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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center Condenser Microphones
Old 30th December 2010
  #1
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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center

Hello everybody,

I am having an issue with Mid-Side recording that is really confusing me. I am using a Rode NTG3 as the mid, and a MKH30 as the side mic. I have been conducting tests using my voice and also a sine wave. The issue is that the stereo field is not properly translated after MS decoding. When I speak at 90 degrees off axis, this is translated after decoding as if my voice is more or less in the center. Whenever I speak at about 45 degrees off axis, the stereo positioning after decoding is correct. This issue happens on both left and right, so both 90 degrees L and R are positioned in the center.

I have done various tests in order to find the root of the problem. With regards to decoding, I have tried three different types: manual, using the freeware MSED plugin in my DAW, and using the MS decoder in my field recorder (Tascam DR680). The result is all the time the same.

I have also tried adjusting the width of the M/S decoding. The issue stays pretty much the same regardless of the width I set. The stereo field changes according to the width setting, but 90 degrees off axis is always centered.

I have done tests using my Rode NT1a and NT2a, with the NT2a set to figure of eight and used as the side mic. This configuration behaves pretty much normally. The wider I set the MS width, the more pronounced the 90 degrees sound is placed at either hard L or R.

I have done various adjustments of the recording gain of the NTG3 relative to the MKH30. As the NTG3 is more sensitive (31 mv/Pa) than the MKH30 (25mv/Pa), I'd assume that normally you would turn the gain of the NTG3 down a few dBs in order to get an even stereo field. Whatever adjustment I made to the gain, it never sounded like proper stereo in case of sounds coming at 90 degrees off axis.

I've also had briefly access to a Neumann 191, and in fact had exactly the same issue as with the NTG3/MKH30, so this confuses matters even more. Neither of the mics that I have used are having any issues of themselves, it's just that when doing this test I get these results. What I'm trying to say is that I'm pretty sure that none of the mics I am using is faulty.

I have also tried various cables, this is not the issue either. Neither is the issue with my recorder. I have used both my Tascam and my M-Audio soundcard, both with the same results. The MKH30 is mounted as close to the NTG3 as possible, and moving the position of the MKH30 did not help.

I have uploaded a recording to showcase the issue. For this test, I played back a sine wave (440 hz) at about a meter distance at both 90 and 45 degrees off axis and recorded it simultaneously with the NTG3/MKH40 setup and my Rode NT4 for reference.

I've added comments in the sound file to explain which is which. One can clearly hear that at 90 degrees, the MS setup captures the sine wave as if it's coming from the center, whereas at 45 degrees things are positioned correctly.

http://soundcloud.com/daan-hendriks/ms-test

If anybody has any idea what is going on here, I would be very grateful because I am out of ideas how to solve this.
I will be renting another MKH30 with MKH50 and MKH60 to conduct more tests. Perhaps the issue has to do with the Rode and Sennheiser not being properly matched, but looking at the specs of both mics, there is not too much of a difference - one would still expect these mics to behave normally in a MS setup, I would think?


Thanks
Old 30th December 2010
  #2
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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center

The plug-in should rule out any DAW configuration errors... Can you load a pic of the m/s mics set up?
Old 30th December 2010
  #3
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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center

Also, just came to mind, check to make sure the phase is flipped on one of the s sides.
Old 30th December 2010
  #4
Hello Daan,

If your voice is appearing CENTER when you are at 90* (ie. on-axis with the side mic), then it is likely that you did not matrix your two signals properly.

In your DAW, make sure your MID mic is indeed being the mid mic and your SIDE mic is indeed being your side mic. Your description indicates you have them backwards.

A plug-in doesn't rule out errors if you aren't feeding it the signals correctly. In all hardware and software M/S matrixes I've encountered, the mid channel should be Channel 1 (or left) and the side channel should be Channel 2 (or right).

Good luck!
Old 30th December 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by threesymbol View Post
The plug-in should rule out any DAW configuration errors... Can you load a pic of the m/s mics set up?


