Focusrite senior marketing manager Dan Hughley joins Ross Brand on a special PRIME DAY edition of Livestream Deals. We'll be talking about the Vocaster Audio Interfaces.
▶️ Follow on Amazon Live: http://rossbrand.live
▶️ Watch the episode video on Amazon Live: http://focusrite.rossbrand.live
▶️ Livestreamed with StreamYard: https://livestreamuniverse.com/streamyard
About the Vocaster:
Focusrite has a new line of audio interfaces designed for livestreamers and podcasters. The Vocaster has more than enough gain to power any dynamic microphone and can send audio to your camera to sync with your video when streaming.
▶️ Vocaster Two: https://geni.us/vocaster2
▶️ Vocaster One: https://geni.us/vocaster1
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Vocaster Audio Interface with Focusrite's Dan Hughley
All right. Hey gang. Welcome to Prime Day. Prime Day's actually two days. It's the second of two days. And I'm excited to be on Amazon Live. It's an honor to be on Amazon Live and other destinations across the internet. We would love you to come over and join us on Amazon Live. We have a great guest coming up, Dan Hughley from Focusrite.
They have a brand new audio interface called the Vocaster. It's got a lot of cool features just for podcasters and live streamers. It even lets you connect your camera to the audio coming outta the interface so that you can sync up your audio and video. Can't wait to learn all about it. Dan will be joining us in just a couple of minutes.
If you're new to Amazon live, this is fun. This is a lot of fun. We get to talk about some of our favorite products below the video window. There's a carousel, and you can see some of the different products that we'll be talking about. You can also find my books there. I should put my podcast there as well because it's on Amazon music.
If you're wondering why we're starting just a couple of minutes late today. This is a word to anybody who's on Amazon Live but. Does live streaming on other platforms, you have to remember to change your video settings to 720p. So I went live to all the platforms, but Amazon wouldn't take it because it was set to 1080p.
So I had to go back and create a new broadcast and then go out to all the destinations again in 720. And then Amazon would let me go live on the same page where I had set up the video to go live. And so we're gonna talk about the Focusrite Vocaster, as soon as Dan gets here. I do want to tell you about a couple of things that are in the carousel real quick.
One of them. Is this microphone right here. It's the Shure SM7B it's a terrific dynamic microphone. And one of the cool things about it is that you can use this with the Vocaster now without needing any other type of extra gain. So this is a gain-hungry microphone, the SM7B.
It's a terrific microphone. It's a professional broadcast dynamic microphone. You find it in radio studios around the US. Another great microphone is the Electro-Voice RE20. You'll see that highlighted in the carousel and much like the SM7B it's popular in radio stations around the US, and both mics have really caught on and become popular among podcasters and live streamers.
And what makes these mics special, unique is their output is low. So they don't pick up a lot of background noise. The challenge is will your audio interface have enough gain to power those so that people can hear them. And. You know that they come through and most interfaces don't have the game to do that, which means you need extra wires and extra devices.
But the Vocaster does. And that's the first thing that caught my attention. The second thing was. Of course, the outstanding ability to connect your audio and video together through an audio out to a camera. So that all makes for really some great tools for people who are just getting started, but also for advanced streamers.
And video podcasters who wanna have that audio and video sync up and want to use professional mics. But now let's get to the guy. Who's gonna talk about it. He is the senior us marketing manager for focus, and he's been a part of, both of. The 100 Predictions books, both the first one and volume two, and he's been a guest on Livestream Deals before.
And it's so great to have him back on. Welcome, Dan Hughley.
Hey, how's it going, Ross? How are you?
I'm doing great. It's so great to have you on. And I thought prime day, while it may not be a prime day official special on Amazon, it certainly. Seems like a wonderful deal for. An audio interface that at the price point that you guys are working with you got a lot of really cool features into it.
Tell us a little bit about the idea behind the Vocaster and why you're excited about this new launch.
Sure. Yeah, thank you for having me. It's what I'm really excited about is this is the first interface that Focusrite has made specifically for podcasters and voiceover and spoken word.
In the past we've been a music company but this one was designed from the ground up for the podcaster workflow.
Yeah. And when you talk about some of the advantages say over other Popular. Audio interfaces and mixers. What specifically makes this more attractive? For both entry level, but also for people who are more advanced.
Sure. For the entry-level person, it's just so easy to use. It takes a lot of the thinking and guesswork out of audio engineering. Things like audio gain and being able to connect your phone, to take phone calls and being able to connect to your camera.
So your audio is recorded on your camera. Those are just things that are set up and easy to use for the more advanced user. Again, it's just, it's easy to use because I'm an audio nerd and I like to have simplicity from time to time as well. And. Yeah, I like that.
