A couple months back we ordered a Soundman OKM II Binaural Microphone and a Soundman Dummy Head. It all arrived fairly quickly considering it came all the way from Germany and of course as soon as it did, we put it through it’s paces. So far, so good…we are liking it a lot and it does a great job of recording binaural sounds. Now, we are no audio tech experts so all we can give you in this review are our opinions. All we know is what we can hear and to us the sound is great for ASMR videos. It creates a really cool ear-to-ear panning effect which many ASMR followers love. So all in all we are really pleased with the purchase.
What’s in the Box
The Soundman OKM microphone came in a compact wooden box and includes:
- a Soundman microphone
- spare ear bud covers
- an A3 adaptor
- 2 clips to attach the microphone to clothing
- 2 batteries
- instruction booklet
- mini CD with PDF instruction files
Soundman OKM Classic Microphone
The microphone itself looks just like a set of ear buds so if you didn’t know what these were, you would probably think they are just a set of simple headphones. But obviously there is more to them than that. The OKM Classic II is the most commonly used microphone in the range – at least according to the manufacturer. It will handle recordings of classical music, recording bird sounds, ambient sounds as well as a rock concert. The microphones can be used in a number of different ways:
- Placed in each ear and attached to a field recorder or iPhone/iPad to enable you to walk around and record what is happening around you (note that if connecting to an iPhone/iPhone you will need a Tascam adaptor but more on this later)
- As clip-on microphones (attached to clothing) to use for interviews or giving lectures (clips are included)
- As boundary layer microphones – in other words, pop the head phones on a smooth surface and space approximately 5 to 10 cm apart. Great for conferences around a table for instance.
- Placed on a dummy head that has been designed to give the impression of being a human head
The microphone comes in one of those round cases which I only just got the hang of using. So they can be easily thrown in a handbag, camera bag or even a pocket to carry around with you. Each ear bud has a colored rim – red for right and blue for left – so it’s easy to tell which is which. When using on a dummy head or your own head the colored part of the ear buds needs to face out.
The A3 Adapter
The Soundman OKM microphone needs power to run. Now you can get this power in either one of two ways: 1. Through a recording device when you attach the microphone to it. 2. Through the optional A3 Adapter that you can purchase with your Soundman microphone. We purchased the pack that came with the adapter included but you can purchase a pack without the adapter if you prefer. Here is what the Soundman website says about the A3 Adapter:
The OKM condenser microphones need DC powering. This can be sourced either through a microphone jack present on recording devices or through the enclosed A3 Adapter. The A3 will yield the best results when used on LINE inputs. With its automatic level adaptation, high microphone supply voltage and considerably low noise floor, the A3 offers a significantly greater increase in dynamic range when compared to the conventional direct connection to a microphone jack. When recording faint sounds, the OKM can be used on microphone inputs in conjunction with the A3. However, as a result of the smaller surface area of the microphone membrane, system inherent noise is a possibility. As such, care should be taken to avoid preamp clipping that may occur when the recording level control is set too low.
To use the adapter, you simply plug the microphone into it and then plug the adapter into whatever recording device you might be using. In our case, we plug it into an iPad (using a Tascam adapter) or the Zoom H4n field recorder, which we have also purchased. The only issue I have with the adapter is that if you happen to leave the microphone plugged into it, it will drain the battery. As yet, we haven’t managed to do this, but it would be easy to do. So an on/off switch would be a nice addition here.
In the video below, we run through how we use the microphone and go through a number of different sounds to test it out.
How Do You Use the Microphone?
It’s pretty simple really. Just plug it into some sort of recording device. We used to use an iPad although we only just received a Zoom H4n and have been starting to use that instead, after we finally figured out how to get it going. This is what we do for both options:
1. iPad – For it to work on an iPad or iPhone you need an adapter because you can’t just plug the microphone in – it simply won’t work. So we purchased a Tascam IXJ2 adapter. (Bear in mind that this adapter doesn’t work on the iPad 4 because the plug won’t fit the new design of that iPad but you can purchase an adaptor). Its simply a matter of plugging the Soundman microphone into the Tascam and then plugging the Tascam into the iPad. To record the sounds, we use the Garageband app.
2. Zoom H4n – I’ll probably write up a separate post about the Zoom H4n but for now I will just go through how we use it. The Zoom H4n is a field recorder so you don’t need any extra microphones in order to use it. You just switch it on, change any settings as needed and then press the record button. However, we want to use it in conjunction with the Soundman microphone and you can do that with the H4n. We plug the microphone into the back of the Zoom H4n and that works for us. However, plugging it into the back of the H4n disables the internal microphone on the H4n. Now we actually want to use both the internal Soundman microphone and the H4n together. In other words, we want to capture sounds from both the internal Zoom H4n microphone and the Soundman microphone at the same time.
However, to do that, we needed an adapter for the Soundman microphone as it needs to be plugged into the input at the bottom of the Zoom H4n. So we are currently looking at getting an adapter which isn’t particularly cheap as adapters go. To get it to Australia from one company costs about 130 Euro all up. We are still looking as I write this p0st so hopefully it won’t be too long before something turns up. (UPDATE: Since writing this blog post we have purchased the adapter so now we are able to plug it into our Zoom H4n and our new Zoom R24.)
3. UPDATE – Zoom R24 – Since writing this blog post we have purchased a Zoom R24 which is a recorder and audio interface. So we now plug our Soundman microphone into the XLR inputs on the back of the Zoom R24 using the XLR adapter that we purchased. We then plug the Zoom R24 into a computer using a USB cable.
The Dummy Head
When we purchased the microphones, we also decided to go with the dummy head. I know a lot of ASMR artists create their own dummy head but we decided to go with the one from Soundman. They are reasonably priced at just over $200 when you compare them to the Neumann dummy heads which are priced around $5000 or more. It’s quite heavy at 4.6 kilos (approx 10 pounds) and is beautifully made. We actually didn’t get around to trying it out until just recently. For our first two
videos we simply lay the microphones about 20cm from each other on a table so we decided that for our third video we would use the dummy head. It definitely makes a difference to the sound. The binaural effect is much more pronounced so we have stuck to using it on all our subsequent ASMR videos. The dummy head has holes in the ears so the microphones just fit into those really easily.
As I already mentioned, I am no sound expert. All I can go by is how it all sounds to me at the end of the day when I am lying back and listening to our ASMR audios and at this stage I am liking it. We have had to do some sound removal for some of the videos but for most we have left them as is. We are still learning so will hopefully get better at this but for now, our subscribers on YouTube seem to be happy with it so that is a good sign.
These are examples of some of the ASMR videos we created using the Soundman OKM II Binaural Microphone:
2. Water Sounds
Where Can You Buy a Soundman Microphone?
We purchased our Soundman microphone and dummy head on eBay. Here is the link to the eBay store.