Tips for Traveling with Microphones

Tips for Traveling with Microphones

April 17, 2018 8 Comments

Alongside other equipment like guitars, amps, and even effects pedals, microphones are comparatively small and portable. As such, it may be tempting to simply stow them away in your gig bag pocket or backpack. While that certainly may work (there are some heavy-duty gig bags out there!) when it comes to touring and extensive gigging it can be wise to protect your investment a little more. Microphones take a lot of abuse when they are onstage, so transporting them securely and properly from offstage will help extend their life. The last thing you want is a microphone that functions intermittently or gives up the ghost mid-gig!

Many microphone manufacturers address this issue right out of the box by shipping new microphones with a soft carrying bag. These are usually made of nylon or leather and offer sufficient protection for light to regular gigging, helping prevent general scuffs and scratches. However, they do not offer much protection against drops or impact and if you have multiple microphones, it is impractical to carry each microphone in its own bag. In addition, if you need to bring your own XLR or other microphone cords along, a single microphone carrying bag most likely will not have ample space to include longer cords and other components.

Carvin Audio M68 microphone

The Carvin Audio M68 microphone comes with a 20’ XLR cable, carrying case, and clip.

 

Hard shell equipment cases are a great solution for carrying and protecting numerous microphones, cables, and other accessories like clips and pop filters. These are stackable and offer much better impact, crush, and drop protection than a carrying bag. Many pro audio manufacturers offer general purpose hard cases, as well as cases designed specifically to carry microphones, so feel free to shop around.

If you’re less picky, hard cases can also be found in some hardware or home improvement stores, as they are often used to transport tools and other equipment.  Evaluate how many microphones you need to take to the gig and choose a case that offers enough space and ample protection.

For those looking for extra protection, shock-resistant, waterproof, and impact resistant equipment cases are also available. These types of specialized cases are generally more expensive, but are extremely rugged and durable. They can also be used to transport cameras or other electronic equipment if you are a person of many talents. Some cases come with molded foam interiors or customizable compartments to reduce the movement of your microphones while being transported. If you carry only a few high end microphones, these are a great option.

If you are set on streamlining, or portability is a priority, the aforementioned heavy duty gig bag with an accessory pocket is an option. Make sure that pocket is large enough to carry your microphones along with all your other gigging equipment, and place your microphones in carry bags to keep them extra safe.

As rugged as microphones are, there are still numerous points of failure. The XLR connector may fail if you carry your microphone by its cable frequently (don’t do this!) or your lead singer likes to swing the mic around. In addition, the microphone’s capsule may be damaged by impact. This part of the microphone is extremely expensive to replace and in most cases warrants purchasing an all new microphone altogether. Take care of your microphones and that’s one less thing to worry about during the gig!

What do you use to transport your microphones? How has it worked out for you? Let us know in the comments!



8 Responses

Paul Honeycutt
Paul Honeycutt

April 27, 2018

I got a well padded soft case that once carried an Apple Mac II computer. It holds most all of my mics in their bags or cases including PZM’s and DI boxes. The few mics that don’t live in that bag are a large diaphragm condenser and two Heil “The Finn” mics that came their own hard cases. I keep mic cables on reels, different color coded lengths on different reels. I can’t remember the last time I had a failure, but I’m kind to my gear.

Rick Erdman
Rick Erdman

April 21, 2018

Mics are so often forgotten when considering carrying/transportation cases. All too often I have seen bands and sound companies bring in very good protective cases containing amps, heads, guitars and lighting gear but then the mics and cables are in backpacks, cardboard boxes, milk crates and I once even saw a laundry bag! For mics those “universal” hard cases with the configurable block foam work wonderfully. They keep them safe from impact and cradle each mic separately. For cables I use plastic totes with lids and roll each cable then secure them with hook and loop strips then neatly stack them. No tangled cables and done correctly you can get all the connectors to go to the inside of the cable loop which keeps them away from the tote sides and each other. If you don’t mind having several of these totes you can even sort cables by type and length for quick and easy access. It only takes a few minutes to store and transport your mics and cables safely and in the end they will last MUCH longer (and look better too).

Bruce M
Bruce M

April 18, 2018

My old band repurposed a hard shell case that was a relic from my drummer’s “day job”, which was originally intended to transport reel-to-reel data tapes and was designed to protect against water, heat, cold, and impact up to & including falling off a truck at highway speeds! GREAT portable mic locker with just a little cutting of the hard foam inside, and then our cables traveled in their own equipment bag. As de facto equipment manager for the band it is a point of pride to me that not only did our mics last us decades but that I still to this day use the same XLR mic cable I sang through at our first show in the fall of the year 2000, as my go-to mic cable live or in the studio. Quality equipment lasts a lifetime if you take good care of it!!!

David McDaniel
David McDaniel

April 17, 2018

I design my own cases for best results, as I do for microphone stands. A simple show using only 12 microphones and 6 DI’s will cost us about $3,000.00 for that and about the same for good stands.
I was talking to a local hero at a local gig last year and he was telling me how smart he was because he had cracked the code and now knew how to save a lot of money buying equipment from another source and then laughed at me for the cases he saw us unloading our equipment from.
He was a great player but when his guitar tech brought his Very expensive small tube amp, it did not work right because it did not travel well in the $150.00 shipping case he provided for it. I lent him my spare and didn’t say a thing. At the end of his set, when he came off the stage he asked me if I would build one for him.
When you ride a motorcycle the analogy is that if you have a $50.00 head then wear a $50.00 helmet. After wreaking several Bell Magnum snell certified in the 1960’s I wear what the people who race for a living choose. My head may not be worth that much but when you really need your stuff to work, and you only have one, then how much is your show, or your professional reputation worth. Cheap insurance when spread out over a lifetime.
With a shop like yours you could easily produce my designs. Let me know if you are interested?

David

Boontherdklao
Boontherdklao

April 17, 2018

I love carvin so much. I’m from pattaya thailand.
Thanks .

Kent
Kent

April 17, 2018

As a FOH engineer and moderate sized system owner for over 40 years I have been using an old (early 90s) laptop case with waffle foam interior for my primary 20 mic’s and foam block lined “pistol” cases for my other mic’s and have yet to have a “transport failure” of any of my “babies”. Taking care of your mic’s and cables during transport and storage is one of the smartest things you can do to make your system reliable and more professional to your clients. It is also more impressive and professional looking to have a “case” of mic’s and not just a bag or box that they’re thrown in.

Tim Daley
Tim Daley

April 17, 2018

I value the good info in these Carvin Tips and save them in a special folder for future use. I own several Carvin products, 980 speakers I bought in 1987 and recently a micro-bass amp.

Tom
Tom

April 17, 2018

I use the hard molded plastic case with the waterproof seal. Since I do lots of gigs a year and I never know what the weather will be, it’s possible for the case to be in the rain! Plus you never know when a helpful fan will carry the case out to the truck and set it in the wet grass or even a puddle! I also keep my direct boxes in the same case for convenience. A few extra mic clips and some spare batteries come in handy as well. I never throw away the soft bags that ship with the microphones, they are convenient for all kinds of things!

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