You can, you're gonna be able to dig into some of the features as well, and there's gonna be some user updateable presets at some point in the future for the enhanced tool, which is pretty awesome.
Yeah, I wanna say a quick hello to Arnaldo Mafano, Yolanda Fabian Radio, who I met at Podfest where I also had my first look at the Vocaster.
Marco is here a friend from Portugal. The great Brad Friedman says hi, Dan. Great to see you. I'm still loving my Scarlett.
[00:06:41] There he is. Hey Brad.
Before we go even deeper into the product. There are two versions. There's one with two XLRs and there's one with one XLR. I'm gonna highlight the Focusrite Vocaster One, for those who may only need one pre-amp. Are there other differences between the two units?
Sure. There's I'll highlight one thing that the Vocaster Two has that the Vocaster One doesn't, other than the amount of microphone inputs and headphone outputs. The Vocaster Two also has Bluetooth connectivity.
One of the really great things I know you I mentioned the camera connection, so you can record directly to your camera. You can plug in your phone via a TRRS cable which I. I found here on Amazon, it was a very inexpensive, easy thing and Amazon makes it so I can get it the next day, which was just incredible.
I didn't have to wait but then you can take phone calls and the mix-minus is already introduced. But the one thing that Vocaster Two has is the Bluetooth. So you can connect your phone via Bluetooth and you can take phone calls and you can also stream to apps on your phone. And the same is true for the cam with the auxiliary connection as well.
So there's two different ways that you can take phone calls or you can stream to your apps.
Now there's some of the features are very interesting. There's an auto gain feature. So if you don't really feel comfortable that I set it right. That I not set it. Talk about how that works. And I don't know, a little bit of the technology behind, like how does it know what my gain should be?
It has there's DSP on board the Vocaster, which is digital signal processing. And what it does is it listens to your microphone and it listens to your voice and it Weighs that against what a good, strong recording level is. And then it sets that gain for you. And of course you can always update that if you think, oh, that's a little bit too loud.
Oh, that's a little bit too quiet. You can always adjust that later on. Yourself using the big knob on either the Vocaster One or Two. They both have the same knob. On Vocaster Two, you just hit the host or guest button to toggle which one that's controlling.
Yeah and then the other thing is there's a little bit of processing on board. Tell us about there's four different settings. One of the first setting I think is clean, right?
And what is the difference between clean (setting) and using it without any processing?
Sure. So clean is just what it is. So it does have a little bit of processing that's going to be introduced and for all four of the presets, there's three different stages that it's going to hit.
So three different types of processing. So the first thing is that high pass filter, which that's at an EQ that rolls off the lower end rumble of any voice or any sound. So that's there just to get rid of that signal that people just don't need to hear. And then you have a three-band EQ, and that's really where all of the presets take shape is in that three-band EQ.
And then at the end, there's a little bit of compression. So with the bright voice, or I'm sorry with the clean voice, you're gonna have that high pass filter. You're probably gonna have a flat EQ. But then there's gonna be a little compression as well. So if I get really excited and talk really loud, , it's gonna keep me from digitally clipping the interface and the converters.
eah. And then there's warm (setting). There's bright (setting). Is that correct? And then the fourth one is radio (setting). So yes. If you're on radio now,
I just turned on radio just now. Yes. That's my finger.
You get a little extra compression with that, right?
You get a little, you get a little bit of all the stuff that you like, you get a little more compression, but you get a little bit of an EQ boost in that lower end.
The boominess after it's rolled off, there's a little bit of a peak there. And then at the high end, as. You get a little bit more of the sibilance or the higher-end frequencies.
Now, can you tell from listening to somebody's voice, which setting would be best for them? For instance, right now I'm going just flat.
I have no processing at all. If I were using the Vocaster right now which one would you go, Ross, you need to, you should use that one or would you say don't even don't bother?
I, I would. I would love to hear the difference between all of them on your voice before I made that decision. But yeah I feel like you're probably similar to me.
I think you would sound good with the warm or the radio voice. Those are the two that I like the best, for my particular, and it, my particular voice and microphone, and it's different for every voice and every microphone.
So a brighter voice might have too much sibilance
Could be. Yeah.
Okay. And that's that "S" sound, yeah.
Yeah. So some of the higher frequencies but it, but that might sound good for your voice. We don't know unless we try it out.
And these are all geared to talk for. Talk for podcasting, for live stream. You don't really have a wrong setting there.
If you're a podcaster, a live streamer.
