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Best mics for double duty in 5.1 field rig & stereo studio work (string quartets, etc.)?
Old 29th October 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Best mics for double duty in 5.1 field rig & stereo studio work (string quartets, etc.)?

Almost bought the DPA 5100 "bike seat" all in one 5.1 mic...

Then realized I'd likely prefer spaced individual mics vs an "all in one" coincident setup...

Then realized I'd be spending a lot more than originally planned to do it right...

Then realized the five low noise minimal off axis color cardioids I'm leaning towards for a 5-way spaced surround setup (1 mic for each of the 5 speakers, no decoding required) should be carefully selected to also do double duty for normal (not surround) inside studio work (string quartets, etc.)...

Then realized I was about to buy the equivalent of a decent used car and I'd better get it right with some help from those more experienced!

I'm leaning toward five of the Schoeps CCM4 LG Cardioid Compact Condenser mics based on their use in Schoeps recommended IRT Cross and equal sided pentagon shaped surround rigs and their "universal" utility for indoor studio work (also, I love the Emerson String Quartet recordings using Schoeps, although I think those were omnis).

But I've read that Schoeps spit and crackle outdoors in high humidity and some recommend Sennheiser alternatives for this reason.

I know the film and gaming industry is leaning toward coincident "ambisonic" or multiple Mid/Side setups... But I don't need that VR post production versatility as my application is live 5.1 loudspeaker playback as part of an "Amped Classical" innovation series, where new works are augmented by nature recordings, surround FX, etc.

My understanding is that spaced mic techniques will give my audience the most immersive result for ambient nature sounds, that the ambisonic approach has built in limitations to sound quality, and that no coincident or M/S technique can match spaced pairs for loudspeaker stereo immersion since coincident doesn't factor in time delay between the ears, only level differences, thus you're only able to harness one of the three psychoacoustic factors that contribute to localization.

As I understand it, these are the only three possible contributors to stereo (or surround) field immersion and localization: 1. Level Differences (all stereo/surround techniques give you this), 2. Time Delay (only spaced techniques yield this, coincident can't), 3. Head Related Transfer Functions (only binaural techniques give you this, they only work on headphones, and it is destructive to the loudspeaker playback stereo/surround image so not useful for my application).

So am I understanding things correctly?

Should I buy five of the Schoeps CCM4 and a 5-Way "umbrella" mount to space them out in an equal sided pentagon formation for L/C/R plus Back L/R?

That won't fit in any blimp... Any suggestions for wind protection?

Will the Schoeps give me trouble in swampy humidity?

Would I have better luck with Sennheiser cardioids? Which ones?

If I'm OK spending $10,000 - $15,000 to start my serious mic collection with this purchase, is there a better, more versatile option I've not considered? Multi-pattern mics maybe? Or swappable capsule models?

I'm recording on the Sound Devices MixPre10ii at 192kHz so I've got slow motion options (edited cricket chirps, etc.)... I can capture 8 channels at 192kHz in 32-Bit Float with pretty quiet mic preamps, so the dynamic range and noise floor will only be limited by the mics themselves...

Hence my desire to get the mics right!

Thanks in advance for any help... Been lurking for years... First post!
Old 29th October 2021
  #2
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
$10,000 for mics, and $3000 for tree
if the DPAs noise is low enough for you, but they should handle outdoor elements (went to mars)
Old 30th October 2021 | Show parent
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Thanks for the suggestion!

So it appears that slick DPA tree is only available if you purchase one of their surround mic kits in one of three configurations: 1) Five matching omnis; 2) Three matching omnis (I guess for L/C/R?) and two matching cardioids (Back L/R?); or 3) Five matching wide cardioids.

I'd lean towards the wide cardioids only because it seems to me they'd have more additional use cases in studios and locations that might not have great room sound...

But I've never worked with "wide cardioids" before.

Is it appropriate to think of them as an omni-ish cardioid?

Are they useful when you want to isolate instruments and limit less than ideal room sound, or maybe even use them for live sound reinforcement?

Or should I really be thinking cardioid for that?

Schoeps recommends their most popular studio cardioid for their surround arrays as well, which is part of the appeal to me as I'd get double duty... But they apparently hiss and crackle in high humidity.

Hoping to think through everything carefully before committing to a small car's worth of mics (especially since it would be a "non returnable" special order).

Thanks!
Old 30th October 2021 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
rent a schoeps double m/s array before you commit to buy - coincident obviously but the smallest and most versatile surround rig one can get! maybe there is some money left to buy additional mics with different patterns...

