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A boom pole advice, please

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Adriano Castaldini
A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 19, 2017 at 6:11:02 pm

Hi everyone,

First of all I know NOTHING about boompoles, but I suppose I will need one (I probably said something similar about women years ago... but this is another story!)

I have two very basic questions about boompoles:

1. Why Panamic booms cost 10 times Rode/K&M/Beyerdynamic booms? I can suppose carbon fibre vs aluminium, weight, etc. Or is there also something about noise? This is a very important to me: I don't know how a boom works, if there are noisy vs silent booms, but if there is this kind of difference, please tell me which boom is really silent? Are there other main differences I should know? Ambient booms could be a good choice, or there is something cheaper that works as well?

2. I would use the boom alternatively with two different mic-blimps: one with XLR-3-pin, and the other with XLR-5-pin. I saw that there are also cabled booms (useful, I suppose) but I CAN'T buy two different cabled booms to fit the two different blimps' plugs! I want to buy only one boom, so I wonder if there is a good single solution for both the blimps. Here the question: is it better to fix externally a normal XLR cable onto a non-cabled boompole with scotch-tape, or does it exist an "empty" type of boompole that gives you the possibility to change the internal cable? (In this way I could set the boom by my own, with a XLR-5-pin cable or a XLR-3-pin, as needed.)

So, which is your advice?

Thanks really a lot.


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 19, 2017 at 7:27:03 pm

Why does a Lamborghini cost 10x as much as a Fiat? They both get you to the market and back home. As you say, carbon fiber is a more exotic and expensive material, so you can expect that it will cost more. But only you can decide whether buying a premium boom (or ANY premium product) is worth the extra expense for what YOU will be doing with it. If you are an in-demand boom operator booked for dozens of big-budget feature films, then having a couple of good carbon fiber booms is a required tool of the trade.

But if you are an amateur or a beginner student, then there are almost certainly more profitable areas for investing your capital budget. And if you get to the point where you need to upgrade from a common aluminum pole to a carbon fiber, there is no great barrier to upgrading. And either re-selling your aluminum boom or keeping it as a secondary / spare / backup.

IMHO, the choice of microphone contributes MUCH MUCH more to performance/$$$ than the pole. If you spend big $$$ on a fancy pole and then buy a cheap microphone to put on the end, that will translate DIRECTLY to poor quality sound. But if you live with perhaps a heavier pole, but put a good microphone on the end, you will HEAR that decision.

And there are advantages and disadvantages to internally cabled vs. external. Again, I would reserve the majority of my budget for getting quality microphone(s) and live with external until you can justify the expense.

What kind of mic are you booming that requires 5-pin XLR? Dialog pickup is the vast majority of what booms are used for and that is a mono mic and a 3-pin XLR. I question WHY do you think you need a 5-pin connection for a boom mic?

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:38:06 pm

Dear Mr. Crowley, thanks for your reply.
The two mics are AT4053B (3-pin) and BP4025 (5-pin).
I agree with you on everything, expecially the fact that a boom can't cost more than the mic, it would sound absurd!
I don't worry about weight (even if I must admit I'm a bit skinny), I think only about the sound quality, so my questions are:
1. Can an aluminium cheap boom make the sound quality worse (perhaps squeaking), or the material concerns only the weight?
2. Keeping the cable internally (in the boom) can avoid capturing noises and pops, or it is simply ergonomic facilitation?
Thanks a lot for the help.


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Eric Toline
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 2:33:35 am

Forget the use of the stereo BP4025 mic for dialog, it just isn't done. Your best bet would be at least a 12' internally coil cabled pole with a side mounted male XLR plate. Look at the K-Tek line of poles in both aluminium & carbon fibre construction. For a given length a carbon fibre pole is about $200 more than an aluminum pole but about half the weight. Expect to spend about $200-$250 for a 12' aluminium pole. Poles themselves are not noisey, it's the handling noise by the boom op that causes those issues. Don't forget you'll need a good shock mount for the mic and also a windscreen or zep with a furry wind protector. That's about $250-$300 for those items.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 4:02:12 am

Thanks Mr. Toline for your answer.
I will not use BP4025 for dialogues, in fact I will not record dialogues at all. My purpose is just to use a couple of mics for only foley (AT4053b) and field (BP4025) recordings.
I absolutely agree with the fact that most of the noise comes from the op handling, but I've read that joints of the cheap boom can produce creakings.
But the main doubt is the cabled solution (boom with internal cable): I don't know if it's true, but someone in an Adorama's youtube tutorial says that a rapidly moved cabled boom can cause noise because the cable slamming internally in the boom. If it's true, is it right to say that in a run&gun condition it's preferable to use a boom with an externally fixed cable?