And yep I've ensured that one of the channels was phase inverted when I did the manual decoding. However, as you say, because the problem occurs with all 3 different types of decoding I tried, it cannot really be related to the decoding process itself, I would think.
Old 30th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Hello Daan,

If your voice is appearing CENTER when you are at 90* (ie. on-axis with the side mic), then it is likely that you did not matrix your two signals properly.

In your DAW, make sure your MID mic is indeed being the mid mic and your SIDE mic is indeed being your side mic. Your description indicates you have them backwards.

A plug-in doesn't rule out errors if you aren't feeding it the signals correctly. In all hardware and software M/S matrixes I've encountered, the mid channel should be Channel 1 (or left) and the side channel should be Channel 2 (or right).

Good luck!
Hey there,

Thanks for your response.
Yes, I've thought of this, but I've really ensured that I've connected everything properly. I have also tried connecting things the other way around (mid in right and side in left, so that's incorrect, but I did that just to test) and no it didnt work. Also MSED has a 'swap channels' feature in case you do plug in things the wrong way around.

I appreciate your response, it's just that I've tried this and it wasn't the root of the problem.
Old 30th December 2010
  #7
I can't say for certain what your problem might be, but M/S imaging can sometimes get weird at the extremes of the stereo field if you exceed the theoretical stereo recording angle for the particular combination of mic's you are using. Contrary to popular belief, there is an optimum recording angle for every combination of M/S depending on the polar pattern of the mid mic.

Speaking from my own experience with a Sennheiser 418S, I will say that the imaging on an M/S array with a shotgun mid can get really strange, especially at the extreme left and right.

You could fool around with the relative position of the mid mic - it looks from your pic like (a) the figure 8 is forward of the diaphragm of the shotgun and (b) they could be a little closer with regards to the vertical spacing.
Old 30th December 2010
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post
I can't say for certain what your problem might be, but M/S imaging can sometimes get weird at the extremes of the stereo field if you exceed the theoretical stereo recording angle for the particular combination of mic's you are using. Contrary to popular belief, there is an optimum recording angle for every combination of M/S depending on the polar pattern of the mid mic.

Speaking from my own experience with a Sennheiser 418S, I will say that the imaging on an M/S array with a shotgun mid can get really strange, especially at the extreme left and right.
Thanks for your answer, Rob.
This is kind of the direction that I have started to think as well, and is the reason why I want to rent a MKH50 to do a test, as it has not such a narrow pickup. The test with the 2 Rodes (NT1a/NT2a) sounded fairly natural and I figured it might had to do with the wide cardioid pattern of the NT1a.

Still, that would be really ****ty, how would you then be able to ever really trust a stereo recording you do in MS using a shotgun as the mid? How will you ever know for certain that extreme off axis sounds are not placed incorrectly after decoding? When testing it in this way it's obvious, but when you record a static stereo image, it might not be so obvious at all, but still wrong.

So I'm still thinking/hoping I am overlooking something here, although I honestly at the moment cannot think of what it might be.

Appreciating all the responses and insights, please keep em coming
Old 30th December 2010
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post

You could fool around with the relative position of the mid mic - it looks from your pic like (a) the figure 8 is forward of the diaphragm of the shotgun and (b) they could be a little closer with regards to the vertical spacing.
Hmm I tried moving the mics closer to each other but that didnt give much of a difference.

How do you mean the figure 8 is forward of the diaphragm of the shotgun? I have tried rotating the shotgun a bit (I mean to have a different side of the mid mic pointing up) but have not experimented extensively with it. The Rode has a bronze dot at the bottom that I figured indicates that that's the side that should be pointing upwards when mounted on a pistol grip.
Old 30th December 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Hmm I tried moving the mics closer to each other but that didnt give much of a difference.