...and then, there's this:
https://schoeps.de/en/products/surround-3d/ortf-3d.html
comes with internal heating btw.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 30th October 2021 at 12:39 PM..
Old 30th October 2021 | Show parent
  #5
Here for the gear
 
I do WANT to love the double (or triple even) Mid/Side rigs for their simplicity, compact blimp-abilty, and future VR-ability...

It is not the M/S decoding complexity that gives me pause... My MixPre10ii handles that easily, even in ambisonic format (with optional plugin).

I guess I'm conceptually hung up on the idea that Mid/Side, being coincident, gives up on natural time delay as one of the three possible psychoacoustic factors contributing to stereo imaging...

Thus in theory, for loudspeaker playback at least, it can never deliver as wide an image or as stable a sweetspot vs spaced.

But I've got very little "practice" to counterbalance that theory (and you can probably tell that I'm prone to overthinking things!).

So in practice, is the extra juiciness of a spaced array for 5.1 just not worth the squeeze (or the $20k price tag for full spherical 3D 8 mic ORTF)?

Would I (or my live audience) even notice I'd spent $10-15k more
for high end spaced array vs a good multiple Mid/Side rig?

Thanks for any opinions here!
Old 30th October 2021
  #6
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years

with C617SET mics to complete the surround circle. Don't know how the Josephson's can handle outdoor weather, and they need a good sounding room for indoor work because the C700S and C617SET mics really pickup high range of sound, including the environment. Very omni, but a otherworldly
Old 30th October 2021 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampedclassical ➑️
I do WANT to love the double (or triple even) Mid/Side rigs for their simplicity, compact blimp-abilty, and future VR-ability...

It is not the M/S decoding complexity that gives me pause... My MixPre10ii handles that easily, even in ambisonic format (with optional plugin).

I guess I'm conceptually hung up on the idea that Mid/Side, being coincident, gives up on natural time delay as one of the three possible psychoacoustic factors contributing to stereo imaging...

Thus in theory, for loudspeaker playback at least, it can never deliver as wide an image or as stable a sweetspot vs spaced.

But I've got very little "practice" to counterbalance that theory (and you can probably tell that I'm prone to overthinking things!).

So in practice, is the extra juiciness of a spaced array for 5.1 just not worth the squeeze (or the $20k price tag for full spherical 3D 8 mic ORTF)?

Would I (or my live audience) even notice I'd spent $10-15k more
for high end spaced array vs a good multiple Mid/Side rig?

Thanks for any opinions here!
besides personal preference, the source, situation, desired soundfield and distribution may dictate using an approach normally not being used...

i'm mostly deploying two vastly different main systems plus ambis; either a double m/s (plus lfe) or l/c/r (plus lfe) or soundfield and then a 'traditional' a/b (or ortf).
mk4v/mk8 for m/s (plus another mk4v for double m/s), mk21's for 'outriggers', blm3 for lfe.
ambis vary both in terms of pattern and spacing (depending on distance to the source).
Old 31st October 2021 | Show parent
  #8
Here for the gear
 
So you've clearly got more experience recording all the versions of stereo/surround that I've only read about!

I agree that the source/situation should dictate mic selection and configuration...

But when you've only got two coincident field mics as a beginner it is hard to know what spaced array might beat them (I've got an AT stereo X/Y and an AT M/S with shotgun for the M... Both OK but kinda noisy).

So let me describe what I'm trying to record and perhaps you could chime in with how you'd capture it?

There's a 40 meter long metal horse bridge near my guest house that resonates like a giant piano string when stomped where the hammers would be and sings like stereo tuning forks on left and right hand rails once the passive resonance propagates through the structure.

The bridge spans a 10 meter deep V-Shaped little valley with a babbling brook beneath that has two distinct water trickle sounds left and right of the bridge at 90-degrees from my recording spot.

Behind the recording location is a full 180-degrees of tree canopy with 150 year old oaks around 30 meters high. The creek and little valley below are free of big trees but another 60 meters forward (past the bridge), the tree canopy restarts.

Within that tree canopy all around (but especially behind where the full 180 degrees is full canopy) there's a chorus of crickets. This recording gets timed to a moment in the fall far enough after rain and early enough before hard freeze that the crickets are more or less balanced with the water's white noise.

Now the cherry on top!

3 meters in front of the mics, at a resonant spot on the horse bridge, the percussion section of my local orchestra is set up with various hammers, mallets, and appropriately padded athletic shoes playing a range of resonant heel stomps, hard mallet hits, and soft mallet swells (using the wood deck as a kick drum, the thin ribs on the railings as symbols for swells, etc.).

This is all being recorded with a Sound Devices MixPre10ii that can handle 8 mics in 32-Bit Float at 192kHz for the crazy dynamic range that this bridge produces as contrasted to the soft diffuse crickets.

