What is a boom arm?

Microhpone on a Boom Arm

Everyone knows that finding a great concept is just the first step in creating a successful podcast, but it’s the set up that can make or break you. You can plan out all the content ideas you like. If you can’t bring it to the listeners with consistent, professional-quality then you’ll find your numbers dwindling before they’ve had a chance to grow.

Industry-standard equipment like microphones, audio recorders, headphones, stands, and boom arm mounts are essential to making sure your podcast keeps this consistency. In this article, we are going to discuss the importance of having a good quality boom arm to help in your podcasting endeavors.

How A Boom Arm Can Help Your Podcasting

Woman Reading Script While Podcasting

If you want more mobility when you’re recording a podcast, and you want to eliminate shock noises, such as the sound of your keyboard, a boom arm is exactly what you need. 

“What is a boom arm”, you ask? A boom arm is simply an adjustable “scissor arm” that clamps on to a desk or table and holds the microphone so that it can move freely without making any sound. The arm moves up and down and swivels from side to side, providing more mobility and more room on your work surface. It’s perfect for those who are recording from a sitting position and eliminates the need to stay in one position for great lengths of time.

When recording a podcast for 30 minutes or more, it can become quite uncomfortable sitting in the same position, unable to move much for fear of shock noise. A boom arm not only lets you move freely, but it will also minimize shock noises that can reach your microphone if it’s directly on a flat surface.

A boom arm also takes up no space, leaving you with more space for a script or for resting your arms. With a stationary stand microphone, not only are you stuck in the same position, you risk picking up back and side noises. It is designed to help eliminate shock noise if you or a guest are physically animated when talking. If you tend to speak with your hands, a stand mic will pick up even the slightest rustle of your shirt or your fingers rubbing together. Even if you don’t hear it, your microphone will. 

How Much Does a Boom Arm Cost?

Neewer NW-700 Professional Studio Broadcasting Recording Condenser Microphone & NW-35 Adjustable Recording Microphone Suspension Scissor Arm Stand with Shock Mount and Mounting Clamp Kit

A good boom arm will cost as little as $50 and as much as $300. There are cheaper options, but you’ll want something that will hold the weight of your microphone, and it’s something that you need to know before buying a boom arm. You need to know how much your microphone weighs and the load weight of the arm to prevent a collapse when you’re recording,

Of course, the more weight you need, the more the boom arm will cost. Adding to the cost is height and stability. A cheap boom arm might bend, flex, or even break with heavier mics. A Blue Yeti, for example, can be too heavy for some of the lower quality boom arms to handle. 

Keep the weight of your mic in mind and research the load weight of various boom arms to prevent a collapse when you’re recording, (If you’re a fan of Blue Microphones, they released their own Blue Compass boom arm in March 2018 which is solid enough to hold the weight of a Blue Yeti plus a shock mount.)

What Makes Up a Good Boom Arm?

Boom Arm For Podcasting

Most boom arms are 20-31 inches in height and are made of steel or aluminum. The cables for your microphone will either run along the side of the arm, attached with velcro or something similar, or can be hidden inside the arm itself for a cleaner look. There are also models that have an LED light so you know when you’re recording, and there are other features that can boost the price. 

If you’re going to be on the road and interviewing others, you might prefer a more professional looking arm that hides the cables and springs. If your podcast is purely audio then this will be less of a concern and you can focus purely on a model that just gets the job done. 

Also, consider ease of travel. If you’re going to be on the road and interviewing others you might want something that is easy to set up and remove, such as the Heil PL-2T, which attaches to your desk with a vice and can be set up in as little as two minutes.

Do I Really Need A Boom Arm For Podcasting?

Podcast Boom Arm

In my opinion, if you’re going to be doing a lot of podcasting, and you don’t want to be confined to one position, you’ll definitely want to invest in a boom arm. They really aren’t feasible for standing and recording, but they provide plenty of freedom for seated recording. 

Sitting stationary for too long isn’t good for you. A boom arm helps to prevent a stiff neck. You’ll be able to move your legs so they don’t fall asleep and your body will appreciate that after long recording sessions. Not only does a boom arm prevent the aches and pains that come from sitting in one position for a long time, but it also eliminates the need to edit out every time you bump your knee on the desk! 

One thing to bear in mind is that the boom arm itself could be a source of noise interruption. This can easily be avoided with the use of a shock mount. A good universal shock mount (like the Rycot inVision) will attach to your boom arm and reduce the noise created by vibrations when moving the boom arm during recording.

Final Thoughts on Getting a Boom Arm

Man Podcasting at his Desk

At the end of the day, your setup needs to fit your style of recording. If you are a person who records on your own, sitting perfectly still, not moving your arms or body, then sure a Snowball mic and some headphones is all you need. However, if we’re being realistic, having the flexibility to move without fear of creating background noise is key. 

A good quality boom arm is a cost-effective way to bring your recording set up to the next level and ensure clear, consistent recording quality across all of your content. There are plenty of resources out there to teach you how to set up your own boom arm so there’s nothing stopping you from finding the boom arm that works for you and achieving the professional standard your content and audience deserve.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to build a professional quality podcast set up; it’s about finding the right tools for the job. If you do your research, work out the best configuration for your recording space, and set it up in a way that flows with your recording style, you’ll soon find a solid boom arm is going to pay back your investment tenfold.

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