Project Brief.... . .
Decide on a product to focus on
Learn user pain points via interviews
Determine the target audience
*Redesign the product with special attention to the user experience
In our daily lives, we interact with many products with electronic controls and software interfaces.
Control it seeks to understand the user’s need for specific data, and supporting it by finding the best possible way to retrieve it through a clear interface.
Within the last two years, I have started to record and mix my own music. In order to learn Adobe Audition and Premiere, I used my Asus laptop’s built-in microphone, despite its low quality.
Because I am an audiophile, I started to learn about more recording options with microphones.
I soon learned of USB microphones and their convenience. These microphones are marketed to the casual user, avoid traditional complex interfaces, and are ready to plug into the computer and simple to setup. The price point is much lower then professional microphones, but they sacrifice very little quality.
What do you use a microphone for?
What microphone do you have?
Why did you purchase that microphone?
If any, what would you do to improve your experience when recording?
Are there issues you run into when using a microphone?
Common User Pain Points and Suggestions
Noise from adjusting settings
Noise from echo of room
Confusing audio symbols
Microphone position to mouth-level
No way to hold it comfortably/dismount fast
Bumping into objects with suspension boom
Areas of Improvement
Ergonomics and Mounting
A user wishes to have a microphone that will dismount with ease.
Microphones have a perfect cylindrical shape profile. Does not lend itself to being held ergonomically.
These are articulations of current USB microphones in the market.
The most successful design is center balanced.
Weight distribution of the Audio-Technica AT2020USB Plus is off-centered. By consequence, the microphone can tip over.
Weight distribution of the Yeti pro is balanced at the center.
A pop filter is a necessity when recording vocals. Using a filter reduces the harsh sounds produced when making “p” or “k” sounds.
The user found that the traditional pop filter is hard to mount.
Once mounted, the goose neck does not hold its position well and takes awhile to get it just right.
Once mounted, the goose neck must be adjusted to be directly in between the user and the microphone.
A user found that the symbols displayed on the interfaces of USB microphones did not clearly communicate which side of the microphone to speak from.
USB microphones only requires 5V and 500mA of power. By having it’s own power source, it becomes portable.
LCD interface for clarity and precision
Feedback from the product helps the user understand what they are inputting.
If the microphone is portable, data will still need to be accessed. Finding alternate ways to retrieve recordings will be needed.
Razer branding design cues
360° Pop filter
Besides being hard to work with, the traditional pop filter can only have one user recording at a time.
One of the selling points of USB microphones is having three condenser capsules and the ability to adjust them to dictate where you may record from. The max area of recording is 360°.
Since the traditional pop filter does not cover 360° of the microphone, the user can’t take advantage of the functionality.
Here I explore some ideas of how to remedy this.
When a louder sound is needed, a conductor typically increases the range of motion with a baton. Alternatively, when a quiet sound is needed, they decrease the range of motion.
Point and lift your finger, then lower it and associate it to sound. All that were asked agreed that the higher gesture indicated louder sound, while the lower gesture indicates a quieter sound.
Here, I adapt the concept for the interface of the microphone.
After deciding upon the gesture-based interface, features of the dial based interface of competing microphones were adapted. Controls were moved around to adjust for the interface.
In addition, styling has been applied in this step.
The design for the microphone is finalized by adding realistic dimensions in AutoCAD. Sizing was based off of previous generations of microphones.
The final idea was modeled in Solidworks according to the established dimensions.
This new take on a pop filter covers all sides of the microphone, encouraging the recording of vocals on every side.
In addition, it is extremely easy to setup. The cap lip is lined with a magnetic strip that latches directly to the microphone. In addition, it is compact enough to keep on the microphone when packing up.
The location of the mode dial has been moved to near the condenser microphones themselves. A frosted plastic diffuses the LED indication.
In addition, the symbol that correlates with the mode will be displayed on the LED screen.
No computer required
USB microphones can already plug into the computer and are ready to go. However, if the microphone has its own power source, the need for the computer is eliminated.
With internal memory and a power source in the base, you can take this microphone anywhere. Record your guitar at a campsite, or at a friends house, the possibilities are endless.
Gesture controls eliminate the need for dials and create an interface that is intuitive.
Selecting he headphone icon adjusts the volume of any headphones connected. The microphone adjusts gain, which is an increase in the power of the signal. When selected, the current setting being adjusted will appear in the LCD.
First, select either the microphone or headphone icon, then slide your finger on or near the slide bar. Sliding your finger up increases the setting while sliding down decreases the current setting.
The final design
This microphone represents this philosophy. By making interface intuitive and mixing in Razer’s branding language, this idea has the potential to tap into the casual recording market.