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Welcome to Episode 231. 3

Special Episode Coming on the WWDC Keynote. 3

Technology’s Great When it works, But It Doesn’t Always Work. 5

Listening and Charging Via USB.. 10

Following Up On Problems With the Victor Reader Stream 2nd Generation. 11

Bookshare Is Increasing the Price Of Its Subscription. 11

Comments on Google’s Music LM… 14

Strategies For Dealing With Offers of Help. 15

The Status of Advocacy on Quiet Cars. 18

Inadequate Meet and Assist Service at Airports. 20

What Is the Zoom M2 MicTrak?. 23

Studio Sound in One Take. 23

One Take Is All You Need. 23

Stereo Recording For Musicians. 24

Podcast From Anywhere. 24

Breaking News Only Gets One Take. 24

Super Low Handling Noise. 24

Stereo & Mono Modes. 24

Normalizing Function. 24

On-Board Monitoring. 24

USB Mic With 32-Bit Float 24

Mic Clip Included. 24

Plenty Of Battery Life. 25

In The Box. 25

Orientation. 26

Initial Setup. 30

A Comprehensive Rundown of Every Menu Option. 32

Testing the Microphone. 38

First Recording. 39

Recording into Reaper With the M2 as a USB Microphone. 43

Recording in the Field. 45

Conclusion. 47

Closing and Contact Info. 47





Welcome to Episode 231


Voiceover: From Wellington, New Zealand, to the world, it’s the Living Blindfully podcast – living your best life with blindness or low vision. Here is your host, Jonathan Mosen.

Hello! Some reflections this week on the unique challenges for blind hearing aid wearers, Bookshare’s increasing its subscription. Is it too much?, And with the US blindness conventions fast approaching, if you want to do some quality recording, you may want the product I’m reviewing today – the Zoom M2 MicTrak.

I look forward to this time every week when we can get together again. So thank you for being a part of it!

It’s episode 231 this time, and area code 231 in the United States is allocated and it is in Michigan. It covers such places as Muskegon, Traverse City, Ludington, Petoskey, and part of Northwestern Michigan.

I don’t believe I have been to any of those places in Michigan. I have been to Detroit, and maybe a few places around the Detroit area, but that’s about the extent of my Michigan experience in the United States.

So if you are listening to us from area code 231 in Michigan, enjoy your day in the spotlight. You’ve waited for it patiently. You’ve earned it. Bask in it. That’s what I say. Bask in it.

And you can also be basking if you’re in Liberia, because that’s the country code 231. We’ve just done a census this year in 2023 in Liberia, and there’s about 5.31 million people who live there. And that’s very similar to the population of where I live here in New Zealand, so I’ve got an affinity going on right there.

So hi to all the Liberians out there. Please don’t nag me about all my overdue books. But no, hang on. That’s something completely different. I’m getting confused again. Welcome to the Liberians!

Special Episode Coming on the WWDC Keynote

I want to give you a scheduling notice, they say. We are going to be having an extra episode in the week of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

So episode 232 will come out of the usual time, and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference will begin with their traditional keynote. That will be at 10 AM Pacific time in the United States, 1 AM Eastern on the 5th of June. If you’re into coordinated universal time, that will be [17:00] UTC. It will be 5 AM in New Zealand (Oh my word!) on the Tuesday morning.

As we traditionally do, right after the keynote, we’re getting a panel together to discuss all that was revealed at WWDC. And there promises to be a lot of interest revealed.

A new Apple product is always going to create a buzz. And this year, we expect to hear about Apple’s new mixed reality headset. Depending on the specs of the product, there are some potentially interesting, intriguing use cases for this for the blind community.

We may not immediately have all the answers that blind people want, but we’ll give you what we can.

The mixed reality headset promises to be a big highlight, but there are also new operating systems to be announced including iOS 17, watchOS 10, and the new version of MacOS. No doubt they’ll do the big reveal of what MacOS is going to be called this year.

We do expect some interesting new software in iOS 17 including a journaling app to rival Day One. There are other rumors as well. But it won’t be too long before we get the actual facts, and we’ll chew them over. We’ll dissect them. Can you chew something over and dissect it at the same time? We probably don’t want to go too far down that track.

But anyway, we’ll be talking about them. (That’s what I mean.) with our default panel. Everybody’s available this year. So we will hear from Judy Dixon, we’ll hear from Michael Feir, and also Heidi Taylor who will be taking snaps of all the slides that go up. Because even if the keynote continues to be audio-described (and I guess there might be some questions about that if they’re moving back to a live format, so we’ll have to see), but you do still miss out on things that flash up on the screen, and there’s a lot of detail that we miss. And so Heidi’s aware of the kind of things that we are interested in. She’s constantly taking clips of what’s going up on the screen, and dissecting that information, and bringing it to us.

It’s a worthwhile listen, and it will be available to Living Blindfully plus subscribers as soon as we finish recording it. I go to efforts to upload that as quickly as possible after it’s recorded because of its currency. And then three days after it’s available to Living Blindfully plus subscribers, it will be available to the public in general.

If you would like to join Living Blindfully plus, a reminder that you can do that for as little as 1 New Zealand dollar, which at the moment is like 61 US cents a month. You can sign up for 1 month if you want. If this particular episode interests you, you don’t have to keep a recurring subscription if you don’t want to. But if you do feel able to, your support is very much appreciated. You can go to, and all the information is there, including guides on how to make sure that you can use your private RSS feed once you have it. Because once you’ve signed up with any major credit card, you’ll receive an email, and in that email is your own personal RSS feed that gives you access to the content first. You paste that feed into whatever podcast app or player you are listening with, and you’re up and running.

So we look forward to bringing the WWDC coverage to you, and of course, the aftermath as we all get our hands on the early betas of iOS 17 and other operating systems. I do still have my Apple developer account. I have a test iPhone, and so I will probably put the early builds on that test iPhone so that we can bring you any demonstrations that may be relevant once things start to happen with iOS 17.


Technology’s Great When it works, But It Doesn’t Always Work

I know that some people think I lead some sort of technologically charmed life, and that bad things seldom happen to me in technology. [laughs] I got to tell you, it has been a really interesting run for me. I think this bad run started in the worst possible way, and it relates to the way that I cable my hearing aids directly to anything with a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

I’m sitting at my mixer at the moment in front of my microphone, and I have a cable going from each of my hearing aids. I have two ears, you see, so I got two hearing aids. [laughs] And the cable terminates in a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack that plugs into the mixer.

That means I’m not wearing headphones. The audio is going straight into my hearing aids, and there’s zero latency. There’s zero feedback, and it works really well for me.

Because of the zero latency, it means that my screen reader remains really snappy so I use it on my laptop. If I’m getting money out of an ATM, then I can plug that cable into the ATM’s headphone jack and get speech feedback from it.

It’s an incredibly handy zero latency tool, and it’s not particularly draining on the battery like some Bluetooth streamers are.

Well, some weeks ago, I started to get some intermittent appearing in my left ear. It was cutting in and out.

The first thing I do in a situation like that is replace the cable, because eventually, these little cables do die out, and I have a place that I buy them from online.

That didn’t do the job. It was still crackling out.

The next thing I do in a situation like this is a kind of a nuclear option, which is that I replace what’s called the audio shoes. I have no idea how they got that name, but this audio shoe plugs into a connector on the hearing aid, and you can get different kinds of audio shoes for hearing aids that support them.

For example, I’ve got a completely different set of audio shoes that work with FM systems like the Roger On, which is a Phonak product, a really cool little microphone. It’s kind of a next generation from the very popular Roger Pen. You can put this microphone in the middle of a table when you’re at a meeting, or in a restaurant, or something like that, and it does help quite a lot. They’re doing some pretty sophisticated stuff with that Roger On, and I find it really does help in certain situations. So I’ve got a set of audio shoes for that as well.

But the audio shoes relating to this cable that plugs into a headphone jack are different. And I keep some spare ones because if these things stop working, I am up soup creek. I’m sorry for the strong language, but I really am up soup creek if this thing breaks.

So I replace those, and still it didn’t work. At this point, I was starting to think there’s something interesting going on because it’s always happening in the left ear, so it must be relating to something to do with the aid itself.

I am still running Oticon S 1 hearing aids, which I’ve had since 2019 because the government only funds these things every so often. I’m grateful that they fund them at all, but my number hasn’t come up yet. And based on the experience I’ve had recently, I’m sort of glad that my number hasn’t come up yet.

I remembered that when I got my hearing aids fitted and this audio input thing was a bottom line for me, we had to change the battery doors. So I thought maybe it’s relating to the battery doors, and I contacted my ever patient audiologist and said, “Could we try some new battery doors?”

Well, this turned into a major mission. I didn’t hear from the audiologist for weeks and weeks. This has been going on for quite a while. I’ve been kind of grinning and bearing it.

Finally, I contacted the audiologist again and said, “Can I have the battery doors, please?” And I think, they were somewhat frustrated reading between the lines. I think they had been trying to get a response from Oticon, and they reached the point where they said, “We are going to hand you over to Oticon.” Audiology companies don’t like talking to patients very much but they do sometimes talk to me, and I’m grateful for that.

It turned out that these battery doors were rare, (rarer than hen’s teeth, as the old saying goes), and they couldn’t find any in the vicinity. They finally tracked some down in Poland.

Meanwhile, the sales guy from Oticon was kind of quizzing me on why this thing was so important to me because direct audio input is not a common feature anymore, and he isn’t sure whether direct audio input is a feature that’s in any of the newer Oticon aids. So I had to go through all of this again, where I explained, “First, a lot of these streamer tools are in mono. I cannot have mono when I’m monitoring mixes that I’m putting together. I need stereo. Second, even if you get a device like an Oticon TV adapter, which is a really great device actually, and it’s got a good range, and I use that with our system in the living room, it introduces latency. So it’s stereo, but it introduces latency. And what I mean by that, for those who don’t work with audio, is if I were to plug one of these into my mixer, and then I switch on to the TV adapter program on my hearing aid, and I start to talk, there’s enough of a delay caused by all the digital processing that devices like this do. That means it will sound like it’s echoing back when I talk. And that will cause me to slow down, because it’s really distracting, (at least I find it really distracting), when you hear yourself echoing back like that. I don’t want that latency, and I’ve got a solution that works for me. And I’m going to do my best to hold on to that solution as long as I possibly can.”

When my number does come up, if there is one manufacturer left that offers this feature, (and it may well be Phonak. I haven’t checked what Phonak is doing of late.), but if they’re offering it, I will switch back to Phonak. It is the most important thing for me.

I really do wish that we, as a community, (those of us who, whether we identify as deaf-blind or blind people who wear hearing aids or however we identify), could have a discussion with audiology companies. Because there’s another issue that I get quite a lot as well. And that is that while this Roger On that I’ve talked about is a super device, and while most of the time I would like to have it in mono to maximize intelligibility, there are times when you go into a meeting as a blind person and you plonk this thing in the center of the table, and it’s mono. So you have no way, if you’re listening through the Roger On or similar device, of telling where somebody is speaking from.

