Are you wondering why all condenser microphones usually come with a shock mount and dynamic microphones don’t? Perhaps you have one in your studio and want to record some vocal tracks, and you’re not sure if you need to use one with your dynamic microphone? This article answers it all.
You would always want to use a shock mount with a dynamic microphone and any other microphone if you had the option to. A shock mount reduces vibration and noise, helping the microphone pick up only the audio signal that it is meant to and disregarding any accidental knocks, taps, bumps, thuds, and resonating vibrations on the floor.
We’ll discuss why a shock mount is so invaluable for both live and studio recording purposes and discuss what a shock mount is and how it compares to when it is not being utilized. Then we’ll discuss both dynamic and condenser microphones and how shock mounts could affect them both.
The function of a shock mount is used in various applications and is also known as an isolation mount. Its most basic definition is a device (mechanical fastener) that connects two parts.
These mounts allow a piece of equipment to be securely fastened (mounted) to a foundation while at the same time allowing it to float freely.
In particular, a vocal microphone shock mount will prevent vibrations from traveling up the microphone stand and accessing the microphone, and affecting the diaphragm.
Vibrations can be ever so slight, and because a microphone diaphragm is very sensitive, it can and most certainly will cause a rumble effect and proximity (this is the increase in low-frequency response when an audio signal is close to a microphone) effect.
How do you mount a microphone to a mic stand?
Generally, there are two professional ways of mounting (connecting a microphone to a mic stand. As you would have guessed, it would be to utilize a shock mount, while the other way is to utilize what is known as a hard clip.
In terms of a hard clip, the microphone will either slip into the clip or will be able to screw into the clip. The clip is then directly fastened to the microphone stand. This means there is no separation between the microphone, the mic stand, and the floor.
The second way is to use a shock mount. Now that we know what it is and its function, we now have to understand how it connects to a microphone stand.
The shock mount will connect to the microphone stand by screwing it on and by way of a thread. The microphone will then be placed into the basket (the mount), and the basket is suspended inside the ring using elastic bands. This allows the microphone to move freely without any interruption if need be.
Do you really need a shock mount on a microphone?
For the most part, a shock mount is a preventative measure, and 90 percent of the time, it will not be necessary to have, however for those few instances where you are recording a track and the microphone does get bumped, shaken, or vibrates to a degree a shock mount becomes an invaluable tool to help you save what could be a great vocal track.
Situations where you would need to use a shock mount
Working with live sound
A typical situation is where you and perhaps if you have a band, then the band performs live, and you have to set up on a hollow wooden stage.
What will happen every time the drummer smacks the kit, if someone walks across the stage, or perhaps while you are performing and dancing on stage, or even if someone is tapping their foot on stage, the vibrations will resonate through the stage up through the microphone stand and into the microphone.
As we said, this will ultimately be picked up through the diaphragm of the microphone. In a live situation where the volumes and gains are very high, and in addition to that, you will most likely have stage monitors, the impact of these vibrations will definitely cause boom, feedback, and other unwanted noise.
When accidental contact is made with the stand
If you set up and try to replicate this test, you will see a significant amount of difference a shock mount has on the direct transference of vibrations through the microphone stand and into the diaphragm.
If you accidentally touch the microphone stand, the vibrations sent to the microphone without a chock mount will be dramatically increased, and you will pick this up over the speakers. If you are recording, it will come through your track.
Utilizing a shock mount will severely reduce vibration in terms of accidental contact (touching, hitting, knocking, smacking). If the contact is accidental, the shock mount will play a superb role, as is demonstrated here in reducing unwanted noise.
Which types of microphones do you get that could utilize a shock mount?
The two variations in microphones that you get are dynamic and condenser microphones. If you do not know anything about dynamic and condenser microphones, check out some of my articles where I cover all different microphones and apply them to different scenarios both for live and recording purposes.
If you know what a condenser and dynamic microphone are, why not check our recommended gear section here. In there we detail, and review all the best microphones, both condenser and dynamic, that I have come across and used both in recording applications for other studios and in my own studio as well.
Do all dynamic microphones need shock mounts?
We can safely assume that all condenser microphones require a shock mount because one of the main reasons is that they will have internal delicate circuitry, and some will even have built-in preamps.
If the two reasons above were not good enough for you to utilize a shock mount, this one most surely is. If a condenser microphone sustains any violent or sudden impact, the circuitry inside could definitely get damaged, and condenser microphones are usually way more expensive than your typical dynamic microphone, so that would be pretty upsetting if it sustained some damage.
Dynamic microphones are more sturdy and do not have any delicate circuitry in them. Compared to a condenser microphone, they are more rugged and sturdy. So in terms of that factor that we are considering, they would not need a shock mount.
Dynamic microphones are so rugged that you can drive over them with a car, and they still work perfectly fine. A great example of this is the Shure SM57. The gold standard in dynamic microphones has been around for decades. You truly don’t get a better dynamic microphone than that.
Check out the Shure SM58 on Amazon.
But in terms of the other two reasons we stated, the first being for live application and the other for accidental contact of the microphone stand, a shock mount would definitely benefit you no matter what microphone you had. It is always better to have and use one than to not.
We understand now that a shock mount is used in a sense to cancel out unwanted noise, which the diaphragm of the microphone will pick up if it is not fastened into a shock mount.
The two scenarios where a shock mount is most valuable are live applications and studio recording applications.
The only reason you would consider not using a shock mount on a dynamic microphone, whereas you would always use one on a condenser microphone, is because they are built to be more robust than a condenser microphone and can take a lot more punishment.
Otherwise, you would always want to use a shock mount for a dynamic and any other kind of microphone where possible in trying to produce better overall quality sound.