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Old April 5th, 2012, 06:09 PM   #16
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Totally Agree with you there Seth and M/S has its uses but not for delivery as analogue level miss-tracks can collapse the stereo image or even worse cause wide phase problems.

It is easier to matrix in post in the digital format as that is more phase accurate but personally I would not record in M/S format even for location recording, I would also only use M/S mic's that are designed for the purpose as even rigs with pro mic's can give some of the phase problems that may have been mentioned.

A good M/S mic is perfect as a stereo compromise that will also give good mono collapse compatibility and I personally prefer it to crossed pairs etc as the M capsule is always on mic and pointing where the action is happening.

Some of the phase problems mentioned may be from sep mic rigs and it is critical that such rigs have capsules that are compatible and that is what I like M/S mic's designed for purpose rather than made up rigs.

I am lucky that I have also dubbed most of my past 20 years on AMS Neve digital desks such as the Logic and DFC ser, I even worked for AMS Neve in the early 90's so have helped design the A/B wide and M/S matrix controls that are available and assisted with the 5.1 set-ups on the DFC now used by skywalker and warner bros etc.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 06:16 PM   #17
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

I have to chuckle when people pronounce that MS that collapses to perfect in mono..... well if you were wanting a MONO recording of a performance etc, would you put up a SINGLE cardioid mic? (i doubt it)
And the idea of changing the spread with MS..... I prefer to use a wide XY set up and if it needs to be changed then I will. I have discovered these wonderful controls on an audio console... they are called PAN knobs you don't have to use them on full L/R, they do move (sorry for my sarcasm).
With MS if you want to make it wider you are ADDING phase errors, how many people go out there intentionally to add errors to a production?
The other thing I have noticed is that the people that rave on the benefits of MS are normally a long way from the final delivered product.... keep in mind you might like MS...... but does the next person up the chain FULLY understand the MS process? you might actually be creating problems for them....

Has the the discussion on understanding MS almost become a "badge of credibility" for soundos a bit like a comment made to me years ago "unless you can understand a hysteresis loop you will never make a good sound operator" or is it a case of the "boffins" trying to say..... well we understand and you don't?

My personal thought is MS = Maybe Stereo rather than Mid Side (and that comes from 25+ years of hands on experience of stereo broadcasting)
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Old April 5th, 2012, 07:56 PM   #18
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Mr. Reynolds... if you feel strongly about something, please feel free to 'speak-up'. Heh, heh!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I've never used M/S, or for that matter, any 'stereo technique', and therefore I'm really not qualified to lend much to this discussion, hence the reason I started this thread. I recently purchased a 'matched' pair of AKG C414 XLS mics. and I plan to create a library of 'ambient-sounds' and 'Folly' for use with my videos. I also have a fairly decent 'field audio' kit, for use with EFP/ENG.

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J.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 08:14 PM   #19
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

James, it's folly to call Foley Folly mate :)

Seth,

years ago, so they could send mono dubs to other stations some local stereo radio classical concerts were M/S recorded in small halls and the M/S side figure 8 Neumann picked up bass bouncing around the walls and they regularly got out of phase component with the mono cardioid Neumann.

Post equalisation would never work and M/S soon faded away.

M/S in the audio world rates with that crippling disease in the medical world.

Fortunately the audio cure is much easier, quicker and better.

Cheers.
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Old April 5th, 2012, 09:57 PM   #20
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

It's my impression that M/S has a potential problem with the Side mic picking up as much sound to the rear of the mics (i.e. backward into the hall) as it does to the front of the mics (i.e. forward toward the stage). That can give you too much ambience and crowd noise. If you fade down the Side channel to reduce the ambience and crowd, you also fade down the stereo spread of the desired sound from the stage. I've never had that problem with a coincident X/Y pair of cardioids because their live sides are all facing forward (albeit angled to either side) whereas the dead sides are facing back into the house.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 05:02 AM   #21
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

I agree M/S is not a fix all for everything and for music X/Y can be far superior, most of my FX recording is for TV and film work so being able to record with an M/S mic and then adjust the stereo width can be very useful in post especially when mixing pro logic where the surround speakers are basically S content anyway.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 08:14 AM   #22
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Mr. Black...I'm no stranger to 'folly', not so much 'Foley'. ROTFLMAO! Thank you for the correction.

