When filming anything that requires audio, there are a few industry standard methods to capture the audio. Lavalier microphones are commonly placed on and around actors and speakers. Camera microphones are less popular. Sourcing sounds after the fact is sometimes needed.
However, when we think of film audio recording, we often visualize an audio technician holding a long pole, hovering a long tube over the actors' heads. Inside that tube (known as a blimp or windscreen) is a microphone, and the pole they are attached to is known as a boom pole.
There are many boom poles on the market, but as always there are a few that stand out amongst their competitors. This article aims to discuss what I believe to be the two best mic boom poles today.
My top two boom pole recommendations are:
- Rode Boompole: The Rode Boompole (link to check the price on Amazon) is a top recommendation for a microphone boom pole due to its low mass, extendability, and durability. This aluminum pole is easy to hold for extended periods of time, it shows little flex when fully extended. The Rode B
oompolehas a closed length of 85.5 cm (~1'1″), a fully extended length of 323 cm (~10'7″), and weighs 950g (~2 lbs)
- K-Tek KEG150CCR: The K-Tek KEG150CCR (link to check the price on Amazon) is a high-end boom pole and is my top recommendation if you have the budget for it. Though expensive, the KEG150CCR offers features that match its price tag. With a collapsed length of 97 cm (3'2″) and a fully extended length of 378 cm (12'5″), the KEG150CCR is easy to carry around and suitable for nearly any location. The pole only weighs 742g (1.6 lbs) which makes it very easy to hold up for extended periods of time. Another great feature is the internal coiled cable which makes the setup, operation, and tear down of the boom pole an absolute breeze.
We'll get into each of these boom poles in more detail in a moment. First, though, let's discuss the factors that make a great microphone boom pole.
What Factors Make A Great Microphone Boom Pole?
- Weight: A lighter boom pole is easier to hold in place for extended periods of time.
- Length: A longer boom pole allows for more separation between the talent and the boom op and a wider frame.
- Compactable: A compactable boom pole is critical for fast moving between sets and settings and makes the boom pole versatile in both wide frame shots and in tighter spaces.
- Flex: Choose a strong boom pole with as little flex as possible.
- Grip and inherent noise: Select a boom pole that is easy to hold on to and that doesn't send mechanical noise to the microphone when a slight change in grip occurs.
- Internal coiled mic cable: A nice bonus of some boom poles is an internal XLR cable to carry the mic signal from the mic to the recording equipment. Though not necessary for the boom pole structure, it is nice to have.
Now let's dive into each of the microphones and discuss them through the lens of the above criteria.
The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole is a very common boom pole in the film industry and it has a really suitable name. It's a lightweight extendable boom pole designed with balance in mind.
Let's talk about what makes the Rode Boompole great.
Weight Of The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole is made primarily out of lightweight aluminum and weighs in at less than a kilo. It's 940 g (2.07 lbs.). This is light enough to hold over ones head for fairly extended periods of time.
Any weight overhead will get tiring, but with the Rode Boompole, it's really not as bad as many of the heavier options out there. Even a little bit of extra weight takes its tole after a long day on a film set.
Length/Compactability Of The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole extends from 0.84m (2'9″) to 3m (10′) and can be locked at any length in between. This boom pole features 4 telescopic sliding extension pieces that fit inside its largest hollow pole length and are lockable along their own respective lengths.
10′ is a respectable and very practical length for most film frames. 2'9″ is compact for easy storage and transportation between shoots.
The widest diameter of the Rode Boompole is 40 mm (1.57″).
Flex Of The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole, in my experience, has no has severe issues with flex, though the boom does start to curve slightly after once extended roughly 8 feet, depending on the weight on the other side.
Grip And Mechanical Noise Of The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole has an excellent grip material around its largest telescopic piece. It's very easy to get a grip near the end of the Rode Boompole and it's also easy to grip on its aluminum body.
As for inherent noise transfer, the Rode Boompole has the likelihood, like the vast majority of physical objects, to have mechanical noise travel through it. For this reason, grip switching and mic cable movement should be kept to an absolute minimum while operating the Boompole. The boom mic should be held in a high-quality shock mount that is fastened at the end of the Boompole.
Mic Cable Positioning With The Rode Boompole
The Rode Boompole does not have an interior microphone cable. A mic cable, therefore, must be connected to the boom mic and run down along the exterior of the boom pole. I will often wind the cable several times around a boom pole and velcro it securely near the pole's base.
The K-Tek KEG150CCR
If money wasn't a factor (what a strange world that would be), I'd opt for the K-Tek KEG150CCR Avalon Graphite Boom Pole as my primary boom pole (perhaps one day I'll get there).
The KEG150CCR is made of 5 high-density graphite extension pieces and is designed for maximal strength with minimal weight. It also features a highly durable derlin base and an interior mic cable. This light weight boom pole is at the top of its class in build quality and functionality.
Weight Of The K-Tek KEG150CCR
The K-Tek KEG150CCR weighs only 1.7 lbs (771g). This is an incredibly light boom pole considering its remarkable strength. At the weight, it's one of the easiest boom poles to hold up during a long day on a shoot.
Length/Compactability Of The K-Tek KEG150CCR
The K-Tek KEG150CCR has a collapsed length of 3’4″ (102cm) and an extended length of 12’7″ (384cm). The collapsed length makes it easy to pack and travel with the boom pole while the full extended length is likely all you'll need in a film frame that would require a boom.
These boom poles have industry trusted locking mechanisms for securing the chosen extended length of the boom pole while allowing for quick and easy compactability.
Flex Of The K-Tek KEG150CCR
Due to the strength of the high-density graphite and the 4 high-quality locking mechanisms, the K-Tek KEG150CCR shows negligible amounts of flex even at its maximum extended length of 12'7″ (384 cm).
Grip And Inherent Noise Of The K-Tek KEG150CCR
Though there is no special grip material over top the graphite body of the K-Tek KEG150CCR, the pole is easy to grip.
As for mechanically transmitted noise, it's always best to reduce grip changes to a minimum. Fortunately, as we'll discuss in the section, the KEG150CCR has an internal coiled cable and so we will not have to worry about noise from an XLR cable hitting against the exterior of the pole.
Mic Cable Positioning With The K-Tek KEG150CCR
The K-Tek KEG150CCR has an interior coiled mic cable. This cable extends out of the top of the KEG150CCR with sufficient length to connect to the boom microphone. At the derlin base, there is a built-in male XLR jack to connect a second XLR cable and send the mic signal to where it needs to go.
Having an interior cable speeds up the processing of extending and compacting the boom pole along with reducing mechanically transmitted noise. These may seem like minor details, but by the end of a long shooting day, they make a huge difference.
So there we have it, my top two recommended microphone boom poles. Once again, they are:
- Rode Boompole: Best boom pole at a reasonable price
- K-Tek KEG150CCR: Best boom pole
For all the My New Microphone mic/gear recommendations, please check out my page Recommended Microphones And Accessories.