But only 5 of those channels are available as I'm using 3 of them for my Schertler DYN-UNI-P48 contact mics (one each on the L/R hand railing ribs for ethereal stereo "inside the bell" overtone halo resonance and one on the wood deck for mono capture of sub tone stomps).

The fundamental of this bridge is so low that you literally ride it up and down rather than hear it, but the higher overtones are quite audible and rich.

So the puzzle to solve here is what 4 or 5 mics best capture the air tone of this forest performance.

The sound of the bridge itself is very well handled by the Schertlers and I can fly that into the mix as needed for musical balance.

But only mics in the air will pick up the coolest part of this whole endeavor...

The crickets are actually "playable" as well!

They get spooked on the hard percussive hits and ramp down their chirping for a bit, then slowly ramp back up when they figure the coast is clear and nobody is about to eat them.

The effect is sort of like compressor pumping after a big kick drum hit... But it is totally (and literally) natural. If I get this setup right, my artists will be able to "play the forest" and hear the results in their monitor phones.

So what mics in what surround configuration would best localize the percussion hits of my performers directly in front on the bridge while also capturing the nuances of water noise left and right 10-20 meters away and the diffuse call and response with the crickets mostly in the tree canopy 180 degrees behind?

And of course, ideally, those four or five surround mics would also be able to do double duty inside recording string quartets and such, probably in rooms with not so great acoustics (which is why I was thinking cardioid for the off-axis rejection of potentially nasty room sound).

Looking forward to any suggestions!
Old 31st October 2021 | Show parent
  #9
Here for the gear
 
Those Josephson's do look intriguing...

And I thought I already had a high budget for my surround rig topping out at $20k! The Josephson's had better be "otherworldly" for over $7,000 each!

But more than the budget, the issue might be the complexity of capturing both patterns of a multi-pattern mic simultaneously (that's how these operate, right?). I'd be eating up twice as many inputs on my field recorder and have a lot of decisions to make still in post...

I can see how that would be preferred for an experienced pro with lots of channels to spare though.

The other issue is that, at this point, I don't have a great sounding room that I'd want to include in the sound.

I'm trying to solve that problem with an adaptive re-use of an historic carriage house that might sound OK after some work (see my other thread: Fixing a cube room with a bump out?).

But for now, I have to assume my room tone won't be great and I'd rather hide it than spotlight it I think.

The Josephson's definitely make my "someday" list though! Thanks!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
taste

i have only little experience with outdoor recordings and therefore cannot respond to your detailed description of your situation, sorry...

however, with regard to the recording of percussion instruments, i have an extremely clear preference for coinicident mic systems and exact alignment of spot mics! (i can't stand the blurring of the transients or the haziness in terms of localisation from spaced arrays)...

...but of course every technique/array comes with both theoretical and practical quirks which imo cannot get judged by theoretical reasoning alone but need to get evaluated in real-world scenarios: after all, it's about taste which is a highly subjective matter (and which has let me to use my preferred arrays as decribed below).

since i'm mostly using an m/s in the center which covers most of the sources anyway, i can experiment with the spacing of the mk21 outriggers (depending on the width of the source). occasionally, i'm swapping them for mk4's, mk41's or even mk8's (which does not depend on the source though but on the room).


Quote:
Originally Posted by ampedclassical ➑️
So you've clearly got more experience recording all the versions of stereo/surround that I've only read about!

I agree that the source/situation should dictate mic selection and configuration...

But when you've only got two coincident field mics as a beginner it is hard to know what spaced array might beat them (I've got an AT stereo X/Y and an AT M/S with shotgun for the M... Both OK but kinda noisy).

So let me describe what I'm trying to record and perhaps you could chime in with how you'd capture it?

There's a 20 meter long metal horse bridge near my guest house that resonates like a giant piano string when stomped where the hammers would be and sings like stereo tuning forks on left and right hand rails once the passive resonance propagates through the structure.

The bridge spans a 10 meter deep V-Shaped little valley with a babbling brook beneath that has two distinct water trickle sounds left and right of the bridge at 90-degrees from my recording spot.

Behind the recording location is a full 180-degrees of tree canopy with 150 year old oaks around 30 meters high. The creek and little valley below are free of big trees but another 60 meters forward (past the bridge), the tree canopy restarts.

Within that tree canopy all around (but especially behind where the full 180 degrees is full canopy) there's a chorus of crickets. This recording gets timed to a moment in the fall far enough after rain and early enough before hard freeze that the crickets are more or less balanced with the water's white noise.

Now the cherry on top!

3 meters in front of the mics, at a resonant spot on the horse bridge, the percussion section of my local orchestra is set up with various hammers, mallets, and appropriately padded athletic shoes playing a range of resonant heel stomps, hard mallet hits, and soft mallet swells (using the wood deck as a kick drum, the thin ribs on the railings as symbols for swells, etc.).

