Hear and Compare over Twenty Microphones with RODE's Soundbooth Broadcast
RØDE Microphones has recently created a new version of their Soundbooth Broadcast, a web application that allows users to interactively compare a wide variety of the manufacturer's mics. The original Soundbooth page's interface was akin to a simplified mixing program, wherein real-time mute and solo controls were offered for each layer of a typical studio music recording. The original listed the types of mics used for each layer (bass drum, snare drum, vocals, guitar amp, etc.) and demonstrated how each layer contributed to the mix. Now, RØDE is giving us the ability to compare the characteristics of a range of their mics -- including voice-over condensers, live performance-style dynamics, shotgun-style super cardioids, even headsets and camera-mounted mics in some cases -- matched against each other in various common real-world acoustic environments.
Note there's no actual video in the interface, the images are just stills. Here's a screen-cap to give you the gist of the new Soundbooth's layout:
Upon visiting the Soundbooth, you may notice that certain mic choices are "coming soon." This is because the interface will be updated to include recordings by additional mics which will be announced by the end of 2012. All-told, there are 23 separate mics to choose from throughout the application's five sonic settings, which are indoor and outdoor dialogue, a voice-over segment, and acoustic and fully amplified musical performances.
The Soundbooth experience is designed less for evaluating pieces of gear against each other and more for sonically demonstrating the subtle idiosyncrasies (things like pick-up pattern and frequency response) each mic has in various applications. The interface attempts not to prove which mics are 'better,' but what results each one can achieve given conditions often encountered in various recording situations.
The website offers "a wide range of microphones that users can switch between in real-time, to hear exactly how each one differs acoustically" -- and be sure to disable the "go to start of track" option (the button to the right of the "stop" button) to hear real-time switching between different microphones continued playing the sound-clip at the exact moment you left off! I found Soundbooth to be a pretty interesting experience in experimenting between the various mics. I think it's a pretty well-designed offering and, as a closet sound-geek, I would like to see more things like this (hopefully with even greater complexity) coming from RØDE in the future.
And if you were wondering if the microphone arrangements displayed in the photographs of Soundbooth are actually accurate, RØDE has posted an awesome behind-the-scenes video which demonstrates the mic'ing and recording process involved.
Did you guys find Soundbooth to be an ear-opening experience?
[Update: Soundbooth Broadcast now available for iPad!]