Microphone Shockmounts: The Better Solution
By Phil O'Keefe |
Forget clip and ring mounts—shockmounts are the best way to isolate your mic from mechanical shocks and vibrations
By Phil O'Keefe
Most readers are probably familiar with mic shock mounts - either from personal experience with them, or if nothing else, from seeing them in use in photos and videos. While many higher-end microphones include shock mounts as a "value added" accessory, most microphones don't come with shock mounts bundled with the mic. Even when they are included, I've noticed that not everyone bothers to use them. Hopefully this short article will encourage some of you to reconsider that.
Compared to using clip mounts and ring mounts to fasten your microphones to their stands, shock mounts (Fig.1) tend to be a bit more complicated. Most utilize an elastic band suspension system that cradles the mic and isolates it from physical shocks. While it can take a bit more time and effort to insert the mic into the shock mount when you're setting up, and to remove it when you're tearing down, the advantages far outweigh the extra effort involved. A shock mount physically decouples the microphone from the stand. This helps to prevent vibrations from the floor from traveling up the mic stand and causing noise in your recordings. This can be particularly helpful when trying to record things such as drum kits, where heavy impacts to the floor from the drummer's feet on the kick and hi hat pedals can often affect the microphones, but shock mounts can be beneficial whenever vibrations are present. This includes situations where the vibrations may originate from an amplifier that is sitting on the floor, or even from a singer or instrumentalist who enthusiastically taps their feet while recording. Other sound sources that can be attenuated with shock mounts include "room rumble" from noise sources such as air conditioners and even distant traffic sounds coming from outside the building.
Figure 1: Microphone shock mounts isolate the mic from external vibration and physical shock, and help keep impact noise out of your recordings
While these vibrations and "thumps" might not seem like much at the time, they can add up, and in some cases, even ruin an otherwise excellent recording. I always play it safe and use shock mounts whenever possible. Check with the manufacturer of your microphone to see if they offer a purpose-built model specifically for your mic. If so, this will often be your best option, but if such a unit isn't available, don't despair. While most microphones don't include them as standard accessories, shock mounts that can work with a variety of microphone models are widely available and relatively inexpensive. Adding a few to your collection and using them regularly will make a significant improvement to the quality of your recordings.
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Associate 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.