This is all being recorded with a Sound Devices MixPre10ii that can handle 8 mics in 32-Bit Float at 192kHz for the crazy dynamic range that this bridge produces as contrasted to the soft diffuse crickets.

But only 5 of those channels are available as I'm using 3 of them for my Schertler DYN-UNI-P48 contact mics (one each on the L/R hand railing ribs for ethereal stereo "inside the bell" overtone halo resonance and one on the wood deck for mono capture of sub tone stomps).

The fundamental of this bridge is so low that you literally ride it up and down rather than hear it, but the higher overtones are quite audible and rich.

So the puzzle to solve here is what 4 or 5 mics best capture the air tone of this forest performance.

The sound of the bridge itself is very well handled by the Schertlers and I can fly that into the mix as needed for musical balance.

But only mics in the air will pick up the coolest part of this whole endeavor...

The crickets are actually "playable" as well!

They get spooked on the hard percussive hits and ramp down their chirping for a bit, then slowly ramp back up when they figure the coast is clear and nobody is about to eat them.

The effect is sort of like compressor pumping after a big kick drum hit... But it is totally (and literally) natural. If I get this setup right, my artists will be able to "play the forest" and hear the results in their monitor phones.

So what mics in what surround configuration would best localize the percussion hits of my performers directly in front on the bridge while also capturing the nuances of water noise left and right 10-20 meters away and the diffuse call and response with the crickets mostly in the tree canopy 180 degrees behind?

And of course, ideally, those four or five surround mics would also be able to do double duty inside recording string quartets and such, probably in rooms with not so great acoustics (which is why I was thinking cardioid for the off-axis rejection of potentially nasty room sound).

Looking forward to any suggestions!

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 4 weeks ago at 03:46 PM.. Reason: info added
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Tough talk about surround arrays

I've tried most of the surround techniques discussed here, including the DPA "bicycle seat". Many of them look great on paper, but fail to deliver as a "main array" that's expected to provide proper L/C/R imaging. Others image ok, but fail to deliver on "spaciousness", which is sort of the reason we're recording in surround to begin with. Only a few techniques offer sufficient flexibility to cope with varying acoustics and sound stage widths. If you want a rig that also lets you do conventional stereo the rest of the time, I think there's only one choice. But we'll get to that; first the run-down.
  • Homogeneous spaced arrays

    These have been proposed in a variety of sizes from small to very large, originally with four mics (e.g. IRT Cross), but now mostly in five mic systems. Some makers like DPA offer dedicated umbrella-style mounts, but you can also build tree-style rigs in "tinker toy" fashion using enough hardware from AEA or Grace Designs.

    What's missing with most of these systems is a coherent theory for how the imaging is supposed to work. The IRT Cross appears to be a simple extension of stereo array theory, but that thinking falls apart once you add a fifth mic. Fortunately, Michael Williams (he of "stereophonic zoom" fame) rode to the rescue a few years back with a comprehensive analysis that resulted in pages and pages of tables for how to build four and five mic arrays with "critical linking" between seqments including (uniquely) the rear ones. It's a monumental piece of work that could serve as a roadmap for lots of recording situations -- provided you have enough mounting hardware and two hours to build what's prescibed by the tables. Alas, this work is fatally flawed.

    The first problem is that Williams based his system on a poor set of localization data. I still recommend that aspiring recordists read his "stereophonic zoom" paper to understand the basic principles, but I tell them to ignore the charts and use the Neumann or Schoeps stereo array design apps instead because those produce more accurate predictions.

    Admittedly, that problem could be solved if someone wanted to redo Williams' 4 and 5 mic charts using best available localization data. But I've built arrays of this kind and I'm here to report that there's a much bigger issue: out-of-segment crosstalk. Look at any pair of mics in these five-channel arrays and the localization theory makes perfect sense. The time and intensity cues combine to do what's needed, although one should realize that the actual recording segments subtend different angles than the umbrella arms. The problem is that those "correct" localization cues are overlayed with a bunch of conflicting cues from sound sources getting recorded by mics in the "wrong" segment of the array. This inter-segment crosstalk causes the imaging to fall apart. It's better with cardioids than omnis, but it's still bad.

  • Baffled arrays

    Maybe you've used Jecklin or Schneider disc, a Schoeps sphere, or a Neumann "Fritz" head. If so than you either like this kind of imaging or you don't. Personally, I'm sometimes willing to put up with a bit of image distortion and general vagueness in exchange for ease of deployment and the joy of recording with really excellent omni mics. Unfortunately, it takes a hell of a big baffle to do this well, as Jecklin admitted when he "super-sized" his design in later years. The problem is compounded when you move from stereo to 5-channel and require correspondingly smaller recording segments.

