Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The RODE NT2000 Review!

 Over the holidays I had a little time to play around with a new microphone, as RØDE was kind enough to send me my dream mic; The NT2000. It was an incredible surprise and I am so happy and thankful that I can start the new year with reviewing a very sought-after piece of equipment.

The first thing that I love about the NT2000, is that it comes with a nice and sturdy carrying case, something that is important if you're touring because it will travel well.

Inside, along with the microphone, you'll find a RODE SM2 shock mount, with their quick and easy registration; simply scanning the tab attached to the bottom of the mic. Of course an "I love RØDE" sticker along with an owners manual.

SM2 shockmount
Because this condenser mic offers countless settings - depending on where you are, or how many different instruments/vox you may be recording within a session, or perhaps as a studio hopper - make sure you keep the manual - as they offer a few pages to write your personal preferences down.

This wasn't a quick plug-in and play this time around. I mean; yes - the set up is easy, but because the NT2000 offers variable settings - finding the right tone within my recording space led me trying out for hours the first day and then I had to give my ears a rest, and listen, and tweak again the next day.

I took a photo of my current settings (see photo below) and I have the mic currently sitting in the SMR shockmount that came with the New NT1 with the built-in pop shield that is oh-so-incredible! (SMR designed by Røde but features Rycote lyres)

Because I mostly sing, and do voiceovers - this microphone is ideal. Also, with offering different polar patterns, bass rolloff, and pad - when it comes to recording a variety of instruments, live shows, or bigger group recordings, this will quickly become the star in anyone's mic locker.

SMR shockmount. My favourite! - Removed pop filter to show current mic setting.

Tara and I couldn't stop giggling trying
to take a holiday photo so this was the best we got!
This beautifully designed Røde NT2000 is a bit heavier than the NT-USB and NT1. However, its variable polar patterns, highpass filter and db pad right on the mic body may add to the weight. You can also catch a glimpse of its golden Type HF1 dual diaphragm capsule caged pretty under the mic screen. Manufactured and designed in Australia - you can feel and most importantly - hear - the quality.

The characteristics of the NT2000 has similar qualities to the NT1, with immensely low self-noise, but I personally felt the sound was less brighter and had less colour than the latter. This is actually a good thing. My voice sounds warmer on the NT2000, but not muddy by any means, and my dry-cut vocals sound how I think I sound in my head.

This is exactly what I am looking for in my voiceover work.

Tara McLeod on guitar like a boss!
Usually I will post a sample of what the microphone sounds like - and now is no different! This time, I had to get creative with this, so I invited my good friend, and one of the most talented guitar players I know - Tara McLeod!

You may know her from the metal band "Kittie" while also shredding for Shawn Desman, when she's not busy in the studio working on other sessions.

She was awesome enough to come over with a surprise peppermint tea in-hand (because she's amazing like that), and play the acoustic guitar opposite me.

This was a good way to give you a better idea of what this mic can sound like in its variable patterns. We probably talked a year's worth of podcast episode topics that day ;)

Always fun!

I am so abundantly happy with the NT2000. This is a very affordable workhorse of a mic, that owns a sound that could easily boast a much higher price tag. I'm really excited to record my autoharp, and other various instruments - because this microphone is incredibly dynamic, and will confidently serve me well for any kind of recording situation.

I will post a demo below and I'll start by talking with the cardioid pattern and then Tara and I will switch things up with singing/playing a verse and chorus of my song "The Ghost Between" in the Omni pattern and then a chorus and another verse in the Figure 8 (bi-directional) pattern.  I also will mark it in Soundcloud so it's easier to understand. :)

I hope I've made your decision a little easier!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The New RODE NT-USB Review!

 I’ve purchased a couple of USB microphones in the not-so-distant past and ended up feeling disappointed. Thus, I didn’t have high expectations for the new RØDE NT-USB.

After my purchase of the new RØDE NT1 (read my very in-depth review of their mic here), I was having trouble finding a good microphone for traveling. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be disappointed by yet another USB-based microphone purchase – and really, really wanted to try the new NT-USB at some point, when I was ready to make another go at it.

RØDE was kind enough, however, to send me one to review; to see how I felt about theirs and perhaps open my mind to them again.

Upon receiving and unboxing, I was overcome by this feeling of zen, that always seems to strike me when I’m opening one of their products. Everything is set up so lovely, neat and easy to assemble.

