The Boom Pole: Is it just an expensive broomstick for audio?

One of the hallmarks that your content has taken the next step is your use of a boom mic pole to get even better audio recording. But a carbon fiber boom pole that cost over $500. Do you really need that? Or can you go the DIY route and use a cheap, $10 broom pole from Home Depot? Well, that answer may surprise you.

Image credit – Indy Mogul

Griffin Hammond is back with the third relaunch of IndyMogul with a weekly show called “Cheap Thing vs. Expensive Thing.” In the show, Hammond compares the extremes by taking an expensive piece of filmmaker gear and seeing if filmmakers can go on the cheap and get results that are close enough.

So far, it hasn’t been that close, as Hammond has favored the expensive DJI drone, and an Ikelite underwater camera case, but with his third look, Hammond compared a $589 K-Tek C102CCR boom pole, with the frugal option, a $10 broomstick he picked up at Home Depot (I’ve even seen them at a dollar store). And his conclusions make you wonder why waste the money?

The K-Tek boom pole is REALLY nice.  Built out of carbon fiber, it as light weight as it is collapsible.  Thanks to it’s multi section design, the K-Tek can extend from 2.7′ to 8.9′.  But the downside is, that even completely collapsed, the K-Tek can’t be packed in a suitcase of backpack. It has be hand carried while traveling to a location.

Additionally, the K-Tek also has a built in XLR port in the handle, so you don’t have to bring along an additional cable for your microphone and coil it around the pole so it doesn’t get in the way. The cable itself is coiled inside the carbon fiber pole, and Hammond points out that while it’s a convenient and clever design, it can get caught up when trying to extend the pole, or it can snap the extension back when trying to bring it out to it’s fullest length.

By contrast, a $10 aluminum broom handle is nearly as light, and at $10, you can get it anywhere. All you need is a 1/4-20 bolt, a drill, and a can of black spray paint and you have a pol that looks like a professional option from a distance.  Hammond says that gives the advantage to the broom pole, as he can just get one for the duration of his project, and then junk it when moving on to the next location.

Ease of use, Hammond says the broom pole is about as easy as it gets. And when it comes to weight, both the K-Tek and the Broom handle coupled with an XLR cable, weigh about the same. The benefit though, for the K-Tek here is that it can reach twice as far. So, it’s advantage K-Tek. However, there is no weight benefit and as such, it’s a draw.

Lastly, Hammond compared both poles to see if you can hear unwanted noise resounding into the mic when handling the pole. And here, Hammond found that the cheap, $10 broom pole dampens out handling noise just as well, if not better, than the K-Tek, at 50 times the price.

So, at the end of the day, Hammond says he’s going to stick with the “cheap thing.” “The broom pole has served me well over the years, and the audience doesn’t see what you use anyway,” Hammond concludes. But he does say that with a professional boom pole, you do “look the part” when going on location, and that kind of insurance buys confidence from your clients.

However, there are adjustable paint poles at Home Depot, too, and with a can of paint, they look just as well. Or you can use a simple monopod like the one built here.

What would you choose? Leave a comment below.

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

1 Comment

  1. My first broom pole from HD worked fine, just as Griffin showed. Later bought aluminum ‘pro-type’ off ebay and the sucker got bent when a PA tried to help me by collapsing the pole while packing.

    Now using a K-Tek style pole from Amazon, about 50 bucks which works great, but in a pinch the broom pole is fine.

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