Primacoustic IsoTools Quick Pick Review - EMusician

Primacoustic IsoTools Quick Pick Review

Getting a great vocal, drum, or instrument sound in a top-end studio can be a challenge. Move into a lesser facility, and the task becomes that much more difficult. With that in mind, Primacoustic debuts IsoTools, an affordable line of acoustical accessories that can give you an edge in difficult environments.
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KickStand is based on Primacoustic''s Recoil Stabilizer, using the same principle to decouple the kick mic.

Getting a great vocal, drum, or instrument sound in a top-end studio can be a challenge. Move into a lesser facility, and the task becomes that much more difficult. With that in mind, Primacoustic debuts IsoTools, an affordable line of acoustical accessories that can give you an edge in difficult environments. The range includes VoxGuard, TriPad, CrashGuard, KickStand, and TelePad. The latter—a mic stand-mount for Apple''s iPhone 4—has nothing to do with acoustics, but it is a slick little $35 gadget that puts chord charts, lyrics, or a guitar tuner/remote-control/recording app right at your fingers and can swivel 360 degrees for portrait or landscape display.

VOXGUARD
An “ambient noise attenuator,” VoxGuard is a mini-gobo that surrounds the mic to reduce the possibility of unwanted sounds from entering the mic while minimizing room reflections for a neutral sound. It comprises a lightweight, high-impact ABS outer shell lined with open-cell acoustical foam. Mounting your mic is fairly easy, although the process is a lot simpler with a second person, especially when dealing with larger mic/shockmount combos. Primacoustic says that VoxGuard works fine with round base stands, but I''d definitely stick with tripod stands, which offer more stability. A cable-exit cut-out at the rear of the unit makes setups easier, especially with front-address mics.

In the studio, VoxGuard definitely did the trick—both for overdubs and laying down vocals at the same time as rhythm tracks, where every bit of added isolation helps when you don''t have the luxury of working with an iso booth. I also found this a great help with a single mic (or stereo bar-mounted) pair of condensers used on a tall boom to capture distance ambience that focused on the room sound with less ceiling reflections. Nice! As with all products of this type, trying to read narration, lyrics, or music is an issue, but that''s just the nature of the beast. But at an affordable $99 street, VoxGuard is a must-have accessory for the pro or project studio.

CRASHGUARD
Another ABS outer-shell/acoustical foam-lined design, CrashGuard ($40) is intended to shield a drum mic from the sound of nearby cymbals. It easily mounts onto the boom arm of any mic stand and has a rear cut-out for cable exit, as well as allowing swiveling for a downward angle on snares or toms. I liked CrashGuard from the start; it really does what it claims and is useful on drums and hi-hat mics. In some cases, the housing is just too large for snare placement, depending on the drummer and the kit. It works great with most drum dynamics (SM57 and Audix i5) and pencil condensers such as Neumann KM84/184 or AKG C 451, although it''s too short for an E-V RE20—one of my floor toms mics of choice. I also experimented using CrashGuards with a pair of Royer SF-1 figure-8 ribbon mics to impede rear sounds from entering the mics. This created a semi-cardioid effect so I could use the SF-1s for drum overheads in places with poor room acoustics.

TRIPAD
TriPad is a set of $20 foam booties that slip over tripod legs to prevent stage or floor vibrations from entering the mic. By decoupling the stand from the floor, these mic-stand isolators can reduce unwanted resonances created by drums, bass, or footfalls, but I was less impressed with these than the other IsoTools. In such instances, a touch of highpass filtering usually clears up the picture. Also, on critical mics such as overheads, I typically use shockmounts anyway, but TriPads could be helpful in live stereo recording situations where avoiding EQ is the goal and stage rumble is problematic.

KICKSTAND
My fave in the line, KickStand ($75) is a bass-drum boom-stand isolator using a weighty metal base on a high-density foam isolation pad to keep stage, drum riser, and studio floor resonances from entering the mic. Based on the company''s Recoil Stabilizer used for studio near-fields, KickStand uses the same principle to decouple the kick mic. When miking kick drums (live or studio), EQ''ing the bottom end to eliminate resonances isn''t always the best plan and here''s where KickStand really shines. Also, while unwanted LF resonance is a major problem on stages or drum risers, the problem also occurs in studios, especially with wood floor over joist construction (it''s hardly an issue with cement floors), particularly when tracking/performing live. With KickStand, the difference was clear and audible, resulting in a tighter, punchier kick sound. But it''s not just for kick drums—it''s equally suited for miking other LF sources such as acoustic bass or bass amps.

Overall rating (1 through 5): 4
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