Nordic Semiconductor today announces that eight of its Bluetooth® LE Systems-on-Chips (SoCs) – four nRF5340 SoCs and four nRF52833 SoCs – are used in a portable professional podcasting product that promises to remove the notorious set-up complexity and poor audio quality issues that plague outdoor podcasting interviews. This includes an accompanying app that enables recordings to be edited on-the-spot.
The Sound Capsule from Nomono is a completely wireless solution from microphone to cloud storage. It comprises four wireless microphones (one interviewer plus up to three interviewees), a central hub recorder with spatial audio mic, and a charging unit that keeps everything fully charged on the move. All are carried within a single light carry case designed to be taken anywhere.
“Great conversations can happen anywhere,” says Brad Swanson, VP of Partnerships at Nomono. “But before now, professional interview-grade audio recordings for podcasting could not. Or at least not without a sound engineer or a complicated audio set-up and test procedure that even then did not reliably guarantee quality.
“With the Sound Capsule there are no levels to set and no SD [memory] cards to insert. You just set-up a Wi-Fi link, which can be as simple as using your smartphone as a hotspot, and press record. All the set-up complexity is completely removed right down to ambient noise level or removal, automatic mic sensitivity adjustments, and cloud-based digital signal processing. The outcome is a set of completely clean, professional grade audio files stored safely in the cloud.”
Nomono says there are two key ingredients to the Sound Capsule’s capabilities. The first is that it’s a completely closed system in terms of design with every component from mic to cloud hand engineered by Nomono. This means all audio characteristics are well understood and this enables the Sound Capsule to maximize dynamic range in a way that Nomono says would not be possible using third-party hardware. Equally, when recordings are then sent to the cloud, the signal processing can be further optimized based on this in-depth knowledge of the entire audio signal chain.
“There’s been a big reduction in the size of professional broadcast journalism teams in recent years,” continues Swanson, “and at the same time print journalists are now being asked to do more and more podcasting. This has created a ‘perfect storm’ in terms of maintaining audio quality in the field. Journalists aren’t necessarily technical sound engineers. And they don’t necessarily want, or indeed have, the luxury of a costly sound engineer traveling around with them. The Sound Capsule is the solution.”
Nomono says it would like to stress the extremely close cooperation with Nordic Semiconductor in the development of this product, including the expert technical support it received. “Having rock-solid reliable wireless connectivity was an absolute must for us,” continues Swanson. “As was extended battery life for the mics, and the ability to withstand interference without affecting recorded audio quality in busy wireless environments like coffee shops.”
One part of the Nordic development environment that Nomono says its engineers really appreciated was Nordic’s Zephyr-based SDK. "The Nordic nRF Connect SDK allowed us to build and iterate quickly because it has really good, complete documentation and shares a lot of similarities with Linux," says Nomono software engineer, Even Falch-Larsen. "This gave us a good foundation upon which to build stable and secure firmware, which was very important for the reliably functioning of our application."
Nomono says its vision is to use its Sound Capsule professional podcasting platform to launch mid- and lower-range variants in the future that will enable anyone – professionals or amateurs – to make top quality podcast audio recordings.