Sometimes it’s the little things in
life that count
While we spend a lot of time and money maximizing the high-profile
parts of our rig—amplifiers, microphones, monitors, preamps,
compressors, interfaces—we don’t always pay enough attention to all
the stuff that goes in between. Stands, cables, and other accessories
can easily be the weak link in your system if you’re not paying close
attention. Do you really want to connect your classic mic and vintage
preamp using a $10 cable?
This month, we focus on a range of accessories for studio and
stage that are designed to improve sound quality and workflow
without emptying your wallet—from smartphone and tablet stands
to gadgets that make recording more convenient. (Prices given are
MSRP unless otherwise noted.)
AirTurn offers a variety of products aimed at
musicians who use mobile devices. One of the
newest is Manos Mount, a universal stand-mounting
system that was designed to mimic
the way your hand grips objects between the
thumb and fingers. As a result, the Manos
Mount can hold anything from a smartphone
to a 13-inch tablet.
Manos Mount attaches to the top of a mic
stand. The two arms have grips at either end
that you open by squeezing their outer edges.
Once you’ve clamped your device in place,
tighten the side-screws on the arms to secure
it. Your screen can be rotated 360 degrees,
letting you use your screen in landscape or
portrait view. In addition, the mount can be
tilted back to make the screen easier to read
whether you’re sitting or standing.
AirTurn also offers Bluetooth-enabled
wireless, digital page-turning devices so that musicians can keep their hands on their
instruments while reading scores. Because
drummers also use their feet when playing,
the company created AirTurn Tap, a special
pad-based interface that reacts to being struck
lightly by fingers or sticks.
The pads, which utilize piezo sensors, can be
used to turn pages in either direction, start and
stop a metronome, or trigger sound files, among
other things. Tap’s Bluetooth system is based
around the company’s BT-105 tranceiver, the
same device used in its pedal-activated systems.
Short for “professional gobo,”
the ProGo-26 is a lightweight
and portable two-sided
absorber panel that can be
used to control reflections,
alter room ambience, or
increase isolation between
instruments when recording.
Measuring 2'x6'x8", the panel
has a fabric cover that is available in 12 colors
and a base laminated with Melamine that can
be fitted with casters.
If you need something that covers a greater
horizontal area, Auralex offers the ProGo-44
($789), a 4'x4'x8" panel that can also be fitted
$299 per pair
For even greater
provides a pair of
2'x4'x3" panels made
from the company’s
Studiofoam material. Designed to be easily
stand-mounted and placed anywhere, the
ProMax panels have an absorptive side and a
more reflective, cloth-wrapped side that provides
another option when treating room ambience.
If you want to improve low- and midrange
definition, as well as the imaging you get
from your close-field monitors, you need to
decouple them from the surface on which
they’re placed. The ProPad is Auralex’s top-of-the-
line speaker isolation product for monitors
with woofers up to 8".
Available in pairs, the ProPad’s design
incorporates three layers of material. The base is
made from a 0.75" layer of Melamine-wrapped
MDF, which is coated with a thick covering of
IsoPuck, Auralex’s proprietary isolation material
created from recycled rubber. Next, an 0.38"
ISO-Plate provides a slip-resistant area to place
your speakers. The included foam wedges sit
under the ProPad and allow you to position your
monitors flat or at an angle.
Auralex also offers the ProPad XL ($299/
pair street), which is designed for larger, twin-woofer
monitors, or when you want to lay your
ClearSonic SKT3 Sorber Kick
It’s not uncommon for engineers to build a
cave around a bass drum and its mic in order to
reduce cymbal and tom bleed while attempting
to capture the full low-end frequencies of the kick. The Kick Tunnel provides an elegant and
appropriately tuned solution that is designed
to reduce upper and mid frequencies while
reducing bleed from external sound sources.
The Kick Tunnel uses four ClearSonic
Sorber panels, made with 1.5" compressed
Fiberglas. You get three S3 panels (33"x22"
each) and one S2 panel (24"x22"), which are
connected with the included Velcro straps.
The Sorber panels are available in light or dark
gray. (The Kick Tunnel is semitransparent in
the photo to show typical mic placement.)
A number of amplifier enclosures for concert and
studio work are available from ClearSonic. The
AmpPac 10, for example, is designed for small
combo amps and speaker cabs (such as a 1"x10"
or 1"x12"). The pair of included S2 Sorber panels
(24"x22") are intended to sit behind the amp
cabinet, while an A2-4 amp shield is positioned
in front of the speaker to provide a significant
reduction in volume outside the enclosure.
