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MXL's Guide To Remote Work

A Guide to Working Remote and Building a Mobile Workspace

It seems like a lifetime ago when we could simply pop by our colleague’s cubicle to ask a question or brainstorm an idea (or you were just looking to chat). With many employees working from home for the foreseeable future, it is crucial to take advantage of the many tools and products available to help improve your remote workflow.

When we first went into lockdown, you likely found yourself transforming a corner of your home into an office space and acquainting yourself with a host of new digital communication platforms. It may have felt like a shock to the system at first, trust me – we get it, and we hope that you have overcome some of the initial hurdles of transitioning to remote work. However, if you’re looking at your makeshift (or nonexistent) workstation and thinking there might be some room for improvement, then you’re in the right place. Let’s take a closer look at how to build the ultimate mobile office to help you thrive while we ride out the rest of this pandemic.

The Remote Worker’s Digital Toolkit

  1. Communication – Let’s start with the basics—how are we going to effectively communicate now that we are no longer in the same room? Don’t worry, speaking with colleagues is still an easily achievable task, it might just take an extra keyboard stroke or mouse click, or two. Conversations that used to take place in person, whether an office meeting or water cooler talk  are now taking place virtually using a range of platforms that include Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and the list goes on. What used to be once-in-a-while tools are now a part of our everyday lives, and we’re okay with that.
  2. Collaboration – Now that your coworker is stationed 40 miles away from you, rather than 40 inches, you won’t be able to simply slide documents across their desk. However, digital services like Dropbox and Google Suite, allow you to seamlessly share your work with colleagues, but instead of moving from desk to desk, your work will move from screen to screen. Added bonus: you’ll save a tree or two.
  3. Task Management – From calendars to to-do lists, there are a ton of digital platforms available that will help you to stay organized while away from the workplace. Some of our favorites include Google Calendar, Trello and ToDoist. Also, to help you connect with clients or customers without double booking, it might be a good idea to download a scheduling platform. We prefer mobile apps including Square and Acuity Scheduling.

 

The Essential Gear


Now that you’re comfortable with all of your digital communication and collaboration platforms, let’s talk gear. Are you frustrated with blurry and echoey video chats? If so, we’re here to help. In addition to a desktop or laptop, there are just a few pieces of gear you’ll need to enhance your virtual communication while working remotely.  
 

  1. Cameras – We did not have much time to plan before going into lockdown, so we won’t blame you for having to resort to your laptop from 2010, which doesn’t have the best camera. But rest assured, there’s a way for you to be seen clearly without breaking the bank for a new computer—all you need is a new camera. Some of our favorite cameras that can be plugged into any computer by USB connection are the Marshall Electronics CV-610 and the Hudlly IQ.
  2. Lighting – In addition to a high-quality camera, lighting plays an important role in capturing clear video. While working remotely, no longer confined to an office with florescent lighting, you might be in too dark of a space to be seen clearly during a video conference. Lighting is an easy fix, especially with the Lume Cube Video Conference Lighting Kit. Compatible with both laptops and desktops, Lume Cube’s Panel Mini LED light provides soft and professional illumination with fully adjustable controls.
  3. Microphones – Now we can see you, but the audio isn’t great. At MXL, we understand how important it is to use something other than your computer’s built-in microphone if you want to be heard clearly. Our new AC-44 Conferencing Mic is the perfect solution for your mobile workstation kit. With a compact footprint, crystal clear speech intelligibility, and powered by a USB-C connection, the AC-44 offers a simple plug-and-play solution to enhancing your audio quality on a budget.

To learn more about the MXL AC-44 or for additional tips on how to improve your remote workstation, visit uc.mxlmics.com or feel free to contact us via our contact page or social media.

 

Amwell Enhances Audio Capabilities on its Telemedicine Carts With MXL’s AC-404

Amwell – C250 Telemedicine Cart

The telemedicine industry, and the product manufacturers that support virtual patient care, is experiencing a massive surge in demand amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Amwell, a leading telehealth solutions provider, rose to the challenge by continuing to equip clinicians and patients with the tools needed to continue conducting quality care visits, virtually. As the company searched for an enhanced microphone solution for its C250 Telemedicine Cart, it turned to MXL Microphones’ AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone, which offers pristine audio clarity. For this OEM application, a customized casing mount allows the AC-404 microphone to easily affix to Amwell’s C250 Carepoint via a magnetic connection, simplifying the setup process for users.