    That DPA "bicycle seat" is just way too small to get any separation between channels except at really high frequencies. It does get some use in ambience recording for live sports, but it's just there to augment a whole bunch of other mics. If you listen to it on its own, it sounds mostly mono.

    I think it was Jerry Bruck who first hung a pair of figure-eights next to a Schoeps sphere. One could hardly blame him: the guy is a Mid/Side Jedi Knight, so it was natural for him to try to use M/S decoding for front/rear separation. It works in the sense of providing separation, but it falls flat for actual localization in the side segments, because to hear the intensity-based imaging you need to be facing sideways. Plus there's no center channel, so I guess we're done.

  • Ambisonics and Double M/S

    Thanks to the late Michael Gerzon, there's a completely worked-out mathematical theory for these kinds of arrays. They're fundamentally single-point pickup systems, which means you're missing a lot of spaciousness unless you augment them with something else. But there's a lot to be said for these techniques if you care about ease of deployment and the ability to down-mix to lower channel counts.

    Maybe you like Soundfield mics and maybe you don't. Fortunately you needn't settle for those: you can build your own B-format array or buy the (truly excellent) Josephson C700S mic.

    The problem is, first-order Ambisonics and its planar version, double M/S, don't provide enough directionality for properly-separated L/C/R imaging. We probably need third-order Ambisonics. Since we can't build native third-order mic capsules, we need to decode larger arrays of lower-order capsules and the cost soon gets out of hand. Lately a couple of companies have started taking sets of fairly cheap capsules to make "super-Soundfield" -type systems and adding digital calibration to match them all up. It's a promising idea, but the sort of capsules one can reasonably afford to use will never be mistaken for a DPA or Schoeps omni capsule.

  • DSP-decoded spaced arrays

    I could have included these in the topic above, but that would have given short shrift to the idea that you can take a whole bunch of spatially separated mics and combine them using beam-forming algorithms and lots of DSP horsepower. Spherical arrays are common, but there have also been planar ones like the Trinnov system (which I've used). DSP processing is cheap these days, as are multi-channel ADC's and single-chip mic preamps. The problem (as usual) is the cost of a dozen or more good mic capsules. More is better, because there's a spatial resolution conundrum: You want the array large for low-frequency pattern control, but you want the inter-mic spacing to be small to prevent it all coming unglued at higher frequencies. In practice, and given real-world economics, these arrays are only going to image properly over a limited frequency range.

    One interesting development is the use of large numbers of very low cost silicon MEMS microphones as is done in the Zylia system and one or two others. These have enough capsules to synthesize rather high-order pickup patterns and (with enough DSP processing) you can even steer the resulting beams. Alas, there's no free lunch: the greater the capsule multiplicity, the higher the noise floor and the higher the decoded directivity, the higher the noise gain. MEMS microphones are pretty darn noisy to start with, so you can already see the rocky coastline this ship is about to sink on.

    Some folks will say, "Hey I'll just use closer mic placement so I needn't be concerned about noise." Been there, done that, got the scars. Remember that Trinnov array? I actually managed to assemble enough (eight!) matched DPA omni's to use it. Well, the pickup angles are fixed and so you need to place the array to get the sound stage width correct. Fine, but don't get too close, Bubba! Remember, the beam forming only works in the acoustic far field, where the incident sound waves are essentially planar. Put the array too close to the players and the sound turns into a phasey mess.

  • Decorrelated "squares" and such

    Has Mr. Hammasaki gotten an AES medal yet? Because he certainly deserves one! I use variations of his methods all the time: four figure-eights, or two figure-eights plus two rear-facing cardioids. I love adding decorrelated room sound to a mix. But let's be clear: these are techniques to augment some other L/C/R pickup method. Choose your poison on that count.

OK, so David pretty much hates everything? Nope, I've got a couple of techniques I like, and one of them will make a nice, versatile rig for the OP (and empty his bank account at the same time). But it's time for me to do some actual work right now, so the big reveal will need to wait for the next post. Stay tuned!

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording

Last edited by David Rick; 4 weeks ago at 03:11 PM.. Reason: minor clean-up
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
great post, thank you. Staying tuned for big reveal. 7.1 anyone?
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #13
Here for the gear
 
...