Now that is a unique blindness use case because if you can see, you’re obviously seeing someone talk and you turn to face them. If you do not face somebody who you’re talking to, it’s not a good look at all visually. You’ve got to try in a meeting environment to look at the person that you’re talking to.

So the choice I have is to essentially hear less well for a short time until I’ve got the layout of the room. And then I can switch into the clearer Roger mic, remember where everybody’s seated and face them when they’re speaking. It’s an effort.

And when I try and explain this to some of the hearing aid companies when I have had limited opportunity to talk to them, it’s incredible how often they don’t get basic concepts. When I say I want a stereo option that I can switch in and out, they’ll say something like, :Oh, but it comes through both ears. It’s stereo. It’s coming through both of your ears.” They don’t understand the difference between stereo and a mono source coming through two ears, which is very frustrating. We really have some work to do in terms of trying to engage with these audiology companies.

So [laughs] I had to wait until the battery doors arrived from Poland. And I thought, “At last!”. This was actually on the 28th of April.

So yeah. When I look back, it’s been a problem for a wee while now.

And on the 28th of April, with much anticipation, I headed off to the audiologist to get the battery door swapped. We did the swap. I plugged in my cable on the spot to verify that it was fixed, and it was not fixed. And it turned out that the problem relates to a connector on the base of the actual hearing aid itself.

So then I said to them, well, if you take this hearing aid away without giving me some sort of backup, then my life pretty much comes to a halt. Right? [laughs] I mean, it’s difficult for me to do my job. It would be difficult for me to do this podcast. It would just be quite debilitating. So can you swap the aid out temporarily? Because these days, if you can get an equivalent hearing aid, all they do is load up the settings that they’ve painstakingly set for you, load them into the new aid, and you’re up and running.

Well, it took quite a while to actually get some action on getting me a temporary aid that was pretty much the same that I could use while mine was being repaired. I finally got it earlier in the week, and that is absolutely marvelous.

So mine is away at the hearing aid doctor, and I don’t have things cutting out in one ear, which is absolutely joyous.

The second thing, (Because they say things come in threes. That’s what they say.), the second technological snafu I’ve been dealing with is my own fault. I’ve only got myself to blame for this, and that makes me annoyed with myself.

With all the meditation that I do, I always remind myself that you can’t change the past. So you know, move on. Easier said than done sometimes when you do something really pathetic.

I was in the studio here, preparing with my son Richard the demo you will hear later in this episode of the Zoom Mic Track M2. We had a lot of things going on. We had a curry for lunch. You know, Richard was here. We were having some bonding time.

I rushed down to the studio, pulled out my chair to sit down and get to work. And the Mantis, which is my Braille display with a QWERTY keyboard which we have reviewed on this podcast many episodes ago came tumbling down off the desk onto the floor, keyboard and Braille display side down. That happened because I got the Executive Product case, which has a very long carrying strap, caught in the chair when I pulled it out.

At the time, I dusted it off and put it back on my desk. It seemed okay. It booted up. The Braille display was still working.

But then, I went to do some writing on it later, and I found that the escape key was missing. It was just gone, and there was this awful little bump thing where the escape key should be.

Your heart sinks when something like that happens, doesn’t it? You think, “Oh, how silly is this to get myself into this position?”

So I rushed back down to the studio and crawled around using all those blindness techniques we’ve built up over the years to scan every inch carefully, meticulously looking for the escape key, and hurrah! It was located. “Victory was mine!”, I thought.

And then, I tried to fit the escape key back onto the keyboard, and it wouldn’t take. I was pretty confident that I was doing it correctly.

I emailed the Mantis List, and I said, “How easy is it to reattach one of these keys when it falls off?”

People wrote back and said, “It’s as easy as falling off a log, mate.”, essentially. “Just snap it back on, and make sure the key’s oriented the right way. You’re going to be golden.” Golden!

I sat there persisting with it, and I was not golden. And I thought, “Is there something that I’m missing here? Am I just not capable of refitting a simple key?”

Well, this was the same day by this stage as when I was going to the audiologist to get this temporary hearing aid.

So I was pretty grumpy with technology at this point. I thought, “I’m going to be a hermit. I’m going to go and just give up all my technology and live somewhere in the wilderness, happy.”

But while I was at the audiologist and we got the job done pretty quickly that we were there for, I said to her, “Can I just ask you something really random?” And I took my little key out, and I showed her the Mantis, and I said, “Can you fit this? Can you explain to me why it doesn’t fit?”

And she said, “Ah, the underside of the key is missing a vital plastic bit that is supposed to make it attach. That’s why you can’t make it attach. There’s the key cap, but you’re missing the important underside.”, which I didn’t really know because I’ve never lost a key on the Mantis before, and I was reluctant to try and take another one off, [laughs] in case I made the problem worse.

So my Mantis has now gone to Mantis repair land. Luckily, we’ve got a very capable guy who I used to work with at Humanware many moons ago who says he can sort this out for me, and I look forward to that. So I am Mantis-less at the moment.

The really cool thing is I still have my previous Braille display which is the Focus 40 Blue 5th generation, and we’ve talked a bit about this on the show of late. I’m pleased to say that right now, and I’m knocking on the wood, I don’t have any ghost dots with this particular Focus 40 Blue 5th generation. And so I’m able to keep the podcast going, and keep reading the PowerPoint presentations that I need to read for work.

If I didn’t have this, I would have to requisition Bonnie’s Mantis. I’m not sure how well that would go down. Actually, to be fair, she did graciously offer me her Mantis when this happened. Because without Braille, I just can’t do this podcast. I can’t do my job. Braille is absolutely essential to me. And reading is absolutely essential to most people, I think. And without Braille, I can’t read. So I am very fortunate to have this display.

One thing I will observe, (because there have been a few negative comments of late about the build quality of the Focus 40 Blue), switching between sources on the Focus is a joy. I’ve forgotten how quick and efficient it is to just hold down that menu button, followed by the number of the input that you want to switch to, and it is instant. It’s really good.

The cells feel so different from the Mantis, and you really notice this when you’re switching from one type of display to another.

Moral of the story, be really careful with the straps on those executive products cases. I’ve been talking on Mastodon about this, and other people have said that they have done something similar.

The trick, I think, is if you’re not going to be traveling with one of these displays for a while, it’s nice to keep it in the case. And I like the little pocket, because I keep my special hearing aid cable and a thumb drive in case I need it in the case. But just take the strap off. Why on earth did I not think of something so basic as this before? Take the strap off, store it somewhere safe, and then it can’t catch on anything and take a tumble. Or if you think you’ll always do this, make sure you position the strap in such a way that it’s, say, behind the device so it’s not going to catch on anything.

I quite frequently move my display. When I’m reading in the studio for the podcast, I have the display on my knee so that it’s a good distance from the microphone, which is a Heil PR 40. That microphone is super directional anyway, and I find that just cuts down on audible clicks as I scroll the display.

So I think that there are too many opportunities for me to get that wrong if I leave the strap on. And when my Mantis is restored to its rightful place at Mosen towers, I will be taking care not to have the strap on when I don’t need to have the strap on.

And the third thing, because bad things come in threes, relates to a really bizarre issue I’m having with some parts of our smart home, and I intend to get that sorted as well. But I won’t bore you with it now.

So the moral of the story is it happens to us all. Technology offers so much promise. But, and if you’ll pardon my strong language yet again, it can frustrate the soup out of you when it’s playing up or you destroy it for some annoying reason.

Listening and Charging Via USB

Christopher Wright has solved his own problem that he wrote into Living Blindfully about, and he’s going to share the answer with you now.

“Hi, Jonathan,

This is to let anyone else know what works if they run into the problems I had with my Pixel 7.

Once again, the Belkin Rockstar saves the day. Applause for Belkin, please.”

Oh, alright then. [applause sound effect] Take a bow, Belkin. Christopher Wright salutes you.

I hope that worked for you, Christopher.

He says: “The adapter does exactly what the Pixel version does on my iPhone. Even though it was a little more expensive, it’s worth it.

Don’t buy those cheap adapters for either platform. They don’t work.

It also says the adapter is compatible with iPad Pros, so I assume it should work fine once USB-C becomes standard on the iPhone. I most likely want a Lightning to USB-C adapter so my Lightning accessories won’t become e-waste, but will get there in the end.

Shame on the manufacturers”, says Christopher, “for taking away the headphone jack and the consumers who don’t care enough to cause massive backlash.”

Well, a thousand amens to that, Christopher. The demise of the headphone jack was absolutely absurd.

And yes, September’s coming fast. That’s when we expect the iPhone 15 Pro to be out. And that, by all accounts, will have USB-C instead of a Lightning port.

That means that if you’ve got a whole bunch of Lightning accessories, you know what you’re going to need? Yep, another dongle from Apple. [laughs] Another Apple dongle.

But in this case, it’s a good change. It will definitely be worth it in the end.

Following Up On Problems With the Victor Reader Stream 2nd Generation

John Wesley Smith is back again. He says:

“Hello, Jonathan,

This is an update to my message about the problems I was having with a mystery podcast downloading to the internal memory of my 2nd generation Victor Stream.

After taking the various complicated steps I described in my recording, my Stream is behaving like it should.

I believe your comments about redirects explain why I have sometimes gotten an episode of some podcasts twice. I suspect an older URL hadn’t been cleaned out of the database. There must be some strange things going on with databases for podcasts on the Stream now and then.

Sometimes, podcasts from months or even years ago have downloaded to my Stream unbidden. One podcast feed has pulled in podcasts dated from 1969.”

[laughs] That’s interesting.

“Obviously that’s not possible. Somebody somewhere probably fat-fingered the numbers. Trying to play such a mislabeled podcast resulted in an error message.”

Thanks very much, John. It can be kind of fun, if you’re in the right headspace, to do some investigation of some of these weird things, can’t it? But I’m glad you seem to have got it sorted.

Bookshare Is Increasing the Price Of Its Subscription

Here’s something about which there was a lot of discussion on Mastodon a few weeks ago. And now, Lena raises it here. She says:

“Hello, Jonathan,

Bookshare has increased its membership fees to $80, or $79.99 US.

The reason given in the alert email was there had been no increases for 20 years.

That is true. But is that a reason for a 60% increase? I don’t think so. Even if every book in Bookshare’s library was usable by blind people, a significant number are image only and therefore, not accessible to blind readers. This would seem unreasonable to me. 60% greatly exceeds the US inflation rate, cost of living increases, and salary increases for everyone I know.

How many paying members can afford this huge jump? How many current members who earned their membership by scanning and proofreading books can manage the work increase while maintaining quality?

