Do Microphone Isolation Shields Work? Are they Worth It?
Are you considering buying a mic isolation shield and wondering if it really works? Professional artists spend a tremendous amount of money to create a recording booth or an isolated place with no external sound.
The microphone isolation shield is a much cheaper alternative for amateurs like us. I can assure you that they’re pretty popular.
But the question remains – Are microphone isolation shields worth it?
The microphone isolation shields absorb the sound waves projected past the microphone capsule. It works as a filter and removes reflections, unwanted noises, and ambient sound. A microphone isolation shield dramatically reduces the echo and reverb from the voice and produces clearer recordings.
In this comprehensive article, we will explain why adding microphone isolation shields to your recording setup is a good idea, which types of shields are the most effective, and how you may use them in the most efficient manner possible.
Table of Contents
What Is A Microphone Isolation Shield
A microphone isolation shield basically functions as a filter, cutting down on extraneous noise as well as ambiance and sound wave reflection.
It does this by isolating the microphone from the surrounding environment, which in turn results in an improvement in the sound quality of the recordings.
The microphone isolation filters are constructed out of dense, uneven acoustic materials, which attenuate and absorb the reflections of sound waves.
Getting rid of this unwanted outside noise helps your vocal recordings to sound clear, dry, and balanced without any coloration.
How do Mic Isolation Shields Work?
Quite frankly, I myself used to think that the mic isolation fields are just fancy gear for podcasters and recording artists who can splurge.
But, boy, was I wrong!
Yes, mic isolation shields do work wonders in improving the audio quality of your recordings.
Most artists like you and I encounter sound-related issues if they record in an environment that is not ideal for clean audio.
If you are recording in a room with poor acoustics, the sound would reflect from different surfaces in the room.
But most importantly, all these unwanted sounds and noises, like hums, pops, clicks, etc., will be picked up by your microphone. And as a result, you would end up spending a lot of time editing.
Isolation shields are typically constructed using rugged materials that are capable of absorbing sound waves.
There are isolation shields that are made of foam, metals like aluminum, acoustic panels, etc.
You may have observed by now that these isolation fields are generally placed on a mic stand behind the mic. Some reflection filters even have clamps that can hold onto the mic.
You can avoid unwanted sounds from interfering with your recording by using an isolation shield for your microphone.
The sound waves will be absorbed by the shield before they reach the microphone. This results in an improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio and makes the audio clear.
Can Isolation Shields Improve Your Audio Recordings?
Here are four significant ways an isolation shield can improve your audio recordings.
1. Recordings made with the help of microphone isolation shields will be cleaner and will not contain as much reverb, ambiance, or reflections as those made without them.
If this is what you want to accomplish, then the answer is yes – they can most definitely make your recordings sound better.
But, not all isolation shields are equally capable of producing cleaner audio recordings.
2. To a large extent, the efficiency of the shield will be determined by its size.
This is primarily due to the fact that the more surface area that is covered by the material, the greater the likelihood that more sound waves will be absorbed.
3. Also, the type of material used to produce the microphone isolation shield also matters a lot.
Some isolation shield manufacturers may use thinner layers of foam or some other soft material that is not as absorbent as dense foam.
If you are looking for a microphone isolation shield that actually works, make sure the shield that you purchase is made with dense foam that is designed primarily for acoustic treatment.
4. Because the shield covers the entire rear area of the capsule, any sounds that originate from the back will be deflected around it and will not be picked up as vividly on the recordings that you create.
If you are recording with a sensitive condenser microphone and someone makes a sound on the other side of the room, the shield will block this sound from reaching the mic capsule because it will create a shield and restrict the sound from traveling across the room.
Advantages of a Microphone Isolation Shield
1. Your recordings will be crisp and clear.
Your voice is shielded from the interference of other sounds coming from the surrounding area when you use an isolation shield.
They prevent the recording of undesired sounds and make the post-processing of the recording easier to accomplish.
The signal-to-noise ratio of your recording will significantly increase if you use a mic isolation shield.
A mic isolation shield can immensely help in eliminating unwanted sounds such as a mouse, keyboard clicks and taps, the humming of the air conditioner, traffic noise, etc., from your recording.
2. You can have your own small in-home recording studio.
Let’s be frank here, our living spaces are not designed for sound recording, unlike a professional studio which is designed keeping in mind acoustic principles.
However, it is possible to eliminate unwanted outside sounds from your recordings by using a mic isolation field.
I strongly recommend that you add a mic isolation shield to your home-recording equipment and make a small recording corner at home for yourself.
Only soundproofing your home will not work as it can be time-consuming and expensive. Also, soundproofing eliminates the sounds coming from the outside, while the mic shields remove reflections and delays that occur inside the room.
3. Mic isolation shields are available for all budgets.
The good news is that you don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket to buy a decent mic isolation shield. Sure, there are some premium options out there in the market. But there are plenty of budget options that perform well on all counts.
4. You can use mic isolation shields to record small instruments.
If you have been recording music for some time, you may have probably observed that it’s difficult to record music from smaller instruments due to the echoes.
If you record with small instruments (shakers, ukuleles, tambourines, etc.), the mic isolation shield will help obtain cleaner recordings with reduced reflections or reverbs.
5. You can take your recording studio wherever you go.
Most of us don’t always record at the same place. We record while traveling or at a friend’s apartment while jamming up with them.
In the circumstances like these, having a mic isolation shield would be really helpful. Because it is portable, lightweight, and compact, you may carry it with you if you need to record while you are traveling.
So even if you are not in your typical setting, you will still be able to get a crisp quality recording with the help of a mic isolation shield.
Recommended Mic Isolation Shields
If you’re looking for a budget option, then I highly recommend considering the TONOR Microphone Isolation Shield.
It is very good at eliminating interference and is an excellent choice for musicians and vocal artists.
If you have a few extra dollars to spare, then you should seriously look at the Aston Microphone Reflection Filter, as it is one of the top-rated microphone shields on the market.
It’s lightweight, has 360-degree filtering, and absorbs more sound than others due to its large surface area.
Alternatives to Mic Isolation Shields
Isolation shields for microphones are pretty useful in most situations. They are functional and, for the most part, aesthetically pleasing as well.
However, the most significant obstacle is that the most effective shields are also the largest, which is typically not practical in a home recording studio or a tiny recording studio.
Check out these three alternatives to purchasing a mic isolation shield:
1. Record in your closet/wardrobe.
Before dismissing it as a silly joke, I suggest giving it a try because I have!
Yes, I once recorded a podcast inside my closet with 50% of my clothes inside. It wasn’t very comfortable, though.
2. Record in a pillow house.
All you need to do is surround yourself with a large number of pillows, and you are ready to go. Pillows will provide excellent isolation.
PS: I have actually never tried this.
3. Stack your storage boxes.
This is what I typically did before purchasing my mic isolation shield.
Just stack up your storage boxes around your recording setup and drop a blanket or a thick bedsheet on top of the boxes.
This setup provided excellent isolation, and each time, I was able to record clear audio without any reverberations.
Well, if you ask me, a microphone isolation shield is an important accessory to have if you’re serious about podcasting or recording. It prevents echoes and other sounds from entering the microphone, allowing you to record clear audio.
You can even take it along while traveling, and it is functional even in confined areas.
Although, if you don’t want to spend money on an isolation shield, you can always try out the alternatives that I suggested in the previous section.
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