podcast Episode
Show Me Your Setup

Is the Sterling Vocal Microphone Shield Ideal for Podcast Recordin'?

Is the Sterling Vocal Microphone Shield Ideal for Podcast Recordin'?
Apr 19, 2023
Show Me Your Setup

Dan demonstrates how to use a Sterling VMS Vocal Microphone Shield. Care is taken to slow down and listen to the space, and the sound of the recording.

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In this episode, Dan demonstrates for Josh and the audience how to use a Sterling VMS Vocal Microphone Shield. Care is taken to slow down and listen to the space, and the sound of the recording. We also begin use of a standard tongue twister script that’s usually used for vocal warmups. This ensures some hard consonants as well as plosive P’s and B’s that should be mitigated during any session. The script is available as a download for anyone that subscribes to our podcast. (yes you can have it simply for asking too)

The Sterling VMS was designed with vocal reflections in mind. Those reflections are caused when your voice travels across the room and reflects off surfaces and back into the microphone slightly later than your direct speech. This creates audible reverberations that would not be present in a vocal booth. 

Recall episode 3 where we introduced the Record-In' Box and demonstrated its uses and construction. It was purposefully built to emulate the recording sound one gets when recording in a professional vocal booth. In fact, we plan to demonstrate just that in our next episode.


0:19 Episode 3 clarification
1:00 Record-In' Box recap
1:27 Sterling VMS (Vocal Microphone Shield)
4:01 The A-test: Record tongue twisters with VMS
8:30 The B-test: Re-record tongue twisters without VMS
9:09 Interact with us via our our socials
9:55 VMS & Record-In' Box: The comparison
10:30 Where the VMS excels
11:31 Useful for podcast recording?
12:00 Nice features of the VMS
12:50 Josh asks about Dan’s spring mount
13:20 Theater kids
16:00 What we do
16:50 We produce branded podcasts for business
17:10 Episode 5 preview
18:17 What is the mic actually sitting in?

We’re Josh and Dan from ModPod, where we produce branded podcasts for businesses.

We continue our series of microphone setups designed to reduce room tone/sound such that one can achieve professional vocal booth sound in a less than professional-sounding room. Hmm, this has the essence of a tongue twister waiting to be fleshed out. Enough digression...

In this episode, Dan demonstrates the Sterling Voice/Vocal Microphone Shield to Josh. The VMS is initially mentioned, then set up to record a proper A/B test so we can evaluate the recordings and see how well the VMS performs in this space.

But first, Dan clarifies a point from episode 3: the notion of “sounding like a professional when you’re recording”. What he meant was trying to make your recordings sound like they were recorded in a professional vocal booth. A professional vocal booth is designed to block outside noise from entering the recording and remove natural reverberation by absorbing the voice reflections inside. This results in an intimate, dry vocal recording.

We remind the audience of our handy episode 3 DIY hack we dubbed the Record-In' Box. The function of the Box is to become a small booth for just the microphone. It performed well and was easy to construct and use.

However, many folks do not like DIY solutions and would prefer to order something and have it delivered, ready to use. Enter this episode’s focus, the Sterling VMS. Once setup to use, Dan records a brief list of tongue-twisters.

We’ll even provide the script to those of you who ask. So, ask (well OK, click) and ye shall receive The Official SMYS Tongue Twister Vocal Warmup Cheat Sheet!

We educate the audience with some recording tips as Dan prepares to record the A test.

First, before you record, make certain that you are comfortable. Then adjust all the equipment to fit your comfort zone.

Your mouth should normally be about a hand-width away from the microphone. This ranges from 4-8 inches but can vary by a lot depending on what type of microphone you use.

The VMS was setup about the same distance away, behind the microphone, as Dan positioned his

mouth in front of the microphone.

Dan voices the tongue twisters then he removes the VMS and revoices the tongue twisters.

In this case, the VMS made extraordinarily little audible difference in the recordings. Dan suggests this was partly due to the nature of the room in which he is recording, but also because the VMS was not designed with our purpose in mind. It is not meant to emulate a professional vocal booth.

What it does nicely is isolate a singer’s microphone in a room full of performing musicians. So, for spoken podcasts it does not necessarily improve the tone. It is determined that the VMS is not the right choice for vocal isolation in a larger space.

Having made these conclusions, the topic changes to Dan’s microphone stand. In particular, the shock mount he fabricated to hold his MXL 990 condenser microphone. Josh is fascinated by the look and wants to know its history. This is when things get a bit more personal.

Dan and Josh admitted they have kids. In Dan’s case, theater kids. As any parent of a theater kid knows, at some point you’ll be asked to help the show out. In this case it was Annie the Musical. The props that were needed? Old-timey microphones from the depression era.

Dan scoured the Internet, found images, cobbled together some hardware, and fabricated a couple of old-timey looking elements suspended by springs in a giant coil doohickey that looks a lot like those images he used for inspiration.

That musical was performed 7 years ago. Dan decided to sacrifice one of the old props by reusing it as a shock mount. After all, it is a metal can suspended by strong metal springs inside of an embroidery hoop that’s affixed to a threaded nut that screws onto any standard mic stand. Why not hack into it, drill out some holes for the microphone and XLR connector and call it a win?

And how solid is the shock mount? Let’s call it bobblehead strong. Dan shakes the bejeezus out of the stand while recording and everything was just fine. As an aside, Dan does not recommend using metal springs for shock mount construction as, at times, they impart their own unique sound. However, they work well, and the result looks very steampunk.

We work at ModPod. We produce branded podcasts for businesses. We facilitate others recording their own podcasts. We edit podcasts. We help plan podcasts. If you are in the market for such services, you can visit us at GoModPod.com and set up a meeting.

Teaser: In our next episode we’re going to take the MXL 990 into a professional voice booth to develop our baseline audio.




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