Bookshare offers no monthly subscription plan, and Bookshare is charging more per year than university libraries charge non-students. And it is more than public libraries charge for users who live outside a library service area. A 10% $5 increase would exceed inflation, but would probably be affordable by many.

What do others think?

I continue to enjoy the podcast, and I am still looking forward to your interview with Oko’s creator.”

Well, it’s not too far away now, Lena, so thank you for your patience. We’ve just got so much material at the moment, which is a nice problem to have.

I’m going to come down squarely on one side of this debate, and I’m unequivocally with Bookshare on this one.

I know things are tough. It is really tough out there. But a business has to pay its bills. It has to pay its people. It has to pay its running costs.

And I want to talk about the inflation rate because it’s a little bit like a mortgage. If people are familiar with that, inflation is compounding.

So if there was an inflation rate of, say, 3% between 2000 and 2001, (let’s just take 2000 as a starting point), and then there was another inflation rate of 3% between 2001 and 2002, it’s compounding. So when you wait as long as 20 years, you get a significant decrease in the purchasing power of $50.

So I put this through an inflation calculator. and I asked the question, Taking the US inflation rate into account from 2000, (I just started at that point), to 2023, how much money would you need now in order to purchase the same thing that you got with $50 in 2000?

And the inflation calculator told me that $50 in 2000 is equivalent to about $88.08 now. So it may have been slightly after 2000 that there was an increase in Bookshare subscription last, but they are dead on track with reflecting the rate of inflation.

The dollar has average inflation rate of 2.49% per year between 2000 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 76.17%, which is actually higher than the Bookshare increase. This means that today’s prices are 1.76 times as high as average prices since 2000. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index in the United States. A dollar today only buys 56.768% of what it could back then.

You add to that the number of agreements that Bookshare has inked in the last 20 years with publishers. The quality of the material you get from Bookshare overall is much better now than it was then, because so much of the material is coming directly from publishers now, so you get books very quickly and they couldn’t be of better quality. There have also been other enhancements that have been added to Bookshare over that time. And yet, they are coming in at a price point that means that in real terms, it’s a little bit cheaper than it was back then.

A very good point about the monthly membership, Lena, that might make it a lot easier for those who are struggling to pay for it. My understanding, though, is that there are provisions for those who are struggling to pay for Bookshare to get it at a lesser cost.

Now all that said, I have a question about Bookshare that I would be interested in some community discussion about, and it’s simply this. In an era where so many books are available electronically through mainstream means, how do we philosophically justify a service like Bookshare? If you can purchase something like Amazon Kindle Unlimited which is a subscription program available to everybody, (blind people and sighted people alike), and you can use the Kindle app to read those books, or you can purchase an Audible subscription and you can read those books, although I appreciate that not everything is available in audio format. What is our justification as blind people for saying we should be entitled to a service where we pay a yearly fee and not have to pay the copyright holder for reading their work?

I’m very interested in these copyright discussions because nearly 30 years ago in New Zealand, we passed a law when I was manager of government relations that amended the Copyright Act to enshrine in law that access to information was no different from access to physical buildings. That if disabled people should expect access to physical buildings as a right, they should also expect access to information as a right. And New Zealand became the first country where as a right, organizations that modified material into accessible formats did not have to seek the permission of the copyright holder. The copyright holder could not withhold the conversion of that material into an accessible format by a prescribed organization like a blindness library, for instance.

Other countries were inspired by our example. There was the Chafee Amendment eventually, and I remember sitting down with people from the NFB to discuss how we got our copyright law passed the author lobby. And all that was done, and then came Bookshare.

But the landscape has changed a lot since then. And what I keep coming back to is, what’s our justification if we want to be considered equal members of society? And if books are available for purchase in accessible formats like Kindle and Apple Books, what is our justification as a community for saying that we should have a service like Bookshare that gives us access to this material on far more favorable terms?

So let me know what you think about all of this. Are you cancelling your Bookshare membership? Do you think that the subscription increase is unreasonable? And what do you think that justification is for Bookshare’s continuing in an era like the one we have now, where so many books are accessible right out of the box to us? 864-60-Mosen is my number if you want to chime in on this, 864-606-6736 and on the email.


Voiceover: The Living Blindfully website is your one-stop shop for everything to do with the show. Never miss an episode by adding the podcast to your favorite app.

Search past episodes. Follow us on your favorite social media network, and listen to our entire back catalog of hundreds of episodes. You’ll be glad you paid us a visit. That’s

Comments on Google’s Music LM

To the UK we go, for an email from Kevin Russell who says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

first of all, many congratulations on the rebranding of the podcast. I’m absolutely delighted to be a Living Blindfully plus member.”

Thank you for the support, Kevin. It means a lot.

“I found your demonstration of Google’s Music LM absolutely fascinating.

However, for me, every single example was extremely nightmarish. This is very hard to explain or describe. But for me, all the examples were extremely random in sound. All the chord changes and the melodies were completely unnatural. The only way I can explain it is to say that every example sounded as though it was being played backwards, but the right way round, if that makes sense.” [laughs]

“The classical pieces were particularly strange, very eerie, and I had to go and do something else for 10 minutes to clear my head. I remember having bad dreams about Tomorrow Never Knows when I first heard it at the age of 8 years old. I loved it, but it was seriously scary. The same goes for Revolution No. 9 with all of the backwards snippets of music and total mayhem. Of course, I really love Revolution No. 9.

Again, thanks for an extremely stimulating and thought-provoking podcast. I look forward to receiving it each week.”

Thanks, Kevin!

I wasn’t around when Tomorrow Never Knows came out, but I do remember being freaked out by it when I first heard it. And also, I Am the Walrus. [laughs] As a kid, you don’t want to listen to that at 2 or 3 AM.

I understand completely what you’re saying. And I think the problem they’ve got is that they’ve been super careful about not plagiarizing anybody, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for tuneful music. I mean, it sounds like the right style, doesn’t it? But you’re right. It’s not a catchy melody that’s going to be the next hit, and I suspect that’s deliberate. That’s the very fine line they are walking.

You inspire a fun and interesting topic, though. Are there songs that just freak you out, that scare you, not because of the lyrics or anything like that, but because of the way that they sound?

I remember a good friend of mine, my best friend, in fact. When we were kids, he was totally freaked by You Light Up My Life, and the only reason why was because the chord sequence just freaked him out. No more than that.

I have to say. For me, it’s Baker Street by Jerry Rafferty, which gives me eye pain. I mean seriously, [laughs] that’s just one of those songs that is incredibly musically triggering for me.

So do you have any songs like this? I guess it’s a form of synesthesia. Not quite synesthesia, but are there certain chord progressions, just certain instrumentation, and you hear that in a particular song, and it just gives you the heebie-jeebies. It may not be rational. People may not understand it. But nevertheless, it’s real for you.

What a fun topic! If you’ve got a song like that, let me know what it is and how it makes you feel. or on the telephone, 864-60-Mosen.


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Strategies For Dealing With Offers of Help

On the subject of accepting help and help we don’t want, Peter is writing in from Budapest. He says:

“Here are my main principles of behavior when interacting with a sighted person who wishes to help me.

  1. My default setting is always being polite. From that starting point, my behavior depends on the other agent’s acts and communication. My gentleness level will be the mirror of theirs.
  2. The principle of unchangeable presumption. There’s no sense in making a considerable effort to keep my image in their head positive because anyway, disabled people are considered subhuman, helpless, incompetent, stupid. It’s probably rooted biologically in able-bodied persons’ minds. Most of the time, whatever I do, I cannot lower my status in the other person’s view, neither can I augment it.
  3. the sarcacity of the blind. There’s no sense in educating the public. Too few encounters can happen in one sighted individual’s life. We cannot hope to change anything in their brains. They have their conception of us blind people, and it gets reinforced on a daily basis from the media and from conversations among them where we are not present. Thus, educating the public is an insurmountably steep hill. You never get to the top. Better leave it altogether.
  4. We can only speak about help when consent is given. No communication or any kind of act is received as help when consent is lacking. Notifying me, advising me, informing me anyhow without my unequivocal consent is an insult, especially when it comes not by words but by physical contact. Real help must be thanked.
  5. Wherever I am or whatever I do, I stop moving immediately when unsolicited physical contact is received. Even at the middle of a zebra crossing, I gently ask the person in these situations to release me/leave me alone. I won’t continue moving until their hand is taken away from my body. Sometimes, it’s funny to experience how frustrated some sighted individuals may become in the middle of crossing a street. They see the traffic light switched to red, and we’re still in the middle of the crossing. I’m asking them to release me repeatedly. They don’t want to do that. But at the same time, they are afraid of the cars that are coming. In the end, they always leave me alone. Their fear is stronger than their urge to pull me to the other side.
  6. Never get in shouting arguments. They are more harmful to me than for the other. I can be firm without raising my voice or pronouncing harsh words. Stay calm, but stay firm.
  7. I’m not obliged to react at all when talking to me is not requested. A general experience is being told where I am, asked where I am going. A decent verbal interaction must begin by a greeting, or at least to ask me if I need some help, verbal or in guidance. If somebody starts to advise me about the directions, my location, or just simply ask where are you going, I ignore. If the address is repeated, I still don’t react. Sooner or later, they will realize that there’s no need to talk to me. They can think I’m deaf, stupid, rude, or just can’t speak Hungarian. I don’t care. My experience is if I get into conversation in these cases, I will regret it at the end. For example, if I tell where I’m going, it’s a hundred percent I’ll be grabbed and pulled immediately. I should explain that I know my way, I know the environment, I don’t need help. If I tell where I’m going, needing help is supposed automatically. Oh no thanks, better walk out of the inconvenient/humiliating situation, maybe regarded as a rude person, but still, mentally unharmed.

So these are my guidelines when getting help/meeting unsolicited interactions. A lot of people may disagree, but they work for me.”

And this discussion was sparked by an interesting email from Mohammed.

Mike Calvo’s writing in in response. And he says:

“Dear Jonathan,

I hope this email finds you well.

I just had to reach out and express my astonishment at the incredible reading you did of Mohammed’s letter on the Living Blindfully podcast. It was an audio story, or perhaps more accurately, an audiobook, and it left me completely floored.

I wanted to let you know that among the various callings in your life, which I know you have many, I truly believe that pursuing a career as an audiobook reader would be a remarkable opportunity for you.

In addition to that, I’ve had the privilege of hearing you read news using a Braille” (with an uppercase B) “display, which was already astonishing to me.

However, when I heard the audiobook-style narration you did with the message, oh my goodness!” [laughs] “It was simply mind-blowing! I couldn’t resist writing to you and expressing my admiration. Despite knowing you for many years, I have never heard such an incredible performance from you.”


Thank you very much, Mike. This actually made me go back and listen to it again because I didn’t think it was anything that special. [laughs] But I’m glad it resonated with you.

It just goes to show you can be sitting here in your little studio, just reading your thing, and you never know what impact it’s having out there in the big world.