Unboxing! RØDE offers such an easy way to register your equipment with one simple scan :) 

The Australian designed NT-USB is the fraternal twin of the NT1 with similar weight and outstanding hardware quality. This time, they offer on-board monitoring with a zero-latency headphone monitoring jack - offering independent level and mix control. This makes plug-in play incredibly easy, especially for quick takes on the iPad.
Independent level and mix control featuring a zero-latency headphone monitoring jack.

The NT-USB is housed with an attractive pop shield and desktop stand, zip case and impressively long 6m USB cable - all included. I will also state that these are never rubbish throw-ins and that I am always impressed with the quality and durability of the stand and pop-shield.

Insert 2001: Space Odyssey music here*

Set-up was pretty standard and easy as pie! I wanted to put it to the test through a standard recording program like Garage Band and my laptop.

When plugging in, "Ooo!" I was greeted by a soft, blue glow sharing a tiny spot with the condenser capsule to let you know it was on and working. I quite liked this feature and it was a cool extra surprise. Yes, a blue light inside a microphone amused me ;)

Now for the sound - the most important part. Like I mentioned before - I have become a little jaded by USB based condenser microphones - especially the couple that I've tried. My voice would usually get a little muddy and boomy with the cheap sounding characteristics. These were also $200 + and I didn't know what to think about the NT-USB because it was set at such a great price point.

My voice right out of the box is bright and carries the similar characteristics of the new NT1. I'm incredibly impressed this is even a USB based cardioid, condenser microphone because I feel that you usually lose a lot of that studio-slick sound that often gets bogged down and almost dirty (and not a good dirty) :)

It's safe to say that the new NT-USB has swooned me.  

Again I will honestly say the same thing that I did about the NT1 about the new NT-USB - that you are getting so much bang for your buck. I refuse to say you're getting quality ..."for the price" because again - this is all quality and this holds up incredibly well. It's quite surprisingly, lovely sounding.

I will add a recording just above, to give you an idea. I might be getting slight sibilance, but that is nothing that a de-esser couldn't quickly fix. Actually - considering this is an untreated recording, I'm impressed with the brightness and the lack of sibilance that I usually expect to follow with types of condensers. The plosives are greatly taken care of by the pop screen and the desktop stand is doing a solid task. This is a raw recording and out of my treated "studio".

The USB cable is 6m (20') long! 

The reason I needed a USB based microphone was to my work on-the-go, as I do voice-overs. When I am out n' about traveling and visiting family in Norway, I quite like the option to be able to complete a couple of auditions if I'm unable to slip into a studio while there. This mic will also come in handy when recording songwriting sessions, as it would serve incredibly well with demos, podcasting and beyond!

I'm actually excited to record my autoharp and sing and see how that turns out :)

Because posing a microphone as an eye patch is what the cool kids are doing ;) 

Overall - I love this microphone and it will make a great addition to my home studio and my suitcase! ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lykke Li - I Never Learn

Let me just say I've been listening to Lykke Li for years, and this album has moved my soul the most. 

The first listen brought me to tears!  The incredibly catchy, heartbreaking melodies married to the beautiful production of Björn Yttling and Greg Kurstin nostalgically come to life on each of her tracks. 

This is one of those "I need this one on vinyl for the vault" records - I haven't got this excited since Susanne Sunfør's latest release "Silicone Veil

Lykke's "I Never Learn" is one of those albums that you hold close and dear, and when you're alone listening with the headphones on... eyes closed - you're only guaranteeing yourself to be in such great company :)

There hasn't been an album where I've adored every song like I do this one in a very long time. 

I can't even pick a favourite! But, I'm head-over-heels for "I Never Learn", "Just like a Dream", "Silver Line", "Gunshot" and "Sleeping Alone" 

I've posted my most hearted, below!

Buy this album. Period. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

NRK's Piip-show!

Photo by Magne Klann and Lars Aurtande
If you find yourself wondering what you should do today (and every day after that) - look no further than your computer monitor to watch a live-feed of birds hanging out at a coffee shop or nuzzled warm in a cosy decorated apartment. Norway's airing a 3 month run of this "slow-TV reality show" from their broadcasting network NRK.no.

