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A guide to both indoor and outdoor boom equipment

In our previous post, we discussed the best practices and methods for using a boompole to capture dialogue on location. In this article, we will go more in-depth about the differences between indoor and outdoor dialogue recording, including which RØDE microphones and other accessories are best suited to each environment.

Indoor and outdoor environments

There are certain fundamental differences between recording dialogue both inside and out, which has an influence on the audio recording equipment you should use for each given situation.

Outdoor environments are generally wide-open spaces with little or no reflective surfaces nearby, but can be quite windy and surrounded by ambient noise. On the other hand, indoor spaces are generally enclosed, and as such have reflective surfaces such as walls, floors and ceilings all around - though hopefully no weather or wind noise, and possibly less ambience as well.

With these qualities in mind, let's take a look at our main equipment needs.

Microphone selection

-Outdoors

The most commonly used microphones for recording dialogue on location are shotgun mics. These are highly directional due to their super cardioid polar pattern and physical line tube, which cancels out both sound that arrives from the sides and 'off-axis' sound more towards the front.

This pickup area suits an outdoor environment perfectly, as a boompole allows you to position the mic close to the subject and capture dialogue on-axis, with little or no reflections coming back towards the sides. What you'll get is a dialogue track that is well-isolated from the surrounding ambient noise, featuring a strong signal-to-noise ratio and full-frequency response.

Models such as the RØDE NTG1, NTG3 or NTG4 require 48-volt phantom power, which must be supplied by your digital recording device. Alternatively, the RØDE NTG2 and NTG4+ have their own self-powered options to give you more flexibility on location.

-Indoors

Inside, however, conditions are quite different. There is a higher chance your audio will be bounced off nearby surfaces, changing the tone of the dialogue when captured off-axis, which can be cancelled out by the shotgun mic's forward-facing preference. This means you get quite unnatural sounding dialogue.

A cardioid or hyper cardioid polar pattern mic, such as the RØDE NT5 or NT6, will be less affected by these reflections due to their more forgiving off-axis rejection, therefore granting you a more natural vocal recording.

When dealing with sensitive condenser microphones, shock mounting is vital.

Shock mounting

When dealing with sensitive condenser microphones, shock mounting is vital. A good shock mount will isolate your mic from any vibrations caused by handling noise (such as tapping or rubbing), which can occur when walking with or simply moving the boompole.

The RØDE SM4 features four silicone bands to support the microphone while absorbing these vibrations, and can be attached to most boompoles for convenient mounting. The RØDE PG2, on the other hand, includes a rubber mic mount, boompole thread and also a pistol grip - if you prefer to hold your recording equipment by hand.

Finally, the RØDE Blimp is a top-of-the-range shock mounting system, featuring two Rycote® Lyre suspension mounts, adjustable pivot handles and a boompole thread. The mic itself and the Rycote® Lyre clips are housed within a large zeppelin, which doubles as wind protection when recording outdoors.

Wind protection

On that note, when recording any type of audio outside, wind protection is an absolute necessity. This disruptive noise is difficult to avoid when outdoors - if picked up by your mic, it will create a harsh, distorted, low-end rumble through your audio recording that will be almost impossible to remove in post production. The best remedy? A good-quality windshield.

A RØDE Deadcat can be fitted over the top of your shotgun mic's supplied foam windshield for a quick and easy setup. 

In addition, the RØDE WS6 and WS7 Deluxe Windshields feature a heavy-duty rubber gasket to ensure a snug fit onto all sizes of shotgun mic, with the acoustically-transparent furry material providing protection whilst not blocking any crucial audio.

The RØDE Blimp again is the top offering in this category, as its honeycomb-design outer shell provides an isolated layer between the outside conditions and your mic. Also, the supplied DeadWombat fits over the top of it for extreme wind protection.

While this is all a must for outdoor use, it is not uncommon to see these accessories also used inside as a precaution. The last thing you want is for an unexpected gust of wind from a window, door, fan or air conditioning unit to ruin an otherwise perfect take.