A properly mounted, smoothly rotating boom arm is a handy tool for professional videos and recordings. Unfortunately, they carry more weight than you can imagine, including the mic, pop filter, shock mount, and wiring. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that they sometimes might not work properly.
Here are six common problems with microphone boom arms and how to fix them:
- The mic arm always drops and can’t hold your mic in place.
- Malfunctioning internal and external springs.
- The mounting clamp leaves marks on the desk.
- The mounting clamp bends sideways.
- Worn out cable ties.
- The arm doesn’t rotate 360 degrees.
Sadly, even the highest quality microphone boom arm is subject to issues at one point or another in its lifetime. So, this article will talk about six common problems with microphone boom arms and how to fix them.
1. The Mic Arm Always Drops and Can’t Hold Your Mic in Place
Does your boom arm drop when you don’t want it to? That’s a huge issue if it’s hovering above an actor during a shoot.
The sad fact is that boom arms start degrading after years of use. Depending on what kind of arm you have, it could only be days or months before yours starts losing its grip.
How To Fix Tension Issues
The first likely cause of a drooping mic is the loss of tension. Tension holds the arm in place, so if it drops, the mic becomes too loose to maintain its grip on your microphone.
Check the tension screw at the base of the arm or adjust the tension knobs.
This Blue Microphones Compass Premium Boom Arm from Amazon.com is studio-grade and comes with a sturdy C-clamp. It also comes with adjustable tubes, making it pretty easy to adjust the tension.
- Broadcast studio-grade design with enclosed aluminum construction and internal springs.
- Hidden channel cable management system for sophisticated on-camera looks.
- Hand-tightened friction hinges for smooth, quiet operation.
Last update on 2023-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
All you need to do is pull the arm out of the mount, and you’ll see a screw at the base of the tube that connects to the hole in the clamp. Use a crosshead screwdriver to loosen or tighten it, depending on the weight of your microphone.
Other boom arms will give you better tension control knobs located at the sides of the arm. Always keep it nice and tight (but not too tight as it could get damaged over time).
How To Fix Weight Issues
The second potential problem with a drooping boom arm is the inability to support the weight of the mic, pop filter, and shock absorber.
Mics are pretty heavy and may require a different configuration to keep the arm at the best angle while recording.
To fix this, remove some components like the shock mount and do without them for a while.
Here, you’ll be sacrificing audio quality for convenience. Whatever you give up in quality is compensated in the fast and easy deployment of your arm.
Another option would be to get a lighter mic.
Swap your 2-pound (0.90 kilo) Blue Yeti for a lighter mic and see how it goes. If weight was the problem, a lighter mic should fix it.
The next time you go boom shopping, check the maximum weight it can bear and buy a heavy-duty arm that supports the weight of a heavy mic along with other components.
2. Malfunctioning Internal and External Springs
Most boom arms we use today are spring-loaded, which means they rely on spring action for smooth movement. Unfortunately, both internal and external springs often malfunction after years of use, depending on your mic’s build quality.
Mic boom arms stretch out many times a day, and since they carry a lot of weight (microphone+pop filter+shock mount), it’s only a matter of time before your springs give in to the burden of all the components.
But there is a quick fix for that.
How To Fix External Springs
If your boom arm uses external springs, you can find new replacements or buy new springs.
Manufacturers such as OC White provide accessories for their Proboom Elite arms. For example, the OC White 12404 from Amazon.com is a heavy-duty replacement spring for Deluxe Broadcast Arms and Proboom Elite.
- Industry standard holding power
- Nickels plated
- Made in the usa
Last update on 2023-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you’re attached to your old boom arm, a second solution would be to buy a low-cost, slightly used one with tighter, external scissor springs. Take these out and put them on your old boom arm, and test its performance.
New springs generally tend to be of higher quality than what your boom arm first came with.
Note: When buying new springs for your arm, stronger is not always better. Find stronger springs but not too strong, or else you’ll have a hard time keeping the arm in the desired position.
How To Fix Internal Springs
The bad news is that you might have to buy a new boom arm entirely for internal spring issues.
Although this will end up being an unplanned expense, purchasing a new boom arm from a high-quality vendor should see its successful usage for a long time. So think of it as an investment.
3. The Mounting Clamp Leaves Marks on the Desk
Most mic boom arms have a decent, high-quality mounting clamp. However, if yours leaves marks on the desk, it could indicate that:
- Your mounting clamp doesn’t have a swivel pad (we’ll look into more details about this in the coming section).
- You tighten the clamp too hard.
How To Fix Mounting Clamp Issues
The best solution is to release the grip on the table and ease up on the turns as you tighten it once more. Though it should be firmly in place, it shouldn’t be so tight that you struggle to loosen it after use.
In addition, you could add a hard material between the metal clamp screw and the soft desk material, such as a piece of flat wood.
4. The Mounting Clamp Bends Sideways
A damaged mounting clamp can present a real challenge since there are not many boom arm parts vendors.
On the bright side, mounting clamps in boom arms aren’t twisted or turned as many times as other parts of the mic. So, once you find the ideal location for your arm, you no longer have to move it unnecessarily.
If your clamp bends sideways, it could be one of the few issues highlighted below.
How To Fix an Uneven Surface
Boom arms usually fit on your desk along with your other recording equipment. And since the mounting clamp won’t be as frequently moved as other parts, all you need is to find a flat, level surface to mount it once.