Regards,

J.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 07:45 PM   #23
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Miller View Post
It's my impression that M/S has a potential problem with the Side mic picking up as much sound to the rear of the mics...I've never had that problem with a coincident X/Y pair of cardioids...
Greg reminds me that we should be talking about the "how" of M/S and X/Y mics. How and when we use them is all-important. His point about rear pickup seems very applicable where rear content is not what is wanted, and/or, the placement possibilities or venue aren't as good as we might wish.
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Originally Posted by Brian P. Reynolds View Post
I have to chuckle when people pronounce that MS that collapses to perfect in mono..... well if you were wanting a MONO recording of a performance etc, would you put up a SINGLE cardioid mic? (i doubt it)...
My personal thought is MS = Maybe Stereo rather than Mid Side (and that comes from 25+ years of hands on experience of stereo broadcasting)
Well, I am certainly not going for "collapse to perfect in mono"! Hah. Perfect collapse to mono is a little bit of a different goal.

Let me digress a little, then come back to it.

Why stereo recording techniques? Why go back to the state of the recording art of 1938?

For me, that answer is, with a good group of self-balanced acoustic musicians in a good room with freedom to place the mic where it needs to be, the results can be glorious. VERY musical recordings. Low-budget audiophile recordings. That's what got me started with direct to stereo techniques.

Fast forward a few years, and manufacturers are trying to figure out what cheep mike they can ship with their MiniDisc recorders. MD was briefly pretty important as an acquisition format, it was stereo and it could be as expensive (my HHB MD is on a shelf here somewhere) or as cheap (<$120 US) as one might wish, it was digital, though it was lossy ATRAC compression, but it sounded pretty darn good if the right mic was in the right place.

Enter the $50 to $200 US microphones, both X/Y and M/S. Not to mention little lav pairs heatshrinked to sunglasses for tapers, but that's another story.

For my story, fast-forward a few more years, I'm producing a documentary in Turkey featuring the Whirling Dervishes and their music... played by well-balanced acoustic ensembles in good halls. And, my best sound buddy is available for the trip, and he's got a stellar $4,500 US Neumann RSM 190 M/S mic, which we use as the primary for these small ensembles, with some spot fill in from small-diaphram AKG cardoids. I have some incredible recordings from that trip, run and gun, but they sound great. Of course, the mic is as only as good as the recordist.

Today, my minidisc recorder has been replaced by some music prosumer flash recorder, and the Sony MS957 is very handy for casual recording of my and other's performances for reference, and as an audience mic for multitrack close-miced performances. The ORTF array hasn't come out for a while.

Based on my personal experiences, an M/S mic has been good for:
Casual music recording for reference.
Production level stereo recording of self-balanced acoustic ensembles in good halls (think folk music).
Production level ambience recordings.

I don't have any experience as a taper of amplified concerts, don't know how it works compared to other approaches.

I've never used M/S for direct to broadcast, but if I did, I'd think of it as an ambience source in a larger mix, not a solo source. But "perfect mono" is not the goal that production audio engineers aspire to, no. Mono compability is a pretty big issue among broadcasters here, and if one submits a stereo mix that shows phase cancellation artifacts when collapsed to mono there's a lot of pushback. As well there should.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
...years ago, so they could send mono dubs to other stations some local stereo radio classical concerts were M/S recorded in small halls and the M/S side figure 8 Neumann picked up bass bouncing around the walls and they regularly got out of phase component with the mono cardioid Neumann.

