Generic VMworld Post

I’m compiling a bunch of topic specific posts on VMworld 2014. This post is about my general impressions as a first time VMworld attendee.

My perception is biased because I attended as press. Press (and analysts) see a very different show to that of other attendees, as do those on booth duty, those herding comms for vendors, and various other groups. It’s the same event seen from multiple, different angles, so I encourage you to read plenty of accounts to get a wider view on things.

Press and analysts get treated reasonably well. You get free food (most of the time) and get invited to a bunch of meetings/parties because vendors want you to write nice things about them and their products. You spend a lot of your time in windowless rooms full of press people furiously writing things, or briefings with execs. It’s kinda hectic. To give you some idea, here are the briefings I had during VMworld:

  • Pat Gelsinger, CEO VMward for 1/2 hour with other APJ journos
  • Martin Casado, VP of the NSX business unit at VMware for 1/2 hour with 2 other journos
  • Duncan Bennet, MD of VMware Australia, for 1/2 hour with other APJ journos and analysts
  • Howard Ting, head of marketing for Nutanix (and Josh Odgers) for an hour. Yes, Josh, you only rate a parenthesis. ;)
  • Michele Borovac, VP at HyTrust for 1/2 hour
  • 1/2 hour with Dell on upcoming product announcements

These don’t include the briefings I had via phone before the event. Most of this won’t make it into ‘print’ at iTNews.com.au because it’s either not ‘newsy’ enough, or not interesting enough to that broad an audience. I’ll try to work a lot of it into posts here, but I need to find an angle that’s interesting enough for you to read, and for me to write.

Biggest Show In Town

VMworld feels all encompassing, but if you walk two blocks in any direction, there’s a city filled with people who could hardly care less about the convention that’s in town this week. The Moscone centre hosts a lot of conferences throughout the year, so VMworld really isn’t that special from an external perspective.

But for those of us in the industry, this is the big gathering. VMworld has become the de-facto cross-industry conference now that all the trade-association conferences have mostly died out (after the death/rebirth of independent tech journalism). Logically, Interop should probably have taken up the mantle, but somehow that didn’t happen. I spoke to a bunch of people about this, and the consensus seems to be that because VMware is a hypervisor that needs compute, server, and storage infrastructure to be useful, all the other vendors have to be welcome here. It had just slightly enough extra people at it early on that the self-reinforcing nature of the network effect kicked in and more and more people picked this conference as the one to go to. There are other big conferences, don’t get me wrong, but VMworld feels like the major cross-industry conference while the others don’t quite have the same breadth.

Announcements

The announcements were a little odd this year. There was a half hour long motivational speech from Pat Gelsinger that utterly failed to resonate with the reasonably technical crowd. The middle third, another 30 minutes, was a rapidfire exposition of major announcements, but none of them really got the “wow!” response they probably deserved. EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK are a very big deal, as is the vCloud Air announcement. The Docker announcement is interesting, but I don’t think it’s as profound as others seem to think. The Google/nVidia/Chromebook partnership is nifty, but I’m not sure it’s that important.

Maybe VMware were trying to be low-key, but I suspect the subtlety was unintentional.

There is an odd obsession with VDI at the moment, and while I’m sure it matters for a few people, it’s just not that widespread a use-case. I don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me and show me why it’s worth so much attention compared to, I dunno, production server workloads. Databases, app servers, that sort of thing.

Storage, Storage, Storage

There were an astounding number of storage vendors on the show floor this year. Someone told me there were 32 different vendors doing storage things. 32! Who knew storage could be so busy or interesting? There is so much activity that it’s hard to see when the consolidation phase will really kick in. From what was happening at VMworld, it looks like at least a year away.

I managed to get time with a large number of vendors at VMworld doing research for my Buyer’s Guide to Primary Storage, which was excellent. Multiple times the issue I’m aiming to address was brought up without my prompting: how on Earth does a customer figure out what storage to consider, let alone buy?  There’s almost too much choice.

Friends

The best part of VMworld was seeing all my nerd friends. I got to hang out with some of my favourite people in the world and just geek out in ways that I don’t get to do most of the time. That part of the vibe of VMworld was very strong, and if VMware can keep that, they’ll have a conference worth going to for a while yet.

These things are fragile, though, so I don’t expect it to last forever. If VMworld starts to suck, people will just move on to something else. We need somewhere to hang out and be social together, so if it isn’t VMworld, something else will rise up as the new choice.