This wonderful collaboration was created by photographer, Magne Klann and model maker, Lars Aurtande. (pictured right with their bird buddies)

This is the tweetest thing I've ever watched! You can tweet captured photos to them at @NRKpiip with #nrkpiip

Birds family that nicely settled into their apartment :)
Photo by Magne Klann and Lars Aurtande

When I am not watching - I have it on in the background to listen to the birds nearby. I could also open my door for this - but it's much too cold today ;)

It's very relaxing and brings me back to the country. :)

If you want to catch the live bird feeds click HERE!

If you're lucky, you can catch some rowdy squirrel visitors!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Major Parkinson - "Twilight Cinema" Review!

One of my most favourite Norwegian bands is back with another killer album! I was growing leery thinking - can these Bergen natives top their self-titled "Major Parkinson" and follow-up "Songs from a Solitary Home" release? (Click the link to read my review from 2009) They did - continuing to guide my heart through darker, intricate shadows with "Twilight Cinema".

I don't even know where to start... Hands down - this album is a soul grabber, much like many other Norwegian acts alike (un-alike).

A huge thing I miss about living in Stavanger, Norway is enjoying these acts live!

They are playing at Folken this Saturday(!!!) by the way!  Go watch them for me, Stavanger folk! :) 

The production is still incredible, while still keeping that Eastern European circus nostalgia through accordions - interwoven from song to song. 

Like an Eau de Perfume upon first spritz... settling - I catch "Major Parkinson" top-notes, loud and lavish - mid-notes bringing me through the tight and technical crevices of a fun-house maze in "Songs from a Solitary Home" and the dry-down becomes musky, dark, and animalistic within "Twilight Cinema" making my way deeper into a dusky forest - lost to distant, intoxicating, serenades. 

It's a dreamy, heartbreaking, wistful trip. 

My thoughts of the members in Major Parkinson being magnificently brilliant -  still holds true with their third release. They also have a lovely sounding female vocalist haunting beautifully throughout the tracks (who I wish to know the name of to give her proper recognition!) 

The songwriting has always impressed the heck out of me. Jon Ivar Kollbotn inks some pretty wicked lyrics with really catchy melodies to support through his smokey, often mirrored Tom Waits-esque voice. 

I can't ever get enough! 

This album is a wonderful mastery to add to your collection - promise. I hope this is on an LP record somewhere - then I just need to hunt a perfect gramophone to play it on. ;) 

You can buy "Twilight Cinema" along with their other two fantastic albums right on their website,  CDON.com , iTunes or simply on the track link embedded, below!

Streaming one of my favourite tracks "A Cabin in the Sky" (I can't even pick a favourite!) along with the rest of the album:


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Vaya Project - Beautiful Agony (feat. ellemusic) (OFFICIAL VIDEO) and remixes!

Hey everyone!

A little while back I was asked by Jeremy Chaulk to write on one of his poppy-er tracks and our The Vaya Project" and we didn't think it would come out the way it did, and now we have a video - directed by Dave Cardorso!
collaboration "Beautiful Agony" was born. This was part of one of his projects "

It's so crazy how things work out sometimes!

All I want to say is thank you two for believing in this enough to work with me and this track.

Also - check out a couple very lovely remixes by Riley Eichler  and Jeremy, featured on indieunderground.ca!

Hope you all enjoy! :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro!

You know how you find that band, and you listen to them ALL summer (or any whole season) on repeat. I discovered "I Break Horses" a couple of years ago made up of Swedish duo Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck with their debut album "Hearts" and it was fantastic!

This past summer, I couldn't stop spinning the single "Denial" - and it brought me back to listen to their 2011 release - making me fall in love with them all over again. After they revealed their track "Faith" in the last recent months - it left me yearning for more of their new, darker, electronic, creative path. 

Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck
Something about Scandinavian musicians - but I always connect with them on a deeper, spiritual level. They get to my soul. Maybe I'm biased being with a Norwegian, and after living there for a couple years - but I get it. I get them! I want to produce and write like them, also ;) 

They have impeccable skills for really catchy melodies and their production is always fantastic! 

I've had their album on pre-order on iTunes for some time now - but with a couple days away of their release of "Chiaroscuro" (January 20th) you can  stream the full length album- exclusively premiered via Hype Machine! Enjoy it, below! :)

This album is nothing short of incredible. Get your hands on a copy! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The New RODE NT1 2014 Review!

