How do I Choose the Best Microphone Clip?

Mary Elizabeth

A microphone, most often abbreviated mic but also mike, is a tool for converting sound waves to electric current, usually for the purposes of amplification, recording, or transmitting. Microphones may be designed to pick up sound from a single direction, from several directions, or from all around. In use, they may be held or affixed to a stand or an article of clothing with a device known as a microphone clip.

Some condenser microphone don't need a clip to attach to a stand.
Some condenser microphone don't need a clip to attach to a stand.

Because some microphone clips are meant to attach a microphone to a weighted stand, while others are meant to attach a microphone to a person’s shirt, lapel, or necktie, the microphone clip can have the function of rendering the microphone immobile or extremely mobile. Because the clip that works with a microphone stand and the clip that attaches to clothing are not interchangeable, this is one of the first questions of functionality that would help determine the best microphone clip for a particular purpose.

Some microphone clips are meant to attach a microphone to a stand.
Some microphone clips are meant to attach a microphone to a stand.

A stand microphone clip is generally made of molded plastic with a female threaded insert in its base that allows it to affix it to the top of a microphone stand. The c-shaped or o-shaped slot into which the back end of the microphone slides may be attached with a swivel screw, so that the angle can be adjusted. This type of microphone clip holds the microphone by the tight fit of the mic base in the holder: it slides in and slides out. Less common is the stand clip with a clothespin action. With this type of clip, the microphone is grasped by the spring action of the holder. The standard color for all types of microphone clips is black.

A clip-on microphone clip that is made to attach to a person’s clothing may be made for general use or for a particular microphone. While some models have a clothespin type clip, there are those made with a safety-pin type clip or an alligator style clip as well. Still other styles include a tie tack or a tie pin. The viper clip, named for the two straight pins on the back, which are used to attach it and which resemble a viper’s fangs, can be used to discreetly place a mic inside of clothing.

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In addition, there is a kind of clip called a shock mount. These microphone clips are made to attach to stands, and offer a unique advantage over other types of clips. It is somewhat difficult to explain these types of microphones in a visually evocative way. A shock mount is basically a web of elastic bands threaded through a structure of metal wires. What this means is that there is no female metal piece for the microphones to fit into. instead, there is a small ring that the attachment end of the microphone screws into, while the rest of it is supported by the elastic bands. This allows for much less physical wear and tear (from scraping) on the outside of the microphone. In addition, because the microphone is barely touching any other metal all when in a shock mount, the microphone does not pick up nearly as much static electricity, and thus has a less prominent buzz when recording. These are especially necessary for tube condenser mics, which are known for their buzz. Any moderately serious sound engineer will want to have at least one of these in their arsenal.

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