Sound cart on location


Good day. my question is regarding creating my own sound cart for on location shooting.
I need some advice on how to create, what should it include. what reference material is out there.
After watching the tutorials on the rocket jump site, which I find very informative, I find myself needing more info. there are more questions but this is a great start.
PS. I absolutely love the tutorial videos. It seems like you guys are having such a great time doing what you love. It is so inspiring to get out there and record something. :grinning:


Hey @jaytranberg, thanks for finding me here! :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you starting a production kit from scratch, or do you already have some equipment and are looking to build out the kit further? If so, is there a certain size/scale you’re looking for? (Any and all details here help!) For example, a tighter kit for a single operator, or a more conventional kit for a mixer and boom op, etc. Let’s go from there!


That’s great thanks…
Ok so let’s start with…you get a call for a low to medium film, they want you as sound mixer. They say “the cart is here” just need you. What would you expect on that cart…
I am used to recording bands live so that cart is pretty involved… They day it’s much more than I would need… This is just the first of my questions…


Hmm, I’d have to say that’s a little vague for me too, but typically I’ve seen something like the following:

  • Portable mixer and recorder (usually four track; Sound Devices brand products show up pretty frequently - though now even Zoom has a competitive recorder unit, though I haven’t used it myself). If you have some of the larger portable units, having the appropriate carry bag is always a life-saver. I’ve also seen people load their entire kits into wheel-rolling hard cases, and just literally roll from spot-to-spot, setting their gear up on top of the case.
  • Boom setup: boom pole with shock mount, and wind screen / dead cat options, shotgun mic (conventionally-speaking, Sennheiser 416 or similar), and ideally an alternative, more compact cardioid condenser as a second option (good for indoors). Depending on project scale, having an entire duplicate of this isn’t a bad thing. For VGHS, we covered a lot of our interiors with two boom poles and two boom operators (the mixer handling one boom).
  • Wireless lavalier mics (while this depends on production necessities, having two sets is usually pretty solid). Appropriate expendables to go with mics (I’d recommend Rycote stickies and under covers for attaching mics).
  • While expensive, owning a smart slate can also really come in handy, as fairly often sound department will possess the slate. Not necessarily essential, though.

I feel like the above (plus the appropriate cables, batteries, and headphones) is pretty common for a slim but fully-rounded kit (most additional bits can probably be rented on an as-needed basis). But let me know what you think or if you have any other specifics!


This is exactly what I need, thanks so much.
ok so how often would they send a time code for sync to the sound?
what’s your recommendation for mini monitors?
If you are not working on post, what’s the best way to transfer files to them?
sound has the slate, cool, most low to intermediate budget could have normal slate?
For booms, what length is most common? should you have extras of different sizes?
thanks :grinning:


So basically (sorry if this is obvious), the smart slate is useful if both camera and sound are using equipment that have internal time code clocks (as in, configurable, constantly-running clocks that write meta data for when files are rolled - this can be accessed in post to more efficiently sync picture and audio). I’ve personally seen shoots re-jam (re-sync) a few times throughout the day, usually as a precaution after a battery swap, presumably in the odd chance that the internal clock stopped for a minute. However, the smart slate isn’t a starter kit necessity (and not even a compatible option for say, DSLR cameras), and a normal slate (with an “old-school” audio/visual clap sync) works just fine.

By mini monitors, do you mean headphones for yourself and potential other sound people? If so, pretty much any over-ear studio headphones will work great; I personally use the classic Sony MDR-7506’s for both production and post. It’s a matter of personal preference; I prefer the Sonys since I’ve used them the longest, so I just feel my ears are best-trained to them. If you mean ways for other crew members (like the director, etc.) to hear a live feed of the audio, that’s another matter entirely. That basically requires you to output a channel from your mixer that sends to a wireless transmitter, and everyone else carries receivers and their own headphones. While this isn’t unusual on bigger shows, I also wouldn’t consider it a necessity!

