Are you considering buying a mic isolation shield? Your expert friend has suggested you have one, but you are not that sure. The question that you want to ask is: is it really worth my money?
A mic isolation shield isolates your mic from surrounding and greatly improves audio quality. It works as a filter and removes reflections, unwanted noises, and ambient sound. Mic shields are also called reflection filters since they are made from a dense material that absorbs sound reflections.
Of course, there is soundproofing and acoustic treatment to eliminate external disturbances. But when you use a mic isolation shield, you take a step further and shield your audio from sound waves in the internal environment. In this post, I will discuss more on why buying a mic isolation shield is a good decision for any podcaster
Check also those related posts:
- Podcasting room acoustics – how your room impacts your audio quality?
- Home studio easy DIY soundproofing guide
- 20 Household Items You Can Use to Soundproof a Room Quickly
How do Mic Isolation Shields Work?
Do you really need to spend your dollars on a mic isolation shield? Does it actually work, or is it just a fancy gear for podcasters who can splurge?
Isolation shields or reflection filters are constructed using rugged materials that absorb these sound waves. You can find isolation shields that are made of foam, metals like aluminum, acoustic panels, etc. They are usually placed on a mic stand behind a mic. Some designs have clamps that can hold onto the mic.
Mic isolation shields do work – in fact, they work wonders on improving the sound quality. Most podcasters and artists encounter sound-related issues if their recording condition is less than ideal. If you are recording in a room with poor acoustics, the sound would reflect from different surfaces in the room. And you would end up spending a lot of time editing.
Some sounds are easy to remove, but others completely spoil the sound quality. Sounds like hums, pops, clicks, etc. are very difficult to remove from the recorded track. Traffic sounds, air-cons, etc. also infiltrate your recording in the form of low frequencies.
By using a mic isolation shield, you can prevent these sounds from interfering with your recording. The shield will absorb the sound waves before they hit the mic. This improves the signal-to-noise ratio and brings clarity to the audio. I would advise you to use a mic with a cardioid pattern, as they do not record the sounds in your ambient environment. Combine it with a mic isolation shield, and voila, you can record crisp audio.
Useful Tip: If you happen to own a lavalier (or lapel) mic, you can use it for recording in a less-than-ideal environment. Lavalier mics are pinned to your shirt, which brings them close to the mic source. They record your voice clearly without capturing any interference from the surroundings – you don’t need a mic isolation shield to get that.
Below are some top lav mics I recommend:
|Tascam DR-10L||Rode Wireless Go II||Rode Lavalier Go|
|Consumer rating||4.7 of 5||4.7 of 5||4.7 of 5|
|Lav mic included||yes||no||yes|
|check current price||check current price||check current price|
Benefits of Buying a Microphone Isolation Shield
You can record in your in-home studio
If you are recording your podcast in the comfort of your home, you are doing it at the expense of sound quality. Your living space is not designed for sound recording; unlike a professional studio which is designed keeping in mind the acoustic principles. However, it is possible to eliminate unwanted sounds from your recording if you plan carefully.
One way to achieve this is to use a mic isolation shield. It is the small nuances that make or break the quality of recorded sound. So I would strongly suggest you add a mic isolation shield to your home-recording equipment. You could also soundproof your home, but this option is more time-consuming and cumbersome. Also, soundproofing eliminates the sounds coming from the outside, while the mic shields remove reverberations and delays that occur inside the room.
You gain more clarity in sound
You are no longer a newbie podcaster. You have gained experience and insight, and you are not willing to cut corners anymore. You want your podcast episodes to sound crisp and polished. And an easy way to do that is to use a mic isolation shield during recording.
Isolation shields isolate your voice from the other sounds in the ambient environment. They keep unwanted sounds at bay and make things uncomplicated when you do the post-processing. Mic isolation shields improve the signal-to-noise ratio of your podcast recording. Use them and you no longer run the risk of your voice getting drowned in the hum of your air conditioner!
You can stick to a budget
You need not stretch your budget to buy a mic isolation shield. Budget is a big concern for podcasters who record at home. Sure, there are some premium options out there in the market. But there are plenty of budget options that perform well on all counts- like Auray RFDT-128 or Tonor Microphone Isolation Shield. Some of them like the Monoprice Microphone Isolation Shield go on sale quite often.
