George Whittam on the VO-BB (and of Eldorado Recording Services in LA) brought to our attention in the "Gear" section one day not so long ago, a new hardware product: The M600 by Enhanced Audio. The M600 is a microphone mount.
A couple people mentioned they heard of it, mostly to the good. One fellow VO artist — Gregory Houser — mentioned that he’d been using one on and off and liked it well enough as a shockmount. Kitzie Stern said she had it — and in her words, "I love it".
Another person noticed that among the limited distribution points in America (the M600 is made in Ireland), was a VegasProAudio.
I live in Las Vegas, and promised the folks on the board I’d find the location, and stop by to take a look at the piece of equipment.
Interestingly enough, VegasProAudio’s Marketing Manager, Todd Peterson, had picked-up on that traffic (and a post I’d made about the M600 on my blog) and wrote me e-mail. They don’t have a store-front, so-to-speak…so I trudged over to their suite in an industrial complex nearby and picked-up an evaluation model.
What follows is my unabashed impression of the M600.
First of all, I’m not a sound engineer, an audiophile, a vibration or noise-interference expert, or a seasoned production manager. I’m just a gear-head. Like most (especially male) voice-talent working at home in my own studio, I tend to believe that better equipment makes for a better sound — even though there are well-known flaws in that logic.
The thought that a MIC-MOUNT (for Chrissake!) could actually improve the quality of the sound signal going into my DAW was a novel, albeit believable argument to me. Geez, I’d always thought all the elastic bands, spidering their way back and forth from my mic to my traditional mic-mount was already too-cool-for-school, and techy-looking enough that it HAD to be the ultimate. But apparently not. There’s the M600.
My evaluation M600 came with the following sound analysis: (click to open in new window)
View this photo
Again, I’m no sound engineer, but I’m no dummy either. I’ve got a graduate degree, and I’ve taken graduate-level math and statistical analysis courses. Enhanced Audio claims this chart CLEARLY shows a SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION "in the transmission of Infrasonic vibrations". OK, I have no idea what infrasonic vibrations are, but I studied this chart for a good half-hour, and it doesn’t look all that clear to me. I’m gonna hafta take their word on the esoterica of audio finer points.
The Bottom Line for most voice-over artists is: does it "sound" any better?….meaning absolutely subjectively, to the listener’s ear (a fickle thing, to be sure) can you tell a difference?
Here’s how I used the M600….on my AKGC3000B (a $300 mic). I chose NOT to use my Sennheiser MKH416 P48 for this, ’cause I was intrigued how well the M600 would handle the more challenging grip configuration of the AKG. (click any of the pics for a bigger pop-up)
It handled the challenge spectacularly! Let me just say that this is one splendidly-tooled piece of equipment. To take it out of the box and hold it in your hand, you realize someone put an incredible amount of engineering into the design and choice of materials for this shockmount.
It’s heavy. Smooth. Polished and brushed aluminum. Recessed hex-bolts hold crucial pieces together unobtrusively. It has gravitas. The unit comes with an instruction manual.
At the heart of it’s design are 6 pivoting thrust-pads that make contact with the microphone. Big thumbscrews help you to incrementally tighten the thrust-pads onto the stem of the microphone. According to the manual: "When contact has been established, the microphone is protected from disturbance caused by structural and ground-born external vibrations".
I believe ‘em. Everything about this mount reeks of quality and high precision. That by itself makes me think some very smart people did their homework in making this thing.
I’d almost buy it alone just for the easy-to-use hand levers that help you position the main body of the mount to the mic-stand. Extremely user-friendly!
The M600 sells for $225 USD. I don’t need this thing. Not really. I can’t tell the difference in the sound.
Or can I?
I WANT to hear the difference ’cause I really don’t want to take it back. It is such a handsome edition to my audio-chain that I’m loathe to return it. I mean if it really does everything the experts who designed it CLAIM, then isn’t it a worthwhile investment?
My final word: Most new or even well-experienced voice-over actors will not probably need the M600 to improve the sound in their home-studio. I’m thinking $225 on a decent pre-amp or towards a better mic might have greater impact.
But for those who appreciate expertly-designed and manufactured equipment, this is the M600-line Mercedes-style quality of the same name. Top notch. If it REALLY does what the sound engineers say it does…all the better.
I just think it’s an item that would market better to the talent who is on a never-ending quest to find the finest, loves to drop names, and has the spare cash to spend.