How do you mean the figure 8 is forward of the diaphragm of the shotgun? I have tried rotating the shotgun a bit (I mean to have a different side of the mid mic pointing up) but have not experimented extensively with it. The Rode has a bronze dot at the bottom that I figured indicates that that's the side that should be pointing upwards when mounted on a pistol grip.
Ahhh OK, I just found out that the diaphragm of a shotgun is not at the tip of the mic but somewhere in the middle so that must be what you mean. I'll look into this, will try to find where the capsule exactly is located in the tube.
Old 30th December 2010
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Hmm I tried moving the mics closer to each other but that didnt give much of a difference.

How do you mean the figure 8 is forward of the diaphragm of the shotgun? I have tried rotating the shotgun a bit (I mean to have a different side of the mid mic pointing up) but have not experimented extensively with it. The Rode has a bronze dot at the bottom that I figured indicates that that's the side that should be pointing upwards when mounted on a pistol grip.
I just went thru this an hour ago while trying a MS with my freshly modded ribbon mic (If I'm undertanding what you're doing correctly). I was recording the mid mic normally (centered), but the side tracks I had already setup, panned the track(s) while inverting the phase on one (as you would normally do AFTER the recording). When I played back, it seemed to always be panned to the left (or right, depending on which track was NOT inverted). When I went back to just recording two tracks, both centered while recording them, and THEN cloned, inverted and panned the side track(s), all was right with the world. Am I correct here in describing what you're doing?
Old 30th December 2010
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhs2xs View Post
I just went thru this an hour ago while trying a MS with my freshly modded ribbon mic (If I'm undertanding what you're doing correctly). I was recording the mid mic normally (centered), but the side tracks I had already setup, panned the track(s) while inverting the phase on one (as you would normally do AFTER the recording). When I played back, it seemed to always be panned to the left (or right, depending on which track was NOT inverted). When I went back to just recording two tracks, both centered while recording them, and THEN cloned, inverted and panned the side track(s), all was right with the world. Am I correct here in describing what you're doing?
Hey, thanks for your response.
Nope unfortunately that's not what I am doing

I've also just tried positioning the side mic capsule closer or exactly aligned to the mid capsule but that didnt help either :(
Old 31st December 2010
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Hey, thanks for your response.
Nope unfortunately that's not what I am doing

I've also just tried positioning the side mic capsule closer or exactly aligned to the mid capsule but that didnt help either :(
Ah, Sorry, I went back and read your issue again and, now that I'm more awake, I understand it better. Yeah, that's wierd, but I think RobAnderson's analysis is correct. I don't think M/S is really meant to get something that far off axis. That kind of imaging is better suited for X/Y or ORTF I would think. And, as he said, it may be the shotgun goofing it up. Good luck, but do post any solutions you run across because this is interesting.
Old 31st December 2010
  #14
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the mics are set up wrong...

google mid side pair,,errr on wiki


it won't let me give you a link
Old 31st December 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
the mics are set up wrong...

google mid side pair,,errr on wiki


it won't let me give you a link
I don't think so. The MKH30 is a side address type (the black mic) similar to an ATM450, except in figure 8. The shotgun on the bottom is the mid mic.
Attached Thumbnails
Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center-mkh30.jpg  
Old 31st December 2010
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhs2xs View Post
Ah, Sorry, I went back and read your issue again and, now that I'm more awake, I understand it better. Yeah, that's wierd, but I think RobAnderson's analysis is correct. I don't think M/S is really meant to get something that far off axis. That kind of imaging is better suited for X/Y or ORTF I would think. And, as he said, it may be the shotgun goofing it up. Good luck, but do post any solutions you run across because this is interesting.
Hey, thanks again for your response.
Yeah I'm going to try with different mid mics, will be renting a MKH50 and MKH60, and see if this issue persists. Like I stated, I had the same with a Neumann 191, so I am having a feeling as well that the test I am running is revealing an issue that relates to using MS with a shotgun mic. On the other hand, I can't believe yet that this would be really the case and I have no experience using this technique, so I'm still thinking there could also be something that I am overlooking.

