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IRT Cross vs A Format for sound-only ambience capture
Old 5 days ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

IRT Cross vs A Format for sound-only ambience capture

Hi there folks

I've been asked to record the night-time ambience during seabird breeding season, on islands that are an ongoing conservation project. The intended usage is not 100% clear, but will include using the soundscape during events promoting the conservation project, and it may be part of a museum installation about the islands in the future.

I'm a music soundie by trade, in live sound and recording at the classical & arts end of the spectrum. I've done only a bit of post sound for picture, and no location sound (but plenty of live recording). I've been wanting to get into field recording for pleasure and raw material for a while.

My inclination is to try harder than stereo only, and capture this in a surround format. Partly this is due to the sound-only immersive usage of the resulting material, and partly because I'm learning about surround and have recently upgraded my studio to a decent 5.1 system. As a music classical guy, I'm much more drawn to spaced microphone arrays from a sound aspect, but I appreciate the utility of a coincident setup, particuarly in a situation like this.

Budget is minimal (this is a volunteer effort). After research, I've come down to two options:

1. Purchase Rycote BBG's + windjammers and deploy four of my Schoeps MK4's I already have in an IRT cross on hardware I already have.

2. For only slightly more than the Rycote's, I could purchase a Rode NT-SF1 A format mic. Exotic location mic hire options are pretty slim here.

I've used IRT cross once before recording room / ambience / audience for a surround electronica show. I do like the spaciousness rendered, but haven't used the mix outside my studio. I've been experimenting with downloaded NT-SF1 demo recordings, and the Rode plugin. It seems to work really well, does all the tricks, but doesn't give me an expansive feeling with the rendered soundstage. However, playback on a larger system in a larger space may be a different experience. I also feel that the capsules are less great than what I am used to.

I'll use a hired SD MixPre recorder. I'm assuming the CMC6/MK4 IRT cross setup will be a small world of inconvenience, and capture a more organic and detailed sound. The NT-SF1 and it's included windstopper will be extremely convenient, and have a lot more downmix and upmix options for future useage. It's possible that this recording may recurr to build up a small audio library of the recovering seabird life on the islands.

That's my scenario. Any input into which option you would pick and why would be hugely appreciated (as well as any other angles).

Thanks!
Simon
Old 5 days ago
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Recording Ambisonic first order is convinient, but sound is lacking.
IRT-cross sounds good, but less convinient.
What is your priority?
Pick accordingly.

IMHO
Old 5 days ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for the input, and reduction! My answer would be, the former. But I also don't know to what degree the BBG's will compromise the MK4's sound, so that's a bit of unknown for me.
Old 5 days ago
  #4
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celticrogues's Avatar
 

Lightbulb

I like the Cinela Leonard ball better than the BBG if you have the budget for it. A little more transparent.

My preference for this would be the IRT cross. I like the way the Rode NT-SF1 sounds on a lot of things but it’s not the quietest mic, and the processing can add some additional artifacts, so for quiet ambiance I’d go with the Schoeps setup.

-Mike
Old 5 days ago
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks Mike, appreciate your thoughts. Snap, I was just reading about the Cinela Leonard. I don't think I will be able to source them here in time, but a set of Schoeps W 20 R1 with fur might be possible, which seem comparable to the Leonard, maybe not as wind robust as the BBG but more transparent.
Old 5 days ago
  #6
Gear Addict
I would be inclined to the Rode, simply because of the potential hassle with an IRT cross, unless you have already had it out on location and know its foibles. The most likely source of difficulty could well be wind, which can obviously whip across isolated islands BBG's may not suffice in that situation, and full rycotes are both expensive and difficult to manouvre on an IRT cross, making it very unwieldy and prone to falling over unless you have a very sturdy stand. Because of all that, the more practical solution is an ambisonics mike in one very good windshield - cinela or the new rycotes.
Worrying about the most high end sound is fine in theory, in practice the least cumbersome and most practical rig will likely give you better results. It doesn't have to be Rode, there is the Sennheiser, just a little more expensive, and used by many location recordists.
Old 5 days ago
  #7
Gear Addict
Also, if you do not know the format it might be used in, ambisonics is very versatile in what you can translate it into afterwards.
Old 5 days ago
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