No, this is, this interface was made only for spoken word. Of course it, people have asked me, can I sing into it? Yeah, of course, you can. It's a mic pre with a converter. It's an audio interface you can, of course, do all of those things. But we designed this for the podcaster and with the podcast workflow in mind.
Why would somebody maybe still go with the Scarlett if they're shopping right now and they're looking for their next audio interface?
Yeah, that's a really great question. It's all personal taste. Just like it is with any audio interface that you select from any brand. If you're gonna do some music production, And you're gonna do some podcasting. I would, instead of buying two interfaces, I would buy one Scarlett. And do all of my production on just a Scarlett. If you're only gonna be doing a spoken word, if you're only gonna be doing podcasting, I would probably personally, I'm using a Vocaster right now.
I've actually boxed up. I have a Clarett+, which I think we'll talk about. I've actually boxed that up. Like I, I know I'm blurred out in the background here, but I'm getting ready to move. I didn't want to collect dust on my other Focusrite gear before I moved. But with that being said, The Clarett was powered off for several months, just because, most of what I do is podcasting and live streaming like this.
I've just been using Vocaster and I'm loving the simplicity. I'm loving the feel of it. Just with all of the controls mean on the top of it. It just makes a big difference to me. And perhaps this isn't a fair question to put you on the spot, but if you're podcasting or live streaming and audio quality is the number one thing, which one would you go with between the Vocaster or Scarlett?
They both have very similar audio quality. They both the signal to noise ratio is very similar. The dynamic range is very similar on the output. The big difference, if you're talking about audio quality I guess it's not really quality. It's like you. The input of it.
You have more gain available on Vocaster so if you're using a mic, like I see you're using the SM7B which I'm guessing you're probably using a CloudLifter or something like that to boost your gain before you get into your interface, that's not needed with a Vocaster because we. We thought about that.
One of the most common mics used for podcasting is that SM7B, but it likes a lot of gain. It likes to have between 63 and 65 DB of gain and most interfaces across the board. No matter what brand they top out around 56 or 59 DB of gain available. Of course, there are a couple of outliers out there, but you don't, you would have to buy a gain booster at that point as well, which is another a hundred to $150 investment.
And some of them require wires as well. So there's the room on your desk and that expense. Okay. So the Clarett is something that I've seen for a while and I've never actually used one. I don't think anybody in my network uses the Clarett, but the music stores around me all carry a lot of those different units.
Tell us how the Clarett is different from the Scarlett and the Vocaster.
Sure. Great question. It's a step up in quality from Scarlett. Scarlet and Vocaster are both tremendously great audio interfaces. Clarett is a little bit more advanced in its technology on the internal workings of it.
It has an even quieter mic pre and what I mean by that is all mic pre's have a signal-to-noise ratio. On the Clarett it's so ultra-low that it's just a very quiet interface. Meaning you won't hear any noise or hiss or anything like that when nothing's being spoken and you turn the gain, up really high, so you'll hear nothing.
And then. Also on the output, it has a huge amount of dynamic range on the output. Meaning you're gonna hear more details in what you're listening back to for my workflow, that means I'm listening back to Spotify music all day. And I can hear things in, when I'm listening to the Clarett+ that I can't hear on my Scarlett, or I can't hear quite as crisp through that.
And I'm an audio engineer. This is the kind of thing that I'm used to is listening for details and listening to the different tracks that are present, on musical. On, on music.
Now, along with the Vocaster, you guys also made some of your own microphones that are dynamic microphones. To pair up with the Vocaster. Tell us about those mics and what you would recommend them for.
Sure. Both the Vocaster One and Vocaster Two come in studio bundles, which each one of those has their own dedicated microphone. So the Vocaster One, you get a really cool dynamic handheld microphone.
Sounds really nice. I was using that for a couple of months, but then someone else needed it. So that had to go to a different home but that's okay. I already love the products. I need to get other people to check 'em out as well. Vocaster Two Studio comes with a more broadcast-style mic something more similar to the mic that you're using in look, sound wise it's a bit different.
[00:16:04] Ross Brand: And then, I guess I should have asked this to start off the discussion. Obviously for those of us who do audio regularly, the audio interface is a device that we're intimately familiar with, but for those who aren't familiar, can you give a quick definition of what an audio interface is and why you would use it versus just plugging a microphone into your computer or using the one in your webcam?
[00:16:31] Dan Hughley: Sure. So there are a couple of differences between like a USB mic, like you're talking about, or like the audio input on your webcam or the microphone on your webcam. It's just the higher quality components that are available in an audio interface, which is made to do one thing it's made to I'm sorry.
It's made to do a couple of things. So you have your mic input or your mic pre, which takes the low-level signal that's generated by the diaphragm and the microphone that travels along a cable. And it makes it loud enough. So it can be then converted into a digital signal for your computer to understand.
