Audio, Editor's Choice 2019, Reviews

The Rycote USM Kit is a godsend for studio mics

rycote universal studio mount kit

With studio condenser microphones like my favourite sE2200A usually come nice shock mounts. The only problem is that these are heavy and wear out quickly because the shock absorbers are elastic rubber bands. When I saw how well Rycote’s Softie Duo-Lyre Mount with pistol grip handle works with a Deity S-Mic 2 shotgun, I decided to give the company’s InVision Universal Studio Mount Kit a try.

The Rycote InVision USM kit was what I got. It contains both the shock mount itself and a screw-on pop filter. The shock mount is made of Rycote’s special “Hytrel” plastic with the typical Lyres to dampen shocks and vibrations the mic may be subjected to. The 3/8in mounting screw hole is made of brass and the box contains a 3/8in to 1/4in brass adapter. The internal mount has four screws with what feels like silicon rubber discs; these can be adjusted to ‘grab’ microphones with a diameter of 18mm to 68mm. They are used to fix the microphone in place. A large, sturdy rotating knob completes the package.

The pop filter is an oval add-on that sits on a screw-mounted clamp with a screw fitting the outer ring of shock mounts of 3mm and 12.5mm. It sits at the right distance from the mic and, once in place, the pop filter itself can be rotated parallel to the front of the microphone so that you can use the mic with or without the filter without the need to mount/unmount it. The filter itself is a custom made foam mesh that allows for cleaning and replacement.

I was a bit worried that the shock mount fixation system – the four screws with the silicon discs – wouldn’t offer the same peace-of-mind as the large screw-in-place thread at the bottom of the sE2200A, but it’s actually the opposite. I trust the Rycote system more than the original because even taking the mic off its original shock mount a couple of times has already created wear on the thread of the mounting screw so that it becomes increasingly more difficult to do that again. In addition, the felt disc on the sE Electronics metal shock mount has become so thin that it can’t possibly be protecting the mic against vibration sounds anymore.

Nothing of the kind is prone to be happening with the Rycote USM mount, simply because it’s a different material and a better design. Even in the details, the Rycote is superior. For example, at the ‘neck’ of the USM mount, just above where the mount touches the mic stand, Rycote has added a cable guide that holds the cable in position at the XLR connection point – decreasing the risk of cable noise. This works well with ‘ordinary’ microphone cables but not so well with the Chord Cream cable that I tried it with – that one is simply too rigid to let itself route through any guide properly.

Pop filter

I was very curious as to whether the synthetic material of the pop filter would be adding any sound colouration that isn’t there without the filter in place. The sE Electronics metal pop filter that I bought years ago doesn’t affect the sound colour any bit, but it doesn’t filter out all of the sibilance, nor all of the pops I often generate. The Rycote does filter out all of that but does add a tiny bit of colour. It’s quite hard to hear, but if you really pay attention, you’ll be able to hear a slightly fuller sound being recorded when the filter is up than when the filter is down.

However, it certainly is no deal breaker and you’ll probably not hear it unless you have been listening to a recording with the filter up and down for a dozen times like I’ve done for this review.

The conclusion: as with Rycote’s Softie Duo-Lyre Mount with pistol grip handle, I am impressed with the quality and effectiveness of the company’s InVision USM Kit product. The USM Kit costs around €120.

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