And Dawn Ramos continues this discussion about help and says:

“Hi, Jonathan, from Dawn in Sydney.

This is a difficult subject, and I think, a fairly controversial one.

When I was growing up, (and I know for a lot of my friends), I was told that when I was in public, I had to be an example on behalf of all other blind people, and the way I interacted with sighted people would influence the way sighted people would react to any other blind person.

As an adult working and relating with the mainstream community, I learned very quickly that it’s not quite that simple. Yes, there is never a cause for rudeness. But if a person is trying to help and what they do is actually putting you in danger, then you have every right to be as forceful as is necessary.

There are numerous experiences of this I could share, but I’m sure everyone else has had any number of scary things happen to them.

When I was working, I found that catching trains posed any number of problems where yes, people thought they were helping, but what they did was actually extremely dangerous both to me and my dog. It can be the hardest thing to be polite and at the same time, make sure that you put your own safety first.

One experience I will relate was a day I was getting off a train, and I knew there would be quite a wide step across the platform. What I did not know was that the train had not pulled to the end of the platform, which meant that I would be stepping into oblivion.

Someone grabbed me from behind, which is one of the most dangerous actions they could take, as it has the effect of unbalancing you as you step out.

As the person did not say “Don’t move!” or “Wait!”, I pulled my arm from their hand. And next minute, I was lying on the railway track.

Luckily, I was not hurt. But this is an example of the kind of thing that can go wrong on some occasions.”

The Status of Advocacy on Quiet Cars

In episode 229, Dawn from Sydney raised some very important questions about electric cars and the dangers they may pose to blind people. This is following some international travel she has recently completed.

Mark Riccobono, the President of the National Federation of the Blind, is writing in on this, and he says:

“Dear Jonathan,

Responding to the recent question on the Living Blindfully podcast regarding the advocacy work done regarding minimum sound standards for electronic vehicles. I wanted to share with you and the community some notes.

While we have led the way in getting a very acceptable standard in the United States, we have always been concerned about creating a uniform standard around the world, and that continues to require the attention of all advocates in our global community.

In 2004, the National Federation of the Blind began educating industry representatives and policy makers about the dangers posed by silent cars for all pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians.

The National Federation of the Blind worked with the United States Congress on the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which requires electric cars to make a minimum sound at low speeds. This law went into full effect in the United States on March 1, 2021. The law requires all vehicles manufactured after that date to be compliant with the corresponding United States Department of Transportation regulation.

The law was passed in January 2011, so it took a full decade to get to complete implementation.

In February 2008, Dr. Marc Maurer and other leaders from the NFB traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to urge the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (also known as WP29), to work on the quiet car issue. WP29 created the Quiet Road Transport Vehicle (QTRV) group to do this work.

Over the next several years, the QTRV group took up this issue. And as a result of the advocacy of the NFB and the World Blind Union, ultimately, WP29 adopted Regulation 138, which is a part of the 1958 agreement. This regulation is currently in effect in 57 countries.

While there are some detailed differences between the regulations adopted by each country, they generally all require the vehicle to make a specified level of sound while traveling at low speeds.

It is worth noting, however, that the United States regulations require sound at stationary, which is a critical component for blind people. That is an element missing in Regulation 138.

There is still more international advocacy work to be done. The Federation continues to share our experience and expertise with leaders of the World Blind Union, and we continue to advocate within the Quiet Road Transport Vehicle group. We will be in attendance at the next meeting of the working group in Paris during July, 2023.

I would encourage advocates in other countries to coordinate efforts through the World Blind Union. One approach might be to get Regulation 138 recognized in your country, but we would certainly urge that you push for sound at stationary as part of that effort.

So if you are walking around and happen to hear what sounds like a synthetic car sound, you now know that this sound is intended to make the roads safer for all pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians.

If you find that vehicles are not producing any sound, you may want to investigate what is required in your country. Fortunately, you do not have to reinvent the engine hum, as the blind community has made great progress on this in other parts of the world during the past 2 decades.

Please call on the Federation if we can provide further background and experience.

Thanks to all for your advocacy efforts.

Please connect with me on Mastodon at That’s to continue the conversation.”

Thank you, Mark. That’s a very helpful email. I appreciate that.

And I’d love to hear people’s experiences of these electric cars and what it’s like where you are – whether they are making sounds when they’re moving at low speed and when they are stationary.

Let’s go to Israel for some firsthand experience of what’s happening there from Haya Simkin, who says:

“I was practicing a new route with a friend, and I was walking down the sidewalk in an area where there was a parking lot on the left. This is quite common in Israel, and I would like to know if this happens in other countries.

All of a sudden, I heard a slight whirring and a brake squealing sound, and my friend grabbed me out of the way.

I asked her why she was grabbing my body instead of talking to me, because this is something sighted people often do. She told me that a car was backing out of the parking lot towards me, and she didn’t know if he could see me or if he would bother looking behind him. I don’t really know if it was a man.

A few weeks later, I was in the same place under the same circumstances, and a very loud bus or truck was on across the street.

And again, she grabbed me in the same way, and I reacted in about the same way. And she told me again that a car was backing out. I couldn’t hear a thing.

2 days ago, my mother took me to a yearly check-up at a large hospital. I was walking sighted-guide with my mother, and an electric bike went whizzing from behind and cut in front of us and barely missed running us over. I was stunned and wasn’t sure if it was an electric car or not, because it sounded similar.

Meanwhile, my mother yelled at the driver who hadn’t given us enough leeway, and he didn’t so much as turn around.

That’s why I’m scared of electric cars and bikes.

I even worry about kids on bikes and scooters because here, they often go too fast without supervision, and couldn’t slow down for pedestrians. I’m more worried about them running over somebody’s guide dog because you can fix a broken foot with a cast if things are that bad, but what fixes a traumatized guide dog?

Inadequate Meet and Assist Service at Airports

“Now,” says Haya, “for Meet and Assist. When I was seventeen, I flew from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver through O’Hare with United using the Meet and Assist service.”

Do you capitalize that? [laughs] I have no idea.

“The plane landed, and nobody came. I waited for every single person to get off. And still, nobody came.

I had heard the direction people were going and picked up my carry-on, and went that way. I managed to attract attention by just walking, and they asked me where I was going or something like that, and I told them.

They accompanied me down the air-bridge, sat me in a chair, and told me that they would get someone to get me to the next flight, and I haven’t seen them from that day to this.

My dad was back in Florida. And so when it became clear that they wouldn’t be coming, I called him because I honestly didn’t know what to do. I also didn’t want to go wandering around to find some sort of information desk, because I figured maybe that person would come back after all and wouldn’t find me, because that’s a good way to dig yourself into a hole you can’t get out of.

While I was talking to my dad, a woman heard me. And when I hung up, she did ask me what was going on, and I told her. And somehow, she found me someone who drove me to the plane on one of those trolleys.

I was particularly nervous because we had left Fort Lauderdale late, and I knew I couldn’t read the screens with the flights listed on them to know if my next flight was still there. I caught it just on time, though.

This was back in 2005, so I couldn’t have accessed the internet and tracked my flight because I didn’t yet have the technology that might do that.

Eventually, I started taking the train more often by myself as opposed to with a friend. And here, they have a Meet and Assist program that takes you from your first train to the next from the last station on your trip. You can call and get it ahead of time, or when you show up.

I was switching trains recently, and walked at a decent pace from Platform 1 all the way to Platform 2. I didn’t have to run because the train had not come in yet, but I didn’t want to take all day because I knew the train was coming within 5 minutes.

The assistant said, “Good job! Like I was, too.”

After getting off that train, the next assistant met me and we were walking in Sighted Guide, when she said to me, “Don’t worry, I’m still here.”

At the end of that trip, we got to an escalator. And just before it started moving, she said to me, “1, 2, 3, go!”

Conventional wisdom says I should grin and bear it because they have good intentions and are ignorant, etc.

I now wish to challenge that policy, at least, sometimes. How is it that it’s not okay to say something racist or chauvinist by accident or out of ignorance, but we have to grin and bear it? Would it be acceptable to say to a spouse or child that their spouse or parent beats them out of love? Isn’t that the best intention of all? Do women have to accept mansplaining because they don’t realize that they are competent human beings, and so they are infantilizing?

I am Jewish, and I promise you that it will not be okay if someone said, “I’m glad you’re not money-grubbing.”

Why do I have to accept being treated that way at some point every time I leave the house by myself and not with a sighted friend?

This is the reason that 89% of people do not want to hire a disabled person, as I recently read.

I would like to refer you to a fascinating YouTube series called Planes, Trains, and Canes that involves a blind woman traveling everywhere from Johannesburg, to Istanbul, to Tokyo and beyond by herself. It is a very interesting series overall.

But I would like to point out that one particular episode where the host, Dr. Mona Minkara, argues with a British Railways employee who insists that she be assigned an escorting employee while taking the London Underground whether she wants to or not. He talked about her getting lost, or the train ending up in an accident, and that blind people had been fighting and advocating for this for years, and she was just throwing that away.

I think she said that she had as much a right to get lost as sighted people, and that she knew how to cope in the event that should happen, and that she posed no greater risk during an accident than anyone else. And she insisted that in the manual for railway workers, it said that blind people could opt out of that assistance if they so choose. And sure enough, that was true, and she won out.

I apologize if I misremember the claims. It’s been a while since I saw the episode.

Anyhow, nobody is assigning people with young children, or elderly people, or people who simply walk slowly babysitters. And so I recognize the pros and cons of the meet and assist on the railways. I don’t know what happens in London or other places, but I know that I get put in the reserve car where I can be found, and when trying assistance for the very first time, I went with a friend and my guide dog a few times and ended up in a seat with almost no back to speak of and with my guide dog in the aisle.”

Thanks very much, Haya.

This is definitely an example of where different blind people will have different requirements, and they do need to be respected for that.

In my own life, my requirements have changed. I would be quite happy to just cruise around an airport and ask people for directions, and do all those things when I had better hearing. But now that my hearing has deteriorated a lot, it is a lot more difficult because it can be harder to do echo location. It can also be harder to actually hear some instructions in a noisy airport environment, so I’m more likely to use Meet and Assist than I once would.

But I think it is important for us to have some basic coping skills in our back pocket so that if the Meet and Assist doesn’t turn up, how do we continue on our journey? It’s great if we can find a counter or even just ask a random stranger if they can direct us to that counter, just so that we can reconnect with the airline if we need to.

Some people are perfectly comfortable not to rely on Meet and Assist at all, and that should be respected, too.

The thing that really gets me going, and I’ve seen this on a few occasions, is they seem to have in some airports or with some airlines a special room that they throw disabled people into. [laughs]

As a frequent flyer, I really object to this. I pay the membership fees to have access to the lounges, or on early occasions when I had work that had me doing a lot of extensive international travel, I would get upgraded because of all the flying I was doing. I will not be put into some sort of special holding room. I might want to wander off and get a cup of coffee, or something like that. I’m perfectly entitled to do that. [laughs]

So it is important that every individual’s needs are respected as being unique.

