Friday, July 10, 2015

New Microphone, Pop Filter, Shock Mount Project

With the videos that I have posted online over the years I have constantly worked at improving the quality of what I produce.  There is a big difference between the first videos and the latest ones that have been made.  It's been a learning process for me and of course better equipment always helps too.  So with my latest project I have jumped up a few steps to improve the sound quality of my voice-overs for my videos with the purchase of a better microphone. 

So after a bit of research I settled on this fine piece of equipment from Audio-Technica named the AT2020USB+ microphone.  A big step forward from the little plastic mic that came with my computer.  Being as I paid a good price for this piece of equipment for my video productions I thought I might as well try and build a proper pop filter for the mic along with a shock mount.  
  The pop filter is a small mesh that is mounted into a circular frame that is mounted in front of the mic to eliminate popping sounds when you talk into the microphone.  Very easy to do when you recite Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. The other part...  the shock mount isolates the mic from the stand so that you don't get a clunking sound when you are moving or touch the mic while recording.  


Here's a good look at a professional pop filter and shock mount for a studio microphone from Moodaudio.com.  The price for the pop filter is $24 and the shock mount for the mic is $126.95.  WAY out of my budget and so a new project was born with the purchase of my new microphone.


This is what I came up with.  I was lucky enough to have an older mic stand laying around in my computer room so it was as good a place to start this project as anywhere.  I designed a "T" mount for the stand which holds a 16 inch long 1/2 inch diameter aluminum tube to mount everything to the stand.  I designed a simple shock mount for the mic that mounts to one end of the aluminum tube and on the other end a 3D printed counterweight container to help balance the microphone stand. 


The mic is held in place with ordinary rubber bands which isolate the mic from the stand perfectly.  The pop filter is made from a 5 inch embroidery hoop with ordinary nylon stocking material for the mesh in the filter.  Inexpensive and easy to find and replace should the time come when it needs it.  The pop filter is held in place using special 3D printed parts and connectors for aluminum conduit. Home romex wire makes the perfect flexible part for the pop filter mount.  The wire is then covered with a split loom flexible tubing to give it a nice look. Both the wire and the flexible tubing I had laying around in my supply of parts in the shop.


Here's how the entire rig looks put together for real.  I started by repainting the metal base of the mic stand a gloss black as the original color was a dull gray color and just would not do.  As with most of my 3D printed project I make test parts to make sure everything fit right and this was no exception to this rule when it came to making this type of project.  


I wasn't sure if the rubber bands for the mic would be strong enough to hold it properly but it turned out better than I had hoped.  I had to add the counterweight on the opposite end of the stand to off set the 13 ounce weight of the mic. In this shot you can also see the black flexible tubing the covers up the romex wire for the pop filter.  Looks really good and is inexpensive to add to this project.


The enclosure for the counterweight is a 3D printed assembly with five hollow cavities for pennies and one hole so that it can mount on to the horizontal 1/2 aluminum tube.  With the pennies loaded into the lower container and with the top glued in place the total counterweight  weight comes in at just a hair over a pound.   I will just have to remember to unload the pennies should I ever replace the weight with something else in the future. But for now this was the cheapest way to add weight for this part of the assembly.


This project turned out very well and has saved me a bunch of cash along the way too.  I like the look of the orange pop filter and everything else in black and chrome.  Will look good in my computer room and be a big improvement in my sound for my videos for the blog. 

Below is a little video I shot of the new mic stand.  The first 47 seconds of the video has the audio using my old PC mic.  After that the audio for the new mic is turned on and you will notice a huge difference in the sound quality.  


Now all I have to do is start researching how to do Podcasts and I'll be all set to do weekly shows about making projects like this one.  Something for another possibly. Have a good one and be safe in your workshop!

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