simple video cameras, and likely the 3 most popular today. The flip Ultra in standard format, the flip mino in HD, and the Kodak Zi8. For this test I shot the Kodak in 1080p mode and the others have only their one options.

The files came off the camera onto an external hard drive and were edited together on a macbook pro’s iMovie. This is a good little editor and standard on macs. the 16:9 format is not native to the flip ultra which produces 4:3 video, but rendered here you get a good looking result in what many call ‘HD’ format.

First lest take a look at the youtube converted flash video..

The standard flip produced an avi file of 13 MB. The flip HP an MP4 at 58 MB, and the Kodak gave me a .mov file of 75MB. Those are big files for a short segment. For this reason I like the standard video best. My computer is very good at processing and editing the standard stuff, but is too weak to handle the HD format. If you have a newer system then you may have no problem here.

I normally edit on my aging PC with Sony Vegas Movie Studio ver. 8, and it will not handle these files, especially the 1080p .mov from the Kodak. For this test i had to use the macbook pro and iMovie. The mac handled the 3 file types and sizes with no complaints.

In watch the raw files it was instantly obvious that the audio from the Zi8 was much better. The built-in mic was used and the 3 cameras were positioned as close as possible, equidistant from me, the subject.

I hope this little experiment is helpful to you. For me it means I’m going to have to work towards another couple of thousand dollars for upgraded hardware and software and a new Kodak. By then some other player is likely to release yet another pocket video camera.

I will also post a mp4 video file here if I can figure out how? I’ll find an EZ way to do it ;-)

The true bottom line is that all of these cameras are just cameras and the real value in video is the content. If you have boring and useless content it doesn’t matter how technically beautiful it is.

Me interesting and/or entertaining and nobody notices the little details.

I recommend two microphones for your Zi8, or other video camera

If you have Kodak’s newest pocket video camera, the Zi8 then you’ll need to look at external mics to take full advantage of the best feature of this camera. Here I have 2 great recommendations that are highly rated and widely available.

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