The 9 Best Isolation Shields
9. LyxPro VRI-30
8. Neewer Portable
7. Auralex MudGuard v2
6. Rockville RMF1
5. Monoprice Microphone 602650
4. Pyle Compact
3. Marantz Professional Live
2. SE Electronics Space
1. Griffin Studio Foam Panel
How An Isolation Shield Works
Microphones amplify any sound that goes into them, but that can include unwanted audio from around the room. Audiences of live performances expect to hear some ambient noise, but when someone purchases a CD or a recorded version of that, they usually want clean and clear sound. Isolation shields allow performers to deliver studio-quality sound outside of the controlled environment of a recording room. This device is placed behind a microphone and blocks out any extra sound to help produce sharper vocals.
The shield is typically internally padded with acoustic foam similar to the noise blocking variety you find on the walls of a recording studio. The foam works to absorb ambient noise before it reaches the very sensitive microphone. Most models have hard outer shells that trap the sound the user wants to record inside of the shield and eliminates any echoes.
The shields are usually molded into a shape that reduces sound reflections and slightly vented, allowing the microphone to breathe. If the shields were not vented, the result could be a sound that was too harsh on the listener’s ears.
Most shields have angle adjustability, so the user can move them according to where the unwanted sound is coming from. In any live studio environment, like a concert, the direction from where the ambient noise is coming is unpredictable, and the performer may need to block it out on the left, right, or even slightly above them. Some have three panels, creating a miniature room, so the user can be almost totally isolated. These are best for events like horse races or Nascar where people don’t need to see the orator.
Three Famous Recording Studios
Ocean Sound Recording Studio sits in the isolated area of Giske, Norway, overlooking the ocean. From the outside, the studio looks like an old farmhouse, but inside one can find some of the most advanced recording equipment available.
The room features a double-height ceiling meant to enhance acoustics, Studer A-800 two inch recorders and a Neumann U-47, one of the most classic forms of condenser microphones. Ocean Sound also has one of the most esteemed mixing consoles, the Rupert Neve 5088 Shelford Limited Edition.
Real World Studios in Wiltshire, England was a 200-year-old water mill that’s been turned into a recording venue. Along with its beautiful natural landscape, the studio has a 72 channel SSL 9000 KL K Series mixing console and two rooms designed to give either warm acoustics or a larger sound scale.
Real World Studios has living quarters on the site so dedicated recording artists can live where they work. The studio provides a capella and instrumental recording versions of every session to its patrons.
La Chapelle in Belgium is a converted 19th-century hat factory and offers a historical recording experience with its iconic CADAC A series console and analogue Euphonix mixing desk. Marvin Gaye recorded his album “Midnight Love” in the building.
It is one of the largest studios in Europe and is big enough to house a symphonic orchestra. La Chapelle’s trademark feature is its headphone monitoring system that has 16 inputs, allowing every artist to create their own headphone mix.
The History Of The Microphone
The first device that amplified the human voice appeared in Greece around 600 BCE when people would wear masks with holes designed to amplify their speech.
In 1665, an inventor named Robert Hooke created the “lovers’ telephone” which consisted of two cups attached by a stretched wire. When people spoke into either cup, the person on the other side could hear them better than they could without the device.
The German inventor Johann Philipp Reis was the first person to utilize a metallic strip, which he connected to a vibrating membrane. The membrane produced a current that reportedly amplified sound. The man credited with creating the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, attempted an early form of the microphone in 1876 with his “liquid transmitter.” This included a conductive rod that sat in an acid solution.
Three inventors in different countries unknowingly worked on a nearly identical form of the first successful microphone. David Edward Hughes in England, and Emile Berliner and Thomas Edison in the United States produced a carbon microphone that would become the prototype for models seen today.
Edison received the original patent for the device, but many people maintain that Hughes had been showcasing his model long before his competitor filed for ownership. Edison’s model was used in the first radio broadcast at the New York Metropolitan Opera House in 1910.