Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Tula is a stylish portable audio recorder with AI noise cancellation

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But enough about it; how does that sound?

I spent part of an evening singing and badly playing bass in my basement – can you tell I miss karaoke nights? – and left especially impressed by the Tula as a mobile recorder. Unlike our editor Terrence O’Brien, I’ve never really recorded myself playing anything before, so you could probably do without my less professional opinion. Yet overall? Not bad at all, although I’m sure I’m not doing Tula’s Burr Brown op amps justice.

For me at least the Tula makes a lot more sense as a suitable production tool. For one thing, the Tula also plays well with TRRS lapel microphones like the one I wear when filming the on-camera tracks of our review videos. I wasn’t able to justify purchasing the kind of fancy wireless micro lavatory that we used to shoot how-to videos on briefing sites, but knowing that I could run my cheapo lav right into the Tula and sync with the camera footage later is something I can’t wait to try out in the field. And it sure doesn’t hurt that I haven’t had to reload this thing yet; Brown says the Tula can record for up to 12 hours with its AI-powered noise cancellation turned on, or up to 5 hours without it.

This noise cancellation, by the way, could be one of the big reasons to splurge on a Tula instead of something like a Zoom H1n. It’s designed to eliminate the low-level ambient sounds that pervade even quiet rooms in our homes, and it certainly seems to handle those situations well. To really get a feel for how effective noise cancellation is, I turned on a big electric fan in my basement and started talking:

(Plus, I’m a model – I meant TOS communicators, not tricorders.)

The Tula doubles as a micro USB that connects to Macs and PCs, and despite its size, it compares favorably to the other two desktop mics I use frequently: Blue’s more venerable Yeti and the much better Audio Technica. ATR-2100X I use for all of our streams. This is at least in part because of the flexibility it offers – you can toggle the Tula between cardioid and omnidirectional mic modes, either – the former is better for straight talking while the latter is well suited for chatting. group in person.

To get a feel for how the Tula overlaps, I made my best impression as an audiobook narrator and read the opening lines of a favorite novel in Tula and Audio Technica, and the results were surprising. :

I have to quickly note here that both mics were connected to my work laptop via USB-C and were positioned the same distance from my face. The Audio Technica mic did a really good job here, reproducing my voice with even tones and remarkable substance in the bass. The Tula, meanwhile, sounded completely different: in some ways it sounds fuller, but I didn’t have as much meat in the bass. That said, how well these samples sound compared to others depends a lot on what you use to listen to them – thanks to a pair of Sony headphones, the Audio Technica clip sounded better, but the Tula rendered more satisfying thanks to to a MacBook Pro speakers. Your mileage may vary, but I would feel very comfortable putting the Tula in my bag and using it as a portable podcast rig.

The only downside to using the Tula with a computer is its size; it’s ideal for a device meant to travel with you, but the Tula is a bit too short to capture quality sound if it’s sitting on a desk a few inches below your mouth. (Brown says the team are planning to release a slew of mounts so you can properly support the Tula, but for now I’ve had to settle for a stack of books.)

While audio pros on the go swear by their Zoom recorders – for good reason – the Tula is charming and competent enough in most scenarios to make it worth it for the stylish audio nerd. And who knows? The Tula has grown so much on me that I could start using it in our next livestreams.

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