Last edited by ampedclassical; 4 weeks ago at 02:46 PM.. Reason: Accidentally replied without quoting and didn't know how to just delete the accident, and needed "at least two characters"...
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #14
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick ➑️
I've tried most of the surround techniques discussed here, including the DPA "bicycle seat". Many of them look great on paper, but fail to deliver as a "main array" that's expected to provide proper L/C/R imaging. Others image ok, but fail to deliver on "spaciousness", which is sort of the reason we're recording in surround to begin with. Only a few techniques offer sufficient flexibility to cope with varying acoustics and sound stage widths. If you want a rig that also lets you do conventional stereo the rest of the time, I think there's only one choice. But we'll get to that; first the run-down.
  • Homogeneous spaced arrays

    These have been proposed in a variety of sizes from small to very large, originally with four mics (e.g. IRT Cross), but now mostly in five mic systems. Some makers like offer dedicated DPA umbrella-style mounts, but you can also build tree-style rigs in "tinker toy" fashion using enough hardware from AEA or Grace Designs.

    What's missing with most of these systems is a coherent theory for how the imaging is supposed to work. The IRT Cross appears to be a simple extension of stereo array theory, but that thinking falls apart once you add a fifth mic. Fortunately, Michael Williams (he of "stereophonic zoom" fame) rode to the rescue a few years back with a comprehensive analysis that resulted in pages and pages of tables for how to build four and five mic arrays with "critical linking" between seqments including (uniquely) the rear ones. It's a monumental piece of work that could serve as a roadmap for lots of recording situations -- provided you have enough mounting hardware and two hours to build what's prescibed by the tables. Alas, this work is fatally flawed.

    The first problem is that Williams based his system on a poor set of localization data. I still recommend that aspiring recordists read his "stereophonic zoom" paper to understand the basic principles, but I tell them to ignore the charts and use the Neumann or Schoeps stereo array design apps instead because those produce more accurate predictions.

    Admittedly, that problem could be solved if someone wanted to redo Williams' 4 and 5 mic charts using best available localization data. But I've built arrays of this kind and I'm here to report that there's a much bigger issue: out-of-segment crosstalk. Look at any pair of mics in these five-channel arrays and the localization theory makes perfect sense. The time and intensity cues combine to do what's needed, although one should realize that the actual recording segments subtend different angles than the umbrella arms. The problem is that those "correct" localization cues are overlayed with a bunch of conflicting cues from sound sources getting recorded by mics in the "wrong" segment of the array. This inter-segment crosstalk causes the imaging to fall apart. It's better with cardioids than omnis, but it's still bad.

  • Baffled arrays

    Maybe you've used Jecklin or Schneider disc, a Schoeps sphere, or a Neumann "Fritz" head. If so than you either like this kind of imaging or you don't. Personally, I'm sometimes willing to put up with a bit of image distortion and general vagueness in exchange for ease of deployment and the joy of recording with really excellent omni mics. Unfortunately, it takes a hell of a big baffle to do this well, as Jecklin admitted when he "super-sized" his design in later years. The problem is compounded when you move from stereo to 5-channel and require correspondingly smaller recording segments.

    That DPA "bicycle seat" is just way too small to get any separation between channels except at really high frequencies. It does get some use in ambience recording for live sports, but it's just there to augment a whole bunch of other mics. If you listen to it on its own, it sounds mostly mono.

    I think it was Jerry Bruck who first hung a pair of figure-eights next to a Schoeps sphere. One could hardly blame him: the guy is a Mid/Side Jedi Knight, so it was natural for him to try to use M/S decoding for front/rear separation. It works in the sense of providing separation, but it falls flat for actual localization in the side segments, because to hear the intensity-based imaging you need to be facing sideways. Plus there's no center channel, so I guess we're done.

  • Ambisonics and Double M/S

    Thanks to the late Michael Gerzon, there's a completely worked-out mathematical theory for these kinds of arrays. They're fundamentally single-point pickup systems, which means you're missing a lot of spaciousness unless you augment them with something else. But there's a lot to be said for these techniques if you care about ease of deployment and the ability to down-mix to lower channel counts.

    Maybe you like Soundfield mics and maybe you don't. Fortunately you needn't settle for those: you can build your own B-format array or buy the (truly excellent) Josephson C700S mic.

    The problem is, first-order Ambisonics and its planar version, double M/S, don't provide enough directionality for properly-separated L/C/R imaging. We probably need third-order Ambisonics. Since we can't build native third-order mic capsules, we need to decode larger arrays of lower-order capsules and the cost soon gets out of hand. Lately a couple of companies have started taking sets of fairly cheap capsules to make "super-Soundfield" -type systems and adding digital calibration to match them all up. It's a promising idea, but the sort of capsules one can reasonably afford to use will never be mistaken for a DPA or Schoeps omni capsule.

