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Beau Weaver confirms CEntrance MicPort Pro works with iPad


Thanks to our technological bushwhacker, Beau Weaver, we've got confirmation that you CAN use a MicPort Pro with the iPad, with a few extra bits-n-pieces...

Take it away, Beau!!



I recently talked to the techs at CEntrance, maker of the MicPort Pro, who reported that the addition of an inexpensive USB battery will now make it possible to record on the iPad with the MicPort Pro and the 416 or other XLR mic requiring 48v phantom power!   


Photo courtesy of Beau Weaver

 You will need: 


1. Camera Connection kit USB adapter:   ($29)


2. Tekkeon MP1860A TekCharge Dual Port Power Pack ($49) 


3. USB A (male) to A (male) cable ($5) 


4. CEntrance MicPort Pro ($149) 


5.  Connect the microphone to the MicPort Pro.  Connect the USB mini to USB A cable to one of the USB ports on the Tekkeon Power Pack.  Connect the USB A to A cable to the other USB port on the Tekkeon Power Pack.  Connect the remaining end of the USB A to A cable to the apple USB adapter from the Apple Camera Connection Kit.  Power up the Tekkeon, and you will see the MicPort Pro light up.  Remember to turn on the phantom power on the MicPort Pro with the tiny push button on the end, near the USB port.  


Twisted Wave for iOS will use the MicPort Pro automatically when it is connected with no further change of settings or configuration.  


Audio quality is exactly comparable to that of the MicPort Pro on a full blown mac.


here is a comparison audio file: - Beau_Weaver-ipad-macbookair-bigstudio.mp3

1.) on iPad   2.) on macbook air OSX   3.) home studio with expensive preamp


Editing is a dream with Twisted Wave.  You can integrate with Dropbox, or upload to ftp servers.  And, you can even upload files to Twisted Wave's dedicated server, and receive an email link to an .mp3 file on send to your client.  This circumvents Apples restriction about exporting .mp3 files.


It works great.  Personally, I will continue to use the MicPort Pro with my macbook air 11 inch, rather than the iPad.  I prefer the flexibility of a full-on computer.  You can multitask with the iPad....that is to say, record in the background while reading a script from email or Pages......but it is a little klunky for my taste.   When I am operating remote, I want efficiency and ease of use.  But you may prefer the iPad.



CAUTION:  Turn the Power ON (on the 

Tekkeon Power Pack) BEFORE plugging the USB adapter into the iPad 30 pin connector.  If the iPad sees the MicPort Pro without it's battery power on, it gives you an error message and will refuse to work.  A reboot of the iPad seems to reset it.  But earlier versions of iOS would refuse to work with an offending device ever again!  Don't chance it!   Just make sure you do not turn the Tekkeon off while it is plugged into the iPad.  When you are finished, close Twisted Wave, and then unplug the white USB adapter before turning off the Tekkeon battery.


ONE MORE NOTE:   The white USB adapter from the camera connection kit, wants to unplug itself.  It is an awkward design.  Be careful that it is fully seated into the iPad.  It will work loose very easily if the cable is moved at all.  This sucks.  Watch.


YET ANOTHER NOTE:   This does NOT work with iPhone 4.


There are three other devices that will make working with pro XLR microphones much easier.