If there;s anybody here with a fairly similar setup to mine who's willing to take the same test (speak at about a meter or so at 90 degrees off axis into the MS setup), I'd be very interested to hear the results.

Thanks everyone.
Old 31st December 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Hey, thanks again for your response.
Yeah I'm going to try with different mid mics, will be renting a MKH50 and MKH60, and see if this issue persists. Like I stated, I had the same with a Neumann 191, so I am having a feeling as well that the test I am running is revealing an issue that relates to using MS with a shotgun mic. On the other hand, I can't believe yet that this would be really the case and I have no experience using this technique, so I'm still thinking there could also be something that I am overlooking.

If there;s anybody here with a fairly similar setup to mine who's willing to take the same test (speak at about a meter or so at 90 degrees off axis into the MS setup), I'd be very interested to hear the results.

Thanks everyone.
Ok, I just did it the way you are and had an oh crap moment. As long as the Fig8 is picking up on one side or the other, and the mid mic is working (albeit, it will be weaker due to the 90deg off axis source) it should be working. Have you tried to do this manually instead of letting your DAW do the encoding for you? Try just recording the two tracks w/ pan centered. Then manually clone the side track, invert it and pan, as well as panning the original side track the other way. I didn't see where you tried it manually, so if you have, then I'm at a loss and switching mics is your best bet.
Old 31st December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhs2xs View Post
Ok, I just did it the way you are and had an oh crap moment. As long as the Fig8 is picking up on one side or the other, and the mid mic is working (albeit, it will be weaker due to the 90deg off axis source) it should be working. Have you tried to do this manually instead of letting your DAW do the encoding for you? Try just recording the two tracks w/ pan centered. Then manually clone the side track, invert it and pan, as well as panning the original side track the other way. I didn't see where you tried it manually, so if you have, then I'm at a loss and switching mics is your best bet.
Cheers for trying this!
Yes I have originally tried with manual decoding. I will try once again tomorrow though just to be sure (it's very late here in the UK at the moment). I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen because I do think I did it all correct with the manual decoding previously, but it's worth giving it another shot.

Just one question, was your mid mic also a shotgun microphone?

Thanks again.
Old 31st December 2010
  #19
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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center

The centre of the MKH30 capsule should be as close as possible to the NTG3's capsule.

I think it will be about one-third the way back from the front. Hold the NTG3 up to the light and hopefully you will be able to see it.

Also MS with gun mics is not very good, normally, because of the off-axis anomalies. If you have an off-axis high point at the main speech frequency that is about equal in level to the fig-8 then it would bring it round to the front I think.

It's much better to use a super-cardioid for MS than a gun to prevent these off-axis anomalies.

Personally I normally use a cardioid as the mid.


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Old 31st December 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Cheers for trying this!
Yes I have originally tried with manual decoding. I will try once again tomorrow though just to be sure (it's very late here in the UK at the moment). I have a feeling the same thing is going to happen because I do think I did it all correct with the manual decoding previously, but it's worth giving it another shot.

Just one question, was your mid mic also a shotgun microphone?

Thanks again.
No, it was a C1000S, just cardioid.
Old 31st December 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
The centre of the MKH30 capsule should be as close as possible to the NTG3's capsule.

I think it will be about one-third the way back from the front. Hold the NTG3 up to the light and hopefully you will be able to see it.

Also MS with gun mics is not very good, normally, because of the off-axis anomalies. If you have an off-axis high point at the main speech frequency that is about equal in level to the fig-8 then it would bring it round to the front I think.

It's much better to use a super-cardioid for MS than a gun to prevent these off-axis anomalies.

Personally I normally use a cardioid as the mid.


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Old 31st December 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peacock View Post
Your mics are not set up correctly for optimal M/S capture. The shotgun mic should be cardiod and needs to be abutting against the fig 8 mic.


The fig 8 mic should be in vertical positon with the capsule abutting the cardiod mic.

