Every singer is faced with a question: should I hold the microphone or utilize the microphone stand? Many opt for using the microphone stand allowing the performer to gesture, move, and interact with the music in a less cumbersome way. Yet microphones are not used only for amplifying the voice. Varieties of microphones have been designed with instruments in mind which is the reason for such a wide array of microphone stands.
With many varieties of microphone stands to choose from, one must be familiar with the options and features of microphone stands. Further, what the stand is being used for must be considered. Will the stand be conducive to tight spaces, heights, or sharp angles?
Understanding the components of the microphone stand, such as the microphone stand thread size, become imperative when ensuring everything checks out before and during a performance.
Whether you’re a performer or and sound technician, a basic understanding of the microphone stand and its components could be the difference between a smooth show and disaster.
Choosing the correct stand can be a challenge even if you are 100% sure of the type of stand that is needed. It is difficult to know if a microphone stand will be a good ‘fit’ for you until it has been used several times. Unfortunately, this is not possible at the store. Understanding the parts of a stand is helpful for determining what type of stand you need and decrease the chances of needing to make a return trip to the store.
Microphone Stand Parts
Although not all inclusive, here are a few basic parts of the microphone stand that are helpful to be familiar with:
1. Large Boom Connector
A completely vertical stand is not always the best fit for. say. a drum set The boom arm is a horizontal attachment at the top of the vertical rod of the stand that is often used to get closer to drum sets to amplify sound or simply to allow a wider range of movement.
The large boom hub is the attachment used to mount the boom arm to the top of the microphone stand. The smaller version of the large boom arm is the mini drop boom.
2. Microphone Stand Adapter
It is always helpful to have a microphone stand adapter in the event the microphone stand thread size needed is not what your particular stand has. This allows for versatility and ease of use. Less numerous thread sizes may be needed and having the adapter saves a trip to the store.
3. Telescoping Knob/Telescoping Connector/Clutch Grip
There are smaller parts that are important to consider. Less noticeable on the microphone stand is the telescoping knob along with the telescoping connector. This is simply the knob used to tighten, for example, the boom arm in place.
The connector is what attaches the knob to the stand and assists with the tightening. In addition, the clutch grip accessory is used for added tactile adhesion for superior grip. One can thing of a handle bar on a bicycle as an example of a clutch grip.
Anyone who has used a sub-par microphone stand knows how important it is to have a quality stand. Often overlooked, it is a must have investment for any studio or traveling performer.
The most common microphone stands are straight and come with various features to differentiate them from one another. Round base stands are very common for singers to use as they are compact and less of a tripping hazard than the tripod base. The tripod base stand is perhaps used most often and consists of three ‘feet’ that attach to the stand.
The tripod boom, a variation of the tripod base allows for more maneuverability and a longer reach than its simpler predecessor. Less common stands are desk stands used mostly for podcasting.
These are very similar to the low profile stands which are used mostly for drum sets, but the desk stand is most commonly used at home for broadcasting. Overhead stands can be very pricey and are used in areas that may be difficult to access.
One of the most common questions with regards to a microphone stand is with regards to the threading connector: What type of microphone stand thread size does my stand use? What exactly is the microphone stand thread size and what is the connector used for?
In a nutshell, the thread connector allows the microphone to be used on site or in the studio without having to directly hold it, Knowing the type of stand is important when considering the microphone stand thread size.
Most often used in the United States as well as older versions of stands across Europe is size 5/8 with 27 threads per inch. Many other areas of the world use size 3/8 with 16 threads per inch. Lastly is the 1/4 inch with 20 threads per inch.
This is used most often in photography, but some areas of the world use this size for microphone stands. In the United States, most thread sizes are going to be 5/8 which takes much of the guesswork out of determining what thread connector to purchase.
As discussed previously, a universal adapter can be purchased which can come in very handy. For example, a choral group that travels parts of the United States and Europe may want to have adapters on hand in the event they come across a 3/8 or 1/4 microphone stand thread size.
While most microphone stands could be considered universal, it is important to remember that not all stands are created equal. As with any purchase, there are varying quality of stands. While a quality stand may be used, it may not be the best stand for every microphone.
Microphones come in various sizes. A heavier microphone will require more support and a stronger, sturdier stand. Another consideration is what they microphone stands intended use will be/type of stand. While a tripod stand and an overhead stand may have the same thread size and universal attachment, the drastically different uses requires thought and research to ensure a proper and useful fit.
