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Old July 9th, 2008, 05:45 PM   #1
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Boom pole + xlr cable suggestions.

Hi guys. Through reading all of the helpful comments you guys gave me, I have ordered a Schoeps cmc6 mk41 g, a sound devices mix pre and a Schoeps a20 shock mount. Now all I need to get up and rolling is a boom pole and some cable. (Digital recorder in a few months). Any suggestions? I just had a guy named Jasen at Trew Audio in Vancouver get pissed at me because I asked, very politely, what the professionals are using. He basically said I had a wierd attitude to purchasing gear and that I was an amateur. Whilst I readily agree that I am an amateur in regards to recording location audio, I could not believe his lack of professionalism. Anyway, I say that, because I am no closer to finding out what I should be looking at than I was before. I understand that a lot of it is personal preference, but as I live on the island, it is hard to get into Vancouver just to test out boom poles. Because I am using the Schoeps, I need a pole that will be good for indoor use. It should be maybe 8-12 feet long. Carbon Fiber. After that, I have no idea. Is there a model of boom pole that is a sort of industry-standard? I assume not, given just how angry the Trew guy got when I asked something of that ilk. Bottom line is: I cannot test before I buy in this instance. I can only go on the opinions of people more skilled than I...but I don't think that is a bad thing.

As for xlrs, I am wondering if there is an industry standard there too. Just anything that can give me top notch results if used well.

My price range is anywhere from $300, to $1000. I don't want to pay tons of money if I don't need to though.

Thanks to this board I can learn about the filmmaking process and ask questions without being verbally accosted for my lack of knowledge and experience. What a novel idea. I am so glad it exists.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 04:17 AM   #2
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One of the more popular brands among professionals is K-Tek, their model 152 is the length you're looking for. Another very well received brand is Loon and they too include a 12 foot model in their line. Lightwave has their "news pole" model that's 8 feet long and well suited for indoors use.

Booms are not something easily spec'ed and their choice tends to be highly personal. Most of the time intangibles like a companys reputation for customer service, quick repairs in the midst of a tight shooting schedule, etc, are as much of a deciding factor as any technical specs. There really is no such thing as an industry standard that's a clear-cut "choice of the pros." In a very real sense choosing a pole is like choosing the most comfortable pair of shoes to wear for your particular feet and style of working. Unlike selecting a mic, for instance, it's really not something you can choose by imitating "what the pros use" in a certain situation. It's more like selecting the best athletic shoe for a runner - there are a lot of differences in opinion and there's no clear distinction between the brands worn by the winners and those worn by the losers.

The length is detmined largely by the nature of the shoot. Newsgathering one's usually not so worried about the mic being visible in the frame but something that's manueverable indoors, perhaps in a crowd, becomes important. Documentaries are usually filmed in real locations rather than a tightly controlled set, but with some control over things that might interfere with the shot so more working distance is the norm, shots range from medium to cu, and a 12 or so footer works well. Features on a tightly controlled location and with longer subject to camera distances than found in a typical doco shoot would call for 16 to even 20 foot long poles.

I must say I am astounded at your experience at Trew in Vancouver. I've been in their Toronto shop many times, in fact am planning to drop in this afternoon if I have time, to price a pole as a matter of fact, and have never had anything but the most courteous and professional treatment from them. Had a chance to get to meet Glen Trew earlier this year, he was in town to meet with CBC yet took the time to chat and get acquainted.

Industry standard cables are Canare, Mogami, Belden. Connectors would be Neutrik or Switchcraft. A number of manufacturers such as Remote Audio make up their cables using, for instance, Canare cable and Neutrik connectors. Don't get fooled by claims from some "audiophile" vendors that exotic (read "expensive") cables are better - it's a crock of brown stuff aimed at people with more money than brains. Wire is wire and barring manufacturing defects, poor shielding, bad solder joints, or corrosion, the cable and connectors will have absolutely no effect on the sound whatsoever.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 07:00 AM   #3
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I don't think I'd go back to that shop in a hurry.

Working singlehanded a lot of the time I wanted something quick and easy to rig.
I went for a Lightwave folding carbon fibre pole with an internal cable. I'm sure that there are lots of other options but this works well.

I'm not an expert but that's my experience.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 07:37 AM   #4
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Well, I'm sorry to hear about you experience with Trew Audio as I know that the guys at both the Toronto store and Nashville locations are pretty awesome.

