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Affordable Binaural Microphones? Dynamic Microphones
Old 23rd May 2018
Here for the gear

Question Affordable Binaural Microphones?

Here are some of the affordable (<$300) binaural microphones that I found. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on them.
Sound Professionals Master Series:
Roland CS-10EM:
soundman: Products << Soundman
Cascade Audio Vive:
Twirling720 Lite (AMBISONIC):

Old 23rd May 2018
Lives for gear
vze26m98's Avatar

The Sennheiser headset has been confusingly touted by the trades as doing up to 96khz, but it actually doesn’t record above 48k.

You might also look at Core Sound in New Jersey. I’ve had a couple of their mics that I liked a lot. (Thinking about selling my “economy” binaurals.)

There are also a few European companies that folks like. I’ll see if I can dig out the names if someone doesn’t chime in.
Old 24th May 2018
Gear Nut

I have the Soundman binaurals. My only complaints are they are constructed using extremely thin wire, they are difficult to protect from wind noise, and I'd like them to be quieter. When they go, I'll replace them with one of these pairs: Clippy Microphones -
Old 29th May 2018
Best setup I ever saw was someone took a "women's wig stand" (dummy head) drilled two holes where the ear canal should have been, inserted two Sanken lavaliere Microphones into the holes, routed the cables out the bottom. Cemented a piece of plastic to the bottom of the wig stand and put a 5/8"-27 stand adapter on the plastic. It sounded incredible. It was used by an early music group that came to the college while I was employed there.
Old 14th February 2019
Here for the gear
funktoon's Avatar

i see someone took a similar route to me in the last post. i got my redhead with a brush cut dummy head FREE from a beauty school. they refused to take money for it, and had other used heads lying around.

hmmm... i never bothered to look for binaural here and stumbled on this thread with an "affordable" keyword search.

i built my own dummy head out of an undersized beauty school practice head using 2-3 packs of liquid metal to make my sure PZMs the right width and angled them forward about 10 degrees each. they mount to the head with velcro. i bought the SPECIFICALLY for binaural recording. like recordings i've heard with the sennheiser and that new "non-head" mic there's a demo of on youtube, the small condensers sometimes have that "metallic crunch & ping" sound, especially on close sounds and my head has a vague center image, BUT i've made outdoor field recordings where the rig REALLY captures the ambience and "air quality" of warm summer sunsets believably with my lowly sony TC5-DM deck.

i got the idea after reading that frank zappa used to wear a pair of PZMs to make binaural recordings of live performances back in the late 80s or early 90s. i'm sure you could find a pair of PZMs for way less than i paid for them these days.

when i get back to recording, i'd like to build a new dummy head using large diaphragm mics inside ear canals to get rid of that small condenser signature that ruins the effect a lot of the time and possibly improve imaging as ear canals are part of the timing etc. needed to re-create what our ears here. i'm thinking i'd mold the head with medium density silicone, maybe even over a fiberglass lined skull model for a sort of "poor man's achen"

i also read that one of the reviewers at audio magazine, back in the 80s, made a head out of clay back in the 50s. clay would be REALLY great for damping resonances, but also prone to constant damage and it's heavy.

if you can do the work, DIY might be the cheapest route. in talks with the owner of binaural source, he recommended cheap schoeps capsules for DIY.

while not true binaural (as in human head shaped to capture "all" of the timing cues that affect how we hear), i've always wanted to try a BS3D THE AUDIO BS-3D Binaural Sphere Stereo Microphone because i've been unimpressed by the sound of EVERY dummy head i've ever heard, including the sennheiser on one of the extras in the monsters inc DVD that sounds no better than mine. i bet the large diaphragms solve the metallic signature issue, if not make for more solid images

hope that helps

UGHHH! when is my image posting ban ever going to be lifted?!
Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Head

I have the Sound Professionals set. They are quite sensitive - very high gain. Response is good for the purpose for which I use them: recording in crowds, such as political events (rallies, protests, etc), or ambience at sporting events, train platforms, etc. Unsurprisingly they seem kind of weak in the low bass, although it's not terribly deficient. They are moderately subject to wind noise. I personally find that the fuzzy wind shields are very uncomfortable in the ear, so I use them only when absolutely necessary.

