When laboring in pro audio day after day, we often forget that some very low-cost enhancements can make life much easier and enhance the workflow. Here’s a few small add-ons that I have discovered that create a more efficient and productive audio workspace.
Virtually every audio pro accumulates dozens of cheap, plastic microphone clips and stand holders over the years. Most either come with a microphone or are bought by the dozen for a few dollars. Like cheap mic stands, they may do the job for a while, but not very well.
Through experience, I have noticed that mic clips, stand adapters and shock mounts by Audio-Technica are of higher quality than most generic products. For example, the company’s mic clips are made of better materials and have brass inserts for the threads to prevent excessive wear.
One prize from Audio-Technica is the AT8415 Low Profile Shock Mount ($59.00), a light-weight mount with replaceable rubber suspenders that reduces vibration noise transmitted through mic stands or boom poles. It provides a constant-tension clutch, 360-degree rotation and fits many microphones of all brands.
Audio-Technica’s AT8471 ($29.00) is another isolation clamp that’s designed to eradicate vibration and noise transmitted through mic stands. It’s small, easy to install and also works with a range of microphones. It has a thumbscrew to securely clamp itself fully around the barrel of the mic. And there’s a small turn-handle to adjust the pitch angle with fingers, not tools.
Another proven shock mount design comes from Shure . The Shure A53M and A55M ($25 to $38) are simple, very compact stand mounts with a circular ring of rubberized material that snugs the microphone and suspends it from shock and noise. These fit a variety of microphones from many manufacturers and are very useful for all sound kits.
Audio-Technica excels at standard microphone clips, which fit a range of brands. The company’s Quiet-Flex series is designed for standard wireless and wired vocal mics and are of excellent quality. Quiet-Flex refers to the rubbery, soft material that holds the microphone. It’s quiet even when moving a live mic through the clamping material. And, unlike stiff, cheap plastic, it’s unbreakable.
One other indispensable Audio-Technica product is the company’s AT8459 Dual Swivel Microphone adapter ($44.50). The flexible design of this dual swivel mount makes for easy positioning of any microphone. One knob controls a pair of gimbals that allow the rotation of microphone placement in two different directions.
This swivel adapter works with all mics, even heavy ones, and adapts to any stand with any clamp. It is great for adjusting and articulating mics on boom mounts or where precise and secure placement is a must. This all metal piece is built like a tank and will last a lifetime. It is a must have for any audio toolkit.
Loose cables are often the bane of existence in any audio facility. This is where JOTO cord management systems make a big difference. These are flexible neoprene cable sleeves with a zipper that allows the grouping of eight to ten loose cables into a single tube.
The user just gathers the cables together, wraps the sleeve around them and zips up the tube. These inexpensive neoprene cable management sleeves are a great way to keep the facility neat and looking professional. Four 20-inch long white or black sleeves cost about $15.
Elevation Lab’s The Anchor ($11.95) is a headphone holder that I seem to keep repeatedly buying and placing everywhere I use headphones. It is an under-desk mounted double hook (each holds two pairs of headphones) made of solid medical grade silicone with a steel center core.
The hook, which resembles an upside down “T,” uses a tough adhesive that really sticks to surfaces. When you hit your knee on it, it won’t hurt like brass coat hooks that many of us use. It just flexes and bends. There is no better place to store headphones, but don’t plan to buy just one.
Finally, sE Electronics’ Reflexion line of filters is growing and there is a mini model whose role has expanded beyond its initial design. The GuitaRF Reflexion Filter ($199) is a mini filter originally made for isolating guitar amplifiers without having to use an isolation booth.
The GuitaRF can handle two microphones (usually a ribbon and a dynamic) for blending the sound of the guitar amp and keeping the mics in phase. But over time users have found dozens of new and alternative applications for the tiny model, which is eight inches high, 10.5 inches wide and four inches deep.
The filter, in a molded plastic shell, is small enough to be very versatile. Tape Op, the pro audio web site, measured the effectiveness of the GuitaRF and found its attenuation was greatest at high frequencies.
From 4 kHz on up, the GuitaRF blocks at least 12 dB. In the midrange — from 150 Hz to 1 kHz — they found a 2 dB reduction. In the lows, it blocked 4–7 dB below 70 Hz.
What’s nice about the GuitaRF is the compact size when compared to the larger Reflexion filters. From vocals to placement on a range of musical instruments, the GuitaRF reduces bleed and room ambience but it doesn’t block sight lines or take up too much space. It makes a great accessory to larger Reflexion filters, which have now found a place in many smaller studios.
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