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Best Portable Recording Device for Binaural Ambiences Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 26th October 2016
  #1
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Best Portable Recording Device for Binaural Ambiences

Hello all!

First of all, thanks for your help -- I've found this forum incredibly insightful as I delve into the wonderful world of binaural location recording (courtesy of a new "dummy head" i'm receiving this week).

I am looking for a portable digital recorder that has clean pre-amps (good signal-to-noise-ratio) as I will be recording nature and capturing ambience using the dummy head which has two binaural mics, one for each ear. Largely I'll be bypassing the internal mics so those aren't as important though I'd like the flexibility to have those as an option as well.

Right now I'm trying to decide between the FOSTEX FR-2LE, ZOOM H6, TASCAM DR-680, TASCAM DR-100, SONY PCM D-100 - i've also heard about the Marantz ones but not too sure on how those hold up with external mics.

Any other suggestions are welcome and appreciated! I wish I could afford the Sound Devices stuff but maybe someday.. Thank you so much.
Old 26th October 2016
  #2
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boojum's Avatar
There is a 680 for sale in the classifieds for $270. You better jump on that. It's a good box.

Post some recordings, OK?


Tascam dr-680 mk1
Old 27th October 2016
  #3
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This is great thanks for sharing this!! Down the rabbit hole I go I know, but I wonder what the differences are between this and the 680 mkii (pre-amp/signal-noise ratio wise). Doing some more research as we speak, but if you have any thoughts on this I'd be most appreciative
Old 27th October 2016
  #4
What sort of head did you buy?
Old 27th October 2016
  #5
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This bad boy B1-E Dummy Head with BE-P1 Binaural Microphones + Battery Box – Binaural Enthusiast

Looks as awesome as it sounds haha
Old 27th October 2016
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musicman84 View Post
Finally..an affordable dummy head ! Even if it were devoid of any mics whatsoever.... a bargain.

The Schoeps KFM-6 and Neumann KU100...both $8000 (and I don't care what mics and electronics they come assembled with)
Old 27th October 2016
  #7
Please upload a sample or two after getting used to it. I'm a little leery about the quality of the microphones, while the head looks good.
Old 28th October 2016
  #8
Gear Addict
Looks like Primo em172 capsules, fwiw.
Old 28th October 2016
  #9
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Plush's Avatar
Running the world standard Neumann head here.

Don't complain about the price until you hear its mindblowed sound.

This unit looks like they got the head right. Don't know nothin' about them mics.

Send in a report, please.
Old 28th October 2016
  #10
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How many times per year would you use the KU100 Neumann head Plush, compared with the other mics in your inventory ?

If not raw number of times, then for what % of your recording engagements annually would it see active service ?
Old 28th October 2016
  #11
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Plush's Avatar
When I recorded the Milwaukee Symphony seasons, we hung the Neumann head for every rehearsal and every concert. So that is at least 150 times per year. Otherwise I estimate that it is used around 20% of the time in chamber music and brass recordings. I was the first person in the US to offer a catalog of very good binaural orchestral recordings. They are still sold on the Milwaukee Symphony web site. Hear some on my Soundcloud. The Neumann head is a very good main stereo mic.
Old 29th October 2016
  #12
I really enjoyed the Grieg piece in binaural, Hudson.

MusicMan, i'm looking forward to hearing your review and some samples from your new head. I might look into buying one and building a box to take the mini-trs and convert it to two XLRs as well as step down 48v phantom to the 10v those mics would like. Edit - I see that some folks have already built this type of box and sell it.

At Berklee we had a Neumann head on loan for a year and we'd reserve a "good seat" in the performance center for it for certain shows. If we were doing live to 2, we'd feed a pair of headphones in the control room from the head and use it as a reference when mixing so that we could try to get a close representation on the speakers of what we heard in the headphones. If we were multitracking we'd lay down the binaurals to a pair of tracks, and do the same thing in remixing sessions.
Old 29th October 2016
  #13
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
Yes, the Grieg is lovely. There is some low rumble in the quiet spots - whether it is real or some Soundcloud artifact I can't tell.

I have always wanted to play with binaural dummy heads, but the price point is way above my amateur budget; I look forward to some samples from the OP. The capsules used in the BE-1 seem incredibly inexpensive. Hopefully they are not cheap-sounding. Maybe a custom mod to use Line Audio OM1 capsules & electronics...?
Old 29th October 2016
  #14
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That's a good usage regime Plush...they're certainly earning their keep for you in the inventory ! I'm also impressed with the Grieg, it has a very expansive but credible soundstage with headphones.

Less so with the Tchaikovsky Symphony no 5...there's a hardness creeping into the louder passages which reminds me of the old RCA or Mercury records...was this a Stellavox recording or digital ?
Old 29th October 2016
  #15
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Plush's Avatar
The head was recorded with a Crookwood Paintpot directly into a Tascam 1000 machine. 192kHz.
Old 17th November 2016
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
The head was recorded with a Crookwood Paintpot directly into a Tascam 1000 machine. 192kHz.
I'm assuming you fly the head. There's some great reach upstage. I think the Tchaik sounds pretty fantastic.
Old 30th November 2016
  #17
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I would like to see a comparison of a head versus a Jecklin disc using the same mics. An advantage of a Jecklin disc is the ability to adjust the amount of high frequency information by rotating the disc and altering the mic angles to the sound source.