New Rode NT1 2014

After a couple of sleepless nights freaking out about my purchase of the Legendary Shure SM7B - which I will say is a pretty wonderful mic (but - maybe for a deeper male voice), I just had serious doubts about this amazing dynamic on my voice. I also felt that it was quiet, and I ordered a Cloud Lifter CL-1 to get the 60db boost it needed. Yet, I felt it wasn't bright enough for my vocals, although I do have a lower female register; some days I can wake up sounding like Kathleen Turner - I only aspire to sound like her one day :)

Growing up I've had such amazing opportunities to work in state-of-the-art studios since the age of 12, and have seen a lot of gear and beautiful microphones in my day. Ribbons are wonderful to work with and probably a fave personally, but again - being another dynamic, I would need a louder preamp that would pack a lot of gain! Plus, they aren't so cheap.

Then I thought about a tube, and although it would create a warmer sound, maybe it would lack some of the brightness I would want? I stayed up for the last 2 nights pondering and reading review after review. I always wanted to own a RØDE - but because they were designed and MADE in Australia I thought there was no way I could afford them. I was wrong! After doing much research I stumbled across a few contenders.

Staying up and getting slightly addicted to their Rode Soundbooth app. I still can't stop singing that "Oooh baby" track. It sticks with you. Well played Rode, very well played. ;)

These mics are a beauty and of course Rode sturdy. Both designed and made in-house in Australia.
The NTK tube mic was up there, along with the NT1000 (which I believe is a condenser version of the NTK - but I could be totally wrong!), NT2-A, NT1-A and the NT2000 (which was starting to creep out of my price-range). The highest on my list was the NT1 - new 2014 edition, but because it was SO new I put it out of my mind as I didn't think it would be around here yet, and trekked out to my local shop.

The P.A Shop is amazing here in London, Ontario - by the way. Incredibly knowledgeable staff, great variety of stock and if you're an out-of-towner Canadian, they offer free shipping! They also ship everywhere else, you can contact them through their chat service or call. They've always been awesome to me and treat me well :)

They actually have a RØDE vocal booth where I got to try the microphones I wanted to! I could have cried tears of joy finding this out :)

Sweet collaboration with Rycote - completing a really professional shock mount.

First up was the NT1-A. It sounded great, it sounded bright - which wasn't too bad for me for what I wanted. I think I was ready to go for that but wanted to hear all of my options. Next I tried the NT1000 which sounded a little warmer to me and I was warming up to that idea. Then I plugged into the NT2-A which also sounded equally great,  and started some confusion because for some reason I couldn't hear too much difference and asked for another opinion.

The very smart sales associate said he heard more sibilance on my vocals on the NT1000 over the NT2-A. Interesting! I was wondering what to do because I didn't really see myself using the different polar pattern settings as I found the cardioid to be what I would use the most, if not all the time - unless I wanted to do a duet on one mic - or whatever else. It was the next choice on my list.

Last choice (because the NTK tube wasn't available to try) was the NT2000. I loved the sound because it was sort of warmer than the NT1-A and incredibly smooth. The price was a little higher than I wanted to go - but it was also very sweet sounding. It because a hard choice, I made my vocal round 3 more times and then I decided I was ready to grab the NT1-A, because we both thought it sounded best on my voice.

In my head, I knew deep down I reeeeallly wanted to try the new NT1 and for some reason I started to walk around aimlessly because ADD gets the best of me sometimes - and for the good because there it was! I had a Wayne's World moment seeing the brand spankin' new box behind glass - "Oh yes, she will be mine."

Who doesn't want to pose with a new mic? I went with an out-take as I later thought how lame my idea actually was ;)
There were some waiting to be put out on the floor. "Oh yeah! We JUST got that new NT1 in! I'm equally excited to try it!" the salesman said. Both of us giggling in excitement, as we unboxed it and plugged it in. And there it was...

I get a smidgen warmer sound and not as bright as the original NT1-A. It gave my vox some nice depth and smoothness. I feel that was what the anniversary edition was lacking for me for MY vocals particularly. I am not knocking the NT1-A whatsoever, but the NT1 had similarities with that I loved about the NT2000. But, this is really just in my opinion and to my ears.

Perhaps I was just overstimulated, like smelling too many perfumes at once, but I knew in my heart that this one would work for me. At the price point of $320 CDN + tax it was a sound steal. Really happy with it!

As far as sibilance, it might be there a tad, but when I think about my S's and T's - I try and be cautious and I do sound a lot better, actually. I think you could use a de-esser on it and EQ it out - but it wasn't too bad at all, and a quick fix straight-away if NEED be. Especially when I was singing - it was a non-issue.

