Review: Rycote Invision Universal Studio Mount
Mounting a studio microphone in some kind of suspension is essential to prevent vibrations being transmitted to the body of the microphone and ending up on the recording. Manufacturers often include suspensions with their microphones, but these are usually purpose made, and not intended for use with any other microphone. Consequently, changing a microphone in the studio also involves changing the suspension. However, Rycote have come up with a design that can not only be used with a wide range of microphones, but one which they claim does a better job at insulating the microphone from extraneous vibrations.
Rycote is a family-led company that have been around since 1969. Initially concerned with recording audio on location they developed windshields, and later microphone suspension systems, that have gone on to be used by professionals throughout the world. In 2010 Rycote unveiled their Invision Universal Studio Mount, or USM for short, which has some unique features.
A set of four screws, with pads at one end to help grip the microphone without marking or damaging it, secure the microphone in position at the centre of the assembly. The heads of the screws have plastic finger grips which are small in diameter, helping prevent over-tightening. Adjustment is a bit fiddly at first, but once the microphone is centred in the holder few turns are required to grip or release it. The four screws allow non-cylindrically shaped microphones to be gripped easily.
But by far the most innovative idea is the use of a type of plastic, in place of elastic, to absorb shocks and prevent the microphone from picking up taps and knocks on the floor or microphone stand. The problem with elastic is that it perishes over time, losing its elasticity and rendering the shock mount useless until the elastic is replaced. The manufacturer of one studio microphone I bought thoughtfully supplied spare elastic with their shock mount, but when it was time to replace the elastic in the mount I found that the spare elastic had also perished! Take the elastic out of the equation and you are left with a microphone cradle that is very durable.
Another nice design idea is the inclusion of a cable clip near where the assembly attaches to the microphone stand. This prevents recordings being marred through shock entering the system through the cable.
All in all the design is very impressive, but how does it perform? Rycote claim as much as 12db extra attenuation when compared to manufacturers’ mic cradles. I can’t verify this claims but I can confirm that the USM is every bit as good as the cradles that came supplied with the range of studio mics I have, if not better.
The USM is designed for microphones 18-55 mm in diameter and 400-750 grams in weight. There is also a USM-L version designed for microphones lighter than 400 grams, and a USM-VB for microphones 55-68 mm in diameter and up to 900 grams in weight. It can be confusing which one to get, but Rycote list many microphones and match them to the right version of their shock mount on their website. I strongly suggest referring to their chart before making a purchase, and have provided a link at the end of this article.
Finally, Rycote also make a 6” vocal pop filter, with replaceable foam, that attaches directly onto the USM shock-mount. Rycote claims their pop filter provides up to 20dB attenuation of vocal pops and thumps, with no HF loss.
At the time of writing (October 2012) the price of the USM is around £75, or around £95 if bought as a kit with their pop screen. The pop screen by itself is about £35 (prices include UK VAT at 20%). All in all I feel the Rycote USM is well engineered, reasonably priced, and does its job very well.
Useful external links:
These links are provided for your reference only. I have no connection with these sites and cannot take responsibility for their content.
Microphone Compatibility Chart PDF (85 kb)
(I would like to affirm to the reader that I have no connection with Rycote, and have received no payment or benefits from any source for writing this review. It is a true customer/user review.)