Most shoots should have a DIT person (digital imaging technician), whose job duty, among other things, is to download and transfer files for use in post. If this person’s around, you basically deliver cards at the end of the day (or at other convenient times) and DIT will handle the rest, returning the cards once transfers and backups are done. If that’s not the case, and you’re on your own, coordinate with the production to figure out where and how to transfer materials to the appropriate person (probably the editor or director/producer, on a smaller project).

I’m not sure about the most common boom length, but the main considerations are practicality and weight. If you’re getting your first boom pole, I’d recommend avoiding anything that’s really short or anything that’s advertised as being unusually lengthy - most often, you’ll be okay with a boom that can handle around 5 to maybe 15 feet, which is within range (at the upper limit at 15) for many average boom poles. The two things to keep in mind otherwise are material and cable: boom poles, even light ones, can start feeling heavy really fast (which is why you don’t want a huge one for say, a small interior dialogue scene), so I prefer carbon fiber ones as they’re less heavy. You can also look at getting one with an internal cable (coiled XLR cable inside the pole), which eliminates the need to wind a cable around the boom itself (though you’ll still need to plug into the base of the boom pole to connect to your recorder/mixer setup). I have mixed feelings about internal cables; they’re often pretty convenient, but if the internal cable gets caught or knotted, it can be a pain to troubleshoot quickly on-set, since you can’t see the cable (you basically unscrew the base of the boom pole, let the cable naturally hang and untangle itself, and hope for the best - you can always ignore the internal cable and just use a long XLR to go straight from mic to recorder though).


It is an over a year old this conversation, but I thought I’d reply anyway for others who read this (as it is a top google result).

  1. just from the way you’re asking the question it is clear that this is far too soon to build up a cart for yourself, you need much much more experience first

  2. likewise if you’re not working with a boom op or two under you then you probably shouldn’t be thinking about a cart (and even then… it isn’t unusual to still be working out of a bag, I do that even when working with a boom or two as I don’t yet do a high enough volume of that kind of work to justify a cart just yet. Maybe in another year or two)

  3. go to jwsoundgroup forum or the various FB groups for sound mixers, you can see tonnes of pics of mixers’ carts there. Very informative checking out what others have done. However keep in mind that many of those people have custom made theirs that they’ve built up and refined over years. Your needs would not be the same, my first cart will instead be a “mini cart” which is smaller and more compact than most carts you see. Using the typical hand trolley (that you see couriers or movers use) as the core base to build out from, by adding in a few shelves and holders.

Anyway, it sounds like you don’t have any gear at all at the moment and are just starting out, so completely forget about a cart for now and get yourself a basic low budget bag kit like this for instance:

Zoom F8n (& external battery plus ORCA or K Tek bag, I use an Orca OR-30 myself with a Zoom F4: The new F8n has just started shipping, and mine will arrive very soon)

3x Sony UWP-D11 (& 3x Oscar SoundTech lavs), the Sonys are much better than the Sennheiser G3/G4 for the same price.

Sanken CS3e (with the Deity shotgun as a back up)

Audix SCX1 HC (with a iSK Little Gem as a spare)

3m and 5m carbon boom poles (3m is the bare minimum length you want, and you’ll want a second as a back up, and sometimes the extra reach is nice too. Get carbon fibre not aluminum, as weight matters!)

Various shock mounts, media, rechargeable batteries, wind protection, & cables. (all these “little things” can very quickly eat into your budget! Make sure to allocate a large chunk of money towards this)

2x Ultrasync ONE (& cables)


In my experienced opinion a 5 foot boom pole is next to useless for anything other than as a travel / spare emergency pole.

3m (or 10 feet) should be the bare bare bare absolutely MINIMUM length as your main boom pole.
And it is useful to have a boom pole even longer than 15 feet, I myself if I’m just a boom op (and not the mixer as well) then would be using usually a boom pole longer than 15 feet.