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NBC Universal’s Chicago stations convert to MXL USB microphones

For the photographers and reporters of Chicago’s NBC-owned WMAQ channel 5 and WSNS Telemundo (channel 44), rerecording voice tracks to accompany video shot in the field was a cumbersome procedure that was inhibiting the entire newsgathering/editing process. To streamline workflows, the stations have added the MXL USB.006 USB/cardioid condenser microphone, purchasing 39 units in all.

The NBC and Telemundo stations are switching to digital news acquisition in the field. While they still have tape-based cameras, they are now also recording onto digital storage devices, which then connect to laptop editors for nonlinear 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 Edward S. Mann, who manages the stations’ technical operations in gathering and editing news material for daily programs and is in charge of equipment procurement, “An ongoing challenge was the process our crews would use when rerecording voice tracks on location. Having to constantly disconnect the editing equipment in order to reconnect 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, connecting to a laptop computer is effortless. Rather than having to interface the microphone via XLR connector and a separate microphone preamplifier, the USB.006 makes its connection via standard USB plug, without requiring any special drivers.

Featuring a 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, the USB.006 microphone incorporates a gold diaphragm, pressure-gradient condenser capsule and a three-position, switchable attenuation pad (0, -5 and -10dB), 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 sampling rates of 44.1kHz and 48kHz. A heavy-duty wire mesh grill makes it field ready, and an LED status light informs the user the microphone is active and correctly oriented.

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