Post equalisation would never work and M/S soon faded away.
Very interesting - I appreciate this info. The recordings I've done don't have much of a bass component, and IMO direct-to-stereo mic technique is really only appropriate for production-level sound when the hall is very good. But this is certainly something to be wary of. Thanks for sharing it, Allan.

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Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
...M/S in the audio world rates with that crippling disease in the medical world.

Fortunately the audio cure is much easier, quicker and better.
Well, I have to disagree. M/S has been very good to me!

Some extremely qualified soundies with general release feature film credits in this region use M/S, M/S is a friend of mine, but if it doesn't work for you don't use it!
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Old April 6th, 2012, 08:08 PM   #24
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Mr. Bloombaum...thank you for your insightful response. You obviously have a great-deal of experience (as do others) and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and observations. There is no replacement for 'experience'.

Best regards,

J.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 09:13 PM   #25
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post

Some extremely qualified soundies with general release feature film credits in this region use M/S, M/S is a friend of mine, but if it doesn't work for you don't use it!
Interesting comment tho.... many many films were recorded on 1/4" analogue tape at 3-3/4ips and 16mm film so should we contine to use that method?..... it might have been standard then but things have advanced since those days.
Vinyl LP were once highly regarded as a music play out device.... how many people use them today?
Even 3k and 16k telco lines were acceptable once for program sound for broadcast but not now.
Yes we can all quote the past but things have moved on in the technology race ..... and so have mic techniques.
Yes in the early days of MS using condenser mics were fantastic but compared to what?......a couple of dynamic mics poorly placed on a stereo perch, it would!!!

My suggestion is don't get locked in paradigms of the past, often there are better ways of doing things particularly in an era of rapid technology change. Try and you might be pleasantly surprised.
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Old April 6th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #26
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Thanks Seth, I appreciate your point of view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
For my story, fast-forward a few more years, I'm producing a documentary in Turkey featuring the Whirling Dervishes and their music...
They are an amazing group of performers .. straight away I realised it wouldn't be a good idea to fit the dancers with wired lavs for interviews :)

Early in my career I bought a Neumann U69 stereo mic. along with a Nagra 4S, so XY came naturally and I had to send in original recordings for b/cast.
My instructions always included a note which summarised read, 'don't anybody mess with them.' I knew of another situation where a concert M/S decoding was mucked up by 'kids' at the station.

James, if you're building up your own sound FX library, imo you'd be better off recording everything XY or ORTF. Others will disagree but quickly getting an M/S mic into the best position outdoors for the best image, can take time and is not always possible.

And a mix of M/S and XY or ORTF recorded library effects would always be a worry in case they happened to repeatedly alternate in one of your video programs.

At first that may not be apparent, but as you gain experience it will.

Cheers.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 06:51 AM   #27
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Are we not in fact talking about recording methods that are more resilient to poor set-up and lack of aural discrimination? For a number of years I was the Principal Examiner for the new A Level in Music Technology, and one of the exam tasks was for students to make a direct to stereo recording - what got called 'the natural acoustic'. The work was assessed for stereo image, avoidance of noise and distortion and many other technical features. The feeling I had was that it was almost always an task that produced the most amazing number of flawed performances. Examiners would smile when they read in the attached logs mention of Decca Trees, ORTF and other very specific mic techniques, and then listened to the utter mess their misuse produced. Without any doubt whatsoever, the X/Y method produced better results than all the clever ones - mainly because they were recorded in less than ideal venues and locations. Clever techniques need careful control, and without this control, then X/Y has the best chance of being salvaged.

M/S does indeed introduce phase as a feature - and if creating a stereo field is the goal - then it works fine. Is it an accurate stereo field? Probably not, but the point for me is that there is a stereo field present. You can close your eyes and 'see' sound sources. If you are recording essentially location 'ambience' - then I find M/S can delver the goods. I also find it handy for less than ideal venues where the sound when you are there is weak. maybe a building that looks like it should sound BIG - but the acoustics just don't work. There, M/S with even an omni (spit on the floor) can produce something bigger sounding. Phase errors galore, I guess, but does that really matter if it produces the result you want? After all, using a reverb unit of any quality adds phase errors by design.

