KENT, Ohio — WKSU(FM),Kent State University’s National Public Radio news and classical music public radio station, recently completed a comprehensive newsroom renovation and relocation within our facility, adding significant space and capacity while modernizing our technical capabilities and workflow.
Amanda Rabinowitz, WKSU “Morning Edition” host and assistant news director, uses the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ cardioid condenser USB microphone and ATH-M40x professional monitor headphones at her desk.
Credit: Robert Lucas, Robert Lucas Photography For years, our news staff grew but our space did not, forcing reporters (and student interns) to share tiny cubicles in a small room. During the planning process we queried our reporters and news team for suggestions of features, upgrades and technical adjustments they desired in the new space. Topping the list was a request for the ability to do more audio production work from desktop workstations, eliminating the need for studio time for simple tasks such as capturing quick telephone interviews for soundbites (using our Telos VX phone system and associated software), quick voice-tracking, recording for edits and adjustments to stories in progress and similar capacity additions.
The new WKSU newsroom space has nine reporter workstations, along with an office for the news director and three “touchdown” stations for interns, students and guests to share as needed, creating a total of 13 equipped spaces.
While evaluating how to accomplish recording/microphone capabilities at these desktops, I quickly discovered that adding an analog mixer, upgraded broadcast-quality sound card, acceptable-quality microphone and cabling, along with incidental required equipment, completely destroyed our limited budget. Adding all of this equipment at each desk also filled up the workspaces with equipment that would significantly diminish available countertop workspace — one of our primary reasons for moving to the new newsroom.
We were able to find the solution in the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ cardioid condenser microphone. This little device packs in the features we required at each desktop in one little stand-mountable microphone. It’s a high-quality, easy-to-use, broadcast-quality microphone, coupled with a sound card (headphone out) and zero-latency monitoring capability, ready to work out of the box. This microphone is solid. You could pound nails with it. Unlike many USB/computer desktop microphones that are made out of plastic, the AT2020USB+ does not feel like a cheap toy.
We coupled the Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ with an On-Stage DS300B microphone stand, using the mount adapter included with the microphone, to provide height adjustment in a compact desktop stand. This microphone has one USB cable (included) and installs in seconds with no extra software drivers or other complexity. After a few clicks to change the computer audio input/output settings, this microphone is ready to go. Training a reporter to use the AT2020USB+ takes about 10 seconds; there’s nothing difficult here. It’s a microphone without all of the fuss.
As part of our desktop equipment upgrade we also chose Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones, which complement our desktop microphone and recording setup. After testing a variety of headphones from Audio-Technica and other manufacturers, our reporters found that the ATH-M40x provided a clean, solid and true sound for voice editing. They are comfortable, lightweight and durable while providing great isolation. Having two detachable headphone cables to choose from (one straight, one coiled) is an awesome feature, especially for any engineer that’s ever had to shorten or “fix” a headphone cable that’s been run over by a rolling desk chair dozens of times. The compressed length of the coiled cable is perfect for our desktop workstations.
The Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ and ATH-M40x are a great fit for WKSU. I’m fully confident that our reporters are more efficient and capable as a result of this gear. I can’t speak highly enough for the ease of installation and quality of these products.
For information, contact Audio-Technica in Ohio at (330) 686-2600 or visit www.audio-technica.com.