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Suggestions for a binaural setup that won't break the bank?
Old 22nd January 2014
  #1
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Suggestions for a binaural setup that won't break the bank?

I am looking for optional binaural recording setups that won't force me to sell my car (like the Neumann KU-100 for nearly $10,000 or the B&K 4100).

I have seen a couple of more affordable options from B&K, such as the Sonoscout, the Binaural Recording Headphones 4965 or the 4101-A Binaural microphones, but I'm more inclined to try a DIY solution, such as an alternative Dummy head fitted with a pair of B&K Pinnae DZ 9769 and 9770, and a couple of mini omnis like the DPA 4060s, etc.

Has anyone tried out to build a Dummy Head or Head and Torso Simulator from foam or other materials, or a different affordable binaural setup?

(Checking out David Chesky's Binaural recordings, I noticed he used a Neumann KU-100 in 2010, for the "Explorations in Time and Space" album, but later in 2012, for the recording of the "Dr. Chesky's Binaural Album", the B&K Lars 4100 HATS. I assume there's a reason to change the Neumann for the B&K 4100, but I still find the 2010 recording to be of a much better quality than those Chesky Records has put out after 2012.)

Cheers!
Old 22nd January 2014
  #2
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steveswisher's Avatar
 

I have a fun/simple approach for some binaural recordings. I use a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and Roland CS-10EM headphones/binaural mics.

It's a great portable setup that can capture some amazing ambient stuff.

Probably not the professional setup you're looking for but it's by far one of the least expensive ways to get binaural recordings.
Old 22nd January 2014
  #3
Old 22nd January 2014
  #4
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Thumbs up

Personally I use a good pair of omnis (Gefell M221 or Sennheiser MKH 20) in a Schneider Disk.
Old 22nd January 2014
  #5
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Soundman in ears are good
I also used DPA 4060 either side of a poly mannequins head on a boom.
Old 24th January 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Soundman in ears are good
I also used DPA 4060 either side of a poly mannequins head on a boom.
I have used Soundman for ~10 years now. They work well. Remember, when you turn your head you turn the sound field.

Soundman
Old 24th January 2014
  #7
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Plush's Avatar
Binaural means a specific technique. The first is that it requires the recordist to use his / her microphones with a head with ear pinnae. Second, it requires a specific equalization network. It requires very high quality and low noise omni mics.

Making your own dummy head is a tough job because of the above requirements.

Soundman is very good indeed.

Right now on Ebay there are some Neumann KU100 heads going for around $4000, if that interests the OP.

To answer the OP's question about Neumann vs. B&K torso:
It became a really nice experiment to have B&K loan you a torso set up and then clothe it with a woolen sweater or with a shirt to simulate how sound arrives at the ears of a real person. Generally the B&K version is a measurement set up mostly used to examine and test noise inside an automobile. The largest customer for the dummy heads are auto manufacturers.

The latest Neumann KU 100 head is outstanding for music recording. It also plays back pretty good on a hi-fi system too. The earlier Neumann KU81 is Ok, but not a great mic for music.
Old 25th January 2014
  #8
I just thread my 4060s through a pair of BudFits and wear them. The mics end up right in front of my ear canals. It's obviously not practical for all purposes, but if you can keep your head still it works great. A real human head is as accurate as it can get, right?

Could you elaborate on the "specific equalization network"?
Old 26th January 2014
  #9
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Thread Starter
Thanks for all the suggestions and answers. Soundman looks like a very good way to go, much more affordable than Neumann and B&K, and with similarly great results. The more DIY oriented ideas and mic suggestions are all quite good as well, I guess trying them out is next, looks like a lot of fun in portable settings and much more affordable.

Funny, daniel@mineral, I was gonna ask Plush the same: "Could you elaborate on the "specific equalization network"?"

Thnaks again, guys.

Cheers
Old 26th January 2014
  #10
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Roland in-ears work well for me too. Here's a clip probably previously posted here - urban sounds followed by "room silence" with barely perceptible ticking clock recorded at the same level, to give an indication of relative noise (not much imho).

