Pop quiz. Do you record drums? Do you make a living as a recording engineer? If you answered yes to either one of these questions, you need to check out the Latch Lake Music Xtra Boom. Look, I'll warn you right now-this is much less a review and much more just one recordist telling another about an amazing product.
The Xtra Boom is, as the name suggests, a boom arm for holding mics, and it comes in lengths of 24", 18", and 12". It attaches to any existing mic stand you may have, but it prefers a sturdy device, such as any child of the Latch Lake Music brood, to provide mics access to tough-to-reach places. The biggest differentiator of the Xtra Boom is that it was designed by someone who really records instead of a mechanical engineer hired by some mega-firm. What does that mean to you and me? First, it means that you can hang a heavy tube mic from it. And short of a natural disaster, you can walk away and come back a year later and the mic will still be in the exact place. (No droopy-poopy in the middle of a take! Don't believe me? Well I can S-T-A-N-D on one of these boom arms and it will hold me. And no, I'm no P90X welterweight; I'm in full Sumo-mode these days. Ask anyone. I weigh more than a tube mic. Easily.) Second, the threads on the mic-side go a full 3/4"-no eight-turn Sally's here! Finally, the combined arm-position clamp/swivel lets you quickly position a mic in just about any place you want.
In fact, when combined with a big Latch Lake micKing stand (Tape Op #67), you can mic an entire seven-piece drum kit with just two stands and five or six Xtra Booms. This saves so much clutter in the studio because each mic
stand becomes a mic tree. We also found that our mics are getting hit less often by errant drum sticks. Why? Because Xtra Booms can reach into places and put your mics at angles that are hard to do otherwise. And finally, they save a lot of time because you can have them set up before the band loads in.
Another great application for the Xtra Boom is in the vocal booth. If you have a mic, a pop filter, a headphone distribution box, and one of those anti-reflection devices, your booth can start to look like a storage closet. With one or more Xtra Booms, you can rely on one stand to attach all of your accouterments to a single unit. It reduces clutter, and I submit, improves the feng shui of your vocal booth.
Jam Nuts are silver-dollar-sized (sorry EU readers... goofy US guy with a word processor... ummm, 3.05 cm diameter) threaded washer things that you tighten against mic clips to keep the microphone from spinning on the mic stand or boom. Again, instead of those wafer thin, almost non-existent daisy washers, Jam Nuts are big, what-would-Conan-the-Barbarian-use-if-he-were-a-recording-engineer-instead-of-a-well-Barbarian kind of invention. And other than the Shure B52, the Shure 315 ribbon, and an odd mic here and there, Jam Nuts work with everybody. Do you want your mics losing position in the middle of a take? Of course not. Try these nuts. Once you try one, you won't be able to quit.
All joking aside, there are some devices that make your life easier, and there are some devices that are made with such craftsmanship that you'll have them for decades. Latch Lake Music Xtra Boom and Jam Nuts are in this category. And friend, I can't convey in writing how incredible these units are in the same way as seeing for yourself. So I suggest you contact your dealer and get a few of these in your studio. Use them for a month. Send them back if you don't think they're worth every penny. I'll bet you'll be ordering more of them before the fourth week is out. Seriously. (Xtra Boom $75 MSRP with discounts for 5+ multi-packs, Jam Nuts 3-pack $15; www.latchlakemusic.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.