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Auralex Acoustics MudGuard v2

Acoustical Shield for Microphones


by Phil O'Keefe

 



Acoustical shields for vocal microphones have become a very popular product category, and now several companies offer them. These shields provide spot treatment around the microphone instead of treating the entire room, typically by combining a mini gobo or acoustical screen with some sort of absorptive material to reduce unwanted ambience and acoustic reflections from the surrounding room surfaces. This also keeps reflected sound from hitting the mic, thereby limiting the amount of spill and ambience picked up by the microphone while recording. Auralex have recently updated and completely redesigned their original MudGuard microphone shield, so behold - the new MudGuard v2.





What You Need To Know

  • Part of the Auralex Iso Series of products, the Auralex MudGuard v2 is a compact and portable microphone isolation shield that reduces excessive room reflections and ambience that would otherwise be picked up by your vocal microphone and muddy up your tracks.

  • The MudGuard v2 measures 16" W x 10" D x 14" H  and weighs a bit under 4 pounds.

  • While intended primarily for use with vocal microphones, it's suitable for other instruments and sound sources, such as microphones placed in front of guitar amplifiers. This can be really handy when using ribbon microphones on amps, since many ribbons are bi-directional and may pick up more ambience than you want.

  • The Auralex MudGuard v2 uses a different shape then its predecessor. Instead of the usual concave dish shape found on most acoustical mic screens, which Auralex feels can concentrate and focus sound waves, the MudGuard v2 has convex surfaces facing inwards towards the microphone. These will tend to scatter and diffuse reflections instead of focus them.

  • The exterior shell is solid, non-perforated, and made from a textured black thermoplastic. The rear of the MudGuard v2 has a plate with a raised Auralex logo.

 

 

  • A metal L bracket is bolted to the thermoplastic shell of the shield with two bolts. The bottom of the L bracket extends into the semi-enclosed area inside the shield, and provides a place to mount your microphone and also to attach the MudGuard v2 to your microphone stand.

  • The microphone's placement within the shield can be adjusted forwards or backwards over a distance of about four inches. There's sufficient space to mount just about any type of side-address large diaphragm condenser microphone you want to use, although users of some popular large diaphragm end address dynamic microphones (SM7b, 421, RE20, etc.) may wish for a bit more depth and a bit more adjustment range.

  • Mounting hardware is included and the MudGuard v2 will easily mount to most microphone stands, although it is probably best suited for use with regular straight stands. If you're going to mount it on a boom, you'll need to make sure it's suitably counter-weighted for stability.

 

 

  • The MudGuard v2 is lined with 1.25" thick Auralex Studiofoam for absorption. The foam lining on the two sides of the MudGuard v2 is convoluted and has the signature Auralex wedge-shape, although the tips are slightly rounded compared to what you'll find on the Auralex 2" Studiofoam.

  • The center of the MudGuard v2 has a convex sheet of foam instead of the convoluted foam to complete the interior lining.



Limitations

  • As with all acoustic shields and screens, one side is left open; placing something absorbent behind the vocalist can further help reduce unwanted reflections and improve the quality of recordings done with the MudGuard v2.

  • The area around the periphery of the MudGuard v2 where the foam and plastic meet is a bit sticky in some spots. This is most likely from a bit of excess glue that holds the unit together.



Conclusions

I own and regularly use various other products in the Auralex Iso Series, and the MudGuard v2 is a useful addition to the lineup. Folks with no acoustical treatment in their rooms will appreciate how it allows them to record vocals that are plagued with fewer issues from excessive ambience and reflections.

Acoustic shields and screens are not miracle workers, and won't totally compensate for every acoustical abnormality in heavily acoustically challenged rooms, but they can make a noticeable improvement in your recording quality if you're in a highly reflective one. This is certainly true of the MudGuard v2.

The unique shape of the Auralex MudGuard v2 makes sense and should help to scatter rather than focus sound reflections, although I'm not really sure it makes all that big of a difference over the relatively short distances involved. It would be really nice to see some test measurements and data from a lab. However, the MudGuard v2 definitely does what they say it does in terms of reducing unwanted spill and ambience pickup, and because of that it will be a very useful tool for many recordists. -HC-

 

Join the discussion


Resources

Auralex Acoustics MudGuard v2 microphone isolation shield ($169.99 MSRP, $149.99 "street")

Auralex Acoustics MudGuard v2 product web page    

Auralex Acoustics MudGuard v2 product spec sheet



You can purchase the Auralex Acoustics MudGuard v2 from:

Sweetwater    

B&H Photo   














__________________________________________________

 




Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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