Replacing the microphones that previously sat on Amwell’s C250, MXL’s AC-404 is now the company’s primary microphone option for this cart. As a compact solution, the AC-404 meets Amwell’s requirement of integrating a microphone that seamlessly fits within the cart’s worksurface while still providing best-in-class audio performance in challenging acoustic environments. In addition to its small size, Amwell also chose MXL’s AC-404 for its sleek design, which aligns with the overall aesthetic of the C250 Telemedicine Cart.

C250 Telemedicine Cart

Supporting the Nation’s Top Docs

“The value of telehealth has never been clearer than it is today,” says Merrill Roller, Senior Product Manager, Connected Devices, Amwell. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of providers at the nation’s top hospital and health systems depend on telehealth carts to safely meet with patients and ensure that everyone in need of care could access it. Our C250 cart is unique in that it allows hospitals to connect to the Amwell provider network as well as to their own providers, offering access to thousands of specialists on demand. This has been especially critical during the pandemic, as it means that hospitals in geographies with higher patient traffic could leverage additional providers when needed to support the demand.”

Amwell’s C250 cart has consistently been one of the company’s most-loved and well-utilized Carepoints since it was first released. By adding the MXL AC-404 worksurface microphone as a standard accessory, and as telehealth continues to prove its value in the hospital setting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Amwell expects more organizations to turn to its C250 cart to gain access to thousands of virtual care providers across a wide variety of use cases.

The Value in Dependable Solutions

“Feedback from clients has been very strong,” adds Roller. “One client mentioned that the AC-404 with the C250 Carepoint performed better than any other audio solution they have used—even in their CT room, which proves to be a very challenging audio environment. When lives are at stake, the last thing you want to worry about is the reliability of technology, and thankfully, MXL’s AC-404 microphone has provided our clients with dependable audio capabilities, allowing clinicians to accurately assess and listen to patients in order to provide the best care and experience possible.”

Carlos Henriquez Playing Upright Bass

Jazz Bassist Carlos Henriquez Relies on the Revelation II When Recording From Home

Having been raised by a musical family, Carlos Henriquez was destined to find his passion for the performing arts. As a Juilliard Music Advancement Program (MAP) graduate with an impressive resume, Henriquez joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 1998. Over the past 22 years, Henriquez has been touring the world with the orchestra, having been featured on more than 25 albums. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. in March, Henriquez found himself attempting to record music from home for the first time. In need of a high-quality microphone to capture pristine recordings in his makeshift home studio, Henriquez turned to MXL Microphone’s REVELATION II tube microphone.

Carlos Henriquez holding the MXL Revelation II

Led by internationally acclaimed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center orchestra relies solely on acoustics, not using any amplification or monitors while on stage. With this style of recording, microphones are more important than ever. “For our performances, we solely rely on microphones, which are directed by our Acoustic Sound Engineer David Robinson and Audio Engineer Todd Whitelock,” says Henriquez. “When we first began working from home, I had nothing to offer in terms of sound other than my iPhone and laptop. I ended up capturing a couple of recordings on my iPhone, which Todd was able to work with. However, listening back, it was not the high-quality audio that we are accustomed to at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I knew I needed to do something about it.”

 Carlos Henriquez Playing Upright Bass

 

In his search for a quality microphone to integrate into his project studio, Henriquez turned to Whitelock for advice. “Knowing the importance of microphones for acoustic recordings, I asked Todd for a recommendation for my home setup, and he connected me with Trevor from MXL. After chatting with Trevor about my specific needs, he sent me the REVELATION II mic to test out. As soon as the microphone arrived at my house, I was immediately impressed. From the presentation of the package, to the case the REVELATION II comes in, I could tell this was going to be a solid mic.”

In addition to a high-quality microphone solution, Whitelock suggested Henriquez look into a few other pieces of essential gear such as speakers and a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). “With my new REVELATION II microphone incorporated into my project studio, the audio files I was capturing went up twofold in terms of clarity and quality—even Todd was amazed with how clear everything sounded. What really blew us away with the REVELATION II is the ability to change the polar patterns of the mic. We are seamlessly able to swap back and forth between figure eight, omnidirectional, and cardioid polar patterns. This has been extremely helpful, especially while working from home.”