VMworld 2014 Disclosure

Here is my traditional post where I disclose all the schwag and corporate largesse that I have accepted as part of attending a conference event.

I do this because I am well aware of the bias inducing aspects of accepting these gifts, and it seems to help me keep from getting too won over. Companies do this to make you like them more, and it works. Given that I’m inside my own brain, it’s hard for me to objectively evaluate just how much influence these companies have over me in exchange for shiny baubles and booze. By putting it all down in obsessive detail, I hope to let you make up your own mind how much to trust my opinion.

There and Back Again

I attended VMworld 2014 as a guest of VMware, travelling as a journalist on assignment to cover the conference for iTNews.com.au. This means VMware paid for my ticket to VMworld, return economy flights (on Qantas/American Airlines), and accommodation during the event. I paid for two additional nights myself (at a different hotel) because I wanted to arrive a couple of days early and adjust to the local timezone, see some of the surrounds, and attend a bunch of pre-conference activities on Sunday.

Prior to VMworld, Tintri sent me a black golf shirt embroidered with my twitter handle on the left breast and a single star indicating I’m a first time vExpert. Other people have five or more stars. The Tintri logo is on one sleeve, so tastefully understated, which is nice.

Friday 22 August

I paid for all my own incidentals and meals. Various people bought rounds of drinks out of their own pockets, as did I. I’ll be claiming mine as part of cash expenses involved in living away from home.

Saturday 23 August

Incidentals and meals were again paid for myself.

I bought myself a new phone because I managed to lose mine the night before. I am now wrestling with a Verizon custom ROM that locks me out of functions of my own device that I specifically bought because it was unlocked and needed to work overseas. It looks like I bought slightly the wrong model and now I can’t use Telstra 4G because it’s on the one frequency this phone doesn’t have. Grr.

Sunday 24 August 2014

I ran in the charity Fun Run, which I paid for myself. I got a t-shirt and a personal best time for my efforts, as well as a small bottle of water, some caffeinated jubes, and a small packet of cereal ball things. Just the thing for recovering from a 5k run after no breakfast.

VMworld gave a bag of stuff to all attendees, from which I kept these items:

  • The backpack, which will replace another very old backback my son uses for swimming gear that has finally disintegrated.
  • A spun-aluminium water-bottle with one of those screw-in lids with a hole for attaching to things.
  • The VMworld 2014 t-shirt.
  • A VMworld 2014 notepad.

I moved my stuff from the hotel I paid to be at (the W San Francisco, a modern/hip/funky hotel) to the InterContinental, a nice hotel with a more mainstream feeling.

Simon Sharwood from The Register very kindly bought me lunch at a place at the Ferry Building: a very tasty ham sandwich and a cola drink that was called “Real Cola” or something, and yet contained no caffeine at all. #sadface.

I met up with Doug Fallstrom from Coho Data, who bought me a coffee and explained their product line and philosophy to me.

I donated $5 to the Wounded Warriors charity #v0dgeball event, and got a handsome embroidered headband I can wear to annoy my wife. I also got to see Joe Onisick in bunny ears.

Dinner was courtesy of VMware, a press event at Luce restaurant at the InterContinental. This was a sit-down, 3 course meal with some lovely local wines. I had a beer, one glass of white, and one of red, matching wines with food.

Earlier in the day, I had a good chat to Peter Smith from Infinio about the new version 2.0, and the lovely Carrie Reber gave me a pass into the VMunderground party, which I attended. I had a couple of beers, and got a little light-up plastic imitation ice-cube thing with Infinio branding. It lights up when you close the contacts with a liquid, like in a drink, or sticking it on your tongue, which my son finds hilarious.

Monday 25 August 2014

The first big day of the conference. I had breakfast in the press room; a ham and cheese croissant, some fruit, and a scone-like pastry thing. I also drank what was labelled as “Seattle’s Finest Coffee” which is both hilarious and sad.

I spent some time on the show floor, and picked up the Tegile vExpert gift of a 2200mAh USB power brick, and a fleece pullover custom-embroidered with my twitter handle and vExpert 2014 on it. The logo is on the back of the neck, and is tastefully understated, plus it actually fits me well.

Lunch was in the press room, and they’ve all blurred together now. I think today was some sort of lasagne thing. I had a can of Dr Pepper, which I am a big fan of when I’m in the USA.

