About the Blue Yeti microphone
If you haven’t already, watch the Gadgetry Episode about the Yeti, then come back here to get all the details.
Okay, so the Yeti is definitely something to drool over, but we won’t waste our time. Let’s orient ourselves with how to use the darn thing!
Right off the bat, if you haven’t already, you should get Audacity. It’s free and amazing.
Install it, plug in your Yeti, and open the program. Chances are, Audacity hasn’t selected the Yeti as the primary mic. Easy enough to fix.
As shown, select the Yeti in the drop-down list that’s right next to the microphone icon. The Yeti is now selected, and you can start recording.
But what should you record? That’s entirely up to you, really. Remember, the Yeti has four pattern settings and each one is unique in its own right. Whatever you record, however, may turn out a bit quieter than you would’ve liked. This is easy to fix, but it requires a smidge of know how and finesse. Here are some basic tips:
1. For any kind of recording, whether it be vocals or instrumental, it is always best to keep the gain slightly low, which is to say keep your recordings relatively quiet. In any recording program, including Audacity, there is a thing called a ‘ceiling’.
See how the blue spikes are reaching up to the top (and bottom) of the track? Yeah, that’s not too good. If it reaches the ceiling, it will clip. There’s no way to avoid clipping if the audio reaches the ceiling, and clipping is something you probably don’t want. Clipping gives your audio a miserable popping and crackling sound.
That’s why you want to keep your initial recordings at a humble volume so you can preserve some headroom to work in. Of course, you don’t want to keep the initial recording too quiet, because you’ll end up recording unwanted static. Usually, you shouldn’t have to worry about static with the Yeti, but if the room you’re recording in isn’t dead silent, chances are, it’ll pick up on it. It takes a lot of practice and fiddling around with volumes — don’t be afraid to experiment.
2. Well, you got some recording done, but you want the tracks to be louder, naturally. Well then, select any part of your track that you want boosted, go up to ‘Effect’ and in the drop down list, select ‘Leveller’. This baby will raise the lows and hush the highs. That way, things sound a bit more even and comfortable. But, you need to be careful. If you level the audio too much, you’ll start getting some distortion. It’s best to use the ‘Moderate’ option at first, and maybe use it again if needed. Going with ‘Heavy’ or ‘Heaviest’ may work for vocal recordings, but could massacre instrumentals. Again, it’s all about experimenting. You can always revert a mistake by hitting ‘ctrl+Z’.
3. When recording something with many layers, there’s something very important you should keep in mind. You know how a gathering of talking people can sound like a herd of war cries? The same thing applies with recording. Even if your tracks are moderately quiet, when many, they get loud.
If you look near the top left of the program, you’ll see a nifty little monitor for your audio.
It’s important to keep your eye on this. Consider this the ‘Master Ceiling’. Even if all your tracks aren’t bashing their heads against the ceiling, the Master Ceiling can still clip. See how it’s red at the right end? You want to avoid that if possible. It’s not absolutely necessary, but your finalized rendering might have that ugly popping and crackling.
Anyway, those are the basics. With them, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting yourself oriented with all the other features of Audacity. Remember, experiment.
Alternative Pen for LE1700
If you own an LE1700, you may have wondered if there are any other styluses compatible with it. Don’t worry — there are.
Admittedly, the standard pen that comes with the LE1700 isn’t the best, so don’t feel bad about replacing it with something else.
This pen here works. It’s manufactured by Wacom and costs $30 (without tax) on Amazon. It may not be the cheapest replacement, but it’s certainly worth it. Sensitivity is phenomenal and the side button is much easier to press than the standard LE1700 pen.
This is the only pen that I know works for sure with the LE1700, but any other stylus made for Penabled PC Tablets should work. The pen above is discontinued by the manufacturer, so get your hands on this as soon as possible before they fade out. Your LE1700 will thank you.
Become a Gadget Hunter Tip 1
Ever wondered where to find innumerous gadgets on the cheap?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little tip that may or may not be obvious.
Goodwill and any other thrifting store is ideal hunting ground for all sorts of gadgets. People donate pieces of electronic gold all the time, because they simply don’t know what the hell it is.
I’ve found so many amazing things at these stores, ranging from old NVIDIA Graphics Cards, unopened USB Game Controllers, Monitors, Wireless Mice, HDMI Cables, Stereo Systems and so, so much more.
It is fair to say that most things you’ll find in places like this are either grimy or broken. Luckily, however, they’re usually just missing replaceable parts or just needs some TLC. The people who donate electronics are usually older folk who aren’t too keen on what some of this stuff is. They may think it’s useful to them, but they haven’t the proper knowledge on how to utilize it. That’s when they find their way in donation stores, ready to be picked up by one of us.
You gotta be quick, though. Plenty of other gadget-savvy hunters have taken note of thrift stores, so you won’t be the only one poking around. After certain holidays, like Christmas, the thrift stores will be chocked full of useful gadgets that’ve been tossed out of their homes in favor of something new. This is pretty obvious though, so again, be vigilant and quick. Anticipate the algorithms of your thrift stores and be selective. Also, not all thrift stores price things the same. Some have heftier prices while others sell things cheap. I believe it depends on the people who price the things and how much they know about what they’re pricing.
So, there you have it. A very simple tip to get your hands on some cheap gadgetry. Have fun.
Getting MKV’s Converted with Subtitles for the Vita
This was a harrowing task that took me nearly weeks to achieve, but after toiling with countless programs and round-about procedures, I’ve finally cracked it.
MKV’s have been a very popular video format because they contain all sorts of data, like multiple video, audio and subtitle tracks. For a guy like me, subtitles are a very important thing. Unfortunately, though the Vita does support subtitles, it cannot play MKV’s and getting subtitles to work with it is like trying to open up a jar of pickles without thumbs.
Anyway, onto the point. First, download HandBrake.
Now, follow these instructions carefully.
All of these instructions are very important, but simple. Just Remember:
"Large File Size" must be selected. Or, if you want to conserve space, under the "Video Tab", select "MPEG-4 (FFmpeg)" as the codec capsule. The video file should be around the same size as the original or possibly smaller. This is good for when you’re using an (overly expensive) 4 or 8GB memory card.
The preset should be “Normal”.
You must select a subtitle track in the drop-down list and then click “Add” to include it in the conversion.
"Burned In" must be selected. (Note: You must click the subtitle track you added in the list below to highlight it, then click “Burned In”, ensuring its status says “Yes”.)
And that’s literally it. You may see some issues with the subtitles in the converted video if they’re of a more complex nature. Luckily, it seems HandBrake handles most subtitles well and the videos run perfectly on the Vita. It stinks that you can’t just play MKV’s on the darn thing, but this is the best you can get. I hope you found this helpful!