One of the best experiences I ever had at an airport, and it was probably 30 years ago maybe now, but I remember it because it was so unusual.

There was somebody who said when I checked in, “How can I help?” They actually were interested in knowing what my individual needs were, and it’s sad that I remember that all these years later because it is so rare that that happens.


Advertisement: Transcripts of Living Blindfully are brought to you by Pneuma Solutions, a global leader in accessible cloud technologies. On the web at That’s P-N-E-U-M-A solutions dot com.

What Is the Zoom M2 MicTrak?

Today, with the help of my son Richard, I’m going to be getting to know, setting up, and using the Zoom M2 MicTrak. I’ll describe what Zoom says on its website about this product. And then, talk a little bit about why I decided to buy it at this particular time. And then, we’ll see if it’s any good.

I’m doing this a little bit differently than some of the demonstrations and reviews I’ve done in the past, where I’ve learned a lot about the product before turning on the mic and recording something. But I thought it would be useful to unbox this, to set it up, to have Richard tell me what the little buttons on this thing do, (and there are quite a lot of little buttons). So if you have dexterity issues, you may want to keep that in mind, and this may not be the product for you.

And then of course, we’ll do some testing. That’s particularly important with this product, as I’ll explain in a minute.

So what does Zoom say about the M2 MicTrak? It says:

Studio Sound in One Take

Zoom’s M2 MicTrak elevates the work of creators looking to easily record perfect audio. With its innovative X/Y mic capsule design and 32-bit float technology, the M2 MicTrak always gives you great sound in one take.

One Take Is All You Need

The M2 captures clip-free audio, every time. With 32-bit float recording, there’s no need to set gain. Whether you’re recording soft-spoken dialogue or the thunderous sound of drums, you’ll never miss out on the sound you need.

Stereo Recording For Musicians

Capture all of your live performances and rehearsals. The M2 is built to provide studio quality sound every time you hit ‘record’.

Podcast From Anywhere

When you’re on the go, the M2 is the only recorder you’ll need to deliver crisp, clear dialogue, every time.

Breaking News Only Gets One Take

(No pressure, then.)

When you have just one opportunity to capture the story, the M2 will not let you down.

Super Low Handling Noise

The M2’s unique X/Y stereo mics, along with its specially designed glossy finish significantly reduces handling noise.

Stereo & Mono Modes

Choose between recording in stereo or mono modes. Stereo is optimal for music performances while mono is perfect for recording interviews and dialogue.

Normalizing Function

The M2 includes a NORMALIZE function that will raise or lower the level of your recordings to optimize volume. This saves time and streamlines the editing process.

On-Board Monitoring


Keep an eye on your recording using the M2’s LCD screen with a real-time waveform display.


Use the headphone output to monitor your recordings and use the on-board speaker for quick reference.

USB Mic With 32-Bit Float

Connect the M2 via USB when recording and streaming on PC, Mac, iOS and Android.

Mic Clip Included

Place the M2 on a mic stand for stationary recordings by using the included mic clip.

Plenty Of Battery Life

11-hour AA battery life, secured with our new sturdy lock-system, ensures that the M2 is ready to record whenever you need it.

In The Box

The M2 MicTrak, a windscreen, a microphone clip, (and you can get some optional accessories as well such as some cables and a tripod for the device).

What Zoom doesn’t mention in its marketing spiel is that it also takes a micro SD card. You can go all the way up to micro XD, which means that you can store a lot of data on this thing.

That’s Zoom’s marketing. And let me decode all of the marketing speak to say this. This thing is a microphone. You hold this mic in your hand. There’s no big bulky recorder of any kind. It’s a self-contained microphone that records onto an SD card, which slots in to that microphone.

That’s the first cool thing. So it’s very portable. You can take this thing around in a pocket, or some sort of backpack, or purse, or whatever. Take it out, switch it on, press record and you’re recording.

Now that’s where the second important thing comes in. We have talked in the past about the significance of 32-bit float recording to everybody, but to blind people in particular. If you’re in an environment where it may be difficult to set levels, or you don’t have the time to set levels, or you can’t see the level meter, or maybe you have a hearing impairment and it’s a bit difficult for you to hear clipping, 32-bit float is a very significant development for many of us. And this microphone does record in 32-bit float. As the marketing blurb so accurately says, this means you don’t have to set levels. You can fix those in post-production.

And on this podcast, we’ve had various examples. I think Gary O’Donoghue’s was the first when he did a zoom F6 review and demonstrated how you can get a horrible recording that’s either very, very quiet or way too hot. And you can fix it in post-production by bringing it into your digital audio workstation of choice and fixing the level there. It is huge.

So in theory, to have this little microphone that you can take around everywhere with no bulky cables, no other accessories required and get a top notch recording from anywhere is great. And it could be very handy for the convention season that is coming up in the United States if you’re going there, and you just want to capture recordings and then bring them back, and upload them to wherever they need to be. Sounds like the perfect product.

There is a huge caveat coming. When Zoom released this product (and I think it was back in about December of 2022), it was slammed by many people who got it early. In fact, if you go on YouTube, all of the reviews that I can find of the Zoom M2 are exceedingly negative.

And the reason for that was that the Zoom M2 back then was picking up a lot of RF (radiofrequency) interference. It was coming from microwaves. It was coming from cellphones. It was coming from Wi-Fi hotspots. It was everywhere. And people were saying this product is essentially unusable. Do not buy this thing.

Zoom then issued a recall notice and said, yeah, we’ve got a problem with a particular batch of microphones, and we will replace them free.

But since then, it’s been very quiet. I haven’t been able to find any reviews of the Zoom M2 MicTrak since that fix was deployed.

So I have very carefully unboxed this Zoom M2, in case I need to return it. Obviously, it sounds wonderful. But if it doesn’t work in practice very well because it’s picking up so much interference, then what is the point?

It is only $199 US, which is very low for what you get. And the construction reflects this. It feels very plasticky, very sort of rinky dink, [laughs] to be honest with you. It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence when you hold this thing in your hand for the first time.

It did cause Bonnie and me to take a trip down memory lane, though, because when I said to Bonnie, “Have a feel of this and how plasticky and cheap it feels.”, she said it reminded her of her Barbie microphone that she had when she was a child. And I had the identical mic, but mine was called an Andy Gibb microphone. And I was talking about this on Mastodon and somebody else said, “Oh, I had one like that. And it was called a Michael Jackson microphone. But the idea was that it was this mic that you would press a button and hold it down, and you transmit by default on eight hundred kilohertz AM.” I love this thing!

And it does feel like that, like a child’s toy. But the proof of the microphone is in the recording, as the old proverb goes. And so we will find out what it’s like.


And to help us do that, I’m joined in the studio by Richard Mosen. Welcome, Richard!

Richard: Hello! Hello!

Jonathan: Your audio engineering background will mean you’re a bit interested in this.

Richard: Yeah. It does look interesting.

Jonathan: [laughs] What was your first impression when you held this mic?

Richard: It feels very light and quite, like, cheap.

Jonathan: Yeah, like a child’s toy.

Richard: Yeah. I mean, like, there’s something to be said for making it light because it’s meant to be very portable, but the materials just don’t feel very premium at all. [laughs]

Jonathan: No, it doesn’t inspire confidence. That’s the first impression.

How do we orientate ourselves? I see, for example, that on the underside, as I believe it to be, there’s quite a large screw.

Richard: Yeah. That looks like it’s some sort of locking screw, but …

Jonathan: For the battery compartment, perhaps?

Richard: Perhaps, yeah.

Jonathan: And then, so if we hold it that way, … I’m just trying to think of how to explain this to somebody who might have this mic in the future. If you hold it so that the microphone part is facing you, because it comes with its windshield on and you’ve got the screw facing downwards, then on the right-hand side, that’s a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, I presume.

Richard: Yeah. It’s labeled with a headphone symbol.

Jonathan: And then, those two will be the volume controls for the headphones?

Richard: The first one says volume, yes.

Jonathan: Yes. That makes sense.

And then, we have a USB port, I think.

Richard: USB-C.

Jonathan: Okay. So that’s all on the right-hand side of the mic if the screw’s facing downwards.

And then if you go to the top side of the mic, it’s very busy. There’s a little screen here.

Richard: Yeah, that’s right.

Jonathan: Like an LCD screen.

And then, directly under the screen, there are 3, 4 buttons, actually.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: So if we go from left to right, what do those buttons do?

Richard: I’ll just take the mic from you.

Jonathan: Yes. Alright, then.

And this seems like an opportune time for me to point out that when I started the orientation talking about the microphone pointing towards you, in fact, that’s not the way that a sighted person would hold this mic. Therefore, it’s probably not the right way to hold the mic.

If you want the proper XY pattern in this mic to do what you expect it to do, the way to hold it is with the screen at the top. That way, a sighted person can see the screen if they’re using it and they’re holding it the right way. You do hold it with the screw facing downwards, as I said, but you hold it with the microphone pointing away from you and the little LCD at the top.

So with that caveat, now that we’ve got the orientation right, Richard, let’s go through that top line of buttons right to left.

Richard: So the first one reads stereo/mono. The next 2 are zoom in and zoom out, which perhaps if the screen displays a waveform, it would be for that.

Jonathan: Yes. That actually will increase the volume. This is a 32-bit float recording microphone. But because there’s no traditional concept of levels as such, I believe if you zoom in, it will get louder. But you can play with that and it will adjust the volume. But really, volume is not so important because you can adjust it in post-production.

Richard: Yeah. Okay. And then, the final button in the top row says low cut.

Jonathan: Okay, so that will introduce a low cut filter.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: That sounds very good.

What do we have underneath?

Richard: So below that, we’ve got a cluster of 5 buttons. You’ve got 2 small buttons to the far left, a large one in the middle, and then 2 small ones to the far right.

On the left, the top one is stop, and below it is rewind.

Jonathan: Stop is on the left and rewind is below stop?

Richard: Yes, that’s correct.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richard: And then, the large central button is just the record button.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Richard: It’s the largest button on the thing because, I guess, it’s what you want to find most of the time.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: And then on the right side, in the top right, you’ve got play/pause. And below that, you’ve got fast forward.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richard: And that’s actually all of the buttons on top of the microphone.

Jonathan: And keeping in mind that we’re now holding this with the screen pointing away from us at the top.

We go to the right-hand side, and there are more little buttons and things of importance there. What do we have?

Richard: To the far right, you’ve got the micro SD card slot, which has a little cover for it so you don’t accidentally pop it out.

Jonathan: You can feel that little rough indentation there.

And then, there’s a little button above that.

