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Old April 2nd, 2013, 09:23 PM   #1
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How Rugged are Microphones?

How careful do we need to be when transporting or handling our microphones? They are, after all, a transducer, and I am mindful of some of the more sensitive accelerometers I've worked with. We had accelerometers as low as 5G, which could be destroyed doing nothing more than putting them down on a hard surface too quickly. It was pointed out to me, when I started working with test instrumentation, that lightly tapping a hammer on a hard surface could easily generate a force of negative 200G!

I'm still new to serious audio, and am transporting my growing collection of microphones together in a large plastic container. I keep the fluffy wind muffs on my two shotgun mics to cushion any knocks, and place the lav from my G2 set in a small foam lined box when not using it. Is that enough? Would dropping a mic onto a hard floor destroy it? And which type of microphones would be more prone to damage from rough handling? I've seen pictures of lavs coiled up in mixer cases, but I guess they have the advantage of light weight.

Just a thought, but something I'd be happier if I had better information about.
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Old April 2nd, 2013, 10:34 PM   #2
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Re: How Rugged are Microphones?

Some microphones are very rugged. ElectroVoice used to demonstrate just how rugged by using a model to drive nails into wood 2x4s. (The famous "Buchannan Hammer") Some microphones are very sensitive. A drop to a hard floor or a puff of wind could damage them or render them inoperable.

There is no generic answer to your question. It depends very much on exactly what microphone you are talking about.
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Old April 2nd, 2013, 10:38 PM   #3
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Re: How Rugged are Microphones?

Trevor, dropping any mic won't necessarily 'destroy' it, eg: Rode does successful drop tests on their mics.

But if you do, power it off, put it away and later plug it in and using headphones, listen for any new noises, give it a light shake to see if it's working properly. Better still, just don't drop them :)

Getting there late, setting up in a hurry, changing setups at the last minute all contribute to bad practices, especially when you're new .. so plan ahead.
Keep a list of all gear in your case, and pack things the night before the recording.

Another tip is to keep sachets of fresh Silicagel in each mic case. Some gear comes with Silicagel in their case, don't throw them away they absorb moisture and help prevent mold and fungus from growing in the mic. You can buy packets of new Silicagel, in permeable type sachets.

Silica gel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But take care refreshing the sachets, read the safety instructions and keep them away from kids.

Cheers.
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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Re: How Rugged are Microphones?

It depends. The SM58 is legendary, not only proven so by normal on-stage abuse since 1966, Shure employees (and others) have dropped them from extreme heights and many other forms of unthinkable abuse, including running one over with a tour bus.. Unfortunately they're not particularly useful for boom or run & gun sound for picture.
Condensers are less robust, but a good quality shotgun or hyper should survive the usual 'accidents'. Lavs should be considered as 'expendables', as their life span is usually short if used every day on-set. They are usual not repairable when the common issue of the cable gets pulled out of the head. The talent is usually very anxious to get it off no matter what it takes. Instructing the talent to not remove it themselves usually goes-in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, but VMMV.
Regardless, all mics should stored/protected and transported in cases and handed like any other instrument.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 12:16 AM   #5
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Re: How Rugged are Microphones?

There was a post here quite recently about a B6 having its cable ruined by hasty talent, and the person getting shock at how much they cost. I downloaded all the sample files from Dan Brockett's huge wired lav comparison a while back, so I could easily flick between them. The B6 stood out by a clear margin to my ears, and is definitely on my audio wish list.

It seems that we don't need to mollycoddle our microphones by the answers above, but I somehow can't imagine myself consciously mishandling my kit. Thanks for the replies.

[EDIT] I'd better link to the lav comparison

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/lavs_brockett.html
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Old April 4th, 2013, 10:30 AM   #6
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Re: How Rugged are Microphones?

The B6 sounds good and is great for hiding 'in plain sight', at the hairline, on eyeglasses, behind buttons, ect. The cons: It's prone to LF wind noise and it's a PITA to work with the conventional tie clip set-up due to the almost 'fishing line' sized cable.
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