All I want is a stereo mic adapter that's solid, flexible, and reliable. There are some expensive ones out there, but I want one I can count on for live work or rowdy punk bands. I was going through the Shure catalog when I stumbled upon the A27M. Most retailers don't even know it exists, so I pestered Shure to get one to me. (As of this writing, a bunch more places stock them, so ask around.) In real life, it looks more like a James Bond cigar case or Yoda's lightsaber than a mic adapter, but this thing does the job.
For those wanting a more technical description, the A27M is a four-section cylinder measuring 6.75" in length. The bottom end-cap has a female 5/8" thread for mounting the A27M to a standard microphone stand. Each of the two middle sections has a male 5/8" thread jutting out the side of the shaft. At the top is a knurled knob that can be tightened to lock the middle sections in place. When the top end-cap is loosened, the middle sections are free to rotate around the longitudinal axis. Thus, two microphones can share one stand without compromising individual placement.
Removing the end cap allows reconfiguration of the A27M. Disassembly reveals a rod running down the core of the unit. Aha! Now I know how the middle sections can spin around and not fly apart. Since the mic mounting studs are affixed near the ends of each middle section, the middles sections can be stacked three ways: studs close to the center (1-1/4" apart), studs closer to the ends (4" apart), and one stud close to the center and one near the end (2-5/8" inches apart). Depending on the size of your mics, this can be crucial for maintaining proper phase.
In use, the A27M is a dream. I used it to record an acoustic show for Mark Taylor and Zach Pruchnal with great results. When I got to the venue, I couldn't decide if I wanted to use X-Y or ORTF. Unfortunately, I left my protractor and compass at home. No matter, Shure put markings on the top knob every 45 degrees, so I didn't need to guess on the splay angles. Additionally, I only needed to bring one mic stand, which kept my rig to a minimum. Despite being bumped by a few crowd members, the A27M stayed locked in place. No droopy mics ruining a take.
I do have a few other really nice mic adapters, but they cost over four times the price of the Shure and are neither as portable nor flexible. People might think I'm a little weird for getting excited about a stereo mic adapter, but these are the kind of things that let us focus on what's important-the sound! Oh, and the A27M has a cool cable clip, too.
($76.65 MSRP; www.shure.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.