I attended the Influencer reception (basically press and analysts) at the St. Regis hotel and had a beer while chatting about various bits and pieces with other attendees (including compatriot Paul Wallbank). Then it was off to the SolidFire party at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, and a lovely chocolately ale thing. The Tech Field Day crew were there, and I managed to say hi to CEO Dave Wright, though I doubt he remembered who I was. I also finally met Hans de Leenheer in the flesh.

I popped in to the Tegile party next door for a brief time, and nursed a beer while chatting with a fellow vExpert whose name unfortunately escapes me.

Lastly I stopped in at the Nutanix party, bumping into @discoposse and the Tech Field Day crew again, and was just in time to sing happy birthday to CEO Dheeraj Pandey. I had a gin and tonic and a bottle of water, and a chat with Dheeraj, Tom Hollingsworth, and Stephen Foskett, though Dheeraj and Stephen had more to talk about than we mere hangers on.

I had a client conference call from midnight Pacific Time, and somewhere along the way I’d forgotten to have a proper dinner, so I paid for a room-service chicken club sandwich out of my own pocket. It was very tasty, though that might have just been because I was hungry.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Tuesday started with a 7:30am briefing with Pat Gelsinger (I grabbed a bottle of water) before breakfast in the press room. I forget what breakfast was, but it was nothing amazing, I assure you.

I walked the show floor again, catching up with various vendors, mostly storage ones, doing research for my upcoming Buyer’s Guide to Primary Storage. Micron Storage gave me a bacon scented t-shirt for listening to their spiel, and I was also given a 120Gb Micron SSD because they couldn’t find a USB stick. It will be going into this desktop machine I’m using now as cache once I find the time to install it.

Nimble storage gave me a vExpert 2014 t-shirt, which is too big and will become a painting/gym shirt or get donated to charity. SolidFire were giving away pairs of cycling socks, and I wish I’d grabbed more than one pair, because they’re quite good!

Tuesday night was a bunch of parties again. First stop was the HyTrust party at Press Club, where I had 2 glasses of very nice local Zinfandel and a great catchup with my friend Sarah Vela from Dell. I also met the famous Guruimran Khalsa as I was about to leave.

Next stop was the Highland Capital Partners party, where I bumped into good friend Howard Marks, and the folks from X-IO Storage. I had a couple of glasses of red, not quite as nice as the Zinfandel I must admit.

I popped into the vExpert dinner venue, but had largely missed the crowd by now, alas. I fairly quickly moved on to #vBacon, and nursed a glass of wine while chatting to John Troyer, Phoummala Schmidt, and the irrepressible Amy Lewis.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Another day, another press room breakfast involving a substance almost but not quite entirely unlike coffee.

Lunch was courtesy of Nutanix, at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company, after a substantial briefing with Howard Ting and Josh Odgers on the company and its plans. This was particularly apropos after my article published the day before. More on this anon. Lunch was bain marie shrimp with a cajun spice (I was feeling brave, and suffered no ill-effects, plus it was reasonably tasty), and I had a diet coke.

The afternoon was some more time on the show floor, and a 5-hour energy thing courtesy of X-IO Storage.

Dinner was some ricepaper rolls I paid for myself. I went to the VMware party briefly, and had a couple of glasses of cheap red wine out of a plastic cup (classy!) before bailing for the vBeers Tweetup organised by Hans de Leenheer at Mikeller bar. Lots of great conversations, and I also finally met Calvin Zito in person. Drinks were bought out of my own pocket, though again we bought drinks for one another, so it probably mostly evened out, but I might well owe someone a beer at some point in the future.

I rounded out the evening by catching up with folks at #vStogies, and finally met up with my good friend Bob Plankers who gave me one of his cigars that he had brought in a portable humidor. This is a man who takes cigars very seriously indeed. I quit smoking years ago, so it was somewhat wasted on me. I also had a beer, which I paid for.

There may or may not have been some karaoke after that. My lips are sealed.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Thursday was field trip day, and I went on the press bus out to the VMware campus in Palo Alto after another press room breakfast.

Lunch was catered, and had a wonderful salad of leaves, summer berries, and lightly candied pecans alongside some chicken and beef bain marie things.

I honestly can’t remember what I did for dinner on Thursday. I’ll update this post if I do.

Friday 29 August 2014

I skipped breakfast on Friday in favour of a sleep-in, and had lunch with Mike Laverick at Mel’s Diner, paid for ourselves.

The rest of the trip home was also incidentals out of my own pocket.

If there’s anything I’ve missed, do let me know and I’ll update this post.

