This piece of audio equipment plays a significant role in capturing crystal-clear sound on set and beyond. Sound quality is key when recording, and a boom microphone can help you achieve that. This versatile equipment is perfect for recording vocals, interviews, and video recordings. But what is a boom microphone?
This blog post will explain a boom mic, its various uses, and how you can get the most out of it. So whether you’re new to mixing or just curious about boom mics, this post is for you.
What is a boom microphone? A boom mic is a microphone on the end of a long, flexible pole with a narrow picking pattern. In film and video, these microphones are indispensable. They are directional (they pick up sounds where they point and reject off-axis sounds). Boom mics are versatile because the operator may move around them.
What is a boom microphone?
A boom mic, also known as a pro mic or an extended range mic, is a type of microphone that derives its name from the manner it is built. Boom microphones are short and have a limited range of motion, making them ideal for use in the “boom” position above the camera operator.
It records sound from a specified source, such as a speech from an interviewee or a vocalist on stage. These microphones can be found in recording studios, sports arenas, and live events. Their principal role is to assist in the capturing of sound in areas where conventional microphones are ineffective.
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
Why do booms use shotgun mics?
Shotgun microphones are a type of microphone whose polar pattern is particularly directional. A directional microphone picks up sound from the direction it is pointed and mostly ignores noise from any other direction. Because of this advantage, they are primarily used in film and TV.
Shotgun microphones may be either dynamic or condenser, but they are virtually usually constructed with a long (8 to 24-inch) tube projecting from the front. This tube’s side features a number of holes or slots that serve as a phase-canceling mechanism for sounds emanating from the rear of the microphone.
Directly in front of the microphone, sounds enter each of the holes or slots sequentially and therefore accumulate in the phase before reaching the diaphragm. When sounds from the rear enter the diaphragm in reverse order, they are out of phase and provide little or no output. The mic becomes more directional as the length of the tube increases.
What is a boom microphone used for?
Boom mics have many different uses, including:
- Capturing dialog in the film: The most common mental picture of a boom mic in action is on a film set. The following characteristics make shotgun-type boom mics standard equipment in the film industry. Due to their direct nature, they can only listen to what’s happening directly in front of them. Their small weight and durability make them ideal for placement atop a boom pole.
- Studio overheads: It is common practice to use permanently installed boom mic configurations in the studio, particularly for holding overhead drum mics. Overhead microphones are commonly used when recording drum kits in studios. The boom arms of the stands can be set up outside the drum kit, allowing the microphones to be positioned directly over the drum set.
- Stage overheads: Boom mics are used to suspend microphones over the stage. It works well for the drum set’s overhead configuration and might also work for hiding microphones over the stage.
What is the difference between a boom mic and a normal mic?
Although they both capture sound, their design, usage, and capabilities are quite distinct. In the following section, we’ll compare and contrast these two types of microphones, shedding light on their unique characteristics and ideal applications.
|Boom Microphone||Normal Microphone (Handheld/Stand-Mounted)|
|Positioning||Positioned on a long boom arm and held or suspended above or to the side of the sound source.||Usually held in the hand or placed on a stand directly in front of the person speaking or singing.|
|Directionality||Typically shotgun microphones with highly directional patterns are used to capture sound from a specific area while rejecting sound from the sides and rear.||Can have various pickup patterns (omnidirectional, unidirectional, bidirectional), depending on the specific need.|
|Mobility||Highly mobile and adjustable due to the boom arm, can follow moving sound sources.||Limited mobility once placed, suited for stationary sound sources.|
|Visual Impact||Unobtrusive, designed to stay out of the camera’s view.||Visible, often a deliberate part of a performance’s aesthetic.|
Remember, there’s a significant overlap in how microphones can be used, and the above is a simplified generalization. The best microphone to use depends on the specific needs of the recording situation.
If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Film Craft 107: The Location Sound Mixer – 8. Operating a Boom Mic” from the macProVideoDotCom YouTube channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about boom microphones.
What is the difference between a boom mic and a regular mic?
Boom is a generic term for any stand (i.e., an overhead mic stand commonly used in film shoots). Any microphone, from directional to omnidirectional to binaural, may be mounted on a boom, so you can record anything you need to.
What cables do boom mics use?
Boom microphones usually have long XLR cables that connect them to the mixer or recorder, or they may use “duplex” cables that have both a microphone input and a headphone output for the boom operator.
It has been the best for many years, and because it sounds better than wireless options, it is often used instead.
How far away should a boom mic be?
Even with the cheapest shotgun mics, the best sound quality is achieved at a distance of three to four feet, but these mics can record up to six to ten feet away. The standard shooting distance for interviews is seven to 10 feet.
The boom mic is not a new phenomenon but has been used by celebrities and music artists for years. So now that you know about the boom microphone, how it works, and its various uses, use it to sound your best!
This article covered what boom microphones are, what it is used for, and how it differs from normal microphones. Here are some key takeaways:
- A boom is a platform for connecting microphones or other similar equipment that does not need hands.
- A boom microphone is any microphone that has a boom connected to it.
- Directional microphones on boom poles or arms are known as “boom mics.”
- A boom mic has a highly directional polar pattern and is positioned at the end of a boom pole.
So, do you prefer to use a boom microphone? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.