itsyourself, I really appreciate you challenging my bias, and if this was a professional gig I'd 100% concur. My latest thoughts IRT cross wise are to go for Cinela Leonards w/ fur instead as location guys seem to think they work great. Latest thoughts ambisonic wise is that I shouldn't jump in at the low end without knowing very much.
Old 5 days ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

regarding functional aspects, it's pretty hard to beat coincident mic arrays... - did you consider using double m/s (or if you like the irt cross, double ortf)?
Old 5 days ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Yeah I did thanks deedee. Double ORTF would be great. Problem is I'm in NZ and have a two week lead time. Rental of interesting mic array kits is very limited here, and the choices I outlined are based around what I have to hand, what I can get here within two weeks, and budget. Totally agree on the functionality of coincident. It's just that every time I play it against spaced....
Old 3 days ago
  #11
Gear Addict
Fair enough. The only thing I would do is check the Leonardo against the COSI, as the latter might give you better wind protection, especially on a windswept island.

As an aside, the other advantage of a tetrahedral array is that it gives you height as well as horizontal surround.
Old 2 days ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by itsyourself View Post
Fair enough. The only thing I would do is check the Leonardo against the COSI, as the latter might give you better wind protection, especially on a windswept island.
The COSI looks GREAT. But is out of my budget x 4, and doesn't seem to be on Cinela catalog currently (or maybe it's been rebranded the PIANISSIMO?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by itsyourself View Post
As an aside, the other advantage of a tetrahedral array is that it gives you height as well as horizontal surround.
This is an EXCELLENT point. My dilemma. Played out in public...
Old 2 days ago
  #13
Here for the gear
 

For me practicality would probably trump absolute sound quality in this case.

For one thing, do you have control over the when the recording is made to make sure it won't rain? I would not want to put my MK4s out in the rain with only a BBG or similar style windshield.

Also, I have several BBGs and one thing they can't protect against is wind hitting the body of the mic itself. So they're a mild to moderate condition solution only.

Do you have enough channels/budget to run the NT-SF1 and a pair of MK4s, too? That would open up the possibility of using the pair as spaced "outriggers" if the NT-SF1 lacks the "dimension" you're looking for.

I imagine breeding seabirds will be clearly audible, even at night. So you will hopefully avoid the scenario of trying to record an extremely quiet ambience where the self-noise of the NT-SF1 capsules might become a problem.

If you end up going with the NT-SF1 take a look at the Spatial Audio in VR/AR/MR group on Facebook - there's some really knowledgeable people there for when it comes time to decode and process the A format.
Old 1 day ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by metalsquirrel View Post
(...) So you will hopefully avoid the scenario of trying to record an extremely quiet ambience where the self-noise of the NT-SF1 capsules might become a problem (...)
a truly disappointing fact about the röde and also the sennheiser - the sps2000 has a couple of db lower self noise: lucky i got one of these...
Old 1 day ago
  #15
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
a truly disappointing fact about the röde and also the sennheiser - the sps2000 has a couple of db lower self noise: lucky i got one of these...
Yeah I've yet to hear one of the newer, "budget" tetrahedral mics that can compete with a [older] Soundfield in terms of self-noise (disclosure: I've never worked with the sps2000). I own a Tetramic and a Sennheiser Ambeo.

With that said, it's an exciting time to be getting into ambisonics. There's a lot of competition and R&D going on at the moment.

Last edited by metalsquirrel; 1 day ago at 10:19 AM.. Reason: clarify old Soundfield vs. post-Rode acquisition
Old 1 day ago
  #16
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by potscrubber View Post
The COSI looks GREAT. But is out of my budget x 4, and doesn't seem to be on Cinela catalog currently (or maybe it's been rebranded the PIANISSIMO?).
The Cinela site is poorly maintained and doesn't even mention the COSI (which is not a pianissimo - they are full windshields). More information is available at dealers websites and youtube demos. Emailing them is more productive.

As others indicate, even though you have settled on your format, I wouldn't go to somewhere like that without a backup plan. That could take various forms dependent on budget, but could be a stereo mic or pair in a robust windshield, a zoom tetramic etc. The point about rain is very apt, i have had Schoeps capsules crackle badly in humid conditions.

If the conditions are going to be challenging, i would prefer to have some options, some of which I know work in those circumstances.
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