Microphone Shock Mounts – What They Are and Why You Need One
Every working voice actor knows that having the right equipment is key to creating quality work and setting yourself up for new gigs. Of course, having a quality microphone is a big part of that equation, but it’s not the only thing you need.
Along with a pop filter and a stand, a quality shock mount is a worthwhile consideration for any voice actor. If your kit doesn’t include a shock mount, you’re missing out compared to your competition and costing yourself work.
But don’t worry! Here’s everything you need to know about shock mounts:
What’s a Shock Mount?
A shock mount is a mechanical fastener that holds your microphone in place, suspending it by elastics that act as absorbers. Your microphone will screw into the middle of the shock mount, which will then be attached to your microphone stand by shock brackets. So, once you add one to your setup, you should be all set.
How Do Shock Mounts Work?
Most microphones are very sensitive. That makes them great for picking up nuance in your recording, but it also means that they’re prone to picking up outside noise. Whether you have a mic stand that’s screwed into a surface or one that you place on a table or desk, your microphone is likely to pick up self-noise and other small external vibrations.
The elastics in your shock mount will absorb those slight variations to stop your microphone from vibrating and keep them out of your recording. This means that if you accidentally whack your stand during a stellar read, you no longer have to start from scratch.
Why Do I Need a Shock Mount?
By keeping all those variations out of your recording, you’re getting a high-quality recording with less background noise. That means fewer re-records and less time in post-production. Having to worry less about post-production means that you can focus on the most important thing: Getting your final project files or auditions completed and out the proverbial door.
Are All Shock Mounts the Same?
No! All shock mounts are not equal. So if you see something that claims to be a ‘universal shock mount’ or something similar, it’s probably not the right choice.
Think about every type of microphone you’ve ever seen. There are a lot of different shapes and sizes, right? A one-size-fits-all shock mount might fit many different kinds of microphones, but not all. Think of how upset you’d be if your nice microphone fell and broke because you put it in a shock mount that isn’t compatible with it.
On top of that, a lot of third-party shock mounts come from less reputable manufacturers and don’t come with a warranty. That leaves you open to extra costs.
You might find that the suitable shock mount is a little bit more investment upfront, but you’ll more than make up that cost by not having to replace it or your microphone frequently.
Recommended Shock Mounts
Because there’s no perfect universal option for shock mounts, your best bet is to get one from the same brand as your microphone. Your microphone manual may have some recommended mounts, and many mounts will list what microphones they’re compatible with. Past that, check in with your local audio store or do some internet research to find the best match.
If you have the option to add your shock mount when you buy your microphone, or if your preferred dealer sells them together as a kit, that’s probably your best bet. You might think that it’s a bit of an upsell, but having a suitable shock mount is an absolute necessity.
A kit will give you the peace of mind that your equipment is compatible. Plus, your shock mount will likely carry a similar warranty to your microphone, which is a little extra insurance in case something breaks or doesn’t function as it should.
Shock Mount Maintenance
Like any piece of audio equipment, a little proactive maintenance goes a long way. Keep these tips as part of your recording routine, and your shock mount will likely last you many years.
Don’t Touch The Elastics
Like many elastics, shock mount elastics can degrade when frequently handled. This is primarily due to the natural oils that occur on the skin. If you can avoid touching the elastics directly, that’s ideal. Instead, try to move your microphone into place either by adjusting your stand or the metallic part of your mount.
If an elastic falls off or you need to touch them for any other reason, try to wash your hands first.
Replace Elastics As Soon As Possible
If you notice that your microphone moves around in the shock mount more than you want it to, your elastics may be getting loose. If that’s the case, replace them as soon as you can.
Consult your manual or local audio dealer to find out what your options are. Some higher-end shock mounts have replacement elastics available. However, lower-end options often do not, so you might need a new shock mount.
In either case, don’t let the repair or replacement wait. If your elastic snaps and your microphone falls out of the mount, that’s likely to be much more expensive.
Be Gentle and Check Connections Consistently
Getting your shock mount set up requires two steps. The first is attaching the microphone to the mount, and the second is attaching the mount to your stand. When you’re connecting, be sure not to overtighten either connection, as that will increase the risk of one breaking or snapping.
Once you have everything set up the way you like, be sure to check your connections before and after every recording to make sure everything is connected correctly. Mic stands that swivel will have a little bit of give and your connections will loosen over time. Making sure they’re correct upfront will prevent more significant issues.
A good shock mount is critical to any aspiring voice actor. Of course, there is a little more upfront cost, but the uptick in your recording quality and the time you’ll save cleaning up vibrations more than make up for it!