Richard: You’ve got the menu button. I wonder how in-depth the menus are on this thing. Hopefully, not too bad.

Jonathan: I did read the manual, believe it or not, before buying it. And it seems like you could write down a cheat sheet. So we might actually go through the menu system a bit later and see what we need to change.

One thing that we will, I think, want to change if it’s not on by default is that you can make it play a beep when you press record. And I think, that’d be extremely helpful.

Richard: Yeah, that sounds like it.

And finally, to the far right side of the device, you’ve got a switch. It’s a hold lock. So if you slide the switch to the right, it will hold. So none of the buttons will do anything, which can be useful for making sure you don’t accidentally stop your recording or something like that. And then if you slide it and, I assume, hold it to the far left, that’s the power switch.

Jonathan: Right. And just so we’re clear, you’ve now got the right-hand side in front of you, facing you.

But if we’re continuing our orientation as a blind person might, where the screen’s at the top of the device, then the little slidey power switch, which is actually quite a common control on Zoom recorders (So if you’re familiar with Zoom recorders, you’ll know about this sort of control.) it’s at the very top right of the microphone as it’s facing outwards from you with the screen at the top.

And so you would power it on by sliding it downwards. You’d lock it in place by sliding it upwards.

You may also like to lock it in place if you’re traveling with it, so it doesn’t inadvertently get powered on in your backpack or suitcase.

And I have to say, these buttons are all pretty compact. If you have trouble feeling things, this is a very busy little environment.

Richard: Yeah.

Jonathan: Because they don’t take up a lot of space. But it’s good that that record button is a bit pronounced.

So we need to put batteries in it, I guess.

Richard: Yeah.

Jonathan: How do we do that?

Richard: I’ll unscrew the screw that’s on the bottom, which is indeed for the battery compartment.

Jonathan: Okay. Alright, then. Well, I hope so. I hope we don’t make it fall apart. [laughs]

Richard: It’s labeled as such.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Richard: It’s a bit of a confusing mechanism. So you have to unscrew the screw, and then go down to the very bottom of the microphone and just tug straight out on the base of the microphone. And you get the little battery receptacle.

Jonathan: OK. Does it completely detach?

Richard: It completely detaches.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: So I’ll load the batteries into it, and then hand it back to you.

Jonathan: Okay. And it takes AA batteries?

Richard: Yeah, two AA.

Jonathan: Yes.

Richard: So here’s the 2 parts, then.

Jonathan: At one end, it is rounded. And that’s the base of the microphone.

Richard: Correct.

Jonathan: Yeah, when the batteries are going in. And then, the other end is not round at all. It’s kind of more rectangular. And that’s what goes into this slot. Oh, yeah. And it slides in all the way, and then it clicks back into place. When it does that, then obviously, it’s very easy to pull out. So this is where you press the screw in and tighten it up. You can do this with your fingers. You don’t need a screwdriver or anything like that. Keep turning it clockwise until you feel tension, and then it’s rock solid.

Initial Setup

I’m going to go to the top right of the mic where the little power slider switch is, and slide to power it on, now that we have batteries in. If you use a nail, it’s kind of spring-loaded and you can feel it powering on, but it’s not very pronounced.

So is it on now? Because I’ve probably powered it on and off.

Richard: It’s now on.

Jonathan: And the first thing it will want is for someone to set the date on this thing.

Richard: Yeah, so I’ll take that.

Jonathan: OK. This is something that you might need help with Aira or a sighted person to do.

Richard: So what it actually wanted first was your language. So it’s English by default. And so the buttons on the top row of the device, the 4 of them, the second one is to go up on the list, and the third one is to go down. So it’s the two middle buttons to navigate. And then the far right one, the fourth button that is select. So I’m going to select English.

And now, it wants the date. It defaults to 2022, January 1st.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richard: And it goes year, month, day. So you might be able to use that to work out how to put it in without that. But yeah, it is fiddly. I’m having trouble actually getting it to work with the screen here.

Jonathan: Right. Okay.

Richard: I’ve worked it out. It also wants the time.

Jonathan: OK.

Richard: So I’ll put that in to the best accuracy I can get.

Jonathan: Hopefully, it’s like other Zoom recorders in that if you change batteries, it’s not going to lose all this information.

Richard: So now, it wants to know the battery type. So your options are alkaline, what is NiMH?

Jonathan: Nickel metal hydride.

Richard: Yeah, and lithium are the three options.

So are these alkaline batteries?

Jonathan: These are rechargeables, and they’re nickel metal hydride.

Richard: OK, we can select that one. That’s just for giving you an accurate read on the battery level.

Jonathan: That’s right. Yeah.

Richard: So if you get that one wrong, I don’t think it’s that big a deal.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: And now, we appear to have a waveform in front of us.

Jonathan: And so when you’re talking, presumably, you can see that waveform changing.

Richard: Yes, you can.

We do need to insert our SD card.

Jonathan: Oh, that’s a very good point. As I say, if you check on the right-hand side of the mic, you will feel a rough indentation. You can, with a bit of trouble, get a fingernail in there. It’s a little flap that then gets exposed. You can’t lose the little bit that covers the micro SD slot because it dangles. It doesn’t completely come off, so that’s nice.

And Richard, which way do we orientate the card?

Richard: The right protect notch goes towards the bottom of the mic.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richard: And then once you get it lined up, (which is a bit fiddly), it will just slide in and click in. And then, I’ll replace the cover.

Jonathan: Presumably, it has a spring-loaded type thing that clicks in.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Yeah. And did a message come up on the screen when you popped that card in?

Richard: At the top of the waveform, it’s got an indicator that says how long you’ve got left on your SD card to record. This is a 512 gigabyte SD card. So it’s actually maxed out at the maximum time.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: It says we’ve got 99 hours and 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

Jonathan: Right. [laughs]

Richard: [laughs]

Jonathan: That would be excellent.

Richard: Yes.

A Comprehensive Rundown of Every Menu Option

Jonathan: I guess we should now take a look at the menu system and find out what we can change. And we’ll try and do this in a way that helps people potentially build a cheat sheet for the microphone.

We press the menu button to get into it, which is just above the SD card slot, correct?

Richard: Yes, you do.

Jonathan: Yup.

Richard: When you press the menu button, the first option in the menu is record settings. So to select that, you have to press the far right button of the 4 below the display. And that takes you into the record settings menu.

The first option is sample rate. So if you select sample rate, you’ve got three options. You’ve got 44.1 kilohertz, 48 kilohertz, and 96 kilohertz.

Jonathan: What does it default to?

Richard: It defaults to 48.

Jonathan: OK. I think that’s perfectly fine for spoken word.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Yeah. So we can leave it at that.

And then how do you back out of a menu option like that?

Richard: So that will be the far left button is the back button.

Jonathan: OK. So enter effectively is the far right of those buttons, and back is the far left.

Richard: Yes. And then of the 2 middle ones of the 4 buttons, the left one is up, and the right one is down.

So we’ve gone back up to the record settings. And below that is pre-record.

Jonathan: What that will do is if you have this enabled (and it will use a little bit of battery), but it means if you’re in a situation where you’re waiting for something to start, say you’re a reporter and you’re waiting for a media conference to start or you’ve got the rights to record a concert and you’re waiting for it to start, it will pre-buffer a little bit of audio so that when you press record, it will keep that X number of seconds before you press record. I think a lot depends on the sample rate you’ve set in terms of how long that buffer can be.

But what do we have when we go in there?

Richard: So it defaults to off as the first option.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Richard: But then below that, we have got on, bracket 2 seconds. And that is our only option for pre-record.

Jonathan: Okay. So I think, that might change depending on the record setting that we make, but that’s fine. I think I will leave that off because I think it will have an impact on battery life.

Richard: Okay. So if we go back, the next option in the record settings menu is record start tone.

Jonathan: Yay! Is it on by default, or not?

Richard: It is off by default.

Jonathan: Right. So as a blind person, you really want to come in and turn this on.

Richard: Yes. So the first option is off, but the second option in the list is on.

Jonathan: To do this, you would press the menu button. You’re on record, so you press enter for record settings.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: And then, you will press down twice to get to record start tone. You press enter.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: You then go down to on, and press enter. Right?

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richatd: So I’ve turned that on.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: So if we go back one, that is the final option in the record settings menu.

Jonathan: Okay. So we go back one more time, and we’ll be at the top level.

Richard: Yes. An important thing to note is that this remembers where you are in the menu. So if I go back into the record settings menu now from the main menu, it takes me down to record start tone instead of moving the cursor back up to sample rate.

Jonathan: That’s very useful to know.

Richard: The next option in the main menu is USB.

Jonathan: Alright. Now, this will be important if, for example, you don’t want to go through the fiddly process of taking the SD card out.

And also, it can act as a USB microphone, so it can do double-duty. And what’s interesting about this is that not only can it be a USB mic plugged into your PC, Mac, iPhone, or iPad, it can record at the same time as it’s being a USB microphone.

So this could be quite handy if you’ve got a really important recording to do and for some reason, you want 2 copies of that recording. [laughs]

Richard: So the first option is USB mic with record.

Jonathan: OK.

Richard: So if you go into that option, you have 2 options. You have PC/Mac, or mobile device.

Jonathan: So the PC/Mac will be the default. So you just press enter again if you wanted that one.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Yeah. If you want to use your iPhone with this, and that will be quite interesting to try sometime, you would choose mobile device. But you would need some sort of cable like the camera adapter kit from Apple or something like that to cable it up to the lightning port. It would be a bit easier with an iPad because you could just get a USB-C to USB-C cable.

Richard: If we go back from that menu, the second and final option in the USB menu is file transfer, which once again, has the options for PC/Mac or mobile device.

Jonathan: OK. So when you do that, it will pop up as a drive in your device. And then you’ll be able to browse to it and copy the files that you’ve recorded onto your PC for editing. So that’s a really important one to remember.

Richard: Continuing on, another thing about how these menus navigate is that they unfortunately loop. So you can’t just press up a bunch of times to make sure you’re on the first option in the list because it will just take you back down to the bottom of the list.

Jonathan: [laughs] So if you get confused, I think the best thing to do is to switch it off and back on again.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: It’s amazing how life itself can just be improved by switching things off and back on again.

Richard: We’ve navigated back to the top level menu.

The next option is SD card. We have SD card format as the first option there.

Would you like to do that? Because this is the newest.

Jonathan: Yeah, we might as well format it and make sure it’s completely happy.

Richard: If you go into XD card format, you’ve got 2 options. You’ve got execute at the top, and you’ve got cancel. Note that this one defaults to the second option in the list, cancel.

Jonathan: Right. I mean, if you format your SD card, everything on it’s going to get lost. So they’ve been very careful about that.

Richard: Yes. So we’ll execute that.

Oh, it’s done. So it’s a very quick format.

Jonathan: Right, yeah. [laughs]

Richard: So back on the SD card menu, the next option is quick test, followed by full test. Would you like to do that?

