Monday, September 8th, 2014 | by matthew mcglynn
A couple of years ago, I bought an iPad harness so I could mount the tablet near my drums. I spent no more than 90 seconds researching the purchase — only as long as it took to identify the best-selling compatible item from Amazon.com. But the product turned out to be so poorly designed that I literally never used it. The iPad is an elegant device, very much unlike the depressingly mundane harness that, upon receipt, I immediately regretted purchasing.
Ever since then, I’ve had my eyes open for a better iPad mount. And I think I’ve just found one…
The iOxboom™ iPad Mount
Latch Lake Music, creators of the much-lusted-after micKing® line of über-mic-stands, have partnered with iOmounts to adapt that company’s trademark magnetic i-device mount to the music market. The resulting product is just as slick and elegant as the iPad itself.
The iOxboom™ includes an 18'' Xtra® Boom (an adjustable, mount-anywhere boom arm), the iOcore/iOball (the red magnetic mount and metallic ball that constitute the core of the iOmounts system), and two iOadapts (stainless steel adhesive-backed plates that affix to the i-device).
The Xtra® Boom has been part of Latch Lake’s product line for a while. It is an add-on boom arm, designed to attach to an existing mic stand. It has an oversized clutch, measuring three inches in diameter, that promises to suspend heavier weights for longer times than the clutches on typical (read: “cheap”) mic stands. This one has an external tensioning nut, too, so in the event that the Xtra Boom does sag under load, it is a simple matter to tighten the nut to increase the grip of the clutch.
The arm’s angle, extension, and rotation can all be locked with one touch. Latch Lake calls it a “single lever lock system.” It works well. If you have ever spent time adjusting a typical mic boom arm, where the clutch controls the arm’s angle only, and a second knob controls the arm’s extension and rotation, you will instantly recognize that the Latch Lake solution is superior.
The Xtra Boom mounts to a mic stand (or drum stand) via two angled plates that can be tightened around a post of any diameter from 5/8''–1-3/16''. The design is similar to Tama’s “multiclamp” (visible in the photo at right), but significantly more streamlined in appearance.
For the iOxboom product, this Xtra Boom hosts the spherical iOball where the mic clip would normally go.
The iOball appears to be a simple ferrous metal ball, with a threaded hole for screwing onto the Xtra Boom arm (or any mic stand). According to Latch Lake, the iOball is made of “salt bath nitrided steel,” giving it a “nearly indestructible” finish that will not chip, peel, or scratch. The iOcore is a powerful magnet in a plastic housing; it grips the iOball with surprising strength, but can be dragged anywhere around the sphere to position the attached i-device.
Mounting an iPad just beyond my hi-hat — the perfect position for a metronome app, or for instructional videos — took only moments. Both the iOmounts hardware and the Xtra Boom are simple and intuitive.
For this test, I didn’t glue an iOadapt onto my iPad, but rather snapped my iPad into a case that had the iOadapt preinstalled. (The case was loaned by Latch Lake for this review.) This is an easy solution if you dislike having the iOadapt permanently installed on the back of your device. That’s not to say the iOadapt is obtrusive, but it would prevent the iPad from laying flat on a table, and so could conceivably get in the way if you tend to lay the iPad flat for other uses.
Repositioning the Xtra Boom is easy, thanks to the single adjustment lever described previously. Repositioning the iPad on the iOball is easy also, but takes two hands because the magnet’s grip on the ball is very strong. Removing the iPad from the magnetic mount is a one-handed operation. Spinning the iPad from portrait to landscape is a one-finger operation — and it is worth noting that this operation feels very secure. At no time did I fear that the iPad would drop off the magnetic mount, even during rotation.
The Sag Test
I positioned the Xtra Boom at its maximum extension, angled up at 45°, and mounted my iPad on the end via the iOmount hardware. Then I walked away, so as not to endure the screams from any tortured hardware…
When I returned a few minutes later, I was dismayed to see the iPad angled down at about 45°. The Xtra Boom clutch had slipped!
A brief inspection revealed the aforementioned tensioning nut on the Xtra Boom clutch. A quick half-turn of the nut was all it took to sufficiently tighten the clutch.
I repeated the test, and let the iPad sit there for over an hour. The iPad hadn’t moved a millimeter. See the onscreen timer in the photos at right. There was no sag in the clutch, no movement in the iOXmount. The entire apparatus was stationary, solid, and secure.
Not just for drummers
The Xtra Boom and iOxboom were not designed primarily for drummers, but for anyone who needs to mount a smartphone/tablet to a mic stand. I think that latter population includes just about every gigging musician everywhere. Players who have already converted their giant binders of sheet music and set lists into iPad documents can now do away with their giant Manhasset music stands too.
I can even imagine sharing a single mic stand for two musicians: just hang two iOxbooms on one stand, with the arms pointing out to opposite sides.
I think this product holds a lot of value for voice artists too. It is certainly possible to carpet the copy stand to reduce sonic reflections, but wouldn’t it be better to remove the stand altogether? Voice artists can load the script onto a phone or tablet, and hang the device behind the microphone at head height.
What about the magnets?!?!
Strong magnets, such as can be found in the iOcore, will erase magnetic media. But there is no magnetic media in smartphones or tablets. iPhones, Android phones, and iPads do not have internal disk drives. They use “flash” storage that is not affected by a magnetic field. Simply put, the magnets in the iOmount system will not harm your smartphone or tablet.
But if you own an older iPod music player (with internal disk drive), any kind of laptop with internal disk drive, or desktop computer with an internal disk drive, keep them away from the iOcore.
I found the Latch Lake iOxboom product to be intuitive, well built, and very effective.
The Xtra Boom is a best-in-class boom arm, and the iOmounts system seems to be the best i-device grip on the market. The combination is fantastic: it looks good, is easy to use, and neatly solves a number of common stage and studio problems. If you’re looking for a way to mount your smartphone or tablet near a mic stand or drum kit, the iOxboom should be at the top of your shopping list.
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Disclosures & Thanks
Latch Lake Music provided an iOxboom on an evaluation loan for the purpose of this review. No compensation was provided by Latch Lake or iOmounts for this review.