You want to record small instruments
If you are into musical podcasts or recording music, you might have noticed it’s tough to record music from instruments because of the reverberation. If you want to record any small instrument like a ukele or tambourine, you can use a mic isolation shield to get a clean recording.
You can record in another place
You will not always record at the same place. You might want to record at your hotel room while you travel, or at a friend’s apartment while jamming up with them. Maybe you are meeting someone to interview them for their podcast. A mic isolation shield would be very handy in such scenarios. It is lightweight and small- you can take it along with you when you have to record your podcast on the go. It will help you get a clear recording even when you are outside of your usual environment.
|Mobile isolation||Small size||Large size|
|Consumer rating||4.3 out of 5 stars||4.4 out of 5 stars||4.6 out of 5 stars|
|Dimensions||13.3″ x 13″ x 12.2″|
34 cm x 33 cm x 31 cm
|12.6″ x 11.8″ x 4.7″|
32 cm x 30 cm x 12 cm
|23.5″ x 15.4″ x 11.0″|
60 cm x 39 x 28 cm
|Weight||1.99 lbs (0.9 kg)||3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)||11.4 lbs (5.2 kg)|
|check current price||check current price||check current price|
Things to Check Before Buying a Mic Isolation Shield
Mounting And Placement
Some podcasters prefer to sit and record, while some like to stand and let the words flow. Regardless of your style, you can use a mic isolation shield while recording. If you sit and record, you can get an isolation shield that can be used with a desktop mic. Alternatively, you can find one that attaches to the boom arm. Also, there are mic isolation shields that work both ways.
Isolation Shield Weight
Check that the weight of the shield you are buying is suitable for the mic you use. You should not use a heavy isolation shield on a lightweight mic. Light-weight isolations shields are preferable as they work on all mics, and you can easily carry them in case you need to commute or travel.
Isolation Shield Size
Pay attention to the size of the absorptive filter. It should be large enough to completely cover your mic. If your mic is not completely surrounded by the filter, the isolation shield won’t work effectively. So if your mic has a large surface area, make sure that the isolation shield is big enough to work with it.
Materials And Construction
Opt for a shield made of thick material, as they are great at absorbing sound waves and last longer too.
Portability And Storage
Choose a lightweight and foldable mic isolation shield as it would take less space in your storage, and you can take it with you in your equipment bag when you record outside.
Price And Budget
Needless to say, the price and the budget are important parameters while making your choice. You can find a variety of options at different price ranges. If you are a pro, you can go ahead and buy a premium mic shield. Otherwise, there are brands with prices that give good results without burning a hole in your pocket.
DIY alternative to Mic Isolation Shields
In general, mic isolation shields are great. They do the job, and for the most part, they are esthetic. However, the biggest issue is that the best shields are the largest, which is often not feasible in a small studio or a home setup.
Here are the top 3 DIY alternatives to buying a mic isolation shield:
- record in a close – sounds funny, but many people have practiced it at some point. It is very easy as the acoustics in a closet filled with clothes are just amazing. Of course, you won’t be very comfortable,
- build a pillow fort – it is exactly how it sounds – just stack a bunch of pillows around you, and you are ready to go. Pillows will provide great isolation, but this setup is only applicable if you have a desk near to a wall (for pillows to have some support),
- build a storage fort – this is my favorite solution – it is a perfect DIY solution and an alternative to buying a mic isolation shield. Your storage boxes (check current price) during the day sit in the closet. When you need them, you can quickly get them out and surround yourself with a perfect isolation wall of storage boxes! You can even drop a blanket on top to isolate yourself from the top – a perfect solution, in my opinion.
Mic isolation shields are a great purchase for podcasters. They help you get a clean recording with a high signal-to-noise ratio. And they don’t occupy your whole room or cost you a fortune. You can even fold them and carry them with you in a bag.
You can choose from a wide range of mic isolation shields to suit your needs. Find one that fits in your budget and fits on your mic. I assure you that once you start recording your podcast with a mic isolation shield, you would never want to go back to not using it.