I can see the convenience factor of a head with internally mounted mics but I still question paying more for lesser sound quality with a head. There is the assumption that the ear shape of a head or similar binaural mic mounting better duplicates how we perceive sound but that seems more like clever marketing than real audio engineering.

Unless I am using headphones the recordings I listen to that were made with a Jecklin disc sound more natural than ones made with a head.
Old 30th November 2016
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calson View Post
I would like to see a comparison of a head versus a Jecklin disc using the same mics. An advantage of a Jecklin disc is the ability to adjust the amount of high frequency information by rotating the disc and altering the mic angles to the sound source.

I can see the convenience factor of a head with internally mounted mics but I still question paying more for lesser sound quality with a head. There is the assumption that the ear shape of a head or similar binaural mic mounting better duplicates how we perceive sound but that seems more like clever marketing than real audio engineering.

Unless I am using headphones the recordings I listen to that were made with a Jecklin disc sound more natural than ones made with a head.
But the whole point of binaural recordings is headphone playback, no?
Old 30th November 2016
  #19
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMetzinger View Post
But the whole point of binaural recordings is headphone playback, no?
Yes - but with a Jecklin disk the sound only hit your own pinnæ - with a dummy head, the sound hits the pinnæ on the head and then your own pinnæ on replay.

The added advantage is that a Jecklin Disk recording is also better on loudspeakers.

I have had great results recording binaural sound with a Jecklin Disk which was then used for an art project with the people moving around blindfolded - the location information was excellent.
Old 30th November 2016
  #20
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Plush's Avatar
Jecklin or Schneider disk recordings are not binaural recordings. They are stereo recordings done with a baffle.

It's very clear that dummy head recordings are to be played back on headphones. The main revision for the Neumann KU-100 head was a modification that made it possible to playback on loudspeakers. But this is NOT how it was made to be used.

A new way to offer very good binaural recordings is to use the new Sennheiser AMBEO ambisonic mic to record. Then you convert the WXYZ channels to stereo using an ambisonic to binaural plug-in on your daw.
Old 30th November 2016
  #21
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
A new way to offer very good binaural recordings is to use the new Sennheiser AMBEO ambisonic mic to record. Then you convert the WXYZ channels to stereo using an ambisonic to binaural plug-in on your daw.
Presumably you could do this with any soundfield mic. ?
Old 30th November 2016
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
Yes any Soundfield type mic that outputs B format.

The reason I mentioned the new Sennheiser AMBEO mic is that it is cost effective and sounds truly excellent--at least as good as a "real" Soundfield. I heard it and used it 10 days ago at the Tonmeistertagung.

This sounded at least as good as my Soundfield 422B mic I used to have.
Old 30th November 2016
  #23
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And a step beyond the venerable Tetra, or even better than a step?
Old 1st December 2016
  #24
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Yes any Soundfield type mic that outputs B format.

The reason I mentioned the new Sennheiser AMBEO mic is that it is cost effective and sounds truly excellent--at least as good as a "real" Soundfield. I heard it and used it 10 days ago at the Tonmeistertagung.

This sounded at least as good as my Soundfield 422B mic I used to have.
Interesting as I think the AMBEO has inexpensive capsules.

Though I always wished that Sennheiser would have done a soundfield mic. with symmetrical MKH capsules as used in the MKH 40 series.
Old 1st December 2016
  #25
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Plush's Avatar
Yes the AMBEO mic has electret capsules. But so does a DPA 4006. AMBEO sounded very good to me. I told the person I spoke with that they should consider making one with Neumann / Sennheiser capsules. They responded that that would cause the mic to be 10 times as expensive.
I don't buy that as a Neumann cardioid is sold now for $700 and that is with a housing and fabrication.
So the Sennheiser person puts a large premium on using the Neumann name.
Old 1st December 2016
  #26
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An MKH-based Ambisonic microphone would be on the purchase list. Wasn't convinced that the AMBEO offered a sonic or usability improvement over the other available options. Having discussed this with other beta testers, this seemed to be the general consensus among those I spoke to.
Old 2nd December 2016
  #27
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Plush's Avatar
I'm quite happy with what they are offering as a first step in their own Ambisonic mic. They software that comes with it is also sophisticated.

The AMBEO costs $1650 in the US. That is a pretty good price for entry into the Ambisonic world.

My impression is that some of the other products in the marketplace are an unfinished research project.
Old 2nd December 2016
  #28
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johnsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Yes any Soundfield type mic that outputs B format.
Pedantry alert.

To clarify - the Ambeo outputs A-Format, i.e. the capsule outputs, rather than the matrixed B-Format WXYZ. You need the Sennheiser software to do the conversion and corrective eq.
Old 2nd December 2016
  #29
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Plush's Avatar
Hello johnsound,

Yes, certainly you are right. I found the software to work very well. The mic sounds great.
Old 5th February 2017
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
An MKH-based Ambisonic microphone would be on the purchase list. Wasn't convinced that the AMBEO offered a sonic or usability improvement over the other available options. Having discussed this with other beta testers, this seemed to be the general consensus among those I spoke to.
I did some test between the Ambeo and the SPS200. IMMO the Ambeo in soundscapes capture can be good for the job (But perform better the SPS200), but not for music (I did the tests with a symphonic orchesta), I found a hughe difference in favour of the SPS200, the SPS200 sounds better, much better.

The big point of Ambeo is the mount of the capsules, one of the closest of the market, this give a great high frequency response, but IMMO the worse point is the capsule quality, isn't a good capsule. I'll love a MKH format A microphone
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