Though technology has made great strides in the last decade, voiceover artists and radio reporters have been tethered to tablets and laptops when recording audio. Smartphones by themselves weren’t an option for the kind of professional audio recording necessary for a radio reporter or voiceover artist to do their job. CEntrance’s MicPort Pro 2 offers to change that by bringing professional audio recording capability to the smartphone as well as tablets and laptops.
SMALL PACKAGE, MANY FEATURES
The MicPort Pro 2 connects to a smartphone, tablet or laptop via a USB OTG cable. Users of iOS devices (iPhones) with Lightning connectors, would use a Lightning to USB connector that CEntrance describes on their website. Once connected and recognized, the MicPort Pro 2 is ready to process audio in three flavors: microphone level, line level, and (for the musician) Hi-Z guitar or bass level. There is switchable 48 V phantom power for microphones that require it.
The MicPort Pro 2 has a control to blend send and return audio, useful if connected as an audio input device for a codec app, such as Luci Live Lite or an audio recording app, such as Audio Evolution Mobile. Headphone connections are made with a 3.5 mm TRS jack. There are LED indicators for signal presence (white) and signal overload (red). Switches for the high-pass filter (6 dB cut below 130 Hz) and Hi-Z line input selection are recessed and require a small object like a paper clip to move.
Recordings made with the MicPort Pro 2 are two-track recordings, although the device is a single-channel input device. One of the tracks (left) is recorded at normal level; the other is recorded –12 dB below the normal level. If the normal level track is unusable due to clipping, the –12 dB safety track can be used. The MicPort Pro 2 is offered with an optional soft-knee limiter, which is used primarily on vocal recordings. A recessed switch and LED indicator control and monitor its operation.
The MicPort Pro 2 has a rechargeable battery that can be recharged by any device with a USB micro connection. The battery needs to be charged for five hours before its first use, and is not user-replaceable. The product can be mounted on a 1/4-20 bolt (like those on a mini photo tripod), so a user can connect microphone, headphones, OTG cable all on one tripod, saving space in cramped quarters like a press area. The unit is sold with a one-year warranty. The downloadable operators manual is very detailed and, if referenced, will help users solve most problems that they may encounter.
I recorded two episodes of my “Radio-Road-Test” program using this device, along with an Audio-Technica AT897 shotgun electret condenser mic, Koss Pro 4 AA Titanium headphones and Future Sonics earbuds. One was recorded on a Google Nexus 7 tablet, the other on a Samsung Galaxy A6 smartphone. I used the Audio Evolution Mobile app on both devices to record the raw audio, consisting of my spoken voice with the limiter engaged. The Nexus 7 recognized the CEntrance MicPort Pro 2 as a USB sound card and I could monitor audio. The Galaxy A6 also recognized the MicPort Pro 2 as a USB sound card and I could record and monitor audio when recording with Audio Evolution Mobile.
I also tried the MicPort Pro 2 using the Luci Live Lite app on the A6 and the phone recognized it as a sound card, allowing me to send and receive audio. When trying to use Cleanfeed (through Google Chrome browser-based Opus codec) with the Galaxy A6 and the MicPort Pro 2 connected, the A6 did not recognize it as an input. CEntrance and Cleanfeed worked through this issue with me and identified that it was a Chrome browser issue.
The arrival of the CEntrance MicPort Pro 2 coincided with the failure of my studio recording console. When comparing the sonic quality of the MicPort Pro 2 and the setup that I’ve been using for more than 10 years, I could find no difference. It is a plug-and-play solution for any mobile, laptop or desktop device that allows a corded connection by USB, which, when equipment fails and a production schedule beckons, brings peace of mind because the backup is as good, if not better, than the original equipment. For a simple home or office studio recording setup, the MicPort Pro 2 would make economic sense, because of its onboard limiter, monitor, 48 V phantom power preamp and rechargeable onboard battery.
The CEntrance MicPort Pro 2 costs $249 for the base version. The version with the optional limiter goes for $279. The MicPort Pro 2 will most likely find its way into the bags of audio technicians, voiceover artists who’d like to be even more mobile, guitarists and bass players, and, most importantly for the Radio World reader, the radio reporter who may need to record voice tracks or connect via codecs.
CENTRANCE MICPORT PRO2
+ Compatible with most
soft codecs and phones
+ 48 V phantom power
+ Onboard high-pass filter
– Some flakiness with certain phones; took a while to connect to Cleanfeed via the Chrome browser
Price: $249, with limiter $279
Contact: CEntrance in Illinois at 1-833-236-8726 or visit www.centrance.com.
Paul Kaminski, CBT, is a mostly retired radio reporter, host of msrpk.com’s Radio-Road-Test program, and since 1997, a Radio World contributor. Twitter: @msrpk_com. Facebook: PKaminski2468.
Comment on this or any story. Email [email protected] with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.