Shockmounts suck. Right after headphones, they are the bane of any studio owner’s existence. Every time I walk back into the studio, I find broken headphones and at least one shockmount that has broken or fallen apart. The classic Neumann basket types are the worst. They constantly fall apart, and the elastic bands lose their tension. Why does everybody still follow this design? There are a lot more manufacturing materials and methods that have been invented since 1960 or whenever those crappy things were made. And they’re expensive! Well, Rycote has completely re-engineered the shockmount, and there is finally a much better alternative to the outdated Neumann-type mount. The Rycote USM is made with modern plastics, with a semi-flexible but very solid plastic suspension system providing the mechanical isolation for the mic. The mounts also fit a variety of mics, unlike the one-mount-fitting-only-one-mic Neumann-type mounts that clutter up your shockmount drawer. Three thumbscrews with soft rubber grips tighten down securely onto the mic, so that almost any mic can fit into the mount, from a smaller KM 84–type mic to most large-diaphragm condensers. These work great for heavier tube mics like C 12s. I even tried some odd mic shapes that are hard to put into most shockmounts, like a Sennheiser MD 421, AKG C 414, and an Electro-Voice PL20. The only mic I couldn’t get into this mount was a Neumann U 47, as it was just too big. Although the mounts come in a variety of sizes and stiffnesses (for the isolation element) it would be nice to see a larger unit for mics like the U 47 and even the older RFT bottle mics. One minor issue for some engineers might be that it takes a few more seconds to put a mic into one of these than the traditional Neumann-type mounts, but in my mind, the benefits far outweigh this minor annoyance. Overall, my only complaint with the USM is that Rycote only sent one. I will not be sending it back, and I will be buying at least three more. ($119.95 street; –JB

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

Or Learn More