Joe Pug is the quintessence of the American singer-songwriter. His lyrics draw comparisons to such literary giants as John Steinbeck and Walt Whitman, and his story could well set up a great American novel: disillusioned with college, working in his father’s profession of carpentry, picking up a guitar, and eventually, his music bending the ear of country-rock superstar Steve Earle. Today, he tours and records on his own terms for a devoted fanbase and hosts the podcast The Working Songwriter. Recently, he discovered that the PDX720 dynamic studio vocal mic from Audix is as versatile as he is, producing stellar results on voices both sung and spoken. He spoke with Audix about his brilliant career, not to mention his use of the PDX720, an OM5 handheld vocal mic onstage, and A150 headphones in the studio.
Asked about his “big break” moment, he reflects, “Yes, there was one that let me quit pounding nails. I was the Chicago opener for a Texas songwriter named Rhett Miller when he came to town. Rhett passed my demo to none other than Steve Earle. Steve really liked it and straight-up invited me to come out on the road with him. That was my entrée into playing music for a living. Then the gigs just started coming, and other than during the pandemic, they’ve kept coming.
These days, you’re just as likely to find Joe at his podcast desk or cutting vocals — for himself or an act he’s producing — in the studio. Joe reaches for his PDX720 for sung studio vocals even more than, say, a large-diaphragm condenser. We asked him why.
“There’s a certain mic you see in front of a lot of podcasters and radio DJs,” he coyly suggests. “It’s rumored that Tom Petty and Michael Jackson cut most of their vocals with it. To me, it’s like the PDX is out to kill that mic, or be the new Cadillac version. Feature-wise, the PDX is very durable, clear, and balanced. On the back, a presence boost lets you hype the midrange. For a podcast, I don’t want that, but if I need a vocal to cut through a song, flicking this switch adds either 1.5dB or 3dB of boost, which saves me time EQ’ing.”
Another benefit Joe points to is the PDX720’s dynamic design, which he says imparts the exactly right degree of sensitivity. “It works perfectly in this world of project studios that are a step or two above what we might call bedroom studios,” he explains. “My room is not perfectly soundproofed because I don’t have $35,000 laying around just for that. Large-diaphragm condensers are great for pro studios, but they pick up everything — that’s the point, really. So, I’d better not cut vocals in October, leaf blower season here in Maryland! The PDX720 is sensitive enough to pick up all the detail of a singer who’s up on it, but it almost magically ignores unwanted noises from the outside world.”
When he’s playing live (“I tour like a stand-up comedian,” he says. “I want to be out on Wednesday and back to my family by Sunday afternoon.”) audiences will find him behind his OM5 handheld vocal mic. “Interestingly, where the PDX responds more like a live dynamic mic in that you can almost put your lips right on it, the OM is more like a studio condenser. It sounds best if you back off it a bit, but still has great rejection of onstage bleed.”
Joe’s most recent piece of Audix equipment is his pair of A150 headphones, which he says boast a similar sonic cleanliness to his mics. “What’s great about them is how well baffled and padded they are around my ears,” he observes. “I can work on a vocal with the cue mix just cranked up, and none of it bleeds, even if, say, a sensitive condenser mic is right nearby.
Audix began in 1984 and to this day their mission remains unchanged – to design, engineer and manufacture high‐quality microphones for the professional audio, live sound, recording and installation markets. With passion and ingenuity, the company strives to provide their customers with products that exceed expectations. The company’s headquarters in Wilsonville, Oregon is home for their research and development team, combined with an in‐house manufacturing facility. From concept to completion, the company prides itself on having high-performing products and a loyal customer base. www.audixusa.com
About Videndum Media Solutions
Videndum Media Solutions is a division of Videndum plc, an international group of companies serving customers in the growing content creation market. Videndum Media Solutions designs, manufactures, and distributes premium branded photographic and video equipment such as tripods; bags; filters; backgrounds; motion control; lights and microphones for professional and hobbyist photographers and video-makers; and content creators. Positioning Videndum Media Solutions as the leading global provider of accessories within the fast-growing digital multi-media content market, the portfolio includes the following premium brands: Audix; Avenger; Colorama; Gitzo; JOBY; Lowepro; Manfrotto; Rycote; Savage and Syrp Lab. All products are distributed on a direct basis in 11 markets across the world through Videndum Media Distribution, as well as many other markets through a network of qualified retail partners.
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