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 6:20:19 am

If you are recording ambience, etc with a stereo mic, then you are not using a boom. So it is still not clear why you think you need a 5-pin option for your boom?

Yes, it is true that the internal coiled cable can slap around when the boom is moved quickly. But quick boom movements should typically be ROTATION (much less likely to cause noise) to cover two people in a dialog, for example. Whpping the boom left/right (or up/down) is not recommended for other reasons having nothing to do with cable noise, whether internal or external.

Of course, an external cable can also cause noise if not wrapped around the boom properly and held tight.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:25:00 pm

Thanks for the replay Mr. Crowley. I used the wrong word: I'd use the stereo-mic to capture the ambience indoor, of course, but also the stereo image of the sounds outdoor, for that reason I thought to use the blimp also for the BP4025 (5pin).


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 6:26:18 pm

Anyway, going further, I'd like to know what is in your opinion the most silent cable rig to connect the mic to the recorder in a run&gun situation (for example following the outdoor footstep of the talent during a long walk):

1. A single external straight cable wrapped around the boompole, directly from the blimp plug to the recorder: this means having a dangling last segment of the straight cable (the segment from the end of the boompole to the recorder);

2. A single and totally dangling long coiled cable directly from the blimp plug to the recorder (not wrapped around the boompole);

3. Two cables: a straight cable well wrapped around the boompole, with the male plug fixed to the end of the boompole, where it's connected with another cable, a coiled cable this time, dangling from the end of the boompole to the recorder.

My questions simpy are:

A) Which is the most silent solution for my run&gun situation? And Why?

B) Do you recommend another cable rigging?

Thanks a lot for your help.


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:47:53 pm

There won't be any significant difference between (#1) and (#3) But (#3) might be more convenient, depending on other factors not in evidence.
(#2) is definitely not recommended. Hanging the cable from the blimp will put strain on the blimp connection as well as making the cable MUCH more vulnerable to brushing against something (causing noise) or even getting caught-up on something (causing you to stumble and break your arm!)

Wrapping the cable around the pole (or putting the cable inside the pole) mechanically decouples the cable from whatever noise the cable may pick up and the microphone.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:50:44 pm

Thanks Mr. Crowley


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Eric Toline
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 3:42:44 am

The standard boom pole setup for almost everything is an internal coil cable terminating in a pole mounted XLR male and a short coil cable XLR M&F jumper that connects the pole to the mixer/recorder. Within the next few years you'll see more & more cableless poles with transmitters supplying 48vp to the mic with the TX mounted on the pole just behind the mic. In fact Zaxcom has a combination mini transmitter & recorder that is made just for pole use for about $1700 + dedicated RX for it for another $1700. Not for the faint of heart to be sure.

"I push the RECORD button and hope for the best"


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 6:29:09 am

[Eric Toline] "you'll see more & more cableless poles with transmitters..."No, I will surely not ☺ That's a super-exclusive gear for my limited budget.
The necessity of changing the cable (5-pin, 3-pin) move me toward the external cable solution.

Anyway I'd have three very basic questions (I'm sorry for the low level of the questions):

1. Considering the wrapping of the cable around the pole, which is the ratio of pole/cable length? (i.e. how conveniently long must the cable be for a 1/2/3mt pole?)

2. Is it convenient to wrap the cable around the entire pole, or it's better to leave an uncovered segment of the pole for the hands? (i.e. can I put the hands directly on the wrapped cable, or not?)

3. When I'll shorten the pole, there will be a lot of free cable. Is there a specific way to arrange the cable in order to avoid noises?

