- by Steve La Cerra
in Road Tests
It’s not often that anything exciting comes along in the realm of bass drum mic mounts, so when I heard about the Kelly SHU™ Microphone Mounting System, I was extremely curious. The Kelly SHU is a semi-permanent suspension mount designed specifically for kick drum mics. It comes in three flavors: the SHU Pro, the SHU Composite and the SHU Flatz. The Pro and Composite will hold just about any kick drum microphone; the Flatz is designed for use with the Shure Beta 91/91A, SM91 or Sennheiser E901 (you must specify which mic when ordering).
The Pro and the Composite models have a few differences, the biggest of which is the mounting ring material: aluminum for the Pro and fiberglass-reinforced nylon for the Composite. The Composite and Flatz include a one-year warranty; the Pro has a lifetime warranty. Company owner Jeff “The SHUMaker” Kelly was kind enough to send FRONT of HOUSE one of each, including a Flatz designed for the Shure SM91.
» What’s Yer SHU Size?
Since the beginning of time, engineers have struggled with the philosophical question: “How the heck do I mount an SM91 in a kick drum?” Lay it on a blanket? Nail it to the bottom of the drum? Duct tape it to a pillow? Uh… no. Get the Flatz. Its plastic platform securely floats an SM91 mid-air inside your kick using the included straps and O-rings.
Kelly provides nylon pegs that pass through the mounting plate and lock the SM91 into place. Illustrated instructions clearly explain the installation process. My inner voice was worried that it might create problems with, modify or mess up the kick drum, but it didn’t.
I threaded the SM91’s mini-XLR cable through an unused hole in the tom mount to prevent the cable from rattling against the hole in the front head. Once you mount the mic, you don’t have to worry about it. When was the last time you could say that about an SM91 inside a kick drum? Never. And for 44 bucks, it’s a no-brainer. I had to swap my favorite kick pillow for a smaller one, but the Flatz actually holds the smaller pillow in place. This thing is awesome.
Comments for the SHU Pro apply to the Composite as well. The instructions for mounting the SHU Pro seemed a bit scary, so I read them through a few times. Since my SM91 was already living inside the kick drum, I opted for mounting the Pro outside the front kick head. I probably could have fit both mounts inside the drum, but the interior was getting as crowded as Macy’s SHU department the day before prom night. Besides, I’m more a fan of placing kick drum mics barely inside the hole in the front head.
Internally mounting the Pro is similar to that of the Flatz, but external mounting employs plastic hooks that hold onto the bass drum tuning rods. The drum’s style of T-rods dictate the manner in which you attach the hook. The Pro’s suspension uses heavy rubber support cords, sort of like surgical tubing (but not hollow). You are entrusted to fabricate these suspenders from the supplied cord and hooks. A bit of measuring and cutting is required to get the lengths correct, but Kelly gives you enough extra cord for at least one mistake. Failing that, the Kelly web site offers replacement cord or you can purchase pre-fabricated cords. Dangerous as I may be with a scissors, I had no problem making them.
While attaching the Pro to the kick drum, my inner voice went on again, saying “There’s no way this thing is going to support a microphone.” Yet I’m happy to say it does, and very well indeed. The E-V RE-320, Audix D6, Equation Audio DMI.104.SLF and other mics mounted on the SHU’s hitch without a hitch.
Initially, I had the Pro’s mic platform pointing inside the front head — too far inside the drum for my taste, and the sound reflected that position (too much slap, not enough bottom). I then realized I could simply turn the SHU around so that the flange protruded away from the front head (duh), allowing the mic to be pulled outside of the hole in the head (not to be confused with the hole in my head).
Either way, the mic mounting stud slides back and forth a few inches to adjust mic position. Jeff Kelly obviously did his homework here, because the threaded mic holder sits on a rectangular stud that won’t move once tightened. The SHU is as effective upside-down or sideways as it is right-side up, so you can hone in on a preferred position with some creative thinking. Mic position can be fine-tuned by moving the cord hooks to different T-rods, or to different holes in the SHU. Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear the mics sounded better wearing SHU’s shooz than they did on stands.
It’s obvious, but I almost I forgot to mention why you’d want a kick drum mic suspension in the first place: no physical transmission of sound from the stage through the stand to microphone, no mic stand for the lead singer to kick over and it offers a consistent mic position night after night. Kelly SHUs solved all of these issues. You can jump up and down on a drum platform and get zero vibration transmitted to the microphones. In fact, I physically lifted and shook the kick drum and there was nothing coming out of those two microphones. Kelly SHUs do what they’re supposed to, appear to be built to last, and are reasonably priced. Sorry Jeff, you’re not getting these back. Send me a bill.
Kelly SHU Microphone Mounts
Pros: Reasonably priced; excellent isolation; provides consistent placement/sound night after night.
Cons: Different models of Flatz must be ordered to accommodate specific boundary mics.
Price: SHU Pro, $99.95; SHU Composite, $53.95; SHU Flatz, $43.95
More Info: www.kellySHU.com.