For greater sound isolation, the AmpPac
11 ($324) adds an S3 Sorber panel, which
is intended to be placed on the top of the
Goby has upgraded its Tablet Frame Thingy to the
Deluxe level, providing new clips designed to hold Apple iPads from the second-generation version
on up to the iPad Mini. The device mounts to a
mic stand using the closed-loop pole grip.
Tablet Frame Thingy Deluxe also comes
with a base that allows you to place the tablet
on any stable, flat surface.
Hosa’s SuperSpeed cables were developed
specifically with USB 3.0 spec compliance in
mind and are able to handle transfer rates up
to 5 Gbps. Available in lengths of 3', 6', and 15',
the nickel-plated plugs have an aluminummylar
shield designed to reduce EMI and RFI,
which is of particular importance when the
cables are used for audio applications.
The SuperSpeed cables are available with
Type B or Micro-B connections on one end,
making them compatible with computers as
well as portable and consumer devices.
Hosa Edge Series
Hosa’s flagship line of guitar, mic, and
speaker cables use oxygen-free copper (OFC) conductors throughout and are finished off
with high-quality Neutrik connectors. The
Edge Series mic cables ($45–$145) feature
Neutrik’s XX-series connectors, which have
corrosion-resistant gold-plated contacts and
zinc die-cast housing. Similarly, the Edge
Series guitar cables ($46–$81) have X-series
plugs with 1-piece, gold-plated contacts and
die-cast zinc housing. Both lines contain 20
AWG OFC conductors with a 95-percent OFC
braided shield. The Edge Series speaker cables
($37–$232) feature 1-piece contacts and use 12
AWG OFC conductors.
All this attention to detail means that Edge
Series cables are designed to provide minimal
signal loss thanks to the reduced capacitance
and resistance of the materials that Hosa chose
for these designs.
Cable snakes with a DB-25 connector on one
end provide a great deal of efficiency in the
studio. But with so many connector types
used in audio gear, covering all of your cabling
options on the other end of the snake can
become very expensive.
The Planet Waves Modular Snake System was
designed to provide cost-effective wiring options
by letting you connect a Core Cable, which has a
D-sub on both sides, to interchangeable breakout
cables with different connector configurations
on the other side. That means you can leave one
end of the Core Cable plugged into the hardware
unit, so you don’t have to crawl behind racks of
gear to reconfigure your studio.
The Core Cables are available in 5', 10', and
25' lengths. The breakout connectors have a
D-Sub on one end and a pigtail of TRS, XLR
(male, female, digital AES/EBU), or Bantam/TT on the other. If you want to configure
your own pigtail with a custom set of jacks, Planet Wave offers a breakout cable without
connectors, allowing you to solder on the ones
that fit your personal studio needs.
Primacoustic makes a full range of acoustic
isolation tools. Among the most handy are
the remarkably affordable IsoTools, each of
which is designed for a specific application.
For example, VoxGuard ($120) is a lightweight
and portable acoustic screen meant to mitigate
room tone when vocal recording, whether
you’re capturing singing or dialog. The ABS
plastic shell is lined with 1"-thick high-density,
open-cell acoustic foam. The included adapter
attaches the unit to a standard mic stand
without much effort. Primacoustic also makes
a freestanding desktop version, called the
VoxGuard DT ($69), which is geared toward
podcasting and informal recording situations.
A larger, more permanent system for isolating
a vocal mic from surrounding ambient sound is
the FlexiBooth ($449), which is designed to be
surface-mounted on a wall. You can tailor the
amount of room tone you capture by varying the
degree to which you open the doors, and by the
placement of the vocalist and mic. When the
doors are closed, the cabinet size is 2'x4'. The
enclosure is made with Melamine-covered MDF wood-composite. Inside, the doors are covered
with 1"-thick absorptive panels, and a 2"-thick,
fabric-wrapped Fiberglas panel is in the center.
The panels are available in gray or beige.
Engineers who record drums will appreciate
the Primacoustic CrashGuard, specifically
designed to shield microphones from errant
drumsticks as well as reduce bleed from nearby
instruments such as cymbals. The CrashGuard
is made from ABS plastic, lined with a high-density
acoustic foam, and available in a
standard 7" model ($40) that covers a wide
variety of instrument mics. The CrashGuard 421
($55) is 8.5" long and built to protect Sennheiser
MD 421 large-element dynamic mics.
The KickStand ($90) decouples a microphone
and boom arm from resonance traveling through
the floor or drum riser. The mic boom attaches
to a steel plate that is separated from the floor by
a slab of high-density, open-cell acoustic foam.