Thanks a lot.


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 2:01:29 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Jun 21, 2017 at 2:04:55 pm

[Adriano Castaldini] "The necessity of changing the cable (5-pin, 3-pin) move me toward the external cable solution."
We still don't understand WHY you think you want to use a stereo microphone on the boom? If you are recording stereo "room tone" or ambient sounds or whatever, you do NOT want to be moving the microphone around. And the mic doesn't need to be far away from you.

[Adriano Castaldini] "how conveniently long must the cable be for a 1/2/3mt pole?"
The extra length required for wrapping around the pole is maybe an extra 10-20% the pole length at most. Not enough to fret over IMHO. Surely you want extra length for other contingencies which will more than cover the shortening effect of pole-wrapping.

[Adriano Castaldini] "Is it convenient to wrap the cable around the entire pole, or it's better to leave an uncovered segment of the pole for the hands? (i.e. can I put the hands directly on the wrapped cable, or not?)"
I typically use my grip on the pole as the "anchor" point for the cable at the back end of the pole. So I grip the pole and the cable to keep it tight. That way you aren't fooling around with other means (like tape or clips, etc.) And it is easy to change lengths, etc.

[Adriano Castaldini] "When I'll shorten the pole, there will be a lot of free cable. Is there a specific way to arrange the cable in order to avoid noises?"
When you are doing major resets like changing the length of the pole, you are not recording. It is not realistic to expect to get noiseless audio while re-configuring the pole.

The tone of your questions seems to have significantly changed from when you said you were a "one-man-band". None of these questions and answers appear to fit within your original scope of recording a "day in the life" style video single-handed. I'm pretty confused here. Your questions apply to the case where you have a dedicated boom operator. Did I miss your change of requirements here somewhere?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 5:55:25 pm

First of all you are very kind helping me with your replies.
I changed a little my mind (thanks to your help!) but I unfortunately remain a one-man-crew ☺ Let me explain: I decided to maintain the "day in the life" style, but only for video, not for audio. Infact I finally decided to record all the sounds a part, in other days, during off-camera sessions (as a foley/field recordist) and then edit and mix the audio takes in post.
The good thing is that there aren't dialogues! Only sounds and ambient. I suppose that the only sounds I'll need to capture will be:
1. tiny sounds from the talent indoor;
2. tiny sounds from the talent outdoor;
3. ambient sound indoor;
4. ambient/field recordings outdoor.
I suppose that for almost all the tiny sounds (both indoor and outdoor), the hypercardioid should be sufficiently appropriate.
Similarly I suppose that for all the ambient/field recordings (both indoor and outdoor), the stereo mic should be appropriate.
For being as close as possible to the talent with the hypercardioid - both indoor and outdoor (avoiding wind) - I thought a pistol-blimp should be the right solution.
For ambient/field stereo recordings I'd adopt the same solution: an anti-wind pistol-blimp for the stereo mic.
As a recorder I will use a MixPre-6 in a shoulder bag.
Here a question: for connecting a handhelp pistol-blimp to a shoulder recorder, is more silent a straight or a coiled cable?

Now the boompole... I thought that in some situations a boompole could be useful to record mainly the talent sounds at distance: for example, for recording the talent's footsteps during a walk on a country road - in that situation I think I'll need to be at a distance from the talent (to avoid recording my footsteps too), so I think a boompole could be the solution.
I suppose that most of the times I'll use the boompole with the hypercardioid, but I have the doubt (perhaps I wrong) that sometime I could use the boompole with the stereo mic too: for example, the same country road walk described before, do you think that recording the footsteps in stereo is a silly option?

Thanks a lot.


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 7:58:27 pm

Even people with a crew of 100s of talented professionals and a budget of hundreds of millions of $₤€ don't go out and record the ACTUAL footsteps, minor motions, generic sounds of the ACTUAL subject, and typically not even in the ACTUAL location. You are attempting to do something that even professionals with unlimited resources don't do.