VMworld Mobile Toolchest

 Update: Check out the #AdviceForVMworld tag on Twitter for more helpful hints from conference veterans, and add your own!

Update: Additional options for survival packs during VMworld

Conferences are a bit like camping: it takes you a few attempts before you figure out a good packing regime. You need to figure out if you’re carrying all your gear around the whole time, of if you’re car-camping and can take a bunch of heavier stuff that stays put the whole time. There was that time you forgot your socks, or took too many shirts, and the time you found the perfect container for teabags.

I’m not a road warrior by any means, but I cover a bunch of events both locally and internationally, and since I live in Australia, I’ve got the long-haul flight thing down nicely by now. It’s also skewed towards journalistic endeavours, so I’m taking a bunch of gear most people won’t need.

Here’s my plan. If you have suggestions for improvements, let me know in the comments, or just share your approach.

Surviving Long-Haul Flights

First let’s define long haul. From Australia to the continental US is a 14 hour flight. The door-to-door journey for me averages about 22 hours with all the waiting around you end up doing.

I prefer a window seat so I can sleep resting against the bulkhead/window. I also don’t get disturbed by people wanting to go to the toilet just as I managed to finally fall asleep. Other people prefer the aisle, and that’s fine too. You enjoy unrestricted access to the bathroom whenever you want, but you also get your elbows bumped by aircrew as they go past, and you get me clambering over you just as you manage to finally fall asleep.

There are also a few choice items you should obtain if you’re doing a lot of long-haul flying.

A carry-on bag that fits under your seat

I’m a relatively short 5’6″, so legroom is never a problem for me. I keep my carry-on bag with me so I can get at stuff throughout the flight, and I travel relatively heavy because of the media gear I take (on which more below), so I check a bag.

Don’t be one of those people who stuff huge bags into the overhead lockers. Check your bag, or travel light.

Travel Documents

Duh.

A Screw-top Water Bottle

Staying well hydrated is important if you want to avoid jetlag. The airconditioning in planes dries out the air, and you won’t notice how much moisture you lose just from breathing and sweating. You will feel several hundred percent better on arrival if you drink plenty of water throughout the flight, and the aircrew won’t supply you with enough refills unless you travel business class. Bring your own water supply, at least 500mL, preferably a full litre.

Buy a bottle of water with a screw-top lid. You want a screw-top because of changes in pressure when the plane goes up and down. A sports bottle with a pop-up lid will pop-up mid-flight and leak water everywhere, probably through your expensive electronics and all over your passport.

If you buy the bottle before going to the airport, it’s a lot cheaper, but make sure you drink all the water first, or tip it out before you get into the security line. Because airport security is 99% ineffective theatre, you’re not allowed to take even partly filled bottles of water through security. Yes, it’s stupid.

Either buy an expensive bottle of water once you clear security, or just fill up your pre-bought empty one at one of the drinking fountains.

If you have a connecting flight and have any sort of security clearance between you and it, make sure you drink all the water or empty it out. Chugging half a litre of water before you get on a flight means you’ll need to pee right in the middle of the flight delay when you can’t leave your seat.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

I have a set of Sennheiser PXC 350 headphones with active noise cancelling. They take 2 AA batteries that last for days, so I charge them up before I leave and then I don’t have to worry about them running out of power. These make the background hum of the engines disappear almost completely, so you can actually hear the in-flight entertainment audio. If you do a lot of travel, trust me, noise cancelling headphones are worth the investment.

Ridiculous Head-Rest Thing

You know those neck-pillow things you see people with? They work, but they’re not neck-pillows. They’re supposed to be vertical, between your head and the headrest, and the donut shape holds your head in place when you recline to sleep. Everyone you see with it around their neck is doing it wrong.

I bought an inflatable one so it packs down small and can live in my travel bag so I never forget it. It’s not quite as luxurious as the ones people have strapped to their luggage, but neither is economy air travel, and who needs a zillion things hanging off their bags?

Surviving a Week Long Conference

Conferences are an endurance event, not a sprint. Get into that mindset.

Plan breaks and rest, and try to eat reasonably well. Yes, you can indulge, but if you go overboard on day one, you’ll suffer for the rest of the week.

Keeping reasonably busy will keep the tiredness at bay, because you won’t notice as much, but a quick nap of about 20-30 minutes mid-afternoon will recharge your human batteries a surprising amount. Combine it with a small snack, and you’ll be recharged for the afternoon and evening.

