Lyre, lyre, your mic’s on fire!
Is it just me, or are microphones getting more and more exotic?
To accommodate all these weird shapes, sizes and different weights, each microphone now seems to come with its own, custom-designed shock mount.
What amazes me is this.
The most inexpensive mics often ship with a cat’s cradle suspension system, whereas some of the big boys demand top-dollar for shock mounts that are sold separately.
It’s as if you’re buying a high-end mountain bike that does not come with a proper seat.
I recently ran into that problem when I got my Microtech Gefell M 930 Ts. If you’ve read my review you know that I adore this nifty little thing. Because it’s a pretty sensitive microphone, a proper shock mount is no luxury item. It is a necessity.
Here’s the thing: the M 930Ts is an exceptionally small large condenser and it does not fit into a regular shock mount. Of course Gefell will happily sell you the one they make for a little over $300, but that’s just outrageous for a wire frame and some elastic bands.
But there’s more to this story than my mini microphone.
In my quest for a more universal, durable and modern suspension, I stumbled upon Rycote, a family run business in Gloucestershire, UK. Founded in 1969 by film and television sound recordist John Gozzard, the company became first known for its furry microphone windshields.
Forty years later, Rycote products can be found in television studios and on film sets all over the world. In 2000, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences recognized Rycote by a Technical Achievement Award, but the company certainly did not rest on its laurels.
INTO THE 21st CENTURY
A few years ago, Rycote came up with the ingenious InVision™ shock mount system for side-address studio microphones. It is based on the patented vibration-resistant Lyre™ suspension.
Rycote’s shock mount is made out of lightweight plastic and has an inner and an outer ring, just like the more traditional mounts. Here’s what’s new: the inner ring that holds the microphone is not suspended by elastic bands, but by four W-shaped Lyre™ clips attached to the outer ring.
The Lyre™ clips (red in the picture) are not the only part of what makes this shock mount both unique and universal. What holds the microphones in place is a miniature version of a Christmas tree stand: four screw clamps with rubber tips.
Attached to the inner ring, they can secure microphones of different sizes and shapes with very little effort.
There are several versions of the InVision™ Studio line. The regular USM (Universal Shock Mount) is for microphones between 1 and 55 mm, weighing 400–750 grams.
The USM-VB (just introduced at NAMM) is for mics between 55–68 mm weighing up to 900 grams. My test model is the USM-L for mics between 18–55 mm, weighing up to 400 grams.
Rycote’s compatibility chart (PDF) tells you which mount you will need for which microphone.
My demo mount (an evaluation loan from US distributor Redding Audio) came just in time, as I was about to test several microphones, one of which was my small new baby, the Gefell M 930 Ts. With the help of a 5/8 inch brass thread adapter (included) it was a breeze to attach the mount to the mic stand. In less than ninety seconds, my Gefell was safely suspended in mid-air.
I won’t say that you can’t screw this up because you have to.
The InVison™ mount revealed one surprising but very welcome detail: a clever cable clamp close to the thread, separating the microphone cable from the boom arm. This prevents vibration traveling through the cable from reaching the microphone.
In the next few days I tried the InVision™ model on several microphones such as the more angular Lewitt LCT 640 and the more traditionally shaped Avantone CK6. Fitting these mics to the mount was simple, and at no point was I worried that the fasteners would lose their grip or crush the mic.
Because my Gefell only weighs 273 grams, I used the USM-L (“L” for Lite) that comes with the red, more flexible Lyres. Whereas the other models can also be suspended horizontally or angled, the USM-L can only be used vertically or at an angle with mics up to 400 g.
I tried the same microphones with the shock mounts that were provided by their respective manufacturers. In a series of unscientific but rigorous wiggling and thumping tests, the Rycote suspension system lived up to its promise and audibly outperformed the more traditional mounts.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Rycote also sells this shock mount as a Studio Kit which consists of a suspension system and a pop filter. The filter’s slightly curved frame can be attached to the outer support ring of the mount, but it will also lock tightly to most “spider” type elastic shock mounts. Thanks to a rotatable fitting, it’s easy to get the filter out of the way when swapping microphones.
The oval-shaped filter is made from super light mesh (an ABS nylon blend plastic), which is really a 10 mm thick open cell foam pad, held in place by a support ring. This foam can be easily removed for cleaning or replacement.
I’ve never been a fan of pop filters held in place by a heavy metal clamp and a gooseneck. The less stuff I have in my field of vision, the better. Somehow, the clamp always seems to loosen its grip after a while, and I’ve had the whole thing come down in the middle of a live recording session. That won’t happen with the Rycote filter because it only weighs 45 g.
Being used to the old metal mesh and nylon filters, I was surprised by how effective the Rycote foam filter really is. The company says it can reduce the effect of plosives by 20 dB (as compared to no pop screen at all). It sits at a good distance from the microphone, but it cannot be moved closer or further away. It wasn’t a problem for me, but some might consider that to be less than ideal.
At $149.99, I think Rycote’s InVison™ Studio Kit is very reasonably priced, especially compared to the more than $300 I would have had to fork over for a genuine Gefell shock mount.
That I am not returning my kit to the dealer, shouldn’t come as a shock to you!
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
This article was previously published in recordinghacks.com, the ultimate online microphone database. My last article about gear is about an amazingly affordable voice-over microphone you’ve probably never even heard of.