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Microphone Mounts
Microphone Mounts
Audio Products
Audio Products
Microphone Mounts


Exploraudio Range

Exploraudio designs and builds products to simplify and/or improve the capture and reproduction of music [...]

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Live performance

move with the music

There are as many techniques for creating the perfect sound on stage as there are performers and technicians [...]

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Studio Recording

lock onto perfect tone

Despite the relatively controlled (and controllable) environment of the recording studio, capturing just the right sound [...]

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Studio Recording

Despite the relatively controlled (and controllable) environment of the recording studio, capturing just the right sound can be every bit as elusive as getting the amplification right on stage. Exploraudio products are designed to:

  • make the process of capturing the right sound easier
  • open new avenues for experimentation with the palette of sound
  • let musicians perform as expressively as they wish, without ruining careful microphone set-ups

The more obvious ways in which Exploraudio products achieve this are described in these applications notes for studio recording.


Amplification of a live performance on stage and recording a performance, whether on stage or in the studio, are two very different situations. Each has its own challenges but both strive to achieve the best possible performance and sound and are fraught with difficulty and frustrations. Although, in the studio, the musicians and technicians don't have to be as concerned about achieving perfection in a single 'take', there are many factors, artistic, technical, logistical and financial, that conspire to limit the number of times a performance can be repeated in search of that perfection.

Please click one of the following titles to jump to the aspect of the recording process of most interest:



General information and advice about using microphones and pickups can be found on the Live Performance page. 


The problem

Unless you’re looking specifically for a semi-electrified tone, as popularised originally by guitars such as the Ovation, the best way to capture the sound of an acoustic stringed instrument is using a microphone. Even modestly priced microphones should deliver a cleaner, more natural sound. Unfortunately, traditionally the improved sound has always come at the expense of convenience and freedom of movement. Although setting up an electro-acoustic instrument’s pick-up system and the EQ / effects required to create a good approximation to the instrument’s true acoustic tone can be as frustrating and time-consuming as setting up a mic, at least once it’s done, it stays done.

The problem with mics is that it only takes the slightest movement of the mic or performer for the ‘sweet spot’ to be lost. Finding the sweet spot in the first place can be just as frustrating for the same reason. Equally annoying, a musician who moves during the performance can create unpleasant tonal and/or phase transition effects. While experienced session musicians often become accustomed to remaining motionless during their performance, the whole process can still be laborious and frustrating, particularly with long takes and multiple re-takes. Inevitably, the more tedious or uncomfortable the process becomes for the musician, the more likely it is that their state of mind will be detrimental to the spontaneity, subtlety or emotion of their performance.

Faced with a choice between the compromised tonality of pick-ups and a flat or bad tempered performance due to lack of freedom of movement, it’s perhaps not surprising that both musicians and technicians sometimes favour the ‘easier’ option. The ‘spirit’ versus ‘tonality’ debate will always divide opinion but there’s little more disappointing than hearing a truly inspiring performance diminished by the output from a pick-up. Despite the impressive advances in pickup and sound imaging technology of recent years, pickups remain handicapped by the fundamentals of their design. Unlike our ears (and microphones), which sense the changes in air pressure (sound) created by vibrating objects, pickups sense the vibrations themselves. Converting the vibrations into sound involves manipulating electronic waveforms to mimic the effect of the vibration on the air surrounding the instrument. Sound imaging can improve this mimicry but it is still attempting to calculate what the instrument should sound like, instead of capturing how it actually does sound.



The answer

Given that a good microphone will always sound more natural than even the most sophisticated pickup system (and the instrument you want to record may well not have a pickup at all), the best solution would be a microphone that can be moved easily to find the ‘sweet spot’ and then held there, no matter how much the musician moves around during or between performances.

Microphones embedded in clamping devices go a long way towards solving this problem but if you don’t want (or need) the particular mic built-into the mounting device, it’s not much help. What’s more, some of these devices may not have been designed with the protection of the musical instrument as a paramount consideration.

The H-clamp InstruMount solves both of these problems. Its design is based on the clamps (or more accurately, cramps) used by stringed instrument makers (luthiers) to squeeze together very tightly the panels of the instrument’s body while the glue used to join them dries. As a large number of these cramps may be used all round the instrument body, they must be quick and easy to fit but more important, they must not damage the instrument in any way. The H-clamp capitalises on this centuries-old, tried and tested cramp design to provide the mechanism for attaching a microphone mount securely to the edge of instruments from mandolins to double basses. It can be attached, repositioned and removed quickly and easily and no matter how hard it is tightened (by hand), it won’t damage the instrument. The result is a very stable fixing bracket on which to mount a microphone. With all but the most unusual profiles (highly domed soundboards or back panels) of body, the H-clamp’s cramp can be tightened securely enough to carry a mic up to (and beyond) the maximum design weight of 500g (1.1lb).

For simplicity of mic attachment and positional adjustment, the H-clamp has a boom with a threaded end that fits any European standard mic clip or shockmount. All units purchased outside Europe can be supplied with an adaptor that converts the thread to the US standard for mic clips and shockmounts (the adaptors are available from most professional equipment suppliers but can also be purchased on from Exploraudio).