Your Trusty Water Bottle

Staying well hydrated makes it that much easier to get through the day. Caffeine only gives you a temporary boost, and sticking to water (particularly if you’re hungover) will get you through the day much better than endless caffeine. Also, conference centres are air-conditioned, so the air is dried out just like on planes. You need to put moisture back into yourself.

Afternoon Sugar

It also helps to avoid a lot of sugar, because sugar only gives you a temporary spike in energy. However, a quick hit of sugar mid-afternoon is a good idea, because it helps refresh the self-control bits of your brain. There’s some decent, proper science that supports this idea, and extra self-control is probably going to help you later in the afternoon/evening.

So go ahead and have that donut, but maybe stick to just one.

Berocca

I have no idea what it’s called elsewhere in the world, but in Australia we have this stuff called Berocca. It’s basically vitamin B in an effervescent tablet you drop into a big glass of water. Have one of these every night before going to sleep if you party at all. For starters, it’ll force you to drink a bunch of water (make sure it’s a big glass, the bigger the better, or use your water bottle from earlier), which you probably didn’t do in between all those shots, and secondly it’ll help replace some of the vitamins you stripped out of yourself with the alcohol. You’re far more likely to wake up feeling human if you do this. It won’t prevent a hangover if you went really hard, but it will take the edge off.

It’s made by Bayer, the same people who make Confidor™ and Canesten™, so you know it’s full of Goodness™.

Vendor Survival Packs

A couple of vendors are offering survival/recovery packs to keep you going through the week.

Coho Data (@cohodata) are offering a survival kit to fellow vExperts with electrons, a shirt, bottle opener, and an energy drink. Just drop by their booth #835.

XIO Storage (@XIOStorage) are also offering Hangover Recovery Kits at their booth #705.

Comfy Shoes

Find shoes you can stand up in all day, because you’ll spend a lot of time standing, and you’re probably not used to it, because we tech people spend all day sitting.

I have a great pair of custom-made boots that work with a suit or jeans that are comfy enough to wear all day. I still end up with tired feet, but I’m not in agony. I swap to a second, more casual and comfy pair of shoes if I get a chance to change before heading out of an evening, which helps to save my feet.

Wear the most comfortable shoes you can get away with in your role at the conference. If you do booth duty a bunch, invest in comfy shoes that work with whatever you have to wear when on booth. Future you, and your future feet, will thank you.

Tech Stuff

Try to pack light, so you don’t have too much gear to a) carry around and b) leave behind.

Electrons

Bring plenty of electron storage. You’ll need to judge how much you need based on your past experience of how fast you chew through power, because it’s so variable based on what you do (phonecalls, tweeting, taking photos). I have a Powertrip by Powerstick.com (courtesy of EMC from Storage Field Day 5) that holds 5700mAh, which is a goodly amount in not a lot of weight, and can be easily plugged in to mains power recharge. I also have another 2200mAh thing courtesy of Dell as a backup.

I bring a power adapter plug, because we have a different system here in Oz, but happily all my devices these days can deal with 100-220V power. I also bring a powerboard so I only need one adapter plug and can then plug in a bunch of other stuff, but I leave the board in my hotel room. Everything else runs off USB cables.

Connector Cables

Bring spares. If nothing else, you’ll make an instant friend when someone inevitably calls out for some obscure Apple branded non-standard cable that you happen to have with you. Or a mini-USB instead of micro-USB cable.

And if you leave your main cable behind on day 1, you won’t be stranded for the rest of the week with plenty of electron storage devices but no way to recharge them.

Laptop

I bring mine, because I’m either blogging or journalisming. If you’re not, don’t bring your laptop. They’re heavy and expensive and will slow you down and hurt your back and feet. If your phone isn’t enough, maybe bring a tablet.

I ditch mine after the daytime part of the conference and get by with just my phone.

Local SIM

Roaming data charges from Australia are super-expensive, and phone calls are worse. You can generally get by with the free WiFi at hotels and the like, but inside conferences, the WiFi gets utterly slammed. Even at Cisco Live, where you’d think they might know the odd wireless engineer. And if you go mobile away from buildings, you have no data to look at Google Maps and figure out where to go in a strange city. And no Twitter. Whatever did we do before smartphones, eh?

A local SIM that works for your phone is a good idea, and pre-paid means you’re less likely to get hit with surprise charges. I’ve used T-Mobile a couple of times in the San Francisco/Bay Area and it’s worked well. You can order a SIM over the Internet and have it arrive at your hotel ready for you when you get there.

