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An unusual use for a microphone shock mount

A microphone shock mount can help a performer sing better. Amazing but sometimes true!

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The function of a microphone shock mount is to prevent any vibrations that are coming up the mic stand from entering the microphone. It's as simple as that, and mostly effective when needed.

However, there is another rather odd way you can use a shock mount...

Some time ago I was working with a singer who didn't have much studio experience. Although efficient and in tune, his performance was lacking in expression, light and shade.

In a situation like this, the key thing to do is find a way for the singer to feel comfortable so that they can get absorbed in the song. Turning down the lights can work. A moderate amount of alcohol can work. Other things can work. You just have to find what works, which can be the tricky part.

One common tactic is to suggest that the performer sings with their eyes closed. This helps focus their attention purely on the sound in their monitor headphones.

And... it worked! Suddenly there was much more emotion coming through. But there was an unfortunate side effect - the singer was now rocking slightly backwards and forwards, and a little bit sideways too. Clearly, sight plays a role in balance, and the lack of balance led to an uneven sound from the mic.

So I thought hard and decided to try something I would normally strongly advise against. I asked the singer to hold gently between fingers and thumbs of both hands, the corners of the shock mount - the outer part, not the inner part that holds the mic.

In theory, the elastic of the shock mount should prevent any vibrations entering the mic.

And it did the trick. Now that the singer knew where the mic was with eyes closed, he could sing his heart out. I did get the odd bump coming through, but fortunately only once during the actual singing, which was easily fixed with a retake.

I won't go so far as to say that this will work every time. But it worked when it was needed, and sometimes that is good enough!

One might say that it would have been better to set up a separate stand for the performer to hold onto. Possibly, but when the performer is hot, the last thing you want is them cooling down while you mess around.

By David Mellor Monday November 14, 2011
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