A standout feature of the REVELATION II for Henriquez is its ability to capture an organic Jazz sound. “Sonically, the genre of jazz carries a lot of history and we often find that as technology advances, the historical sound ends up being altered. For Jazz at Lincoln Center, we have been blown away by the true and organic sound that the REVELATION II captures. With MXL, what you hear is what you get, and the mics do a beautiful job of capturing the true jazz sound that we idolize.”

Henriquez also finds the budget-friendly price tag and plug-and-play capabilities of the REVELATION II microphone to be beneficial for project studio recordings. “You could spend thousands of dollars on antique microphone solutions, but then you also have to spend thousands of dollars on the equipment needed to run them. MXL microphones are designed for users to be able to simply plug in and you’re ready to go! This makes it extremely convenient for a musician to record at home and obtain the same sound quality of expensive antique microphones in a professional studio.”

In addition to MXL’s product offerings, Henriquez is also a huge fan of the brand. “I’m in love with MXL as a company. I would tell my friends and colleagues, if you go online and search the reviews for MXL’s microphones, you’re going to see the overwhelming, and well-deserved, positive feedback from the industry. It’s also been really amazing to see how MXL has been able to unite musicians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by providing high-quality and affordable solutions that we can use at home, thus keeping us together musically. With the REVELATION II, I’ve been able to record tracks for other artists and it’s been a really helpful solution and has also been a lot of fun. This is a crucial time in history as we start to find out how companies’ products have a value in bringing people together, and MXL clearly goes above and beyond for its customers. I look forward to continuing to rely on MXL microphones in the years to come.”

AC-404 Feature

When Clarity Matters, The AC-404 is a Reliable Part of Indico Systems Evidence Recording Systems

Indico Systems is globally changing the way industries record and mobilize digital evidence recordings in a secure, efficient and productive manner.

Through innovative software development, Indico has digitalized processes and procedures to improve the performance of recording suspect, witness and victim interviews, as well as interrogations and court sessions. Hundreds of customers around the world, including police forces, children’s safe houses, courts, military, hospitals, audit firms and the United Nations rely on the company’s solutions to provide accurate records of their operations. To capture pristine audio recordings, the company turns to MXL Microphones’ AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone.

To deliver Indico’s solution to users around the world, the company installs their ‘Recorder’ software onto a laptop, which gets packed into a portable case along with USB cameras and MXL’s AC-404 USB-Powered Microphone, for a truly plug-and-play solution. “When looking for camera and microphone solutions to integrate with our software, we knew USB-powered devices were the way to go, this way there are no additional power sources needed,” says Stig Knutsen, CEO of Indio Systems. “You simply plug your camera and microphone into the laptop, which has the ‘Recorder’ software previously installed, and you’re ready to go.”

When searching for a USB-powered microphone, choosing MXL’s AC-404 was a no-brainer for Knutsen due to its high voice intelligibility.

“When recording audio files such as interrogations and interviews to be used as evidence in court rooms, it is extremely important to capture crystal-clear, unfiltered sound. We tested out several USB microphones, but other manufacturer’s solutions could not compare to the high-quality audio of the MXL AC-404. Other mics’ recordings were much lower, and a lot more muffled. Once we heard the MXL mic, we immediately knew that was the mic for us.”

Indico Systems Portable Recorder System

Another benefit of MXL’s AC-404 USB-Powered mic for Indico Systems is its range of audio pickup. “Our customers are often surprised that they only need one microphone to capture the interview recording,” says Knutsen. “The AC-404 does an amazing job of capturing multiple sources of audio without an issue. Even if the interviewee gets up and starts walking around while talking, we can rely on the AC-404 to pick up an even and clear sound throughout the process. Whether the person is speaking right next to the microphone or on the other side of the room, the recordings always sound great.”

For Indico Systems, it is crucial that they provide their customers with an extremely reliable and durable microphone solution. “We have over 2,000 MXL AC-404 mics, and we are constantly packing, unpacking, and shipping them around the globe, so rigidity was also super important to us when choosing a microphone,” adds Knutsen. “The durable all-metal construction of the AC-404 has helped to ensure that when our customers unpack their kit, they are receiving a microphone in perfect condition. The MXL AC-404 is a solid microphone, and it always works. We are looking forward to trying out other solutions that MXL has to offer!”

The AC-404 captures crystal clear speech intelligibility for a variety of applications with easy plug-and-play USB connectivity and a low-profile design. Three microphone capsules in a surface-mount boundary form deliver a 180-degree pickup pattern with a 25′ range, making it ideal for conference rooms, courtrooms, connected classrooms and more. Designed to simply rest on any flat surface, the AC-404 is now available in white and black and its discrete and convenient design makes it the perfect solution for everyday use.