As for the little incident, I always find that there are some people with a sense of bitterness towards others with less experience. Of course, it's not limited to the sound or camera departments, but it occurs in other industries than film/video as well. What tends to happen is that new people in the field buy top of the line equipment and get jobs that some believe they shouldn't really be entitled to over perhaps someone with many years of experience. Kind of like, someone just out of college ending up being a department head when you've been trying to get that job working your butt off for 30 years.

Sound work can get very competitive so it is always an underlying issue isolated to a specific region (perhaps why the Interwebnet forums are so open). I believe when you asked what the pros used you may have rubbed the guy in the wrong way. You really have to be careful with what and how you ask questions from sound guys, because some of us can be pretty frickin' odd and stingy.

Although, I don't quite agree with that sort of attitude as mentioned, I have always been an advocate of getting hands-on experience on the equipment before you purchase. Just asking what the pros use, is not a very good rule to follow as you can potentially be blowing money on features that aren't really necessary.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 08:19 AM   #5
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I've just purchased a K-Tek 110CC (Internally wired) Avalon (aluminum) that I love and spec'd a K-Tec 110 Carbon Fibre at my former 9 - 5. I like these poles for MY application which is documentary video and not filmmaking. My audio guy likes the weight and the reach (even on the aluminum, the weight is quite manageable at 110") and I liked the cost effectiveness of the aluminum pole.

Again, everyone will have their own preference and budget. The K-Tek fit both of mine.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 09:47 AM   #6
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That's interesting that picking a pole is more akin to picking a pair of shoes. I didn't know that. I do always try to test before I buy...but given the fact that Vancouver Island is fairly, if not completely devoid of shops and rental houses for this type of gear, I don't have that luxury often.

I want a pole with extremely low handling noise, so a pole that is good at providing that would be preferable.

Regarding the Trew incident, it was very odd, as I have heard great things about them from people on this board and that definitely influenced my decision to call them. Whenever talking to "Professionals" I am always willing to listen to their advice, and usually appreciate their input. I also am not quick to disagree with them, because they are the ones that have the experience, and I let them know that, so it was very very out of the usual. Even if an employee has a beef with a customer, it should not over-ride their fundamental task; to make money for their employer. I guess they don't like to sell things at Trew, and the criterion for their selling something is based on how "Deserving" the client is. Haha. I can see how purchasing high quality gear when I currently have practically no experience in gathering location audio could make someone jealous, but honestly, why should anyone waste time with lower end gear if they can afford it? I find the attitudes of people like that to be strange. I guess they think that their lives are so much harder than everyone else's. There's just no dealing with some people I guess.

Sorry. Had to rant.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 10:12 AM   #7
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Give Trew another chance. They are nice folks. I'd suggest getting a pole that's at least 12 feet long. Heck. Get one that's 14 feet. Can't go wrong with K-Tek. I like internally cabled poles as well.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 10:32 AM   #8
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Yeah I'm really torn right now between two polls.

I can get the K-Tek 110 boompole for $216, but I'm comparing it against a lighter carbon fiber boompole from Gitzo (GB1540) that I can get for $199.

I'm not sure whether it's more important to have internally cabled boompoles, or a lighter carbon fiber boom. The weight difference isn't that significant and they both extend approx 9.1 feet.

I guess they're pretty comparable in quality either way.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 10:57 AM   #9
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Get a carbon fiber of course - lighter.
You will proberbly like them all. Which one is quieter? Which one would advertise that it's noisier??
You only get an opinion by trying so go for one and take a punt.
I would say most pro's would go carbon fiber and in U.K. Panamic is seen as the pole of choice. They don't do a super short pole though. there shortest closed is not so short. That might be an issue if you plan on hopping in and out of cars etc..
12 foot is long enough. Any longer and you might as well get a realy long 3 stage drama pole.
Get a pole that can be internally coiled but try it with the cable out side to start. Save the cash for other goodies.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 11:11 AM   #10
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The K-Tek Avalon is miles better than the Gitzo carbon fiber, which flexes way too much for me. I actually prefer the K-Tek aluminum better than the carbon fiber (in the 9 foot length anyway), because it's a little stiffer and the weight difference is negligible. I've used both a fair amount, and I wouldn't say that carbon fiber is much, if any quieter with respect to handling noise.
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Old July 10th, 2008, 12:05 PM   #11
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There's been some really great advice on this thread and it really reflects the breadth and depth of experience in this forum. Most of my work is verite doc stuff, so I like 8-9' internally-cabled carbon fiber boom poles, because they're light, quick to deploy and don't suck away all of your body heat when you're shooting in the cold. One potential downside of internal cables is that they can really rattle inside of the pole if your movements aren't smooth.

