If the audio of a movie or video sounds bad, it will at the very least distract from what you see. That is why the Modular Windshield Kit, which won Rycote the 2000 Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, is an essential piece of kit when shooting outdoors. It testifies of Rycote’s holistic approach to noise cancellation, with their newest product, the PCS-Boom Connector, being the latest example.
Especially shotgun mics need more sophisticated mounting and shock absorption accessories than the ones they’re bundled with, because they’re continuously being manipulated, often mounted on boom poles of some length and subjected to rough handling. And when there’s enough wind, the mic’s interference cancellation slots serve as windcatchers, resulting in blow and boom sounds loud enough to make the actual signal become entirely unintelligible.
To fix it, you need a system that blocks out wind without ruining the mic’s polar pattern or its frequency range. Enter Rycote’s surprisingly lightweight Modular Windshield Kit, a complete kit with a basket (aka “blimp”), a connector box, an isolated mount, and a fur cover. With all that in place, there is an only marginal loss – on the spectrum analysis visible as tiny specks – of the highest frequencies and a slight loss of signal (below 1dB).
Rycote’s basket and fur are highly efficient at blocking wind noise in stormy conditions, which I could see for myself on a 5-6 Beaufort day with gusts of 70km/h. The booming and blowing sounds from the bare microphone were immediately gone after mounting the blimp on its own, except for a faint rumbling when a wind gust would almost throw the tripod I was using of its feet. The fur cover took care of that, leaving my voice – and some ear-deafening Friday traffic – clearly audible.
The systemic view and what it means for recording in windy conditions with a mic on a pole becomes apparent in the noise blocking being due not only to the basket adding a padding of slower moving air between the mic and the outside, but also to the Lyres which isolate the mic from its mounts, the silicon spine and the “Connbox” that isolates the outside cable from the inside Mogami cable.
This approach is further exemplified by the availability of a newly developed boom pole quick release system, the 50g weighing PCS-Boom Connector. You fix this spring-loaded aluminium quick release with 3/8in mounting screw in place with a pair of cleverly designed sideways clamping screws. A rectangular mount with a leather washer mounts your mic and fits into the quick release part, isolating the microphone from vibrations caused by handling and simultaneously fixing it in position.
Once everything is locked in place, the system doesn’t move, not even a fraction of a millimetre, creating a seamless and silent integration between mic and boom pole. However, by pulling back on the collar, the spring effortlessly and gently pushes out the mic by a few millimetres, ready for removal. It looks delicate, as if it can be easily broken, but it’s definitely not. Violently shaking the test setup and some good old fashioned rough handling didn’t do anything to break or weaken the structure.
You could say the same about the Modular Windshield Kit. It looks delicate, but it really isn’t. It’s used by sound recordists in the roughest conditions, from the Antarctic to outside 10 Downing Street, so if that’s not a testimony to its strength and stamina, I don’t know what is.
The Rycote PCS-Boom Connector retails at £81. Find out more on Rycote's website.