Additionally, the KickStand’s low profile makes
it a practical device for close-miking amplifiers,
cello, and acoustic bass.
Primacoustic also offers a sound-isolation
solution for the traditional tripod mic stand.
The Tripad ($25) is a set of three acoustic-foam
isolation disks, each of which has a
beveled notch cut into it that attaches easily to
the leg of the tripod. The pads come in a handy
tube that provides protection when you store
them between sessions.
Dual Effects Router
In terms of innovative accessories for every
musical occasion, Radial Engineering ranks
at the top of the charts. Take, for example, the
Twinline Dual Effects Router, which allows the
rear-panel effects loops from a pair of amplifier
heads to share the same pedalboard. You
can then switch between each amp’s effects
loop using the front-panel button, or Radial’s
JR2 remote control. The latter gives you the
option of not only switching between amps but
bypassing the effects loop, as well.
Each amp is connected to the corresponding
channel of the Twinline using 1/4" send and
receive jacks. Each send and receive input has
its own level control, and each channel has a
polarity switch. Ground-lift switches are also
provided. The pedalboard is connected to the
remaining send and receive jacks, using either
1/4" or XLR cables.
The Twinline is housed in 14-gauge steel,
with a nonslip pad stuck to the bottom. The
unit is powered by a 15VDC supply.
The StageBug series provides a host of
convenient and inexpensive solutions for
studio and concert work, and the EarMuff is
the perfect example. It simply mutes one side
of a pair of stereo headphones so that, when
a singer removes one earcup to hear herself
in the room, that dangling speaker won’t spill
music into the open microphone.
The EarMuff includes pro-level features,
such as a passive design (doesn’t require
external power), a mono summing switch,
a mute button, and both 1/4" and 3.5mm
stereo outputs. It even comes with a 3-year
You know that sinking feeling when you have more condenser mics than phantom-powered
inputs on your board? That’s when you’ll want
this Power Bar to give you an extra boost. This
simple little box provides two channels of
+48VDC phantom power when you connect its
external power supply to your AC power mains.
And onboard LED lets you know when it’s on.
The Power Bar can also be switched to
provide +12VDC to products that require less
power. The SB-48 is housed in 16-guage steel
and includes a 3-year transferable warranty.
And while we’re
on the subject of
power, the new
Tailbone is designed
to provide the power required by Radial’s tubeless Tonebone pedals
when they’re used with third-party pedalboard
power supplies that only offer -9VDC outputs.
Tailbone accepts two -9VDC inputs
and yields a +15VDC power source for the
Tonebone. The unit is encased in lightweight
aluminum, so it won’t further weigh down
your rig. And, yes, the 3-year transferable
warranty is included.
Whether you are gigging or loading in and
out of a studio, a sturdy cart is essential
when it’s time to schlepp heavy gear such as
amps, keyboards, and drum cases from the
back of your van. Although similar in looks
to the popular R10, the R16 has a beefier
frame, boasting a 25-percent increase in the
diameter of the tubing in the parts of the
frame where it’s needed most for structural
integrity: The frame bed has 1.25" tubing,
while the foldable handles are 1" in diameter
and extend to 52" in length. That allows
this cart to carry up to 600 lbs. of vintage
keyboards, amplifier stacks, or hard-shell
The length of the cart is 34" when fully
retracted, and it weighs 33 lbs. on its own. In
addition, the company increased the size of the
casters by 200 percent, which they say allows
the R16 to cross a wider variety of surfaces,
including gravel, sand, soft dirt, and grass—that’s something to keep in mind when you’re
hitting the summer festival circuit.
$29.99 and $139 street
One of the advantages of using electronic
drums, and mesh-headed V-Drums in
particular, is that they’re not as loud as real drums, making practice time less intrusive
on the neighbors. But even with the most
quiet pads, stand-borne vibration can still be
transmitted through the floor and into other
To battle this problem, Roland has
developed its Noise Eater line of products
to acoustically isolate V-Drum pedals and
stands from the floor. The NE-10 is a sound-isolation
board, with dome-shaped rubber
nubs underneath, designed to sit below a kick-drum
pedal or hi-hat pedal. The NE-1 is a
small disk that you place under the legs of the
Although these products raise the
instruments slightly, they are designed to be
transparent, both in sound transmission and
feel for the player. The company claims that
these isolators reduce noise transmission by
a whopping 75 percent. Not bad, considering
that the V-Drums are fairly quiet already.
Technical editor Gino Robair just loves to