My current boom pole of choice is a medium PSC Elite--very smooth action and rigid but easy lockup. Definitely smoother and more rigid than my old K-Tek Avalon KE-100CC (K-Tek's "budget" carbon fiber pole) and probably comparable to the mainline K-102 unit. Another nice feature is that the bottom cap unscrews easily so that you can quickly straighten out or replace the internal cable if it becomes kinked or inoperable.

K-Tek's aluminum poles are just fine and very cost effective though. I've bought 15 internally-cabled ones for my university and they've stood up very well to student use and abuse other than a tendency for the cables to get kinked, which can prevent you from fully collapsing the pole.

Regarding XLR cables, just make sure that they're "Star-Quad" 4-conductor cables for less susceptibility to electrical and RF interference. Canare, Mogami and Belden are all fine, with Neutrik or Switchcraft connectors as mentioned by other posters. Any sound house can make you custom cables in your choice of length and colors if what you want isn't already hanging in their display. Since the original poster mentioned using a Sound Devices MixPre, don't forget to get an ENG breakaway cable as well. Having one makes for much easier coordination between the sound recordist and camera op and allows return monitoring from the camera's headphone jack. Keep in mind that many cameras' headphone jacks are pre-record, however.

Hope that helps,

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Old July 10th, 2008, 09:44 PM   #12
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I had a similar experience with trew. Well, actually, the first guy i dealt with was awesome but then he left the company. After that I've felt like i'm at the guitar center. I guess they just get tired of answering the same questions over and over to noobs without money. Kinda like how Ty can get snarky with the daily "which $110 mic sounds better than a schoeps?" questions. hehe. I had started w/ the first guy building a relationship and planned on being loyal to the vendor, but after he left, i had to "start over" and in the end the "too busy for you peons" attitude of the other sales dudes drove me away from the speciality vendors entirely.

I guess I'm either expecting too much or not spending enough at one time. 3 years later I've bought over $10k in gear, but its been bits at a time. I'm sure if i waltzed in w/ 10k in my hand I'd be treated like a "pro". But in fairness, for every person like you or me that is serious about buying but uncertain about what, there is probably an army of those that bug the pro audio guys endlessly then end up ignoring all their advise and shopping elsewhere anyways.

So about your question, I bought the ktek 10' internally wired aluminum avalon. And, its "ok". The glue at each joint is lumpy and unsightly, and for one joint caused a "catch" when the pole was closed until i took a file to it. (pretty!). They were sold out of the side exit model so i bought a rear exit, thinking i could swap it out later... but the xlr on the pole is glued on. Having the internal wiring is cool, but the xlr dangling from the top takes a bit of care during transport and you absolutely need both hands and a leg or two to extend the pole fully, due to the internal coiled cable wanting to spring the pole shut again.

If I had to do it over, i'd absolutely get side exit (everybody that uses the pole tries setting it down on the ground on the xlr connector) and I'd put the money i spent on the internal cabling into a longer, lighter, probably carbon fibre pole.

Of course, until i have a longer CF pole w/o cables i cant *really* say if i'd like it better. I might find other things bug me more and make me prefer the aluminum rear exit 10' avalon.

Hmm. I could always call up Trew Audio and ask them which boom pole i would prefer. hehe.

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Old July 11th, 2008, 09:59 AM   #13
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The weight difference on the K-Tek Avalon 110 versus the 110 Carbon fibre is 100g (about 1/4 pound). To me, that's nothing. As well, I PERSONALLY would never go with a pole that wasn't internally cabled. Too much cable management for my liking (but I am a bit of a klutz...)
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Old July 11th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #14
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Seeing as how no one else has mentioned them, don't overlook Loon Audio,
Their basemate looks like a very simple and good piece of engineering and their custom light weight cables and smaller 90deg XLRs are also attractive.
Probably worth a mention that the kind of cable that runs into a mic on a shock mount is important. The cable can conduct mechanical noise and vibration into the mic bypassing the shock mount. We have some quite old XLR cables made with a fabric covered cable that is very flexible. They may have come as part of a Rycote kit from way back. The thin cable that Loon are using also felt very flexible when I had a look at their kit at NAB.
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Old July 12th, 2008, 07:44 AM   #15
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Bob, those are nice looking poles.
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