For my voice-over work I'm still trying to see what sounds best, but I sent in a completely dry vocal take and I am pretty sure I got that job :) That says a lot!

So, for the price - actually not even for the price... For the sound of the microphone, it sits at an affordable advantage to open to a bigger market - to get the proper credit it deserves.

Oh! They also have this little plug feature on the bottom of the mic that you can scan and it brings you right to the page where you can register for your 10 (!!!) year warranty. I've also read that their customer service is superb, and help without question (well, maybe a couple.)

All metal pop shield and a good locking nut is also included. 

The dreaded plosives through the new, and may I say INCREDIBLE, shock mount w/removable pop shield that comes included (SMR designed by Røde but features Rycote lyres) are almost completely gone. Which is actually why I went for the SM7B in the first place. I cannot give this shock mount enough praise. It's nice because you can't go wrong with the space between the mic, and the shield. It has already been ingeniously decided for you! :)

Another great thing is that this shock mount is compatible with all the NT series - including the K2 tube mic.

When you're done a session for the day, they also included a nice dust cover for your protecting convenience.

As you can see, I tried to capture the pop shield in it's detail. It looks like leather on the site ;)
I own an M-Audio Nova (because I actually love the sound for the money) and although these are both considered brighter cardioid condensers (the Rode NT1 is a little less gritty - in a favourable way) considerably floor noise boasting the "world's quietest 1" Cardioid Condenser", and to me - it seemed to open me up in a less harsh manner. I will keep both of them for my future mic locker as they offer me something a little different.

All in all, I'm very impressed with the new NT1! You should definitely have a listen! Try all of them, because something might sound better or different to you. Wonderful quality from Rode.

What is a review without hearing what it sounds like? I will post a sound clip below completely dry through Reason 6 and Prøpellerhead's balance (which I am also in love with!) below:

For reference: I am a new voice-over artist at ellevox.ca (which is very much under construction)  and an old singer-songwriter ;)  I'll be using this microphone mainly for vocals and some acoustic guitar. You can check out my music soundcloud. (Even though I produce mostly electronic music:)

My little humble (and un-treated - don't judge me) home studio. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tove Lo! "Habits" is Beautiful!

I have this song on on repeat by Tove Lo called "Habits" and of course she is from Sweden. There is a magnetic connection between the Scandinavian people, their beats and I! The production is fantastic and incredibly catchy. I just love this woman's voice, also :)

This track is going to be huge and she should be Lorde famous :)

Enjoy the track, below!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2013 MINI Cooper S All4 Countryman!

Wow! I can't even believe I didn't properly post what car I went with - It was just assumed it made it on instagram/facebook/twitter that it would be everywhere - but obviously not my most important place. Here! It's really been a decade since I've wrote a post (6 months?!) and I feel so bad. So, here is a little update :)

So, basically I said goodbye to be beloved MINI Cooper in pepper white on pepper white (LOVED that colour) and got the new Cooper S All4 Countryman in white with the cool black roof and piano black interior and black headlights with all those fancy bells and whistles. The black around the lights was a wonderful safety feature to be seen in the snow. Safety is always first - but it was also imperative that I HAD to have the sound system (Harman Kardon) and navigation packages because I enjoy getting lost in the country on a warm summers eve from time to time... and incase my phone died while I was out - I could rely on this ;)

Like the original Cooper, I am equally - if not more blown away and in love with my new ride. The nostalgia from the first car I will always keep close to my heart - but I don't miss him deeply as much as I thought I would after getting used to his bigger brother. :)

The last post before my music one about wanting another child was really an idea that was going around ( one of the reasons I wanted a 4 door) - but I am very happy with miss Edie at the moment. Who knows what the future may hold for us - but for right now I'd like to focus on my music and just being a good mother to the little blessing and joy that I already have :)

Here is a picture (posted above) from my instagram account www.instagram.com/ellemusic if you care to follow! It's been 6 months with this beauty already...Time does fly!

So, if you stumble upon my blog in perhaps a quest for a new car or just wanting a perspective from a MINI driver with a few years of experience under her belt - the countryman is the way to go for a bigger alternative if you need the space, but don't want to give up the MINI lifestyle ;)

If you have any questions,  as always - I'd be more than happy to answer :)

From now on, I will try and be better at posting more on here!