Learn more about Indico Systems here

Learn more about MXL’s AC-404 and other solutions here

WFH – How to improve your audio when working from home

In these bizarre times in our world, many of us find ourselves relying on our computers for communication. Like anything in technology, there are hurdles and difficulties. The camera is too dark, too bright, choppy connection, audio is fuzzy.

Here at MXL, we want to share information to help you improve your audio when working from home or just catching up with friends and family over a video conference.

Common issue/question:

Why does the microphone on my laptop or computer sound so bad and echoey?

At MXL, we often get customers looking for an upgrade in their web conferencing experience. We constantly hear things like “the sound is always so echoey” or “everyone sounds so far away.” We even had a customer ask, “Do computer manufacturers just not care about good audio?”

There are many reasons why users have these kinds of experiences, and we’ll try not to bore you with too many details. Typically the microphone in a computer is there to pick up audio; that is it. It’s a function and less about the quality of that function. This is similar to a steak from a sketchy roadside diner vs. the best cut of meat you have ever had from your favorite steak house.

In addition to microphone quality and steaks, the main issue with built-in microphones has to do with physics and something called Critical Distance. In a simplified form, Critical Distance is the distance at which the reflections and reverberations of a direct sound, equal or exceed the volume of the direct sound from the sound source.

Example: When you start to hear more of your voice bouncing off the walls in your office than direct sound, this is what can make it sound like someone is in a bathroom when they are on a web chat.

In a 10×10 room (bedroom or office), the critical distance of a sound to a source can be as short as 9.6″.

Unless you are sitting with your face pressed against your computer screen, you are likely more than 9.6″ from the microphone. Your computer microphone is going to be picking up as much if not more indirect sound (the echoey bathroom sound) than the direct sound.

How do we solve this? Get the microphone closer to you by using an external USB microphone.

MXL AC-404The AC404 is a USB boundary microphone. A boundary microphone uses a flat surface to avoid acoustic issues and enhance the audio (this is an oversimplified explanation). Using an external microphone also allows you to place a microphone right in front of you instead of far away at the top of your laptop screen.

In addition to those benefits in a mic like the AC404, we are using high-quality capsules, components, and circuitry, all tuned for the human voice to enhance clear communication.

For all of these reasons, many people already use external microphones or headsets for web conferencing for work or just catching up.

The MXL AC404 is plug and play with pretty much any computer capable of running a video conference. Adding an external USB microphone to your workspace should be hassle-free, and you’ll impress everyone with your improved audio quality.

MXL offers a few versions of the AC404; the differences are primarily cosmetic. Here is some info about them below:

 MXL AC404 – The base model AC404 mic

MXL AC404 White – The base model AC404 mic in white

MXL AC404 LED – LED version of the AC404. You can change the LED color with a dial under the base. Very cool for gaming.

MXL AC404Z – AC404 for Zoom applications, and it comes with a few accessories that integrators and installers prefer.

If you arent using one already, an external microphone can significantly improve the audio quality of your voice on web conferences, recordings, and presentations. Be sure to check out the AC404 and some of our other products.

MXL AC-360-Z Zoom Microphones installed on ceiling

South African AV Installer Mounts MXL AC-360-Z On Ceiling for Complete Sound Coverage

The integrator was able to treat two, 36-seat board rooms and one classroom hall with ceiling-mounted AC-360-Zs for Zoom Room integrated meetings. Here’s a closer look at the install:

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Three Types of Mics You Need To Know

Microphones, whether you know it or not, are essentially transducers, meaning they convert one form of energy into another. Microphones take acoustical energy and convert it into electrical, but the way this process happens changes depending on which type of microphone you’re using. Here’s a closer look at the three main kinds of microphones, and how they convert live sound into electrical signals:

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Benjamin Wright's Storied History with MXL

Benjamin Wright’s Storied History With MXL

The multiple Grammy-winning producer and composer has been a big fan of MXL Mics for more than a decade. Wright first gained notoriety for arranging strings for smash hits like Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” and “Rock with You,” and he continues to work with top pop artists today, recording strings for Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience album and Ty Dolla $ign’s Free TC. Here’s more on how MXL plays a big part in this music legend’s career.

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