Piques of the Week: Volume 15

It's been a bit since I've done one of these, but I wanted to share some of the things that have been piquing my interest as of late. I've made some good purchases on a few times, and wanted to share them.

iPad Case with Pencil

For a long time, I used the Logitech Create. Then I switched to the Smart Keyboard, as it made more sense to me. I purchased a back cover that I thought was ok, and then a magnetic pen holder. But… I really missed how the Create was able to hold my pencil for the few times I use it. Based on my Amazon search history, I ended up finding a new iPad Case w/ integrated Pencil holder. And it's really what I wanted in the first place.

The case provides a rubberized surround, which integrates the Pencil holder. There are two small cut-outs on the back side of the Pencil, so that I can remove it quickly. Once I'm done, the Pencil is secured, nearly encapsulated by the rubber. It also has a cutout for the Smart Keyboard attachment, and doesn't interfere with anything. This is by far the best combination I've used for portability and mode switching. I also know that there are cases like this for the other size devices, so give those a look as well if you're not using the 9.7" like me.

Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone

When I started in to my podcasting life, I had purchased the recommendation de-jour for a microphone: the Blue Yeti. And that mic has served me well for a while. But one thing that has been a problem for me as of late has been the recording device that I use, a gifted 2009 Mac mini. It's an ok device for this purpose, but it's getting a bit long in the tooth.

So, in a quest to simplify things, I wanted to mirror the setup first mentioned by Jason Snell on Six Colors. This idea of recording on iOS only really appeals to me, as I don't edit on a Mac. So I set out on my quest to start this process now. I sold my Yeti and picked up the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR Microphone. While I haven't recorded an episode yet with it, I have done multiple sound tests. And it's on par with the Yeti for quality, but it has one benefit for where I record: a reduction in background noise.

I've changed my entire setup now, which is great. I need far less around me, and I'm happy about it. I think the recording will sound better on my end overall, and I'll be happier using it. I did encounter a bug where iOS is not letting me use the mic for FaceTime or Skype calling. This was possible before, and is a bug that has been introduced in iOS 12. I've sent in reports on it, and I hope it gets fixed before release.

Newer Boom Arm

In the change of microphone, the weight has decreased significantly. And now that I don't need foam around the mic like I did before, I wanted to try it on a boom arm. I picked up the Neewer Boom Arm and bought a shock mount for it as well. It's up and out of the way when I don't need it, but it's right there when I do. I would have liked a slightly longer arm, but it does the job well for being inexpensive.

All of this stuff is really driving towards making an iPad-only life a reality. There's really only one thing preventing me from going that route forever,[1] and I can't wait until Apple makes it possible. I even picked up an iPad stand based on another recommendation, pairing the iPad with the Magic Keyboard when recording. This puts the iPad right at eye level, which is better than constantly looking down. The whole thing feels like an overhaul for me, without costing me a ton of money; the only purchase left is the Zoom H4 recorder, which I can wait on for a while. This setup – even though it may not seem simpler – makes me feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

  1. I need a way to upload external mp3 files into my iCloud Music library. I can only do this in iTunes on the Mac currently, and I don't want to spend $$$ on a new one.  ↩︎