A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

Meet the Super Clamp: Rigging a Bicycle for Sound

Posted: September 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, gear
The Bogen Super Clamp held this OktavaMod MK-012 right near the action.

The Bogen Super Clamp held this OktavaMod MK012 right near the action.

I’ve posted before about photographic grip equipment for use in audio recording, but one little widget rises to the top of that list for me: the Bogen Super Clamp. While intended to position cameras and flashguns in unusual places without marring whatever it’s clamped to, the Super Clamp is super fun for audio, too.

Super Clamps come with a stud that locks into the clamp itself, and ends with a 1/4″-20 screw thread. All it takes is an adapter to change that to a more mic-mount-friendly 3/8″ or 5/8″ thread, and as long as everything’s screwed down tight, you can hang mics upside down, on the sides of vehicles, you name it. Combining them with other accessories like umbrella swivel adapters gives you even more mounting flexibility. The padding on their jaws also makes them pretty gentle on whatever you place them on. Just don’t overtighten them on surface that can’t take crushing pressure, like carbon fiber handlebars.

This bicycle mounting held pretty well on relatively gentle roads, and took 3 minutes to rig.

This mounting held pretty well on relatively gentle roads, and took 3 minutes to rig.

It’s large, bombproof, and heavy, so maybe it’s not something you might casually throw in your field recording bag. But if you want to position a mic somewhere that a mic stand can’t go, or shoot an unusual perspective, the Super Clamp can go there. I’ve used it to attach mics in all sorts of odd places. A great way to get some neat ideas is to watch this Chase Jarvis video, in which he uses Super Clamps and the Bogen Magic Arm to get unique point-of-view shots. Extrapolate by replacing the cameras with mics and it gets interesting.

There are other ways to get mics in weird places, too. The Super Clamp is not unique to Bogen: Matthews makes basically the same thing. There are many smaller jobbies, too, such as Cardellini Clamps, but they’re actually more expensive.

The photos in this post show my OktavaMod MK012 (who’d want to run a test like this with a really expensive mic anyway?) atop a Rycote Softie shock mount and inside a Rycote Baby Ball Gag windscreen, attached to the rear triangle of my Gary Fisher HiFi Pro mountain bike. I wore my field recorder on my chest, utilizing a Lowe Pro chest harness I use for my camera bag when I backpack.

I’ll end this post with a sample of me riding around my street…not horribly exciting, but you’ll get the idea. The clip starts with pedaling uphill, then freewheeling on the flats, the disc brakes kicking in, and finally me clipping out of the pedals. The rumbling noises aren’t traffic, but rather the knobby tires rolling on the pavement.

Rear-wheel, bike-mounted microphone by noisejockey
[OktavaMod MK012 mic with cardioid capsule into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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2 Comments on “Meet the Super Clamp: Rigging a Bicycle for Sound”

  1. 1 Michael Maroussas said at 11:37 am on September 1st, 2009:

    really useful info – will keep a boomark of this (and your older post for that matter) for next time i’m doing car recording coz i’ve been on the lookout for a way of clamping a mic to the back of a vehicle – reckon it’s secure enough to take the weight of a fishing pole?

  2. 2 Nathan said at 4:36 pm on September 1st, 2009:

    Michael: If you wanted to mount a boompole/fishing pole, it would just take two Super Clamps with a two-sided stud: one clamp for the object, one for the boompole. I just tested this with a cruddy 10′ Røde boompole, extended, with an OktavaMod MK012 (about the weight of a Schoeps), and while the pole droops (and will bob up and down, so watch out for that introducing tremolo in your tracks), and it would TOTALLY work. Don’t extend it so far, though, and it is obviously much more rigid.

    If you want something more robust for mounting mics on vehicles, go here and be totally inspired – this doesn’t actually cost that much to rig: http://www.diyphotography.net/take-cool-car-photos-with-a-diy-specialized-car-rig

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