  • DSP-decoded spaced arrays

    I could have included these in the topic above, but that would have given short shrift to the idea that you can take a whole bunch of spatially separated mics and combine them using beam-forming algorithms and lots of DSP horsepower. Spherical arrays are common, but there have also been planar ones like the Trinnov system (which I've used). DSP processing is cheap these days, as are multi-channel ADC's and single-chip mic preamps. The problem (as usual) is the cost of a dozen or more good mic capsules. More is better, because there's a spatial resolution conundrum: You want the array large for low-frequency pattern control, but you want the inter-mic spacing to be small to prevent it all coming unglued at higher frequencies. In practice, and given real-world economics, these arrays are only going to image properly over a limited frequency range.

    One interesting development is the use of large numbers of very low cost silicon MEMS microphones as is done in the Zylia system and one or two others. These have enough capsules to synthesize rather high-order pickup patterns and (with enough DSP processing) you can even steer the resulting beams. Alas, there's no free lunch: the greater the capsule multiplicity, the higher the noise floor and the higher the decoded directivity, the higher the noise gain. MEMS microphones are pretty darn noisy to start with, so you can already see the rocky coastline this ship is about to sink on.

    Some folks will say, "Hey I'll just use closer mic placement so I needn't be concerned about noise." Been there, done that, got the scars. Remember that Trinnov array? I actually managed to assemble enough (eight!) matched DPA omni's to use it. Well, the pickup angles are fixed and so you need to place the array to get the sound stage width correct. Fine, but don't get too close, Bubba! Remember, the beam forming only works in the acoustic far field, where the incident sound waves are essentially planar. Put the array too close to the players and the sound turns into a phasey mess.

  • Decorrelated "squares" and such

    Has Mr. Hammasaki gotten an AES medal yet? Because he certainly deserves one! I use variations of his methods all the time: four figure-eights, or two figure-eights plus two rear-facing cardioids. I love adding decorrelated room sound to a mix. But let's be clear: these are techniques to augment some other L/C/R pickup method. Choose your poison on that count.

OK, so David pretty much hates everything? Nope, I've got a couple of techniques I like, and one of them will make a nice, versatile rig for the OP (and empty his bank account at the same time). But it's time for me to do some actual work right now, so the big reveal will need to wait for the next post. Stay tuned!

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Eagerly awaiting your preferred solution!

I'm glad I posted my questions here before buying the DPA "Bicycle Seat" all in one 5.1 (or any other all in one small format solution). You've confirmed my gut feeling hesitancy about that approach. Of course the big bass waves will just bend around any small format solution, baffled or not... So whatever they've done to achieve separation can only work in the higher frequencies and then we're slicing our spectrum up a lot. And at that point, even the best attempts to stitch things back together are going to show Frankenstein scars, right?

The more nuanced "time delay cross-talk" issue you raise was a surprise to me but makes perfect sense now that I think about it... A spaced array WILL give you valuable time delay psycho-acoustic cues for localization between any two given speakers, but will ALSO create destructive cross-talk time delays in all of the other speakers. That's another thing I'd miss when evaluating options on paper but I'm sure it was obvious to your experienced ears when testing... And that's why I'm here!

I wonder if hyper-cardioid mics are enough to overcome that time delay cross-talk? Or does it just make it worse with that exaggerated pickup lobe in the back?

Still hoping cardioids in some configuration can work for good 360 surround as that seems the most useful elsewhere in normal studio applications. The IRT Cross would be the purest approach there, no?

On the edge of my seat for your "reveal"!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #15
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➑️
i have only little experience with outdoor recordings and therefore cannot respond to your detailed description of your situation, sorry...

however, with regard to the recording of percussion instruments, i have an extremely clear preference for coinicident mic systems and exact alignment of spot mics! (i can't stand the blurring of the transients or the haziness in terms of localisation from spaced arrays)...

...but of course every technique/array comes with both theoretical and practical quirks which imo cannot get judged by theoretical reasoning alone but need to get evaluated in real-world scenarios: after all, it's about taste which is a highly subjective matter (and which has let me to use my preferred arrays as decribed below).

since i'm mostly using an m/s in the center which covers most of the sources anyway, i can experiment with the spacing of the mk21 outriggers (depending on the width of the source). occasionally, i'm swapping them for mk4's, mk41's or even mk8's (which does not depend on the source though but on the room).
Thanks for the heads up on the percussion blur I'd be risking with a spaced surround array...

I hadn't given that enough thought when imagining my "compact dream array" on paper.

Most of my percussion sound will come direct from the resonant metal bridge structure via contact mics. They do an amazing job isolating the transients from the ambient low level crickets and such in the air and should let me fly the percussion right into the center of the mix at whatever level is needed to overwhelm any blurred image from the air mics...

But if that blurring fuzz around the image is still faintly there from the spaced array it will probably bother me.

All of this is leading me to wonder if an absurdly impractical massively spaced surround array might be the only answer?