Jonathan: Should we do a quick test and just make sure it’s happy with the card it’s got?

Richard: Sure.

So once again, it defaults to cancel instead of execute of the 2 options.

[4-second silence]

Okay. So it was a very quick test, and it passed.

Jonathan: Hooray! Thank goodness! That’s a relief.

Richard: Yeah. Okay. So the full test is what’s the last option for SD card.

And then back in the main menu, the next option is system. So if we select that, the first option in the system menu is language. So we’ve got English, French, Dutch, Italian, Espanol, I admit I can’t recognize the sort of Asian characters. I’m not sure if these are Japanese, or Chinese, or something like that, but there’s two options of that at the bottom.

Jonathan: Right. Okay.

Richard: And then, it loops back around.

Jonathan: Very good.

Richard: So back in the system menu, the next option is date and time. This was quite fiddly to set up the first time. The options are set date/time, and date format. By default, it defaults to year year, month month, day day.

Jonathan: What was fiddly about setting it up?

Richard: So if you go into the set date/time format menu, it defaults to year. So you have to press enter to navigate up and down the available years. It defaults to 2022. Once you’ve found the one you like, you press enter again, and then you have to press down to go to month.

Jonathan: I see.

Richard: It takes a lot of navigating the menu. And visually, it’s formatted differently to the rest of the menus. It’s not intuitive because of course, you’ve only got the 2 buttons to navigate the whole thing.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: Navigating back up to the system menu, the next option is autoplay volume. You’ve only got 2 options in autoplay volume. The first one is off, but we can turn it on.

Jonathan: I think this could be the auto-normalization function, and I’m happy to turn that off or leave it off because we can make all those changes in post.

Richard: Okay.

Below that, we’ve got display. And so within the display menu, you’ve got the options for backlight and contrast. Looking in backlight, you’ve got off, on, and auto off, and it defaults to auto off. So if I don’t touch any buttons on the microphone for a few seconds, it will automatically turn off the screen.

Jonathan: Right. It’s good for battery.

Richard: Now, we’re getting back up to contrast. It defaults to 5 out of 10. So you can press up and down to adjust the contrast. 1, which is the lowest option, I think, is still readable, but it probably would not be on a bright day.

Jonathan: Right. Okay.

Richard: So I think 5 is fine, the default. So I’d probably just not touch that.

Jonathan: Right. Good advice.

Richard: So navigating back up to the system menu, below display is power. This is where you can change the battery type, which we set up at the beginning. The first option is alkaline, and then nickel metal hybrid, and lithium.

And then below that, we have auto power off. The default option for that is the highest, which is 10 hours. Once again, it starts at the last option on the list, which is different to some of the other menus. But if you navigate up from there, the next option is 60 minutes, and then above that 10 minutes, and above that off.

Jonathan: Oh, so you can turn it completely off.

Richard: Yeah, you can have it that it will never power off.

Jonathan: I think that I would prefer that because it’s just going to be a frustration if that’s what’s happened. Although, you know, if you haven’t touched it for 10 hours, I completely understand that. [laughs]

Richard: Yes. 10 hours is quite a long time.

Jonathan: Yeah, it is.

Richard: Yeah. Okay, we’ll turn it off.

Jonathan: Right.

Richard: Back in the system menu, the next option below power is firmware. So we go into that, and it’s just information. You can’t adjust anything in here. We are on system 1.10, boot 1.0, and checksum E542.

Jonathan: We should actually just check when we’ve got a pause to make sure that we are running the latest firmware because that could be significant with some of the issues they’ve had.

Richard: Yes.

And then the final option for the system menu is factory reset.

Jonathan: Oh boy!

Richard: So I guess if you’ve messed around in the menus too much, it’s not working properly anymore, you can find your way here and start over.

And that is the last option in the menu.

Testing the Microphone

What I’d like to do now is set up a cable going from the headphone jack of the microphone into the mixer here, so you can hear what would be coming through the headphones in normal circumstances.

Now, what you’re hearing is the Zoom M2 mic check. I’m some distance from it, though. So should I grab it?

There we go. Okay. So Peter Piper picked a peck of … Yeah. So I think you’d want a bit of windscreen.

We’ve got the XY formation so you can hear me moving around the stereo spectrum, and it sounds quite nice, Richard. It may seem cheap to the touch.

But let’s just do handling noise. So I mean, yeah, I have to deliberately… If I just move it about gently in my hand, like I might be just changing positions, there’s a bit of handling noise.

The other thing we can do is put this in mono because currently, it’s in stereo mode, which you probably wouldn’t do for a lot of spoken word. So the stereo mono button, you go down below the display and then there are those 4 buttons that we’ve talked extensively about.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Is the stereo mono button the next row?

Richard: So it’s above the row you’re touching there. So if you move your finger up, yeah, that row there.

Jonathan: I’ll push the stereo mono button. Um, so now I have, no, I haven’t. Was it, is that the stereo mono button?

Richard: That is.

Jonathan: Okay. Um, I’m still, when I press it, I’m still hearing stereo no matter what I do. So I wonder why.

Richard: Try pressing it twice quickly.

Jonathan: Okay. Um, yes. Why does pressing it twice quickly work?

Richard: So when you press the button, it brings momentarily a menu up on the screen showing both stereo and mono. And so the first press opens the menu, and the following presses toggle the 2 options. And then after a second or two, the menu goes away again.

Jonathan: Okay. So you’ve got to press it twice to toggle between stereo and mono.

So now that I am recording in mono, it actually really does sound quite nice.

I’m just going to get reasonably close so we might get a bit of proximity effect. And I’m talking just slightly to the side, so I’m not breathing directly into the mic.

And this sounds pretty good. I mean, it’s, um, it’s a very nice mic. I can see if I were using this as a USB mic and I’m on the go somewhere, it would be very nice.

Um, but now if I talk right into it, you can definitely hear some proximity effect. And so you can get a bit of windshield of course for it as well.

And then if I double tap that stereo mono button, and now we are, yeah, now we are back in stereo.

Now, what’s interesting though is you wouldn’t want to do this when you were actually recording. So some of the more expensive mics that seek to fill the space are very careful about the fact that when you press the buttons, you don’t hear anything. [button clicks] It would be impossible for you to miss the fact that you’re pressing buttons on this thing.

So now we’re in stereo, and now we’re in mono.

First Recording

Now I’m going to make a recording with this mic. And so the way that you orientate it four-sided people means that the record button is, well, sort of it’s dead center, really, on the top of the mic. And also, it has a kind of a dot on it. Actually, it’s not a very pronounced dot, but it’s, it’s almost like a little recession and it actually more than a dot and it’s slightly recessed, I think, slightly recessed. So it’s definitely tactually distinctive.

And if we’ve got the set up correctly, when I press record, it should make a beep that we’ll hear because we’re monitoring through the headphone jack at the moment. So let’s see what we get.


Oh, that is certainly a very loud beep. [laughs] You couldn’t possibly miss that. Anyone would think I’d said soup, or something.

And welcome! We are now recording, and I’m just moving around. I’m going to go by the computer because you’d think, yeah, with the computer recording at the moment, if it’s going to pick up RF, it might get a lot from the computer.

I am not getting any RF, I’m delighted to say. What else might produce RF in here? I mean, we’ll take it out shortly. Maybe the, the router.

Richard: Yeah. Where is the router?

Jonathan: Good question. I think it’s over here. Oh no no no. It’s on the, on the top over there. The unified, the little round, funny chubby thing.

Richard: Right. I see it.

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Richard: So it was just by the router there. Did you get anything?

Jonathan: And it picked up the fan noise of the router because it’s got a little fan in it. But it didn’t pick up any RF. So this is very encouraging so far. It does seem like Zoom is telling the truth when they say that the RF thing has it.

Now, there is another important thing that I believe this does, and that is that if you press record, … can you see the screen if I hold it this way, or should I hold it this way around? Can you see the screen?

Richard: Yes, yes.

Jonathan: So what do you see on the screen at the moment?

Richard: I see a waveform.

Jonathan: Yup, okay. And that’s all? So it doesn’t have time elapsed or anything?

Richard: Oh, it does. It does. A minute 30 so far.

Jonathan: Okay. So if I press the record button, I believe it will insert a marker in the file.

Richard: Yes. It said mark 1 on the screen for a moment. And now, it’s continued going.

Jonathan: So that is fantastic. And actually, because the record button isn’t quite as plonky when you press it, it’s not making that much noise.

Where this is useful is if you’re recording an interview with someone and you’re under some pressure, and you know that you’re not going to have the luxury of editing the whole thing but if there’s a real fluff that you need to go back to and fix. Or perhaps there’s something you might be recording for a news broadcaster and somebody said something particularly notable and you want to get right back to it, you can put the marker in the file. And then your digital audio workstation like Reaper, or Audacity, or whatever you’re using can navigate straight to that point in the file.

So that is a really nice feature. And I actually wish some of the other Zoom recorders would do this.

How do I stop it? Stop!

Richard: So I assume it’s the stop button, which next to the record button, it’s what I’d say to the left of it at the top.

Jonathan: So as the microphone’s facing away from you and the screen is orientated right, it’s on the left of record.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Okey doke. We will press this now.

So what I’d like to do now is see if I can get that recording off the device. And to do that probably the most easily, I will plug in a USB-C cable to the microphone.

And we’re still talking through the microphone. Even though we’re not recording, we’re monitoring from the headphone jack.

And I’m just groping for the, … there we go, there’s the USB-C port. So I will plug that in.


Now I hear RF. Oh my word! Now I really hear it.

Richard: It’s gone into the USB menu.

Jonathan: Okay.

Richard: So we’ve got 2 options. We’ve got USB mic with recording, or file transfer. Jonathan: And to go to file transfer, I press the right one?

Richard: The second dot.

Jonathan: Center. So then, that’s file transfer?

Richard: That is. So now, it wants you to choose PC, Mac or mobile device.

Jonathan: Okay.

And what happened then was that obviously, the mic functionality switched off when I connected it.

When I did the copy, just listening through the headphone jack of the file, it was pretty easy to find it on my PC under This PC. You can create a shortcut to that, if you want to. And I copied it across to a Reaper folder.

The noise was just insane, but I guess that doesn’t matter too much because it’s not trying to be a mic. We’ll come back and see what happens if we try and use this as a USB mic in a little bit.

But what I’d like to do, at the risk of redundancy, is just play that recording back normalized to minus 23 LUFS. Are you supposed to say LUFS or L-U-F-S?

Richard: I don’t know.

Jonathan: Right. [laughs]

So we’ll play the recording back. This is actually what the recorder got, what the Zoom M2 MicTrak recorded.


Oh, that is certainly a very loud beep. [laughs] You couldn’t possibly miss that. Anyone would think I’d said soup, or something.

