Come close for a minute. Let's talk about mic stands. You know the type – the kind that look like someone with a doctorate in industrial engineering designed them; the kind that you can truly set and forget... the kind that you trust to suspend your dearest and heaviest microphones yards above hard-surfaced floors. Of course, the only thing sexier than a quality mic stand is a quality mic stand accessory. The Latch Lake MK1113BK Pro Pack 1, with its snappy product identification handle, has it all: a micKing 1100 boom stand coupled with a Spin Grip Mic Mount and three 24-inch Xtra Booms.

Latch Lake's micKing line has been delighting those who are pleased by such things for well over a decade now, and the 3300 and 2200 [Tape Op #67] models are big and sturdy enough to mic up large orchestras from many feet in the air, in huge spaces. But most of us are working in rooms with average-sized ceiling height, so a boom that extends 20 feet might be overkill. Hence the 1100 stand, Latch Lake's youngest micKing model, which can extend to 10 feet high or 5 feet horizontally over a drum kit (or other large instrument). Instead of the tilt-n-roll round bases of the 2200 and 3300 stands, the 1100 employs a traditional tripod base, but it's a tripod on performance-enhancing nutritional supplements, with knuckles like a panther! This tripod allows the stand to be a good deal lighter than the 2200 or 3300, which have to rely on heavier, smaller bases to stay put. It also has a much smaller counterweight, which I have never found to be too light, even when suspending an RCA 44-BX or Melodium 42B (heavy). All of the joints of the 1100 are over-engineered in a very good way. They resemble quick release mechanisms on bicycle seat stems, possessing a little thumbscrew or two so the tension can be readjusted as necessary. Most importantly, they feel like they'll never wear out or strip, and you don't need a wrench to operate them (wink, wink). The boom clutch is a particular thing of beauty. As long as you make sure the thumbscrews on it are set right, it will never ever droop. Stand droop is the absolute worst, and I've never seen it happen on a Latch Lake stand in over four years of using them daily.

Speaking of not drooping, one of the accessories that's included with the Pro Pack is absolutely essential: The Spin Grip Mic Mount, or SGMM. I promise you that this is the best multi-directional microphone placement tool you will ever find – and it can be bought separately for use on any brand of mic stand. The way it can swivel around and lock into position allows for quick and extremely precise placement, and it won't budge a millimeter once you let go of it. In addition, since the little mounting rod rotates freely when the clutch is loose, you can easily spin it to thread your heavy mics on while holding the mic in place. Then the Jam Nut comes down and locks everything tight. This is how the pros do it, kids!

The other accessory you get with the Pro Pack is the Xtra Boom, and you actually get three of them. These are two-foot boom extensions with very easy-to-use clamp mechanisms and oversized thumbscrews for securing to a mic stand, a cymbal stand, or anything else cylindrical and sturdy. Your mic can then be positioned on a few different axes all with one movement, then tightened in place with a single lever lock. With three of these arms and one 1100 stand, you can put four mics on a drum kit with a minimal footprint, line up four mics tightly for A/B/C/D-ing, or hang a whole bunch of cables while wiring up your studio. I was lucky enough to take receipt of the Pro Pack while doing just that at my new studio in the Catskills, called Spillway Sound. Until I started using the Latch Lake to hold up mics, it held up several feet of 16- to 26-pair cabling. That cable is heavy, and regular stands would have crumbled under any more than a few loops. My whole studio's cabling was suspended all at once by the 1100 and three Xtra Booms, which I found impressive!

One thing I'll point out about the older Latch Lake stands we have at Figure 8 Recording is that if they don't get used for a while, the boom clutch swivel joint can become a touch sticky, but once loosened up, it stays loose for a while. That is the only small criticism I can make with these stands, and Latch Lake's Dave Roberts points out that they have recently updated the material they use in the boom clutch pads to address this issue. Plus – since all of the parts are serviceable and replaceable via Latch Lake's extremely generous lifetime warranty – you can actually fix the stands, should the need arise.What a novel (and welcome) concept in these disposable times!

Be kind to yourself and buy at least one Latch Lake mic stand. The 2200 and 3300 are amazing but overkill for most studios and don't roll well over throw rugs, which are often strewn about studio floors. So, the 1100 is an excellent choice, and an even better choice is the Pro Pack combo deal, which saves you $76 over buying its components separately.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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