What is a microphone shock mount, and why do you need one? At first, this may not seem like a big deal because there are several ways to remove low-frequency rumble. I will detail everything you need to know and why shock mounts are helpful in the following sections.
A good microphone shock mount will hold the microphone steady like any other mount. The most significant benefit of a shock mount is keeping the microphone stable, and it will prevent the microphone from picking up structure-borne noise.
What Is a Microphone Shock Mount?
A microphone shock mount is a specially designed mount for studio settings. Unlike most accessories, they do not only provide a way to mount the mic to a boom arm; they also serve the purpose mentioned above.
They are designed to hold the mic without contact to prevent low-frequency rumble pick-up, which is done using suspension mounts.
The majority of the mount is made of either plastic or metal. The part that comes in contact with the microphone is separate from the rest of the mount, and elastic materials connect these two sections.
This combination of non-elastic and elastic materials allows the mic to move on its own and stay where you want it. The flexible connectors are the most valuable parts of the design. Otherwise, the mic would pick up every vibration passing through the mic stand or boom arm without them.
What Types of Shock Mounts Are Available?
All shock mounts follow that same basic design. However, there are a few varieties available. The most significant differences come from the type of microphone the mount is meant for, although there are sometimes different types of the same microphone style.
The main types are the following.
- Cat’s cradle.
- Plastic elastomer.
- Elastic band pencil mic.
Even if you didn’t know what they were, you’ve probably seen a cat’s cradle shock mount. This style is designed for large microphones. They are simple structures; the interior is connected to the exterior by elastic bands on the top and bottom. These bands are usually covered in fabric.
Another style of shock mount for large microphones is similar in style. The most significant difference is that plastic elastomers connect the inner and outer portions. This style will often look like a smaller cat’s cradle mount.
The benefit to plastic elastomers is their durability because elastic bands will wear out over time. Plastic elastomers are also used for shock mounts designed for other mics.
Then, there are elastic band mounts for pencil mics. These look like tubes with netting at each opening. The pencil mic is fed from one side and placed in the middle of the elastic bands. This design is different from the cat’s cradle in that there is only one section.
As mentioned above, there are elastomer shock mounts for other mic styles. The ones for pencil mics have two sections: the mount for the stand and the mount for the mic.
Other microphone styles follow a similar enough design to the above types.
How Does a Shock Mount Improve Recording Quality?
You may be wondering how suspension mounts could improve the quality of a recording. The answer has to do with how sound is transmitted.
A sound is essentially just a vibration. We typically think about how the air around us carries this vibration, but these vibrations can also travel through solid objects.
The sounds that travel through solid objects can be caused by footsteps, tapping a mic stand, or even heavy trucks outside a studio. A microphone can pick up these sounds if it isn’t on a shock mount. When this happens, your recording can be ruined by the consolidated sounds. Since there is no way to stop these various noises from occurring, you need to be able to make sure your mic doesn’t pick them up.
The shock mount eliminates these sounds using the elastic or elastomers that isolate the microphone. The sound waves aren’t able to travel through the suspension material and other materials. Suppose the person being recorded accidentally bumps the mic stan. In that case, you won’t pick up anything in the recording, saving time and preventing the mic from picking up general low-end rumble.
Since low-frequency rumbles can come from familiar sources, it isn’t easy to prevent them from occurring. Even air conditioning systems can be a factor.
Why Is a Shock Mount Better Than Other Options?
As difficult as it is to prevent low-frequency rumble, other ways can prevent it from showing up on a recording. While a shock mount is one of them, what makes it a great option? First, let’s go over the alternatives.
- Low cut.
- Anechoic chamber.
You can use a low-cut filter to remove low-frequency rumbles in most situations. This option is an inexpensive method to remove sounds below a specific frequency cut-off. Unfortunately, there can be several problems with using a low cut.
Sometimes the unwanted sounds will be above the frequency cut-off. You either have to leave it in or remove some of the frequencies above your cut-off when this happens. This technique can lead to cutting out sounds you wanted. Additionally, some instruments and singers create sounds below a typical cut-off, and removing these sounds can affect the fullness of a performance.
Another solution for low-frequency rumbles is an anechoic chamber. A well-designed room will be able to mute outside sounds, and this would help a lot for several of the sources.
Unfortunately, this solution is hardly perfect. A room such as this will be expensive to set up or rent and doesn’t solve any low-end rumbles coming from inside the room.
A shock mount ensures that your mic won’t pick up low-end rumbles, so you don’t have to remove your low frequencies, unlike a low cut. You won’t have to sacrifice the fullness of a recording. Additionally, they are relatively cheap.