Also, when capture is 90 degrees from the front as the only source no real sense of stereo placement will be achieved if the other two mics do not capture part of the sound. The best stereo imaging is going to take place in front with about the same arc as Blumlein capture will allow. etc.
The fig 8 mic does not need to be vertical. It can lay on it side if desired. I do agree it's best to have the capsules as close as possible, but I've also made it work just fine with the cardioid further towards the source as well.
Attached Thumbnails
Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center-midside.jpg  
Old 31st December 2010
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peacock View Post
Your mics are not set up correctly for optimal M/S capture. The shotgun mic should be cardiod and needs to be abutting against the fig 8 mic.

The fig 8 mic should be in vertical positon with the capsule abutting the cardiod mic.
Thank you JW for pointing out that the side mic does not need to be verticle.

I would also like to add that the mid mic does not need to be a cardioid mic. It can be fig-8, hypercardioid, subcardioid, and even omni.

Any luck yet Daan?
Old 31st December 2010
  #24
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dude just go to any diagram about mic placement ..2 people told you already that's not the designed set up for a m/s pair

and the original patent was OMNI..it morped into cardiod...now a shotgun? i mean that's HIGHLY directional...umm i see issues right there beyond the mechanical physics of the placent of the capsules

tthe "overlaps are where the effect comes from...you just sripped away a lot of that..
Old 31st December 2010
  #25
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Issues with M/S recording - 90 degrees off axis positioned in center

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks


This picture is about correct, I think the capsule on the NTG3 may be a little further back though.

The cables look a bit stiff and are likely to add handling noise. I use the short flexible Rycote S-series XLR tails with mine to minimise handling noise.

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Old 31st December 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Thank you JW for pointing out that the side mic does not need to be verticle.

I would also like to add that the mid mic does not need to be a cardioid mic. It can be fig-8, hypercardioid, subcardioid, and even omni.

Any luck yet Daan?
Did you mean me? I've had to turn stuff all sorts of crazy ways to make them fit sometimes. As I'm sure you have too, but as long capsules are pointing correctly, the direction of the body is irrelevant.

Also, if you run the mid mic as another fig 8, aren't you just running a 90deg Blumlein then? Never tried omni on the mid mic, does it work well?

Thanks.

Mitchell
Old 31st December 2010
  #27
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Hi everybody,

Thanks for all the great responses and insights. I was originally not fully aware of the mechanical design of a shotgun mic, meaning that I didnt know that the capsule is somewhere more in the middle or at the bottom of the tube. I've located where the capsule is and mounted the mics accordingly. When I tested yesterday with this newly mounted setup the problem still persisted, but as people have pointed out here already, this could simply be due to the nature of using a shotgun in M/S, and also with the nature of my test in itself.

Unfortunately I did not have time today to conduct more tests, but tomorrow, after the hang over of NYE has settled down I'll be sure to do so. I've been aware before that a shotgun is not necessarily the 'best' type of mic to use as a mid in MS, but then again I know that lot of people do use one. For a sound effects recording perspective, I do like the idea of having a shotgun for MS. I will be renting a MKH50 and 60 just to see the differences. I'll also try a few other suggestions made here and elsewhere. Perhaps this issue cannot be solved as such, and perhaps it's not truly an issue.

I really appreciate everybody's help on this, Gearslutz is awesome.
Have a great NYE.
Old 31st December 2010
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaanHendriks View Post
Hi everybody,

Thanks for all the great responses and insights. I was originally not fully aware of the mechanical design of a shotgun mic, meaning that I didnt know that the capsule is somewhere more in the middle or at the bottom of the tube. I've located where the capsule is and mounted the mics accordingly. When I tested yesterday with this newly mounted setup the problem still persisted, but as people have pointed out here already, this could simply be due to the nature of using a shotgun in M/S, and also with the nature of my test in itself.

Unfortunately I did not have time today to conduct more tests, but tomorrow, after the hang over of NYE has settled down I'll be sure to do so. I've been aware before that a shotgun is not necessarily the 'best' type of mic to use as a mid in MS, but then again I know that lot of people do use one. For a sound effects recording perspective, I do like the idea of having a shotgun for MS. I will be renting a MKH50 and 60 just to see the differences. I'll also try a few other suggestions made here and elsewhere. Perhaps this issue cannot be solved as such, and perhaps it's not truly an issue.

