It may sound silly, but I have spent most of my life enduring cheaply-made, inadequate microphone stands. One day recently, I decided to change that. To my surprise, it opened a new world of options that I had missed before.
I bought an Atlas MS-25 ($149.00), a behemoth of a mic stand with a triangular, cast iron base, weighing 18 pounds, that’s adjustable between 38 and 67 inches. I’ve known the Atlas brand since I worked in radio as a teenager and it has been in business more than 75 years. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with it. When UPS delivered the stand to my door, I couldn’t believe the gigantic size and weight of the box.
Until I purchased the robust Atlas stand, I had mainly worked on location and always sought the lightest stands possible. Portability is a big thing in the field and I always went for less weight. But, in my home studio, I started using an SE Electronics Reflexion Microphone Filter for better audio. The filter is big, heavy and, with a mic, challenges flimsier stands for good stability.
After using the smooth, well-built Atlas stand, I didn’t realize how poorly made many low-cost stands have become these days. In clubs, I often use a borrowed house-owned stand. Almost always cheaply made, it either slips or is not adustable at all. Many of these stands are not stable and can easily tip over. When possible, I put gaffer’s tape on the base to hold it steady. I am certain that countless microphones have hit hard concrete floors due to these stands falling over.
Of course, the problem is many of us cut costs whenever possible. Cheaply made mic stands can be had for just a few dollars. They can be hard to resist in the scheme of things. But like anything else, you get what you pay for. These stands may work fine for a few gigs, but then they can turn into a nightmare. There is nothing worse than to damage a $500 microphone because the stand toppled over.
Inexpensive microphone stands gradually sag when positioned at extreme angles or with boom attachments. This can be frustrating when you’ve found the ideal mic position and find your stand won’t hold it there. But that’s what happens.
The brands of the best quality microphone stands, all of which cost in excess of $100 for basic models, include the old standby, Atlas, König & Meyer, Ultimate Support and higher-end models of On-Stage stands. There are literally dozens of models of lower cost stands, far too many to list here. There are also lighter weight high quality stands, but you must choose wisely.
When you invest in a high quality stand, you’ll find that new options abound with the better, more stable, support. These stands will not only hold large-sized ribbon and condenser microphones with acoustic filters, but pop filters (Stedman Proscreen XL, $54.49), iPads and iPhones (IK Multimedia iKlip, $49.99), instrument mic attachments (On-Stage Posi-Lok Sidemount Boom, $14.95), headphone holders (Bluecell Headphone Holder, $7.96) and even a holder for cold drinks (K&M Drink Holder, $14.99).
Also, if your mic stand has a tripod base, shockmounts on the stand itself can reduce room vibrations. Primacoustic makes a Tripod Mic Stand Isolator ($19.99) that isolates the stand from the studio floor, eliminating disruptive resonance.
I admit it. Microphone stands are often out of sight and out of mind. But they can make a huge difference in a professional audio installation. I have learned to forego shopping for the lowest priced pro gear. Considering the implications, it can cost far more in the end. Good microphones stands are a premium long term investment. Try it and you’ll beleive me.
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