I got them connected to standard XLRs so that they can be phantom powered. The leads are quite thin, and I find that to be nerve-wracking although not actually problematic. In my configuration, the weakest point is the bend right before the strain relief at the XLR connectors. I am always worried that they will get damaged at this point, although I've now had them for a year and a half and use them moderately often and they're in just the same condition as when they came out of the box. I wish they'd have used $10 more conductor and then not have to worry about it.

I use them more for discretion than for ultra-precise imaging. (For clarity, I am recording in public venues.) I record on a Sound Devices MixPre-6 which I put in a backpack. The wires go to my ears, and to almost any observer they are just more headphones in the crowd. I control the recorder with an app on my phone, so the recorder itself is rarely seen.

I wouldn't care to use these for recording most music, given the bass roll off, but there are many other applications.
Heard through headphones, the recordings are remarkably lifelike, which I suppose is the punch line.
Old 4 weeks ago
Here for the gear
funktoon's Avatar

i found bass rolloff with my PZMs too. i recorded a fireworks display and other than crackles, only got anemic sounding pops.
Old 4 weeks ago
Gear Head

Mine have much better bass than that. On the other hand, they won't be confused with full-range omnis, either. Offhand I'd guess that they are a good 8dB down from my Line Audio OM1s at 24-30 Hz.
Old 4 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by blwatlongwood View Post
Mine have much better bass than that. On the other hand, they won't be confused with full-range omnis, either. Offhand I'd guess that they are a good 8dB down from my Line Audio OM1s at 24-30 Hz.
All PZM's have a substantial bass shelf rolloff, it's determined directly by the dimensions of the boundary it is attached's part and parcel of the operating principle, no free lunch.

Here's the PZM Bible explaining it:
Old 3 weeks ago
Here for the gear
funktoon's Avatar

right... that's why they're also called "boundary mics"... they were designed to be mounted on walls and not on the rounded "diffraction free" surfaces of a dummy head

i just got my sures because i couldn't think of a more affordable and easy to DIY alternative, and it supposedly worked for zappa

they CAN be very convincing on some sources though... distant ambient sounds in particular and i got some pretty good crowd reactions, though vague in the center and drum circle recordings too.

i'd really like to share the recordings, but they're 1300 miles away in a storage unit for now (more like $85 walk in closet that was originally $55)
Old 2 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Until today, I didn't realize that AKG had also built and sold a dummy head mic...called "Harry", and here he is:

MIicrophone of the month November 2014_ AKG D99 'Harry'
Vintage studio Microphone AKG D99 1974 + box - Binaural | Reverb
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

The sennheiser binaural ambeo headphone/mic set is frankly dreadful. I bought one, and Sennheiser sent me another once I started reporting all the issues with it

1) the recording software is extra cost (which is inexcusable on a product of this cost)
2) the gain is fixed into two fixed levels. and it will cheerfully clip even when set to the lowest gain
3) the noise cancellation feature simply doesnt work. I have done lab measurements on my GRAS IEC ear and sent the graphs to Sennheiser. And they just go quiet on the matter, and simply claim "it does work". Well, it doesnt on both samples I have.

I was hoping to use it for live binaural recording and also for a somewhat interesting use-case -- recording the spectral shape of noise in a motorbike helmet when riding, to get a good idea of what the noise shape is actually like in real use. Its simply no good for that, due to the stupid record level limitations. And the headphone side is weak, with non-functioning noise cancellation.

Not worth the money, sorry.
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear

These "Clippys" are affordable for use with a dummy head or Jecklin/Schneider disk setup. They are really sensitive and are a bit "smiley faced" in the frequency response. I use them a lot for field recording in an 30cm wide Olsen Wing configuration.
LOM Audio uses the same capsule with many different configurations.
Microphones & accessories – LOM label

Hope it helps.
Jim Rogers
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