Audio

An overview of all the audio equipment that I use for various things, be it making and consuming music or purely for audio recording.

Audio

Just like my camera, the audio equipment that I use are primarily tools. I’m by no means an audiophile, I don’t need expensive tube amps or open back headphones in order to be able to enjoy music. Hence, most of what I use is rather entry-level equipment that gets the job done without being too much in my way.

Listening

BO Beoplay H9i

For audio consumption I use the following devices:

Sony wired earphones

Most of the time I listen to audio/music through either the Razer Nommo speakers on my desk or the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i, which I got way back in 2018. However, I have removed their battery and solely used them as wired headphones with the MOTU.

For one, it’s a huge PITA to deal with these headphones’ Bluetooth connectivity. Also, the headphones begin beeping roughly every 30 seconds, as soon as they only have around 35% battery left. Approximately 2 hours of leftover runtime is basically useless due to that “feature”. The beeping is disturbingly loud and makes listening impossible. I contacted the BO support and according to them, the beeping can not be turned off.

Last but not least, their proximity sensor appears to have taken a hit, rendering them unusable. Whenever I would move my head, the headphones would think I took them of and pause the music. Every once in a while they would even turn of completely, for whatever reason. The proximity sensor can be turned off in BO’s mobile app, however that change doesn’t seem to persist across headphone restarts.

If it wasn’t for the great aesthetics and their light weight, I would have burned them already. The sound quality is mediocre at best. They are too tight to use them for prolonged periods but they nevertheless continuously fall of my head whenever I look up or down. Their firmware is trash and it should be illegal for a company that charges such insane amounts of money like Bang & Olufsen to sell bs like this. The sole reason I still keep them around is because I don’t want to needlessly contribute to more e-waste. One day I might take them apart and try to hook up an Arduino board.

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

After researching the market a little bit, I decided to get the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 as bluetooth headphones with ANC. I didn’t feel like spending $300 for Sony headphones and the Anker appeared to be a fairly good bang for the buck, given that I got them for $120 – a third the price I paid for the Bang & Olufsen H9i. Considering that the Q45 beat the H9i in almost every category buying them was a no-brainer. And indeed, they are better in every way: The Soundcore are more comfortable, have better sound quality, have significantly better ANC, better battery life and Bluetooth connectivity is a breeze.

I use the Anker headphones when I’m in need of ANC, or when I want to enjoy higher quality sound wirelessly.

nothing ear stick

I have the nothing ear stick earphones, which I use during calls as well as during workouts. Often times I have some $20 Sony wired earphones connected to the MOTU, in order to quickly listen to an audio or video stream. As I cannot stand in-ear headphones, the nothing ear stick, as well as the Sony wired earphones are some of the few options left these days.

From time to time I use the Sony SRS-XB23, e.g. when listening to an audiobook in bed. However, the Razer Nommo speakers pretty much replaced the SRS-XB23 for every other use case. Unfortunately the SRS-XB23 isn’t exactly travel friendly with its size and weight.

Recording

MOTU M2 & RØDE M5

After it becoming clear that the global situation won’t drastically change for the better and remote work is here to stay, I got myself a nice audio recording setup that would allow me to capture high fidelity sound for my videos, as well as use it for streaming and online conferencing. And all that while still being super lightweight and portable, of course.

My current audio recording equipment consists of the following hardware:

  • MOTU M2 (connected via USB-C to my computer)
  • 2 x RØDE M5 Cardiod Condenser Microphone (matched pair)
  • 2 x 6’ XLR cable
  • 2 x UGREEN Gold Plated 1/4 Male to 1/8 Female adapter
  • various mounts / screws for attaching the mics onto my camera, tripods and booms

I use the MOTU M2 on Linux and haven’t had any real issues so far. While using it with Firefox to connect to Jitsi meetings I ran into a thing where the sound would be too low for anyone to hear me, even though I had cranked up the volume on the MOTU’s XLR input. It turned out that this low volume issue could be fixed by setting media.getusermedia.agc2_forced to false in Firefox' about:config.

The MOTU M2 also integrates nicely with OBS Studio as well as Ardour and is supported out-of-the-box on Linux >= 5.10 and the latest Pipewire/Pulse releases.

Creating

Pocket Operators

For creating music I used to have a Roland synthesizer, a Yamaha stage piano, as well as various equipment like Technics mixers and Reloop turntables. Since these aren’t exactly portable however I had to reduce my equipment over the years and ended up with only two devices left for the purpose of music creation:

  • Teenage Engineering PO-14 Sub
  • Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O!

For the PO-14 I have a CA-X in grey, for the PO-33 a CA-X in yellow.

I’m often looking into full-size MIDI keyboards as well as e.g. the Teenage Engineering OP-1, but so far I haven’t pushed myself to spend money on these things. Especially with a full-size MIDI keyboard, it’s portability that is holding me back.


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