In the range of student work I heard examples recorded in Cathedrals up against work recorded in a totally dead classroom. The church type sound should have been better, but frequently mic placement, done by the book following the teachers recommendation (often an ABSOLUTE rule) mean it was a swim my mess, while the over dead classroom recording, spiced up with a little artificial reverb was better to listen to. By far the largest amount of work had X/Y mics, often quite poor ones because they had nothing better. for some odd reason, so many also had a pair of rear mics mixed in with little thought - to make it sound better! Rarely did these work because they'd often forget the L and R would fight with the L and R from the X/Y pair and the imaging would be a total mess. Part of my job was to check the examiners had marked them properly - and I always ran an on-screen scope to check for phase issues. Loads had followed their teachers instructions and backed off the pan positions from hard left and right - and the scope confirmed this - essentially mono, with just a little excursion left and right. Some would have reversed phase on some inputs and the scope display would make interesting viewing - but the aural result was just 'not right' - the scope revealing what was happening. I think my feeling after 4 years of this was simply that any technique coupled with a decent set of ears was the key to success - and I really feel that any attempt to dictate techniques by physics only is doomed to failure if the ears are not involved. I will happily consider X/Y, A/B and M/S - but I can't really be certain till I am there and can listen to the space. M/S as a 'space recorder' seems to work well, but for stereo without too much gaffing around, then X/Y works for me. All the other clever techniques need ultra careful setup, and control. If the venue, the performers and monitoring space are top-notch, which not try the clever ones. If, we don't have speakers to monitor on, then how do we set them up and tweak them? To do that you need loudspeaker monitoring. Headphones are no use whatsoever, and that's what most video people have to hear their audio. Lifting the top mic in a sophisticated array makes no difference to headphone monitoring. Keep it simple - as a working rule always pays off.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 10:59 AM   #28
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

Mr. P.R. Johnson...that's an interesting dissertation. I'm also a firm believer in "KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Speaking only for my self, of course. Heh, heh!

If I can summarize, a simpler technique, properly executed and 'tweaked' to the venue, in more cases than none, will exhibit better results than a more sophisticated set-up (M/S, Decca, etc.), poorly implemented. That makes sense to me.

I still plan to experiment with M/S, mainly because I've never used it and it's an interesting 'puzzle' for me to solve. Although, I find the characterization of M/S as induced 'phase-offset' interesting and thought provoking. I'm sure people who know what they're doing would call it 'controlled phase-offset'. Heh, heh!

This is a wonderful discussion, I really enjoy hearing the divergent opinions, and as always, backed up by years of experience.


Best regards,

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Old April 7th, 2012, 11:43 AM   #29
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

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Originally Posted by James Kuhn View Post
What is you 'GOTO' microphone technique you use for 'live' recording of musical groups?
ORTF. I've listened to a lot of recordings, made a few, and the recordings that sound "correct" to me are the ones made with the ORTF technique. Others can sound good, even extremely good, but ORTF seems to "click into place" as it were. I suspect this is due to the accuracy and precision in preserving the phase relationships between the two channels, but IDK for sure. All I know is that with a first class ORTF recording I can close my eyes and be there.
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Old April 7th, 2012, 02:46 PM   #30
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Re: Your 'GOTO' stereophonic mic. technique

It's a bit ironic Bruce likes ORTF, because it's the combination of amplitude differences left to right, plus the phase error from the outside edges that makes it work so well. I don't use it very often, unless I need to use two large bodied mics where co-incident diaphragms can't fit - so X/Y kind of drifts into ORTF, and just needs opening up a bit - although I must admit to leaving the angle the same as X/Y with little result.
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