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3.5 Microphone Accessories

You are going to need a few more pieces of kit to get going. In this lesson you will learn about microphone stands, pop screens, and XLR cables.

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3.5 Microphone Accessories

You're going to need a few more pieces of kit to get going. And in this lesson, you will learn about microphone stands, pop filters and XLR cables. First, let's talk about microphone stands. You will find a few different styles of stands out there, but I would recommend a tripod style stand with a boom arm. The tripod legs will give you more stability compared to a round base stand. This will help if you are using a boom arm with a larger mic and a pop screen. I would recommend getting something that is a bit better than the cheapest stand out there, as stability is important. Condenser mics are delicate and you don't want one toppling over because you went with the cheapest stand you could get. I like this old Tama MS205 stand. This was my wife's stand that she used with her band, and it's 16 years old. A good stand will last many years, and it's a worthwhile investment. K&M and Ultimate Support also make very high-quality stands. I would look for a unit with a really beefy looking clutch and a metal support arm. And lots of other metal parts. Expect to pay between 50 and $100 USD for a quality stand. If you're going to be working at your desk a lot, you might want to consider a desktop microphone stand. You can actually get a short round base stand, but you may find that this is in the way a lot of the time. Another option is a swiveling desktop boom stand like the Rode PSA1 or the Heil PL2T and HB-1. These types of stands can be clamped or screwed to your desk and be moved in and out of position very easily. This is another area that you do not want to skimp on as you will be moving the stand quite a bit. A lighter duty cheap version of this type of desktop stand won't be able to handle the weight of a larger microphone, and will constantly sag and move out of position. Because I record voiceovers at my desk and I use a standing desk, I have an interesting solution for mounting my microphone. You seen it behind me throughout this course, just over my shoulder here. I took a short desktop stand, and put a boom arm on it. Now normally, this wouldn't be stable with the boom arm and microphone. But, I put a ten pound weight on the base, and in this configuration, it's perfectly stable. This gets the microphone right where I like to have it and out of the way of all of my screens. I like to have a boom stand on hand as well. And I will show you how to set up the microphone on a boom stand later in this course. Next, let's talk about a shockmount. A shockmount is a device used to hold the microphone and elastically isolate it from the mic stand. Usually these have three main parts. There's an inner frame that holds the microphone and an outer frame that attaches to the microphone stand. Elastic bands are used to isolate the inner frame from the outer frame, allowing the inner frame to move without touching the outer frame. Shockmounts are commonly used on studio microphones to prevent unwanted noise by isolating the microphone from variations that might otherwise be transmitted through the microphone stand. Without a shockmount, the microphone is much more sensitive to vibrations. And this can lead to a lot of problems in your recordings. This is especially true of large diaphragm condenser microphones, like this guy right here. A lot of large diaphragm mics will comes with a shockmount. Some have a special threaded mount that only works with a specific shockmount. And other microphones, like my AKG C3000B, can be used with a regular mic clip. But again, you're going to wanna use a shockmount when you're recording. If you are using a different type of microphone, like a small diaphragm condenser, dynamic mic, or shotgun mic, a shockmount is also recommended. You can find the shockmounts for these smaller diameter microphones for 10 to $15 USD online. If a large diaphragm mic didn't come with a shockmount, these can be picked up for between 15 and $50 USD, depending on the size and shape of the microphone. Another essential accessory is a pop filter. A pop filter or pop shield, is an anti-pop noise protection filter for microphones, typically used in a recording studio. The job of a pop filter is to stop the air bursts caused by the mechanical impact of fast moving air on the microphone. These air bursts come from aspirated plosives, like the ps in the word puppy. It also has the secondary benefit of blocking spit and saliva from hitting the microphone element. A typical pot filter, looks like this. You have some sort of acoustically semi-transparent material, like woven nylon, stretched over a circular frame. The frame is connected to a flexible mounting arm and clamp. Metal pop filters use a fine mesh screen in place of the nylon. You can DIY a pop filter that will work exactly like a professional unit by stretching tights or stockings over an embroidery hoop or a loop of wire such as a bent coat hanger. It's important that the pop filter is not attached directly to the microphone. As vibrations will be transmitted from the filter to the microphone. Usually pop filters are attached to the microphone stand. A pop filter is not the same as a wind screen. Pop filters are generally used in a studio environment, while wind screens are typically used outdoors. Wind screens do provide some protection against air bursts and saliva, but they may not be as acoustically transparent as a studio pop filter. Lastly, you're going to need an XLR cable to connect your microphone to the input of your audio interface, preamp, or portable recorder. When it comes to audio cables, I like to make my own, but I understand that not everyone enjoys that sort of thing. My advice when buying cables is this. Buy long and to get decent quality. I like to have mic cables that are a little bit longer than I think that I need. Too short almost never works, but too long, as long as it's not 20 feet too long, isn't usually an issue. There isn't any appreciable signal loss with a few extra feet of cable, so that's what I usually go for. I also like to get cables that are of decent quality. An XLR cable is pretty simple, but you wanna make sure that it's using quality cable and quality connectors. I like connectors from Neutrik and Switchcraft, but most of the cables that I've ever come across have been Neutrik Connex. When, I'm buying cables for a project, I usually go with CBI, Pro Co, Rapco, or Whirlwind cables. Now that you know what accessories you need to set up the microphone, you're ready to move onto the next lesson, where you're going to learn about monitors and headphones.

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