Microphone stands can range from around $50 to excess of $500. However, the affordable options are not necessarily poor quality. Sometimes they may be precisely what is needed to do the job rather than the pricier options.
A thorough web search or conversation with a seasoned sound tech or musician is recommended prior to purchasing. They have the experience and expertise to lead you to the brand and type of microphone stand that may be the best fit for you.
While ‘what is the most common microphone stand thread size’ may be the first question many will ask when looking for either replacement parts or a stand that will fit their microphone, there are other factors to consider (some already discussed previously).
Verbiage may be an obstacle some will encounter. For example, one will hear ’thread size’ and ’thread pitch’ used. Both are describing the same thing which can be confusing for persons who are unfamiliar.
It is important to not be timid when speaking with a sales person or a sound tech who may have years of experience and exposure to such terms. Here are only four of hundreds of terms that could be confusing:
- Bi-Directional: a microphone used to pick up sound coming directly in front and back of it but not from the sides.
- Cardioid: a microphone that does not pick up sound coming from behind it.
- Omnidirectional: a microphone that picks up sound from all sides.
- Masking: what occurs when two or more instruments are on the same frequency thus making it difficult to differentiate the sounds.
So you have done your research and purchased your microphone stand. You arrive at the studio to try it out only to find that the threading size does not fit. As mentioned previously, this can be easily fixed with an adapter. The clip/shock mount sometimes doesn’t fit the mic stand, especially the smaller, European thread sizes.
Many companies offer an insert in the clip and shock mounts to assist with this issue. Not being aware of the insert could lead to much anguish, so being well informed prior to purchase is a sure way to save a headache.
It is recommended to due a full check of the stand prior to a performance. This allows time to run back to the store long before a performance or a recording.
With all the parts of a microphone stand, how does one go about attaching the microphone to the stand? Disassembled, there does not appear to be a logical way to attach a mic to a stand. One will notice the thread connector where the microphone should go. but most microphones to not have threaded fasteners on them.
There are two types of connectors that are used to save this very problem: the microphone clip style and shock mount style connectors.
The most common of the two is the microphone clip style which the microphone slips in and fits snugly to hold it in place by utilizing bands. Generally, these connectors are very versatile and will fit a wide variety of microphones by simply sliding the mic in until it is snug.
Shock mounts are generally used in studio recordings. They are very useful as they help to reduce transient noise. They work by providing a cradle for the microphone to sit in rather than a slip cover like the microphone clip style. Any mechanical sounds are absorbed into this cradle and o-rings or springs are utilized to further absorb this unwanted sound making for a cleaner recording.
Attaching the microphone to a boom arm is virtually the same. Simply slip the microphone into the clip or shock mount. Prior to doing this, the arm must be very secure. Test how snug the arm fits to the stand prior to placing the microphone in the boom arm. If the arm is not fully supported, the microphone could fall and be damaged.
There are microphone stand styles that come with a built in mount. The Sure SM7B comes with a shock mount style threaded microphone stand connector in place. A myriad of other makes and models already have the mounting included. In most all cases, the mount can be removed if needed.
Most of us have seen a performer approach the stage and the microphone stand is either too tall or too short. They struggle for a while before giving up and holding the microphone. Adjusting the height of either the pole or the boom arm only requires loosening the clutch, adjusting the pole or boom arm to the desired height/length. and tightening the clutch to hold in place.
Having all the proper parts and knowledge will help prevent a mic set up that lowers quality of sound or simply looks bad. Many have seen microphones attached to stands using duct tape or masking tape. While this holds the mic in place, it presents many problems.
First, it is not aesthetically appealing and does not look professional. It further restricts options for positioning of the microphone including holding the mic. When the tape is removed, a reside can be left. Most importantly, the tape does not provide any mechanical noise absorption which can lead to a poor quality of sound. A little pre-planning is all that is needed to prevent the temptation to use tape as a connector for your microphone.
Understanding the parts and types of microphone stands and microphone thread sizes is a vital part of any successful performance either in house or in studio. A little time and research can go a long way.
Know what the stand is being used for, where it’s being used, and all the parts of the microphone stand to avoid multiple trips to the music store. Online is an excellent resource to use. but it is also helpful to ‘fact check’ what is found online by consulting a professional with the hands on experience to lead you in the right direction.