When you watch a movie that cost $100s of millions of $₤€, the chances that you are HEARING the ACTUAL footsteps (or whatever sound) that you are SEEING are essentially ZERO. Nobody does that. It is simply impractical. That is why Jack Donovan Foley, back before any of us were born, perfected the process that bears his name. It is so much easier, cheaper, faster, etc. to either use a pre-recorded sound, or record your own sound in a Foley studio (or in your back bedroom or the public park or wherever).

For that matter, likely way more than half of the background sounds that you hear wasn't recorded in the same space, and almost certainly not at the same time as shooting the film/video. And likely as not is was created in the mixing studio and doesn't even exist in the Real World.

Now, if you are retired and have spare months and years with nothing better to do, and no customer/professor to please and no deadline, certainly you can go out in the field with your subject and take all day to record some footsteps, etc. "Sorry, Agnes could we do take 37 on opening that squeaky door? I still don't have it perfect."

The PRIMARY thing that must be recorded during principal shooting is DIALOG. Secondary to that is capturing "room tone" preferably as close to principal shooting as possible. Then there is all the other NON-synchronous stuff like recording the sounds of various things. But that doesn't involve the rest of the crew or the actors (or subjects of a documentary).

I think that your concept of recording the ACTUAL sounds ON LOCATION is seriously misguided and will end up costing you far more time and money, AND produce a worse result. If you have no dialog, then shoot MOS (without sound). Or as is commonly done, with the built-in microphone on the camera recording a "reference" or "guide" sound track so that you will know where to put the door-slam or the tea-cup dropping, etc.

You seem to be obsessing on gear without adequate knowledge or experience of what is practical in the Real World. Use whatever you have available right now, and spend a few hours going out into the world and recording things. It may change your whole perspective on how to do this.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 11:32:46 pm

Dear Mr. Crowley, believe or not, I completely agree with you.
In this matter I am an autodidact, it's evident: my schools are the forums, with the advices and suggestions from all of you.
Anyway, as I said in my previous post, I abandoned the original idea of capturing the real sounds from the actual place of the scene. The example of the walk was intended simply for capturing a generic sound of steps on the grass (certainly not exactly THE steps of THAT walk of THAT specific scene). My only question was simply: could it be interesting to capture a stereo sound of steps, or is bettere a mono sound of steps? Simply that!
On the other hand, it's true that I'll use my talent for many of the sounds I'll need to capture, but the reason is not for capturing the actual world of the scene, but simply because my talent is also my only assistant ☺
Obviously I'll start shooting MOS (but with the in-camera mic as reference). Then, once I'll have finished with the camera, I'll start with foley recordings. I haven't a studio, so I can image I'll capture many of the sounds in the actual place of the scene, and not for realism, but simply because the location is also my home ☺ The walk on the country road (for the steps) is where I usually do jogging ☺
I'm trying to explain that I think I'm following (with all my limits) the same method you described.
Obviously I'm obsessed by the gear! Because it's all new for me! And because it's all so expensive that I try to know everything about pro's opinions to make my own idea of what I'd actually need (I'm not in a school where I can try gear and make experiences).
Said that, what is your advices for capturing steps of the grass? Using a mono or a stereo mic? And with boom or without?
Thanks


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 21, 2017 at 11:44:43 pm

I would use (and recommend) a monaural mic. You aren't trying to capture the (whatever) sound WITH its ambience. Because when you layer and mix together all these little sounds, if each one is carrying its own ambience (or stereo stage position) with it, you will have a jumbled mess . Each sound should be as isolated and pristine as you can get so that you can CREATE the whole sound experience with all the sounds combined as needed. Then, if you are in a reflective room, you can ADD some echo/reverb to make it SOUND like it LOOKS.

You should not need a boom. You should be able to walk through the grass, or over the gravel, or on the squeaky wooden floor, etc. just holding the mic in your hand with your arm pointing down and the mic perhaps 12-18 inches from your feet.

This is rather the OPPOSITE of what you originally came here asking. You WANT the sound of the "operator" because that is the person performing the footsteps (or whatever) AND doing the recording. 😊

Of course, you ALWAYS wear GOOD headphones when recording audio. So that you can HEAR what you are doing. It is to be expected that you may need to "cheat" how something is done or the angle or distance of the microphone to capture a convincing sound. This is a time-honored tradition with Foley. You may even find some OTHER door that makes a more convincing sound than the actual one that is on the video, etc.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 22, 2017 at 12:03:30 am

Good headphones... I have "classic" Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO (250 OHM). Do you think is sufficient?