So it, it takes an analog-like vibration and turns it into ones and zeros. So then you see that in your computer. And you hear that coming back through your speakers, through the audio I'm sorry, the analog-to-digital converter when you hear it back through your speakers. Sorry about that. I forgot words for a second.
Yeah, And I guess one of the advantages of an audio interface versus a USB mic is a USB mic's interface being built in. You can only use it for that microphone. Whereas an audio interface uses, opens the door to any microphone that you have, that you come across, that if you're recording somebody else and they have a different microphone, they can plug that in and use their favorite microphone.
So it opens a lot of doors having it.
Yeah. USB mics, they have all of their components in a very small housing. And without me speaking to anything in particular just thinking about how components work, it's a very small body that they all have to fit into. So you could have a little bit of interference.
You could have crosstalk between the input and output. Because that's a tiny little audio interface. And if you think of, a small microphone, it's all squeezed into that little cavity. So with something like an audio interface, it's only trying to do audio interface things.
It's not trying to be a microphone. And all of those things all at once.
Are you guys getting more into the microphone business? Do you expect to be creating other types of audio gear besides the interfaces that you're so well known for?
I can't comment on our future roadmap. I, I can only comment on what we have at the moment. But yeah. The microphones that we have now are gonna be, are gonna be really good ones. And, we're not selling them individually quite yet. But maybe one day we will.
Okay. That explains why I couldn't find them by themselves on Amazon to add 'em to the carousel. If you're, again, if you're new to Amazon live, if you caught us on another platform and just came over, there's a carousel either alongside or below the window where the video is, depending on what device you're watching on or which page you can follow. You can follow us for Livestream Deals updates.
You can also pick an item out of the carousel. Maybe you want to get a Vocaster or a Scarlett or a Clarett. There are also a couple of dynamic mics that work well with the Vocaster. What are some of the mics? I put you're using, it looks like a Heil right? I put an SM7B from Shure and an RE20 from Electro-Voice. What are some other mics that you would recommend? If people are looking to get their own mic to use with one of the interfaces
You can get any. I always, for podcasters, I always recommend dynamic mics. An argument can be made for condenser mics, but my personal opinion is dynamic.
I love this Heil Sound PR 40. This is my favorite mic for my voice. But I do I rotate through a few of them. Like the SM7B is a mic that I have. It's packed up at the moment. But I also I believe there's Earthworks mic that I've been checking out that I'm into.
But then, just any broadcast-style dynamic mic is something I'm interested in checking out the RE20 I can't believe I've never actually plugged in an RE20 and used it for myself. Other than when I was in music school.
I used them in radio, but I haven't I haven't plugged one in at home. When I went to get a microphone I actually was planning to get that one. And then I did a test amongst a whole bunch of them. And this one (Shure SM7B) kind owon for my ears and somebody else, I had an audio engineer who was listening to them. And I would still love to have one at some point, but we're talking all really good microphones.
Anything else about the Vocaster you'd like to mention, any other features that we may be skipped over? The on and off button seems to be extremely popular with people.
I was, we were talking about that yesterday, somewhere else and yeah, people love that it has a latching on-off button. And the cool thing is you're able to shut it off at that point, because you might not realize unless you start using with my Scarlett 2i2 that I have there's no on-off button and it's bus-powered, meaning when you plug it into your computer, that's where it draws its power from. So even when your computer is shut off, the interface is on because it's getting the power through the computer.
So personally, I don't like to have an electrical signal always on my microphone. Because if your interface is on, that means your microphone is technically on because the power is going to it. No real reason for that, other than I don't wanna wear out my microphone prematurely. So yeah it's just really nice so that when you shut off your computer or when you're done working for the day, you can power off your Vocaster and you don't have to worry about anything staying on overnight.
So that can wear even on a dynamic microphone, having that power running to it, or
I doubt it. Honestly, dynamic microphones can take a beating. They're pretty tough. Microphones, condensers, a bit more sensitive ribbon mics are extremely sensitive. But I'm not sure I've ever heard of a ribbon mic in podcasting, so I'm sure someone will drop something in the comments or I'll hear something at one of the next.
But if you're using one, please tell me, I'd love to hear of a ribbon mic being used in podcasting.
Yeah I haven't seen that, but I'm sure there are some people who have amazing mic collections. I'm sure they've tried everything at one point or another.
Some of the other features, did we talk about the, we talked about the phone connection, right?
So you can take phone calls. We talked about the camera connection. What about the included software? Did we touch on that at all?
No. And the other thing we didn't touch upon were the headphone amps before we get to the software. Tell me about that because it's very unusual for a small audio interface to have multiple headphone amps.
