Tula is a neat new microphone for online content creators
Small in size, succinctly designed and simple to use, the Tula mic is a sound investment, whether you are recording music or words, or just boosting the quality of your Zoom calls
It’s refreshing to come across technology that eschews complexity in both form and function. The newly launched Tula microphone is pitched at the current generation of content creators, whether they’re musicians, podcasters or writers, a simple, meticulously designed object that excels at a very focused task: recording sound. Tula was set up by the American musician and tech entrepreneur David Brown last year. Brown, now based in Barcelona, is a touring and recording musician, as well as the co-founder of Soyuz Microphones, a boutique firm specialising in high-end recording gear, hand-built in Russia.
Tula is pitched at a different kind of consumer, using the simplicity of a USB connection with no loss of high fidelity. ‘I went into Best Buy in the US to check out their USB mics,’ Brown recalls. ‘I knew that I could make something that looked better and sounded better as well.’
Brown and his team found a way of optimising a noise-reduction algorithm from the Swedish company Klevgrand into the firmware of the Tula. ‘We’re the only mic with this system,’ he says, pointing out that ultra-compact device has a big fidelity advantage over its competitors.
That’s not all, because the Tula also looks and feels superb. Brown’s design philosophy is strongly influenced by Dieter Rams. ‘I’m a huge fan of his aesthetic, as well as his maxim that you should build things to last. I also like design from the 1950s and 1960s – things were more human.’ The way the Tula fits in your hand is no accident. ‘I couldn’t get dimensions quite right until I started using the golden ratio,’ he says. ‘It fits the human hand perfectly.’ Coincidentally, Brown believes that another very familiar form took a similar approach – the cigarette packet.
Brown believes strongly in excelling in a particular niche. ‘There’s no point in developing a product that already exists,’ he muses ‘For example, Soyuz has never competed with a class-leading dynamic microphone like the Shure SM57. Whoever does it best, let them do it.’
The Tula is screwed and snapped together, and uses high quality metals. The simple folding metal stand can be removed and replaced with a stand mount, and the headphone jack doubles as an input for a lavalier (hands-free) mic. There’s no dedicated app to download – you just plug it in via USB-C and go. ‘That approach appealed to Klevgrand as well – embedding their software in our hardware means the mic can be used across all platforms,’ he says.
Although musicians were his initial target market, Brown has seen audio creativity explode under lockdown. ‘I kept meeting people who wanted to start a podcast, for example,’ he says. ‘This device is about helping them.’ Even that mainstay of pandemic life, the Zoom call, is vastly enhanced by using the little $199 Tula’s advanced circuitry instead of your laptop’s inbuilt mic. Whether at your desk or out in the field, the Tula is a fine accompanist. §