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByT...it?usp=sharing
Old 26th January 2014
  #11
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Plush's Avatar
The equalization network is primarily built in to facilitate playback on loudspeakers using the KU 100 as a regular stereo mic. Please look up the papers on the eq.

KU 100 is the way to go for sure, but Soundman is a credible alternative sometimes with even more dramatic binaural sound than KU 100. but you have to wear the Soundman mics in your ears. Also those Soundman recordings only ever sound the best when replayed to the person who recorded them. Specific ear response is playing a part in this.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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Resuscitating this thread after a couple years.

I have been recording with my DIY binaural microphone for quite a while now, all the while perfecting it in every way I could think of.

One upgrade I am very proud of are my ear+canal 3D printable models, which I decided to put up for sale on Shapeways.
They are the only ear replicas out there with anatomically accurate ear canals (plus other nice touches like flush mount and adjustable mount angle).
I hope this will help people to build DIY binaural microphones that can match and exceed the performance of the more famous and pricey ones.
From my own experience, it can absolutely be done.

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/bina...icrophone-ears

Happy recordings!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Addict
Of course there are many ways to make near-binaural and pseudo-binaural recordings. And it is perfectly legitimate to come up with your own Binaural head with pinnae, etc.

I'm an experimenter, so I would like to try a pair of Sax512's ears and play around with some DIY dummy heads. A friend of mine uses dummys for an app he is developing and, since they are designed to have the weight and density of a human body, they might be a good place to start.

But there are good reasons to work with the KU-100 if you ever expect you recordings to see wide distribution.

1) R&D - There is just no way that most people will be able to match the level of R&D that went into the KU-100. It was designed to approximate the average human head/hearing system, so the recordings produced with it sound good for the majority of people without any further processing. That alone is a difficult feat to achieve. And on top of that, it is designed to sound good on loudspeakers as well.

2) Standardization - The KU-100 is a known quantity. As the format gains in popularity, and I think it will, the need for third party processing tools and utilities for doing HRTF conversions to your own head will grow. And those things are a lot more complicated when there is no knwown reference point. A spatial audio plug-in vendor can develop tools assuming the KU-100 or even the other pseudo-binaural devices on the market, but having an established reference design is important. KU-100 has been around for a long time now, and if you look at the market, the tools ecosystem recognizes it as such.

Last edited by bwanajim; 3 weeks ago at 09:06 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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Just for the heck of it as I don't do Binaural recordings and didn't have a clue as to the cost of the KU-100 so I checked....Whoooah you better be serious about doing this. The research is probably very extensive also limited interest will bring costs up, almost custom made.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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You can decode b-format recordings made with a sound field mic to binaural. Core sound make the tetramic for about US$1000. But you'll need a 4 channel recorder. The good thing about sound field mics is that you can decode the same recording to various formats. Otherwise I use a pair DPA 4060 mics in hearing aid fittings and these work very well. I've had these mice for about 17 years and don't know the current price. I have some info on the Tetramic and conversion to binaural in Linux (and other resources) here: Ambisonic Resources
Old 2 weeks ago
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Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
Of course there are many ways to make near-binaural and pseudo-binaural recordings. And it is perfectly legitimate to come up with your own Binaural head with pinnae, etc.
I think I need to clarify that my ears were designed with proper DIY binaural microphone recordings in mind. Not pseudo, near, quasi or any other suffix.
The good stuff, in short

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
I'm an experimenter, so I would like to try a pair of Sax512's ears and play around with some DIY dummy heads. A friend of mine uses dummys for an app he is developing and, since they are designed to have the weight and density of a human body, they might be a good place to start.
I built my own binaural microphone for pennies on the dollar compared to the Neumann KU 100 (aside the R&D that went into the modeling of the ears, which is something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy, and luckily not a concern for the ear models potential buyer). So anybody can test the effectiveness of my ears with a little money and a weekend of pure DIY bliss
Admittedly, a more similar material to the real human body would be perfect.
However, I think the shape of the ear replica (with its respective EQ filter) plays a much more important role than anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
But there are good reasons to work with the KU-100 if you ever expect you recordings to see wide distribution.

