The mic cluster installed at KKDA.
The Mika boom has an illuminated ring to indicate that the mic is live.
An important facet of the recent KKDA-FM studio reconstruction was creating a highly functional, yet unconventional looking studio. I was seeking a new approach to the predictable time-honored wisdom in regards to microphone arms. What has been a given for decades would look like a holdover from the Jurassic Period in the new control room.
Various attempts have been made in conventional arms to suppress the groan and twang of springs. But they can still be heard when the arm is moved or bumped. Not to mention they produce their own resonant melody when the speakers are cranked up good and loud.
Searching the Internet turned up a radical new design: Mika by Yellowtec in Germany. This is exactly what I had been searching for and more. The style was simple and streamlined, resembling a sleek robotic arm.
The construction consists of hollow, rounded, rectangular side tubes with internal linkages. Three joints and a swivel base provide movement in all directions. Color finishes are available in natural aluminum or dark gray. The two main segments of the arm are each 15.75 inches long capable of supporting a sizeable microphone and mount.
The construction consists of hollow, rectangular tubes with internal linkages. Holdback friction is set by a finger adjustable clutch plate on each of the three moveable joints. It can be locked tightly in place or set to offer slight resistance to accommodate various weights of microphones.
In the K104 studio, the arms are mounted directly in the resin countertop with flush mounted stainless steel bushings. Holes of ⅞" diameter accommodate the 2¾" long threaded sleeve, which is held in place by a large nut underneath. A plastic sleeve buffers the moving arm from the fixed base bushing. This further reduces friction and wear by eliminating metal-to-metal contact.
Another mounting option offered by Yellowtec is a table clamp for securing on the edge of counters without the need to drill a hole.
Also worthy of consideration is a 17" riser post for extension over monitors and other obstructions. This is not just any plain extension pole, but a distinctive aluminum extrusion with four vertical slots the entire length spaced 90 degrees apart. These unique slots support additional mounts for LCD monitors, copy stands or multiple microphone arms. It can support one microphone arm directly at the top. This pole must be mounted into the countertop surface with a desktop mounting kit. A very clean, uncluttered solution built right into the riser post!
Performance at a glance
Supports microphone and mounts up to 4.5 lbs
Easily adjustable tension
Many mounting options for microphones and LCD displays
The arm can support microphones up to 4.5 lbs. We use the Shure SM7B, which weighs in at 1lb 11oz, with no problem at all. The standard length arm works out for talent and guest positions but is just a little uncomfortable for the long reach over the board. Yellowtec will be adding an extended version later this year.
The microphone cable is already installed internally in the arm. Generous slack is provided at each end. The cable exit location is 2½" above the mounting bushing and can be soldered to a 3- or 5-pin XLR connector.
Why consider a 5-pin XLR? The newest version has the option of a built-in tally light above the microphone mounting threads. The additional two wires power a ring of red LEDs. This can be used as a live mic on air or recording indicator for the talent that can't be missed.
In the KKDA-FM control room, the Mika arms have been used around the clock since October of 2006 and are holding up very well. I could not be more pleased with the quality of construction and superb support provided by Yellowtec.
Wachter is director of engineering of KKDA-AM/FM and KRNB FM, Dallas.
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