Chicago, IL, 9 November, 2007 — For any broadcast news operation, nothing is of greater importance than delivering the news accurately and in timely fashion. For the photographers and reporters of Chicago’s WMAQ-TV NBC 5 and WSNS Telemundo—owned and operated by NBC Universal—re-recording the voice tracks to accompany video shot in the field was a cumbersome procedure that was inhibiting the entire news gathering/editing process. For Edward S. Mann, Manager, Technical Operations, News for the veritable Chicago stations, there had to be a better way. There was, and he found the solution with MXL’s USB.006 USB/Cardioid Condenser Microphone, of which he ultimately purchased 39 units.
Edward Mann with one of the news department’s MXL USB.006 microphones
The NBC and Telemundo stations are switching to digital news acquisition in the field. While the stations still have tape-based cameras, they are now also recording onto digital storage devices, which then connect to laptop editors that facilitate non-linear editing in the field. To expedite the transfer of content, the laptops are equipped with air cards that enable the crew to wirelessly send the video back to the station.
According to Mann, who manages the stations’ technical aspects of gathering and editing news material for daily programs and is also in charge of equipment procurement, “An ongoing challenge was the process our crews would use when re-recording voice tracks on location. They would have to stop editing on the laptop and re-connect a camera to the computer so they could record the voice track on tape, which would then be fed back into the computer. Having to constantly disconnect the editing equipment in order to re-connect the cameras just to capture the voice tracks was not only time consuming, it was causing failures in the editing process. After contending with this situation for entirely too long, we decided to try some USB microphones.”
With the MXL USB.006 USB/Cardioid Condenser Microphone, connecting to a laptop computer is an effortless task. Rather than having to interface the microphone via an XLR connector and a separate microphone preamplifier—as is the case with conventional cardioid condenser microphones—the USB.006 makes its connection via a standard USB plug, without requiring any special drivers.
“With our MXL mics,” said Mann, “we now connect directly to the laptop computers and record straight onto the timeline of our non-linear editing software. It’s just amazing how well these mics are working in the field. The process of re-tracking the voice had been a failure point in the news editing process for quite some time due to the constant disconnecting and re-connecting of the camera. With these USB microphones, it’s a night and day difference that makes the entire process smoother—enabling our reporters to do better work faster. Our new microphones enable us to streamline the news edits from the field and get the information back to the station and on the air.”
In addition to improving the efficiency of the news division’s workflow, Mann is equally enthusiastic about the sound quality of the MXL microphones and believes they offer a viable, cost-effective solution for this type of broadcast application. “During our evaluation,” Mann said, “we tested three USB microphones side-by-side and the MXL USB.006 was significantly better than the others. The audio quality is very good—comparable to what we achieve in the studio. We’re very happy with our purchase and I’ve conveyed my enthusiasm to other stations in the group.”
About the MXL USB.006 USB/Cardioid Condenser Microphone
Featuring a 20 Hz-20 kHz frequency response, the MXL.006 microphone incorporates a gold diaphragm, pressure-gradient condenser capsule, and a 3-position, switchable attenuation pad with settings for Hi (0 dB), Medium (-5 dB), and Lo (-10 dB), making it easy to configure the microphone to virtually any sound source. The microphone’s digital section features a 16-bit Delta Sigma A/D converter with a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz. Protecting the instrument’s capsule is a heavy-duty wire mesh grill. Located behind the grill is an LED that informs the user the microphone is active and correctly oriented.