I really appreciate everybody's help on this, Gearslutz is awesome.
Have a great NYE.
Same to ya brother. Report back w/ your findings at 5am EST....heh

I still don't see how a supercardioid mic isn't working, Shotgun or not.

Happy New Year to All!

Cheers!
Mitchell
Old 31st December 2010
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
dude just go to any diagram about mic placement ..2 people told you already that's not the designed set up for a m/s pair

and the original patent was OMNI..it morped into cardiod...now a shotgun? i mean that's HIGHLY directional...umm i see issues right there beyond the mechanical physics of the placent of the capsules
Actually, I think Blumlein specifies "Velocity or moving conductor microphones (e.g. moving strip)...These microphones give a response varying as the cosine of the angle of incidence..." (meaning bi-drectional polar pattern, specifically: ribbon mic's) in his patent, both for XY (which we now call Blumlein) and Mid Side. Interestingly enough, these both yield the same theoretical polar pattern for the array if you give a 50/50 ratio of mid-side.

You can use an omni for mid, of course. At a 50/50 ratio, you get the equivalent of back-to-back cardioids - an array which has a theoretical optimal SRA of 180 degrees (I think). The optimal SRA for Blumlein XY is 90 degrees. Not sure how well this would really work in practice with the off-axis response of omni's - I guess the smaller the capsule the better in this case.

According to Bruce Bartlett, Henning Gerlach of Sennheiser was the one who came up with the idea that you could use a shotgun for the mid capsule, but even he acknowledged that it only really works if the sound source stays pretty tight with the on-axis pickup of the shotgun. It starts to fall apart pretty quickly as you get off axis due to the weird off-axis response of shotguns.

"News" types tend to use MS with shotgun to capture some of the ambience as well as the subject - NPR for instance.

To the OP, from what I can see in the picture, your setup for this technique is basically correct. It's never going to be optimal with a shotgun mid, but as with any coincident technique, the closer you can get the center of the capsules to each other, the better.

FWIW, on the rare occasions that I use Mid-Side, I generally use a hypercard or a cardioid.
Old 31st December 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post
Actually, I think Blumlein specifies "Velocity or moving conductor microphones (e.g. moving strip)...These microphones give a response varying as the cosine of the angle of incidence..." (meaning bi-drectional polar pattern, specifically: ribbon mic's) in his patent, both for XY (which we now call Blumlein) and Mid Side. Interestingly enough, these both yield the same theoretical polar pattern for the array if you give a 50/50 ratio of mid-side.

You can use an omni for mid, of course. At a 50/50 ratio, you get the equivalent of back-to-back cardioids - an array which has a theoretical optimal SRA of 180 degrees (I think). The optimal SRA for Blumlein XY is 90 degrees. Not sure how well this would really work in practice with the off-axis response of omni's - I guess the smaller the capsule the better in this case.

According to Bruce Bartlett, Henning Gerlach of Sennheiser was the one who came up with the idea that you could use a shotgun for the mid capsule, but even he acknowledged that it only really works if the sound source stays pretty tight with the on-axis pickup of the shotgun. It starts to fall apart pretty quickly as you get off axis due to the weird off-axis response of shotguns.

"News" types tend to use MS with shotgun to capture some of the ambience as well as the subject - NPR for instance.

To the OP, from what I can see in the picture, your setup for this technique is basically correct. It's never going to be optimal with a shotgun mid, but as with any coincident technique, the closer you can get the center of the capsules to each other, the better.

FWIW, on the rare occasions that I use Mid-Side, I generally use a hypercard or a cardioid.
bingo and and it's begs another nomenclature

the org patent was omni and fig 8

it morphed to cardioid

call it another pairing with a shotgun.and the resultant interaction.
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