Audio Gear

You probably don’t need this, but I bring my Zoom H6 for recording interviews, as well as an external mic, 2 wired lav mics, an XLR cable and some other custom cables. In a pinch, my phone will do.

That’s my plan, anyway. What are you going to bring to VMworld?

Audio Recording Gear

My good friend Craig Waters (@cswaters) recently asked me about my audio gear on Twitter, and suggested I write it up. Hopefully this will help others who, like me, are relative newbies to audio and so don’t understand all the highly technical lingo.

Zoom H6, the Heart and Soul

The centre of my audio recording setup is a Zoom H6. It is a wonderful piece of kit. Utter overkill for the amateur, but I’m terribly pleased I invested in it when it was on special. I picked it up from sounddevices.com.au for under $500.

The two microphones it comes with are an X-Y, for left-and-right channel sound when you point it straight at something, and a mid-side microphone, which can record left and right sound as well as the ambient noise around you. With the mid-side microphone, you can use audio processing software to remix the left and right channel balance as well as the amount of “ambience” around the main audio.

The H6 also has 4 other inputs for XLR and 1/4″ style plugs that are the standard for most audio gear. Microphones tend to have XLR plugs, and guitars and keyboards tend to have 1/4″ stereo plugs.

XLR socket (left) and plug (right)

XLR socket (left) and plug (right)

 

1/4" plugs, mono left, stereo right

1/4″ plugs, mono left, stereo right

Microphones

There is an incredible amount to know about microphones if you want to dig into it, and I know almost none of it. But I’ve learned a couple of handy tips in the past few months.

There are 2 major types of microphone: dynamic ones, that are cheap to make and have decent dynamic range for voices. These are the ones you’ll find at your neighbourhood music shop, and they can take a real beating. “Dropping the mic” is unlikely to break them. The second kind are called condenser mics, and they’re what go into the high-end pro microphones that cost hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars. Condenser mics require power to work, and the Zoom H6 can supply that power, called “phantom power”, and at multiple voltages: 48V, 24V and 12V. The standard is 48V. Only the four external outputs can get phantom power, not the modular microphones that plug in to the top.

I bought a halfway decent dynamic mic from my local music shop, and it has worked just fine with the H6 and doesn’t require phantom power.

There’s also a thing called “plug in power” which is what smartphones and iPads and the like do for their microphones to work. They run off much lower voltages under 10V usually, and won’t work without this power.

I bought a couple of cheap ($30) lavalier (clip-on lapel type) microphones (PylePro PLM3) and these require plug in power to work because they’re condenser mics. Because I’m an idiot, I couldn’t get them to work with the H6 at first, but only because you have to turn on “plug in power” in the settings, like this:

Enable plugin power on Zoom H6

Enable Plugin Power on the Zoom H6

Once you turn that on, the mics work just fine.

Stereo from Mono

These lavalier mics are monophonic, not stereophonic, so they only put sound on one channel. It goes on the left channel, because of the way the plugs are designed: the shaft is the ground, left signal is the ‘tip’, while right channel is the ‘ring’ on a stereo plug. Mono plugs don’t have the ‘ring’, so the right channel is connected to ground.

Because I thought my mics were having problems due to the mono plug (because I didn’t really know anything before doing this investigation) I went and bought some mono plugs from a local electronics hobbyist store so I could wire up a mono to stereo adapter cable. As a bonus, I figured I could send the mono signal from one microphone to the left channel, and send the other mic to the right channel. Then I could record from two lav mics at once, into a single stereo channel.

I used an old stereo to RCA cable (the kind you used to use for component audio on VCRs. Remember those?) and just chopped off the RCA ends. The wires on this cable have ground on the outside and signal on the inside, so I just stripped back the ends and soldered it to the mono plugs.

 

Custom dual-mono to stereo plug

My custom dual-mono to stereo plug on the left, with mono plug lavalier microphone on the right

Once I’d turned on plug in power, this cable let me run both lav mics at once, with one recording on the left channel, and one on the right, using the LR channel on the H6. As an added bonus, this cable means I can use these mics on anything that accepts a stereo 3.5mm plugin power microphone input, including computers, and I already have 3.5mm to 1/4″ plug converters.

The one downside to this approach is that I can’t use the mid-side or X-Y mics at the same time as using the lav mics, because I have to use the plugin power socket on the X-Y mic to make them work. Still, if I need ambient background, I can use my dynamic mic to record it and muck around with software to change the way things sound.

My audio software of choice is Audacity, but more on that another time.

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