And welcome! We are now recording, and I’m just moving around. I’m going to go by the computer because you’d think, yeah, with the computer recording at the moment, if it’s going to pick up RF, it might get a lot from the computer.

I am not getting any RF, I’m delighted to say. What else might produce RF in here? I mean, we’ll take it out shortly. Maybe the, the router.

Richard: Yeah. Where is the router?

Jonathan: Good question. I think it’s over here. Oh no no no. It’s on the, on the top over there. The unified, the little round, funny chubby thing.

Richard: Right. I see it.

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Richard: So it was just by the router there. Did you get anything?

Jonathan: And it picked up the fan noise of the router because it’s got a little fan in it. But it didn’t pick up any RF. So this is very encouraging so far. It does seem like Zoom is telling the truth when they say that the RF thing has it.

Now, there is another important thing that I believe this does, and that is that if you press record, … can you see the screen if I hold it this way, or should I hold it this way around? Can you see the screen?

Richard: Yes, yes.

Jonathan: So what do you see on the screen at the moment?

Richard: I see a waveform.

Jonathan: Yup, okay. And that’s all? So it doesn’t have time elapsed or anything?

Richard: Oh, it does. It does. A minute 30 so far.

Jonathan: Okay. So if I press the record button, I believe it will insert a marker in the file.

Richard: Yes. It said mark 1 on the screen for a moment. And now, it’s continued going.

Jonathan: So that is fantastic. And actually, because the record button isn’t quite as plonky when you press it, it’s not making that much noise.

Where this is useful is if you’re recording an interview with someone and you’re under some pressure, and you know that you’re not going to have the luxury of editing the whole thing but if there’s a real fluff that you need to go back to and fix. Or perhaps there’s something you might be recording for a news broadcaster and somebody said something particularly notable and you want to get right back to it, you can put the marker in the file. And then your digital audio workstation like Reaper, or Audacity, or whatever you’re using can navigate straight to that point in the file.

So that is a really nice feature. And I actually wish some of the other Zoom recorders would do this.

How do I stop it? Stop!

Richard: So I assume it’s the stop button, which next to the record button, it’s what I’d say to the left of it at the top.

Jonathan: So as the microphone’s facing away from you and the screen is orientated right, it’s on the left of record.

Richard: Yes.

Jonathan: Okey doke. We will press this now.

Recording into Reaper With the M2 as a USB Microphone

Now, I am recording with the USB mic function into Reaper using the standard Windows audio drivers. I have not been able to get this to work with ACO yet, and that could be just a configuration thing that I need to get sorted. But I am recording now into Reaper with the mic in USB mode.

I’ve got to tell you. Through the headphones, I am getting very bad RF, and I’m just moving around trying to get away from it. It is pretty noisy and quite unpleasant to listen to, a whining kind of sound. But I don’t know whether that is going to be picked up in what you hear. So we will just find out when I stop this recording.

As you hear, the recording was very clean, in fact.

So it does work as a USB microphone, but depending on the software with which you’re going to use the microphone, you may want to make one important change. By default, you will not hear yourself coming back through the headphones when you connect the USB cable. In fact, when you do that and you select USB microphone mode, you immediately, by default, will stop hearing yourself coming back through your headphones. This is because if you’re using a digital audio workstation like Reaper, you can turn monitoring on in the digital audio workstation itself. The advantage of doing that is that you’ll be able to hear any effects that you’ve got on the track like audio compression, equalization, etc.

Now, if you’re using a standard Windows application, those sorts of features are not typically available to you. And even if they were, there’d be a lot of latency. In other words, a little bit of a delay between when you talk and when you hear yourself coming back.

For that, you may want a feature called direct audio monitoring, which just allows you to hear the microphone coming back in your headphones the same way you do when you’re using the M2 MicTrak as a recorder standalone. For these instructions to work, you must already have connected your Zoom M2 MicTrak as a microphone, and we’ve covered how to do that when we went into the menu section earlier.

So assuming you are connected as a microphone at this point, the easiest way to do this is just to push menu, and then down enter, down enter, down enter. If you want to dissect that, what we’re doing is we’re pressing down to get to USB and then enter. You’re already connected at this point as a microphone, so you go down to direct audio monitoring and press enter. It’s off by default, so you go down to on and then enter. So once it’s connected, just remember, push menu, then down enter, down enter, down enter.

Now, here’s the cool thing. Once you’ve done this once, it stays on. It’s one of those settings that’s sticky. So if you’re always going to need direct audio monitoring enabled, then once it’s on, you won’t have to worry about it again.

When I tried this outside the studio with my ThinkPad, I got no RF at all. It was as clean as a whistle to listen through. So all the gear in here – it could be the mixer, it could be anything, might be a bit of an anomaly. It was just fine in terms of lack of RF when using my laptop.

When I was fooling around with this, I was reconnecting the USB cable a few times, and I found that I wasn’t always getting the expected behavior. I have no idea, of course, what was coming up on the screen.

And these are the compromises that we make with a device like this. The fact that we’ve spent so much time helping to put a cheat sheet together indicates the challenges that you have to write these things down, or memorize the things that you’re going to do. But then when something pops up on the display that you’re not expecting, you don’t necessarily know what it is.

So if you run into that issue where you connect a USB cable when you choose the option and nothing happens, what I have found is it’s actually way more reliable to choose the type of USB connection you want to make first before you plug a USB cable in. For me, that works every time. If I power the unit on, and then I press the menu key, and then I go right to USB and then I choose the type of USB device I want to connect, it always works. Sometimes it seems like that little menu that we saw before pops up where you can choose your USB device when a cable is connected. At other times, it just doesn’t seem to pop up. So I’d far prefer to get familiar with the thing that works almost every time.

Recording in the Field

What I’m going to do now, though, is get out of the studio with this thing. This is why I bought this mic, to have something that’s so easily portable that does a good job of recording, that I can just wander around with and get a good recording anywhere. So let’s see what happens when we just take it around the house.

We’re now doing an ultimate test, which is that we’re out of the studio environment. And I’m walking around deliberately.

I’m going to go up to the Sonos here, and where is the… There it is. We’re going to go right up to the Sonos speaker. It’s right against it now, and there’s no RF that I can hear. We’ve got the XY pattern working now. I’m just wandering around the house with this mic.

And Richard was observing at lunch that it doesn’t feel quite so rinky-dink when you’ve got batteries in it because it just adds a little bit of weight, and that is true.

I should also add that we have updated the firmware of the mic. When we did a check, 1.2 was available, and the way that… (And I’m just walking around here, by the way, and I’ve got the XY pattern going so you can get a kind of an acoustic sample of where we’re going.) The way this works is that you download a zip file from Zoom’s website, you extract that zip file, and there’s a file with a .bin extension. You copy that onto your SD card, and you can do that by taking the SD card out and using a card reader, or putting the MicTrak into SD card reader mode, and then you have to go in…

There’s the fridge. We’ll go into the fridge. Yeah, I mean, it’s picking up fridge noise, but not RF noise, so it definitely seems to be sorted.

You go into the system settings. And when you do the firmware, you’ll have an update option. You may need to connect it to a power source. And if you do that, the USB port, when it’s got the appropriate cable and power source at the other end, it will power itself from USB, and that also means that you can use a battery pack if you want to.

Welcome, Bonnie!

Bonnie: Hello!

Jonathan: This is the Zoom M2 Pug Track. No, MicTrak.

Bonnie: MicTrak.

Jonathan: MicTrak. I’m just heading towards you here.

Bonnie: I’m actually in the chair.

Jonathan: Oh, are you?

Bonnie: Yeah, I’m right here. There you go.

Jonathan: Yeah, here’s the mic.

Bonnie: Hello!

Jonathan: [laughs]

Bonnie: Hello, mic!

Jonathan: Yeah.

Bonnie: Uh-huh. Very cool!

Jonathan: Yeah, it does make a bit of handling noise, but it’s quite nice.

So definitely, if you want the XY effect, make sure that the display is at the top of the mic as you hold it, and then you’ve got the whole XY thing. So I’m looking around, and you can hear that.

Maybe we’ll just do one final thing, and we’ll try and go out. Should we go out on the balcony, Richard?

Richard: Yeah, sure.

Jonathan: Okay. It’s funny because I’ve got my microphones off in my hearing aid, so I’m monitoring exclusively through the mic, and it means my orientation…

Oh, okay. So, here’s the M… What do they call these? The R3. Era 300. Sonos Era 300. And the mic is right up close to the Era 300, and it’s a big magnet, that speaker. A big magnet. So it does seem to have sorted out its RF problems.

Alright. Yeah, here we go.

Richard: I’ll open the door.


Jonathan: Alright. We’re on the balcony now. It’s a moderately windy day. And we’re getting a little bit of wind noise, but nothing major.

What do you think of the windscreen on this, Richard? Do you think we’d be better served by a better windscreen?

Richard: Yeah, it looks pretty, like, bare-bones, the windscreen. A lot of mics will have, like, a built-in one, and then you’ll put in another one over the top. But with this one, the one you’ve got over the top is the only thing. If you take that off, you can… It’s just got a frame covering the capsules themselves. Like, no built-in windscreen below that.

Jonathan: How would you describe the windscreen? Because it’s quite cheap-feeling to me. What’s it made of?

Richard: It’s nylon, maybe? It’s like if you put, like, just a cheap sock over it.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Richard: Not a thick woolly sock. Just, like, a plain one.

Jonathan: Yeah. So it’s doing a nice job recording out here on the balcony. We’re picking up a bit of the noise of what’s…

We’re in a pretty quiet suburb. We actually overlook a reserve, so it’s quite quiet out here.


I’ll stop that recording with a final observation, which is that I detect just a tiny bit of DC offset in that recording which, for a microphone like this from a company like Zoom, is just a little bit of a concern. But I guess, not a show-stopper.

That’s the Zoom MicTrak M2. For me, it is a keeper.

We’ve gone through lots of settings, and that may make it seem a bit more daunting than it will be in real life. Because when it’s set up the way you like, you just switch it on, press the record button, you hear the beep, and you’re recording.

And all with something that if you have a garment that has a top pocket, for example, you could easily just carry it around in your top pocket and record. It’s a versatile little device, and the fact that its 32-bit float is a wonderful bit of icing on the cake.

I found mine on Amazon US at $199. It does seem to be pretty hard to come by in some markets, but Amazon supplied it to me very quickly. I ordered it on a Sunday, got it on a Friday, all the way here in New Zealand.

I hope you found this helpful. And if you buy one, I’ll be interested to know what you think.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to the Blind Podmaker list, where we discuss all sorts of gadgets and techniques around podcasting. You can send a blank email to That’s

Closing and Contact Info

And look at that! I may have technology problems, but I can’t resist the new gadgets.

And it’s time to go already. Thank you so much for your company once again this week.

Remember that when you’re out there working your guide dog, you’ve harnessed success. And with your cane, you’re able.


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