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 22, 2017 at 1:10:46 am

Yes, assuming that whatever is driving them can deliver a good sound level into 250 ohms.

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Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 24, 2017 at 6:39:55 pm

Just one last very little question: assuming that I don't use the boompole - only recorder + blimp - do you recommend coiled or straight cable? (Is there any quality difference between them?)


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:27:55 pm

There is no theoretical basis for there to be any "quality" difference. This is a low-impedance, balanced signal which is designed to be impervious to variations in cabling. Same goes for mic-level and line-level connections.

A coil-cord is rather a "one-trick pony". It is rather useful in a limited number of circumstances. For the same budget you could have two or three regular, straight cables of various lengths and IMHO that would make your kit much more "flexible" at no extra $$. But it is a personal choice and it won't affect the sound you are recording one way or the other.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 25, 2017 at 12:55:48 am

Thanks (as always) for your reply and help, Mr. Crowley.
I must admit that mic cable is an unknow world for me: I've read various forums about different quality cables and the names were Vovox, Mogami, Klotz, Sommer. But each brand has various types of cables for various features (shielded, unshielded, double-shielded, etc.)
First of all I can't make the cable by myself, I have to buy it pre-made, and the types that I can easily order (in Italy) are the following:
- Vovox link protect S200;
- Sommer Cable Albedo Micro Cable;
- Mogami 2534 Neglex Quad cable + Neutrik NC3 XX-B;
- Mogami 3080 + Eminence E303 & E304;
- Mogami MGAES0300BL;
- Klotz M5.

1. Short question: which is the best cable for noise rejection and shielding?

2. Long question: in THIS image you can see a list of detailed infos about the cable. Can someone of you kindly (and patiently) explain to me the main infos to understand why a cable is better then another one?

Thanks a lot.


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Richard Crowley
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 25, 2017 at 2:01:24 am
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Jun 25, 2017 at 2:04:01 am

[Adriano Castaldini] "1. Short question: which is the best cable for noise rejection and shielding?"

All of those are good cables for audio. None is better or worse "for noise rejection and shielding" or for any other aspect of audio signal integrity, for that matter. Don't obsess over various brands of cable and connectors. You will go mad and become a cable fanatic and never make any videos.

[Adriano Castaldini] "2. Long question: in THIS image you can see a list of detailed infos about the cable. Can someone of you kindly (and patiently) explain to me the main infos to understand why a cable is better then another one?"

It is a myth that "one cable is better than another one". The people who believe in magic cable claim they can "hear a difference" . But no difference can be measured. And none of the "differences" can be correlated with the perfectly ordinary scientific measurements as shown in your image. ALL cable has different amount of resistance or capacitance or inductance or is made of different materials or may be more stiff or more limp, or be a different color, etc.

But remember from the previous response. Microphone signals (and most line-level signals) are low-impedance so that any slight differences in cable capacitance (or other factors) will NOT affect the quality of the signal.

The only kind of audio signals that are vulnerable to cable characteristics are high-impedance signals. These are the kinds of signals that come from vintage electric guitars (with high-impedance pickups) and old, vintage high-impedance, unbalanced microphones. Now, many decades later, we know better than to make high-impedance sources. That makes the choice of cable quite un-important.

This is not worth obsessing over. One of my favorite quotes from another forum was a famous audio engineer who said: "A $200 cable is better than a $2 cable. But it is not better than a $5 cable." In other words: You can buy very cheap cables made from poor-quality materials (which will fall apart) and constructed with poor workmanship (which may be intermittent or break). But buying very expensive cables gets you nothing more than an ordinary cable can deliver.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Recording audio without metering and monitoring is exactly like framing and focusing without looking at the viewfinder.


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Adriano Castaldini
Re: A boom pole advice, please
on Jun 25, 2017 at 4:07:23 pm

Amazing wisdom!
Thank you so much for your help!
You are a great guru Mr. Crowley!


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