That was one of those things that had, that was like aligned for me with Vocaster. And I fought really hard for this product to be made internally here with the Focusrite team. And there were a couple of main things that had to be that were requirements.
And one of them was, if you. One headphone or I'm sorry, if you have one microphone input, you have to have one output. If you have two inputs, you have to have two headphone outputs and that's speaks to Scarlett 2i2, it has two microphone inputs, but only one headphone out.
So immediately there's a little bit of a workaround that you have to have when you're talking about audio production or music production versus podcast production. So yeah, having that, the matching number of inputs and outputs was a requirement for me. The other one, the other main one, I think we talked about was the 70 DB of gain so that you don't have to have a gain booster.
[00:23:24] Yeah. Yeah. There's probably a lot of other brands that are hustling right now with that going, Hey, they did it. Why aren't we doing it.
I've seen it in another interface that was launched just a couple days before Vocaster for podcasters. I saw that they have an extreme amount of gain as well, which is great. I'm glad that we're not the only ones doing it.
Yeah. After the pandemic now I won't say it's winding down, but events are starting up in person again.
How has that been for you? Traveling again a lot and, going to a lot of events and, what's your schedule like again, how's it changed for, the marketing side of things after, being locked down for so long.
We had a heck of a road show there where we, I had a month where I was only home for a couple of days during the month of May I did end up getting COVID on at one of the events and coming home with that and missed another event because of it.
So it seems like from May to June, all of the events that we missed over the last couple years tried to squeeze 'em all into those two months. But it feels good to be around people again. And Ross, you got to. At the event we saw each other at last, you got to, I had a little don't look under this curtain over here, but , I, some of the B-roll that I saw in the video that you created was from that day.
And , I know I joking. I know, I know I joked with you after that. I, I told you, you couldn't, this is pre-launch. I know I showed it to you. Pre-launch and you were the only person I let get video.
[00:24:40] Oh, thank you.
Because but I knew what you would do with it. And I knew you'd be respectful but no, it's nice. It's nice to be back seeing people and actually showing people the Vocaster. I think showing it to them is really a great way to get them introduced to it because it's not just a standard audio interface, it has so many more features than your basic audio interface.
And what kind of feedback are you getting so far? What do you find are. Something, maybe you didn't expect, but people love or something. People saying the next one, you have to do this. What kind of feedback are you getting so far?
It's always funny when you show someone something that's just launched or even before it's launched and you go, oh, that's great. But I wish it had this.
Yeah feature creep is always there.
Yeah. Always. But that hasn't been huge with this one because we took so much time and we've tried to put so much time and energy. A lot of the people that with feature creep was like trying to creep. Music stuff in, and that's not what we're doing here.
We don't need instrument inputs on this inter interface. So that was a lot of the feature.
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much for coming on. Thanks for spending some time. I know you're really busy. A lot of people wanna learn about this device. You've got a lot of events going on. Yeah. If people wanna catch up with you what's on your schedule or how should they reach out to you?
You can email me. I'm fine giving away my work email. It's just my name, Dan dot Hughley at Focusrite dot com. Yeah, you can feel free to reach out to me via email. I'm happy to chat with you. And any questions that you have, any issues that you might have, you can always reach out to me there.
[00:26:06] Ross Brand: He's the senior marketing manager for Focusrite. And congratulations. That's all I gotta say on the Vocaster. I know you've been working on it for a long time and it's gotten quite a good reception so far.
Thank you, Ross. I appreciate you having me on today.
Thanks. That's Dan Hughley.
Thank you to Dan for joining us. Of course, under the window or next to the window you can find a couple of items. I'll talk about real quick, we do have the book, Dan's a part of both of the books.
There's 100 Livestreaming and Digital Media Predictions, Volume 2 and there is also. Volume 1, which doesn't actually say volume one, but otherwise the title is exactly the same. So you can check those out as well and do follow the channel. We'll be doing a lot more with Amazon Live as the fall and winter comes holiday season coming up. There's talk about another Prime Day as well. And check out all of our friends on Amazon Live. There are a lot of people doing great tech and gear and home electronics and all different types of shows that are really good on Amazon Live today.
So check those out. It's the second, last day of Prime Day and a lot of stuff to enjoy. So I'm Ross Brand, hope you've enjoyed the special episode of Livestream Deals. We'll talk to you again next time. On another episode of, guess what, Livestream Deals. Take care, everybody.
Dan Hughley is an audio engineer who wants to help podcasters simplify the recording process. His current role as Senior Marketing Manager at Focusrite gives him the opportunity to work with all types of content creators.