If you’re not using a standard desk, though, you might find that the surface isn’t entirely flat.
Before attaching the boom, check that there are no bumps, tiny objects, flaws or holes, protruding nails, etc., on the mounting location.
Also, ensure that the table is on flat ground before proceeding.
If the table has issues, consider adding a flat surface between the clamp and the desk, like a small piece of flat wood.
Of course, the easiest way to fix this is to get a new desk.
How To Fix a Missing Swivel Pad
Swivel pads are responsible for holding the clamp firmly on the edge of the desk and protecting the desk from damage. If you suspect that the pad is missing or notice that you’re tightening the device more and more each time, check for a missing swivel pad.
Like other parts of a boom arm, they’re bound to get loose and sometimes even fall off the clamp after years of use.
To fix the missing swivel pad issue, put a bottle cap or a flat, thin, wooden material between the clamp and the desk. Then, tighten the clamp but don’t overdo it.
Note, however, that you might have to tighten the clamp a bit more than usual.
Tip: Hold on to the wooden object or bottle cap to keep it in place as you tighten the clamp.
How To Fix Bent Threads
Bent threads do not turn evenly and, as a result, may not tighten the clamp as expected. In that case, it might appear bent from an angle.
To fix this issue, you’ll have to straighten them out with a bit of metalwork.
(You don’t have to be an expert on welding to do this.)
Here’s how to fix bent threads:
- Find or borrow a vise, heat-resistant gloves, and a blow torch.
- Fasten the boom arm clamp in the vise.
- Use a blowtorch to heat the screw.
- Put on heat-resistant gloves and bend the screw until it takes a straight form.
The result might not be perfectly straight, but it should be enough to fix most of the damage. Remember not to overheat the screw – just blow the flame above the metal until it gets soft enough.
Lastly, do not put too much strength into bending the hot metal. It will only do more harm than good.
5. Worn Out Cable Ties
Some boom arms like the Rode PSA1 Swivel Mount Boom Arm from Amazon.com allow you to hide the XLR cable away from sight. Instead of being out in the open, the cable sits inside the arm itself, so you don’t need to worry about adding velcro straps or visible cable ties.
But if you’re using other boom arms with different external wire management, the straps could fail to hold onto the wires due to damage. Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to get away with this.
Buy new cable ties or velcro straps for your mic wires.
Check out this video below to see some options on how to secure and hide cables on your boom:
6. The Arm Doesn’t Rotate 360 Degrees
Boom arms should rotate 360 degrees without any issues.
However, if your arm doesn’t, it could indicate a problem with the mounting clamp. For example, there could be an object preventing movement from inside the mounting clamp.
How To Fix Rotation Issues
The good news is that clamps are not easily damaged. This is because you won’t have to keep moving the clamp once you find a good spot on the desk.
Still, if you weren’t super careful initially, there could be something getting in the way of its movement.
To fix rotation issues:
- Pull the boom arm from its hole in the clamp.
- Open the mounting clamp screw and remove the entire clamp from its position.
- Examine the clamp for any objects hiding inside.
- Once you’re satisfied with the results, put it all back together.
How To Take Care of Your Boom Arm
Boom arms are built to last, but they’re delicate too. If you take good care of yours, there is no doubt that it will live on to serve for years.
Here are a few ways to maintain your boom arm:
1. Handle With Care
Just because your boom arm comes in a sturdy metal body doesn’t make it impervious to damage. It has delicate moving parts working hand in hand with the metal frame to bring your mic closer.
So, try not to toss it around.
If you have to move the arm, push it away slowly or pull it towards you gently to prevent gradual damage.
2. Perform Regular Cleaning
Always keep your recording equipment clean.
You’d be surprised by how much simple routine cleaning can help preserve the integrity of your equipment. Clean mic boom arms not only look professional but also last longer.
Dust, smears, substance smudges all over the arm could degrade the frame over time. So, every once in a while, unmount it and use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off any dust or substances on the surface.
When cleaning your mic, moisten a clean, dry towel with alcohol and wipe the mic’s entire surface. You also want to disinfect your mic and pop filter by washing them with warm water and drying them for up to 3 days.
Don’t forget about the desk. Wipe your desk clean at least once a day, especially if you take your meals while working.
3. Minimize Mic Boom Arm Movement
Boom arms were built to be moved all the time. Nevertheless, you want to reduce unnecessary movement as much as possible.
Of course, you can’t eliminate all movement. Still, if you only move the mic when you have to, you’ll avoid too many unnecessary movements, which can help to preserve the integrity of the suspension springs.
Microphone boom arms deserve all the credit for making professional audio possible in your videos, podcasts, vocals, and more. But even the most durable boom arms fall victim to unexpected breakdowns all the time. To prevent this:
- Repair your boom arm at first sight of the damage.
- Always check for any signs of wear.
- Clean the boom arm every once in a while.
- Do not move the arm unless you need to.
- Audio University: How to Fix a Microphone Stand
- Audio University: What’s Broken and How To Fix It
- YouTube: Troubleshooting the Frameworks Mic Boom Arm
- Lewitt: How to disinfect and sanitize a microphone
- Homenish: 8 Essential Parts of a Clamp (with Diagram)
- Performance Audio: Replacement Parts
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