1.  The Alesis iO Dock  shipping in a few weeks 


2.  The Apogee Mic for iOS  (no ship date yet)  And this one claims that it will work with iPhone 4 as well. 


 3.  Another awesome interface, I cannot name yet.  Sorry.   So stay tuned.



That's it from the bleeding edge,





Macbook Air: It's for real

When the original Macbook Air was released, I was crushed. 
I thought it might be the ultimate VO2Go laptop computer, but due to several shortcomings, primarily the inclusion of a single USB port, it was a completely unsuitable, let alone over priced.  Steve Jobs surprised everyone with the announcement of the re-invention of the Macbook Air, and let me tell you, this time Apple got it right.  This truly is the netbook that we were promised never to see from Apple.   OK, that's not entirely true, but let me explain...
When netbooks came onto the scene, their small size, affordable price, and solid state drives made them winners.  I quickly adopted the use of netbooks for VO2Go kits because beyond size, they performed adequately for the needs of most voice-actors.  Netbooks do have shortcomings, mainly in the lousy keyboard layout and noisy fan that spools up quickly to handle almost any load on the tiny Intel Atom processor.   Dell's Mini 10 came the closest to perfection, when they briefly produced a model with zero moving parts:  No spinning hard drive, no fan, total silence.  But for whatever reason, perhaps the relentless price battle for cheap netbooks, they removed the option to include an SSD (solid state drive).   Even with a spinning drive, they are still a great option and operate nearly silently, but battery life and performance suffers.
To be fair, the Macbook Air is in a different class than a true netbook.  By definition netbooks almost unanimously utilize an Intel Atom 1.6Ghz single core processor, a maximum of 2GB of memory (1GB typical), and a 160GB harddrive.  The MBA's entry level model has an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4Ghz processor and 2GB of memory, with the option to upgrade to 4GB, the critical two USB ports, an mini displayport, a webcam, 802.11 b/g/n WIFI (the fast kind), and a 64GB SSD.  Beyond that, it runs the (what I consider superior) Mac OS operating system, and is built with the quality that Apple is known for.  It's thin and incredibly light, but doesn't feel flimsy at all.  The keyboard is no smaller than that on any other Macbook, and the trackpad is large and easy to use.   It lacks an internal DVD drive, like all netbooks, and in most cases you won't miss it.  If you do something as nutty as install Windows 7 (yep, I did), get the DVD Superdrive from Apple for $80 and make life easy.  
What really blew me away when I finally got my hands on one setting it up Bill Ratner was the snappy performance!  While on paper it doesn't sound all that impressive for a $1000 laptop, don't let that CPU speed fool you.  Ghz is only a part of the equation, which became evident when I first booted the laptop from off to desktop in under 20 seconds.  While RAM (memory) also plays another large role in performance, it still takes a long time to load all of the operating system and applications into RAM from the comparitively snail-paced hard drive.  The SSD reads and writes bits of information VERY fast, and makes the MBA in day to day use feel like a much higher spec'd Macbook Pro or iMac. 
I can go out on a limb and say that you could use this as your every day computer at home and on the road.  Yes, an 11" screen is pretty darn tiny for office use, but just connect a 24" LCD display for $200, problem solved.  All you need is the mini displayport to HDMI adapter and HDMI cable and you're set.  Store all of your audio on an external USB drive, 1 TB units are under $100, and storage is not a problem.  You get the best of both worlds with the lightning fast SSD for the OS and cavernous size of the USB hard drive for audio.  It also wakes from sleep almost instantly, like an iPad, and can use any USB audio device, NOT like an iPad.  I was surprised to see that it DOES have a fan, but you can only hear it if you place your ear directly to the vent by the screen hinge.  Brilliant.  
In the case of the system I setup for Bill Ratner, we loaded Windows 7 with the Bootcamp utility.  This gives him the option to boot the Macbook Air into Mac OS or Windows 7.  The ONLY reason to do this would be to run a special app that must have a native Windows OS running, AudioTX Communicator being the culprit here.  Bill likes having options and redundancy, so he's got that covered running ATX in Windows and Source Connect Pro or Twisted Wave in Mac OS.  With a Sprint 4G USB modem installed, Bill can work wirelessly anywhere via Source Connect or ATX, depending on the data speeds he can get at the location.  With a Shure X2u in one USB port, and a USB hub in the other carrying the load of the modem, iLok dongle, and USB mouse, the Macbook Air doesn't break a sweat. 

Special thanks goes out to Beau Weaver, our voice-over geek guru in the field, who gave me his full report on his Macbook Air experiences within days of its release to the public.  It wouldn't have been as brain-dead easy (and risk-free) to setup for Bill if not for Beau's first-hand experiments and thorough report. 


IMPORTANT INFO for Source Connect and AudioTX users on the go

It's been a rough week for some voice actors who are traveling during the busiest vacation season we've seen since we've started supporting the needs of voice-overists on the road.  Connectivity problems and other glitches when reaching hotels and other destinations have gotten in the way of important ISDN bridging sessions.  In most every case the problem could have been avoided with better preperation. 

Here are the important things you must check before you plan your trip.

1. Before you book your travel, will the Internet access at every destination during your travels be adequate to support your connectivity needs?  Here's a check list:

  • Speed test-  Fast enough download AND upload?  Ask a representative at each destinatation to check this for you.  We recommend using  Source Conncet?  At least 300kbps up/down.  AudioTX, at least 140 kbps up/down.
  • Ping test- Speed is only part of the equation, quality of connection is not all about speed.  After you check the speed and it is good, use to ensure the lowest "jitter" and "ping time" possible.  The longer the ping time, the worse the delay.  The higher the jitter, the greater number of glitches in the audio stream you'll hear.
  • Ethernet-  Are you forced to rely on WIFI?  Ethernet is always recommend and far more reliable, no matter how fast it seems the connect is.  
  • Firewall or Proxy-  Is the Internet access protected behind a firewall or proxy that can't be disabled?  Clues include if there is a very slow "ping time" (latency) during the speed test, or the map shows the nearest location to the test location as somewhere far away.  Also, Marriot hotels employ a proxy service at all of their hotels and chains.  SOMETIMES this can be rectified by the IT department, which a call can clarify in advance. 

2. Before you pack your gear, test your entire system in the configuration you'll use during the trip.  Do this early enough to allow for fixes, especially if you are borrowing or renting equipment from someone else.
Hook it all up, test it, shut down, and test it again.  

3.  As soon as you arrive at your first destination, setup your equipment and arrange a test with your ISDN bridging service or another studio you plan to work with.  Source Connect users can connect to the "echo" contact at anytime and do a self test.  If you connect and hear yourself clearly looped back to you with no glitches, you are in good shape.

4. Make sure your agents and/or clients have your contact info.  It's crucial that everyone been well informed of how they can connect with you, so be sure to have any ISDN or user account info you'll need.  Also, please have your agents contact the bridging service in advance of the session to ensure preparedness and availability. 

We hope you get to travel as much as possible this year, and by following these steps you'll have a worry and troublefree trip and still make your clients (and agents) happy!