1) R&D - There is just no way that most people will be able to match the level of R&D that went into the KU-100. It was designed to approximate the average human head/hearing system, so the recordings produced with it sound good for the majority of people without any further processing. That alone is a difficult feat to achieve. And on top of that, it is designed to sound good on loudspeakers as well.
The ear canal on the Neumann KU-100 is actually a straight tube. I take pride in saying that I went further than that with my ear canal model, which is averaged over hundreds of ear canal measurements (I cannot stress enough how much of a pain the R&D was for these ear models).
As far as the sound quality of the recordings, equally good or even better results than with a KU-100 can be achieved with a DIY microphone, provided that one knows what to do with the sound recorded (in the mixing phase, it needs to be processed with a specific EQ filter, that I think the KU-100 has already embedded in its passive circuitry, making it able to sound good 'right out of the box').
This is an article that mentions one of my binaural recordings. I think it proves that high quality can definitely be achieved with DIY binaural microphones (provided one knows what they're doing with EQ), even on loudspeakers.
Flying Blind: Another Visit to the Magnepan Skunkworks - The Audio Beat - www.TheAudioBeat.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
2) Standardization - The KU-100 is a known quantity. As the format gains in popularity, and I think it will, the need for third party processing tools and utilities for doing HRTF conversions to your own head will grow. And those things are a lot more complicated when there is no knwown reference point. A spatial audio plug-in vendor can develop tools assuming the KU-100 or even the other pseudo-binaural devices on the market, but having an established reference design is important. KU-100 has been around for a long time now, and if you look at the market, the tools ecosystem recognizes it as such.
You absolutely have a point here. However, the whole point of binaural recordings, to me, is a faithful and natural reproduction of the sound stage, so I don't know what kind of extra processing tools can be tailored specifically for the KU-100, other than some that can optimize the ability of the KU-100 to sound natural (the inner circuitry might be good enough, but it could be optimized through specific DSP).
Anything that aims at modifying the natural sound recorded (a sound effect, for example) is probably going to sound just as cool with any other (proper) binaural microphone and subject to the personal taste of the mixing engineer just like any other plug in out there.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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I think we're going to start seeing more binaural recordings in which spots are mixed into the sound field. There are already plug-ins for doing this. Sennheiser is openly advocating the approach and is even offering training through partners to teach sound engineers how to do it. It's not pure binaural in the strictest sense, but the technique does preserve the startling reality of the binaural effect, while solving problems like thin, distant vocals, among others.

But my understanding is that for these mixing techniques to work, the binaural mic must be a known reference point, because the HRTF must be known in order for the software to accurately place the sound in space, mimicking that particular binaural mic's response.

In light of that, maybe it would also be a good idea to publish a reference spec that would include your ears, specific mics to use inside the ears, and a particular mannequin head, calculate an HRTF for the whole assembly, and see about getting that embedded in the binaural plug-in world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sax512 View Post
You absolutely have a point here. However, the whole point of binaural recordings, to me, is a faithful and natural reproduction of the sound stage, so I don't know what kind of extra processing tools can be tailored specifically for the KU-100, other than some that can optimize the ability of the KU-100 to sound natural (the inner circuitry might be good enough, but it could be optimized through specific DSP).
Anything that aims at modifying the natural sound recorded (a sound effect, for example) is probably going to sound just as cool with any other (proper) binaural microphone and subject to the personal taste of the mixing engineer just like any other plug in out there.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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That's interesting. I din't think about that.
I don't know if you really need the HRTF of the binaural microphone you are trying to mix your 'synthesized' spot mics with.
Why not put the synthesized sound where you want in the sound field independently of the binaural signal? I don't know, though. I might be missing something here...

A plug-in just for my ears? It seems overkill, but if I sell a few hundreds I will consider it
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