The combination of freedom to attach the H-clamp anywhere around the edge of the instrument and the adjustable length of the standard boom, means that options for mic positioning are essentially limitless. The result is that it’s normally relatively easy to find a position where not only is the mic held in the ideal spot for capturing the desired tone but it won’t interfere with the musician’s playing action.

Although anything attached to a stringed instrument can potentially affect its tone, because the H-clamp grips right on the edge of the body (where the body’s design makes it both very rigid and extremely strong) and overlaps the front and back panels only slightly, it’s effect is, for all practical purposes, inaudible. Under highly controlled test conditions, where the instrument is mounted in a support (ie. not held by a musician), and the strings plucked or bowed in a reliably repeatable fashion (not very musical), extremely subtle tonal variations might be identified by electronic waveform analysers with some instruments and particular mounting positions. However, these are not discernable by the human ear in ‘blind’ trials and as soon as a musician holds the instrument, their interaction with it (physically cradling, gripping, etc) masks entirely any effect the H-clamp may be having on its tone.



The advantages


The major advantages of the H-clamp are:


1.  Easier to locate the ‘sweet spot’ for the mic

2.  Musicians can move freely during their performance

3.  Musicians can take breaks (long or short) at any time

4.  Recording sessions can be split overnight (or longer)

5.  Multiple separate takes can be spliced together

6.  Less clutter and fewer trip hazards in the studio

7.  Less risk of ‘mic strike’ on instruments

8.  Ideal complement / backup to pickups for live (on stage) recording


1. Locating the sweet spot

Holding an instrument completely still while trying to find the precise mic position where the tone captured is perfect (the sweet spot) can be maddeningly difficult and time consuming. It’s hard enough when the musician has a sound engineer to position the mic for them, while they try to remain motionless but when the musician is also the sound engineer (as in most ‘home’ studios), it can seem practically impossible. With the H-clamp, there’s only one variable to worry about (the positioning of the mic) as the musician’s own movements have no effect. The result is it is much quicker and easier to locate the sweet spot, particularly if you’re both musician and sound engineer.


2. Freedom of movement during takes

While it is certainly not impossible for a musician to remain sufficiently still during a performance to avoid losing the sweet spot, it can be uncomfortable and add significant stress to the process, particularly in ‘home’ studio recording. Simply leaning over to the recording console to adjust a setting or start the take can lead to the sweet spot being lost. Equally, any constraint felt by the musician may inhibit their performance. The effect may be subtle, perhaps too subtle to be discernable in a ‘bread & butter’ backing track. However, for a solo piece or ‘feature’ backing instrument, it could make the difference between a competent rendition and a truly great performance. When using the H-clamp, all these worries are eliminated. The artist can move at will, giving free reign to their playing style, however expressive.


3. Taking a break

Just as the liberation and comfort afforded by freedom of movement during a take can improve the performance, so can the ability to grab breaks between, or even during, takes. The more comfortable, uninhibited, relaxed and content the musician, the more likely they are to give the best possible performance. Comfort breaks can help immensely, not just for physical comfort but perhaps more importantly, to make the whole experience more palatable / enjoyable for the musician and technician alike. It may be hard for the musician to stick at it until the ultimate performance is safely in the can but it can also be tough for the ‘back-room’ artists trying to capture that ultimate performance. Not only can coaxing a great performance out of an increasingly irritable musician be frustrating but the pressure of trying to capture it before weariness or indifference sets in can often compound the problem. The H-clamp releases musician and technician alike from this unnecessary constraint. It doesn’t make breaks compulsory but it does mean the recording team can time them to best effect, without fear of having to waste time repeating the set-up process each time. What’s more, because the set-up remains completely constant, it may even be possible for sections of two separate takes to be spliced together seamlessly.


4. Splitting recording sessions

When the recording set-up is capturing a great sound but the performance just won’t come together, there may be a strong temptation to just plough on and make do with the best take the day produces. Sometimes persistence can pay dividends but often, it’s a lost cause. With the H-clamp, if it’s clear the day isn’t going to produce anything usable or the all-important ‘spark’ is missing, the musician can be given the rest of the day (or longer) off, safe in the knowledge that when they return, there will be no time wasted trying to recapture the perfect sound.


In summary, the H-clamp may not be able to turn a mediocre musician into a star performer but it combines the convenience and practicality of pick-ups with the sound quality unique to microphones by:

·      Allowing the best microphone to be selected for the desired tone / dynamics

·      Allow musicians to deliver their best, unencumbered performances

·      Reduce the musician’s stress during recording sessions

·      Allow the sweet spot to be found and ‘locked’

·      Make the recording engineer’s life much easier


In a nutshell, the H-clamp delivers Freedom of Expression through:

Freedom of microphone choice

Freedom from problems with finding and maintaining the sweet spot

Freedom from constraints on musicians’ performance

Freedom from constraints on performance schedules

Freedom from sonic incompatibility between separate recordings