Intro: Microphone Suspension Mount
In my searching for a better way to mount microphones on my keyboard percussion instruments, I found that I needed to also combat the noise coming from the instrument's frame. The transmitted thumps came across in amplification, and had to be eliminated. This is a sub-five dollar solution that works really well. The mounting post can be adapted for hand-held use, and extensions can be used that would allow the mount to be a good microphone boom for live recording applications.
1. 2-1/2" PVC conduit coupling
2. 1/2" PVC 45-degree conduit elbow
3. 1/2" PVC adapter (male)
4. 1/2" PVC adapter (female)
5. 1/2" x 12" PVC pipe or metal pipe segment
6. #64 rubber bands or hair bands
Tools / Supplies -
2. 3/4" spade bit
3. PVC cement
4. Dremel moto-tool or a file
Step 1: PVC Elbow
The PVC pieces are found at your local "big box hardware store" (I found my parts at the orange big box hardware store) in the electrical aisle. The 12" long pipe can be found in the plumbing section. The metal pipe is a pipe nipple and the PVC version of that pipe is a lawn sprinkler system riser.
Attach the male and female PVC adapters to the conduit elbow using PVC cement. Don't use too much cement. You just need to wet the conduit all the way around. Be sure to push them all the way on to the conduit.
Step 2: Connect the Big Coupler
Using the 3/4" spade bit, bore a hole through the 2-1/2" PVC conduit coupler. Wiggle the bit a little while drilling the hole to enlarge the opening a little more than 3/4". This will help with the next step.
Use the 1/2" metal pipe as a makeshift tap for cutting threads into the hole you just made. As an alternative, you could purchase an actual tap. There is a Magna brand tap sold at toolbarn.com for $7.75 that would be perfect. I used the makeshift tap, as it was cheaper and it was just sitting here in front of me.
Once you have the hole threaded, screw the elbow conduit into it. It should still be tight enough that it takes some effort to turn. The other end of the elbow will accept the 1/2" x 12" pipe. My first choice was for metal pipe. This was due to using auxiliary cymbal clamps, and not wanting to take a chance with crushing the PVC pipe. In retrospect, I believe that the PVC would work fine.
Step 3: Suspension Recesses
So far, you have a piece of straight pipe, angled pipe, and a big open tube looking thing. Let's get on to the part where the microphone comes in.
(You could do this step before the previous step, either way works.)
Mark the PVC coupler at four points where the suspension bands (rubber bands or hair bands) will be held. You want to be sure that you do this at right angles, and at points that will not put the suspension bands having to go around the conduit elbow. Mark both sides of the coupler.
Once you have these points marked, use the file or the moto-tool to carve out about a 1/4" recess where the bands will be held. Be sure to smooth the edges of these recesses, especially if you plan to use rubber bands.
Step 4: Suspension Bands
Stretch out two suspension bands for each group of recesses. Where they cross the coupler's opening, you will spread the pair apart and slip your microphone into the void to be held in place by the tension of the bands.
If you use the #64 rubber bands you will see that the surface of the rubber bands has enough "tack" to keep the microphone from moving in and out of the coupler.
If you use this outdoors, I would definitely suggest changing out the bands about every 2 weeks. Going from hot to cold can cause them to become brittle over time, and you're going to be happier when they don't let go in the middle of a recording / performance.
The hair bands are more durable and have a secondary benefit. The surface of the hair bands are made to not have a lot of "tack". If the microphone shifts in the coupler opening a little, the hair bands will try to return to the middle of the opening.
There is one new product that might give the best of both worlds. Goody now makes a hair band in their "StayPut" line that has their "slip proof grip". I would definitely take a look around for this new product. Goody is including two samples with their packaging for their normal hair bands now (12/2006).
Step 5: Wrap Up
The reason that I used the 45-degree elbow instead of just a straight piece of pipe is that I wanted to be able to adjust the direction that the microphone pointed. By being able to rotate the coupler where it is attached to the elbow conduit, and then rotate the lower pipe where it is attached to the instrument, I can point the microphone in just about any direction.
If you use this for a hand-held application, you could go with a straight piece of PVC, a lightbulb changing pole, etc.
To recap the cost:
With the PVC pipe bottom: $2.76 + tax
With the metal pipe bottom: $4.51 + tax
Then just add the cost of the suspension bands that you choose and you're in business.