What is a Shock Mount?

Mary McMahon

A shock mount is a device which is used to isolate a microphone from vibration. Shock mounts are commonly seen in use in recording studios and radio stations, where a very high sound quality is expected. They can vary considerably in design and cost, and are usually used with high quality microphones, as a shock mount cannot make up for inherent problems with a low end microphone. Electronics stores, music stores, and stores which stock sound recording equipment often carry shock mounts and can order specialty versions by request if customers need them. People can also order directly from manufacturers of these devices, and some manufacturers are willing to work on custom projects for special needs.

Shock mounts might be used with shotgun microphones.
Shock mounts might be used with shotgun microphones.

Microphones are designed to pick up sound, using a variety of different technologies. Along with wanted sounds, microphones also absorb background noise and they can pick up interference from vibrations. Vibrations can include things like footsteps across the floor of a recording room, movements caused by wind, and so forth, and they can introduce unwanted noise to recordings or broadcasts. Vibrations which seem negligible at the time can translate into high differences in sound quality, making a shock mount an important recording tool to have.

Microphones are devices designed to pick up sounds.
Microphones are devices designed to pick up sounds.

The shock mount suspends a microphone so that it is less vulnerable to vibration. Some of the oldest mounts simply dangled the microphone from elastic, while modern shock mounts can include a series of vibration dampeners and a cage for the microphone which keeps it as isolated as possible for vibrations. The shock mount can be attached to a microphone stand which may be fixed in place, as in a radio station, or movable.

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Shock mounting is strongly recommended for a number of recording settings. While it may be possible to clean up audio in post processing, most sound engineers would prefer to start out with sound which is as crisp and clear as possible. The better the sound to begin with, the less work will be needed to render a high quality recording, and the lower the likelihood of introducing distortion and other problems during processing which attempts to clean up the recording.

Setting up a high quality recording station requires a large investment; if any elements are of sub par quality, the overall sound will decline in quality, even if the rest of the equipment is highly sophisticated. People often consult sound engineers when establishing recording setups to ensure that they purchase the appropriate equipment and design the space in a way which will promote the production of good quality sound.

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