TESTING THE HERCULES MS401B STAND
Order Hercules MS401B Stand from The Vocal Gear Store
At the start of the 1900's when Henry Ford was introducing the Ford Model T, a "car for the masses" he once quipped during an interview that "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black" (My Life and Work (1922) Chapter IV, p. 71). Yeah I know its a tired quote and I can already hear you yawning but stick with me for a moment. For those still awake I'm going to apply that analogy to the venerable microphone stand. Since the dawn of time exclusive of Freddie Mercury's accidental bottomless microphone stand creation there have only ever been two distinct flavors of microphone stands for performers: Straight and boom. You might count the variations thereof such as tripod base, 2 and 3 stage adjustable but reduce it down and we're left with just that. See what I did there? As a singer each type of stand presents its own challenges from a standpoint of durability, flexibility, and general use ability. Before diving into the Hercules Stands MS401B review allow me to point out the shortcomings of the current two options.
THE STATUS-QUO IN MICROPHONE STANDS
The standard straight stand in theory isn't a terrible thing. By far the easiest to use as a prop in a performance it's rather easy to carry around and when equipped with a round heavy steel base can make for a stable yet durable stand. The tripod versions weigh less and with their jutting legs are significantly more irritating to use. The biggest downfall, however, are friction based extension point locks which consistently go on coffee break in the middle of a performance and cease to hold your microphone at its proper height.
Unless you are a vocalist with an axe or keyboard or prefer a stationary performance boom stands are the quite possibly the worst solution for a standalone vocalist. Most boom stands found in the wild like straight stands feature friction based adjustment points. Only this time instead of one or two you have five or more. You see where this is going. Ever try using a boom stand as a straight stand with all those loosey -goosey lock points? Many times I've ended up looking like a contortionist with hands at odd angles trying to adjust and lock on the fly while another extension point starts slipping as I'm re-securing another. However if that's what you're going for then this is the stand for you.
MS401B: A BETTER MICROPHONE STAND!
The Hercules Stands MS401B is actually rather clever. Not so much revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary Hercules has taken the microphone stand and reset the bar both from an engineering and useability standpoint. Let's start with the most interesting feature: The MS401B is essentially a hybrid straight and boom stand in one. With one pivot point at the base of a nicely weighted flat tripod setup it easily serves as both a pivoting straight stand for performers looking for more flexibility than a standard straight stand as well as a pseudo boom that can angle into the right position. While the MS401B comes with a rather innovative quick release mic clip attachment one could easily add other boom extensions and then quick switch back without the need to thread on different attachments. Tired of two hand height adjustments? Hercules has you covered here as this stand features single-handed height adjustment via a stand grip. Why this wasn't done years ago is baffling as its absolutely brilliant to use in practice.
It's hard to argue when someone takes something and just makes it better. Hercules certainly delivers just that with their MS401B. Think of it as the iPhone5 of microphone stands. It's engineered better, it looks better and certainly works better giving you one less thing to worry about during a performance. The Hercules Stands MS401B is now on sale at many of your favorite music retailers for $75.99. Do yourself a favor and throw away your other stands. This is better. ~TN
Review by Travis North