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ever made a binaural head? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 4th June 2003
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PlugHead's Avatar

Thread Starter
ever made a binaural head?

Anybody actually made one? (a la Fritz, etc.) I was reading michael w's post of his last project, and rekindled my desire to mount my DPA 4060's (mini omni's) into an existing mannequin head - anything particular about what type of head (shape), preferred material for head, etc, would be helpful - I don't know how many I'll be able to butcher putting one together!
Old 4th June 2003
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DanV's Avatar

how are those little dpa's? lucky bastard!
Old 4th June 2003
Gear addict
Curious G's Avatar

the preferred shape is an exact replica of Halle Berry
Old 4th June 2003
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PlugHead's Avatar

Thread Starter
Originally posted by danv1983
how are those little dpa's? lucky bastard!
They rock, big time! I talked with Bruce Meyers (president at DPA) before purchasing, and he said they reg. get put up against 4003/4011's, and are so close in detail and imaging, their engineers can rarely tell the difference!

Back to the head: i know Fritz, et.all, are made of certain human-like materials, and have ear canals etc., but has anyone made a successful dummy head model? I am feeling a desire to do this for some "virtual reality" recording for video/film, as well as some elements tracking in the studio.

Any other's experience? Chime in...
Old 4th June 2003
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DanV's Avatar

you might want to just use your own head and mount the mics into some sort of reverse headphone. please excuse my assbackwards advice but i don't know much about dummy construction.
Old 4th June 2003
Gear interested

I've e-mailed someone who may be able to get some information from Edgar Froese, who used the artifical head on his Aqua album in the seventies. If I get any useful information back I'll post it here.

Regarding `certain human-like materials' I seem to remember that the head was made from a form of plastic that had similar sound conductivity to the human head. But if I can find out anything definite, I'll post it.

BTW I once saw a photo of Vangelis' studio in London circa late seventies/early eighties, and I think he also had a head. His engineer worked very closely with him and I expect his name would be mentioned on albums from that period.
Old 4th June 2003
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Roland's Avatar
I've used several dummy heads made by a good engineering friend of mine, mostly just for fun. Should have seen the look we got when we took them to along to one of the London shows about 4 years back (as visitors, not exhibitors I should mention)!

He mounted his heads with DPA's, Tram's, even adapted them for use with BK 4006's.

Don't quote me exactly, but to make one you need about a 10" plywood disc which you mount onto a 6" length of broom handle. Then you find some suitable thick chunks of foam that you can shape into wedges. The thin edge of the wedge (sorry about the bad puns) goes at the front towards the sound source. Mic's can be mounted using little holes burrowed into the foam, in the case of full size mics holes cut backwards through the foam make good mic holders (keep the holes tight). Now the really clever bit is for the windshields. Get two metal flour sieves, cut off the handles and stretch womens tights over them. Hinge them from the front and secure with a wire clip mechanism of your own choosing at the back. Great windshield system that reall works, also alows access to the mics to try different types etc.

Good luck


Old 5th June 2003
Gear Guru

If you look at a mic like the Crown SASS, there is an object between the mic elements. It is supposedly there to duplicate the "blocking" (?) or interference of the head, but it hardly resembles a human head in shape.

And some people use a flat plastic half disk between the mics

I wonder how big a difference it makes to have an Anatomically correct head instead of just "something" between the mics.

I have never seen Fritz up close- does it have pinnae? How important is the shape of the head compared to the shape of the outer ear? All those folds and curves are there for a reason.

Maybe Lynn Fuston could make a shootout CD. String quartet in a nice space, playing the same piece again and again while trying various binaural mics.

He could call it "Head to Head"
Old 5th June 2003
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littledog's Avatar

Just read in article in one of the recent music mags (can't remember which) about stereo mic'ing.

Says that the "head" method works really well for listening back through headphones but not as well for speaker playback. Also said the Jaeklin (sp?) disk method was a way to compromise to get better sounding speaker playback.

Personally, I've never tried either. (Although that Neumann head sure looks sci-fi cool! Kind of like the newer-model Terminator robots). Anyone agree or disagree with the above?
Old 5th June 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
How important is it to actually have ear canals for the mics? I always thought about getting some of the Panasonic omni elements and sticking those on a head.

There was some info on the Neumann head in the Tchad Blake article that was in Tape Op a year or two ago. I remember him saying that Neumann found that adding hair and shoulders didn't make a bit of differance in the actual sound of the mic, so they stick with just the head.
Old 5th June 2003
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PlugHead's Avatar

Thread Starter
As per Jecklin disc, it is better for an overall stereo image: the baffle helps separate the channels - less smearing, better imaging. However, I am looking more for "virtual reality" and a wider image. I know headphones are best for playback of such a wide image, but for ambience, it still is way cool!
I am not familiar with "Fritz", but heard there is an inner ear cavity, and "flesh-like" materials to keep in lines of a real head. Am pretty sure hair and physical relief can contribute to a more "personal" feel, but I am not prepared to get totally crazy with it - just want the head (female/male/androgenous...) and use it as an optional mount for the 4060's - I figure a pin or rail attached inside the ear will allow fastening with clips, and I can flexibly space them however I want. In past experience, field work, and ambience recording is very cool with wide stereo, and I think binaural might take it another step for really cool field sounds, and possibly studio situations as well...

Plus it would get bonus marks for recording "appeal" almost anywhere (esp. if it looks like Barbie/Ken/insert fav. dummy here)
Old 5th June 2003
Gear interested

I haven't yet had any reply regarding Edgar Froese's use of the artificial head. But someone who used a Sennheiser `binaural' mic in the late 80s to record a choral recital in Southwark Cathedral posted to the Tangerine Dream news group, and he's also given me a little more information.

I've also remembered something that may be helpful - the BBC recorded one or two radio plays in the 80s using the head. So maybe they can come up with some definite details.

From the Tangerine Dream newsgroup:

It was called a 'binaural' microphone and was made by Senheiser. Indeed, it came with a plastic dummy's head and the microphones sat into the plastic ears like walkman headphones. We then screwed the decapitated head onto a tall mic stand to get the best of the building's acoustics.

The visual effect was very alarming and upset an old lady. It looked just like the medieval 'traitor's gate' which used to exist at the entrance to London Bridge next door (where traitors' decapitated heads were stuck onto spikes to deter others...) She was only a little less alarmed when we explained what it in fact was.

The sound quality was superb, and even now sounds great through headphones. The only problem was that it picked up too much of the ambience, including the nearby London Bridge train station.

And the same guy also e-mailed me with:

The 'binaural' microphone I used was made by Sennheiser. The dummy head was a matt grey colour and had a very fine suede finish (like alacantra). I remember that it was quite heavy and once we had mounted it on the mic stand it was very unstable.

The 'ears' were simplified versions of a human's, but were the same size and overall shape. The microphone caspules were designed to sit in the ears in the same way that an underslung walkman headphone is. They had pegs attached so that they slotted into holes where the aural canals would be.

Unfortunately, I can find no details on this on Sennheiser's website any more.
Old 6th June 2003
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PlugHead's Avatar

Thread Starter
Silent Partner,

thanks for the info: I have a styrofoam head coming (locally, for trial, but can't keep it) to try a run through for a few days. I am going to attach a couple of pins inside the ears, and mount the 4060's onto them with DPA's clips. the 4060's are omni's and pick up everything, and i mean EVERYTHING! Best suited to a controlled environment, but outside town, there's .014 people per sq. mile - lots of open and quiet space for ambient sound recording... the studio is a bit noisier (Highway is close), but still very quiet for modern standards - more problems with dogs than traffic

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