Could I get my surround image in 360 with ambient crickets, water noise, and such (while minimizing the amount of blurring percussion cross talk) by just having the surround mics in a big circle a full 10-30 meters or more away from the players, then put my contact mics front and center in the mix for clear transients?

And maybe an M/S rig near the players too to give me color options when blending with properly delayed and phase aligned contact mics?

This huge spaced array wouldn't be a great solution if I were doing this frequently for hire but the field recording is a four times a year seasonal thing for me as an augmentation of an "Amped Classical" show I've been working on for years, so the setup burden us something I could embrace if it gets the results I'm hoping for.

Thanks again for the suggestion!
Old 4 weeks ago | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
as mentioned previously, i don't have much experience recording outdoors but i have a lot of experience using omnis (measurement mic though) and directional mics (mains and spots for amplified classical concerts) outdoors:

imo there's a fundamental difference in terms of coherence between indoor and outdoor use! outdoors, ime most any (widely) spaced array falls apart/becomes 'multiple mono' and the mics' patterns become less noticeable (besides the wind susceptibility)...

...so i strongly doubt than an array 10m to 30m wide will still behave as an 'array' but it could very well be that you'll get interesting results though!


___


[i'm regularly using a half a dozen of b&k mics spaced over 300m (!) for spl measurements of figher jets during take-off and landing (which then get used to determine how close the visitors will be allowed to the tarmac at air shows) - reason i'm mentioning this is that my 'array' doesn't behave as such and there's no (significant) coherence: ca. 50m seem to be way too far apart even though all mics pick up a substantial amount of noise long before and after the jets thunder past...]



Quote:
Originally Posted by ampedclassical ➑️
Thanks for the heads up on the percussion blur I'd be risking with a spaced surround array...

I hadn't given that enough thought when imagining my "compact dream array" on paper.

Most of my percussion sound will come direct from the resonant metal bridge structure via contact mics. They do an amazing job isolating the transients from the ambient low level crickets and such in the air and should let me fly the percussion right into the center of the mix at whatever level is needed to overwhelm any blurred image from the air mics...

But if that blurring fuzz around the image is still faintly there from the spaced array it will probably bother me.

All of this is leading me to wonder if an absurdly impractical massively spaced surround array might be the only answer?

Could I get my surround image in 360 with ambient crickets, water noise, and such (while minimizing the amount of blurring percussion cross talk) by just having the surround mics in a big circle a full 10-30 meters or more away from the players, then put my contact mics front and center in the mix for clear transients?

And maybe an M/S rig near the players too to give me color options when blending with properly delayed and phase aligned contact mics?

This huge spaced array wouldn't be a great solution if I were doing this frequently for hire but the field recording is a four times a year seasonal thing for me as an augmentation of an "Amped Classical" show I've been working on for years, so the setup burden us something I could embrace if it gets the results I'm hoping for.

Thanks again for the suggestion!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Low ambiguity surround arrays

Here are my promised notes on surround arrays with which I've had good results.

OCT LCR + with various surround mic strategies

This technique was invented by Wittek and Theile at Schoeps and you can find simple instructions for using it on the Schoeps web site. It is my first-call pick for LCR pickup because it's easy to customize for different stage widths and it produces consistently good results.

An OCT array consists of two sideways-facing supercardioids with a forward-facing cardioid in the center, pushed forward by 8 cm. The recording angle can be adjusted from 90 degrees to 160 degrees (total) and is varied simply by changing the spacing between the L & R mics. When using a T-shaped bar system, one can quickly and easily tweak this angle at the last minute based on the imaging heard in the control room.

The side-facing supercardioids end up having their nulls aimed at the opposite-side recording segment, which suppresses conflicting localization cues. It's fortunate that Schoeps supercardioids exhibit very consistent sound off-axis; the best choice for OCT is MK41V's because their vertical bodies prevent unwanted acoustic shadowing. When not employed for surround, they make a nice coincident pair by mounting them vertically on an AEA SMP 17 bar. Adding the 1-meter AEA bar and a Decca tree coupler gives you what's needed for OCT. (There are a couple of assemblies from Grace that will work too.)

If you need more LF heft than supercardiods can deliver, you can augment the L&R mics with a pair of omni's low-passed at 40 Hz. Since their HF response is irrelevant, it's not required to employ Schoeps omni's to match the sound. I tend use DPA 4006's, but often I use nothing because I get enough LF signal from my surround mics.

There are several options for rear or surround pickup. Rear-facing cardioids, 40 cm behind, can be added. (I add another AEA bar as part of the same rig.) I like this option because their nulls face the stage and I can adjust their spacing to change the rear recording width. Occasasionally, I'll substitute supercardioids and tilt them upward to reduce a troublesome balcony reflection. One can also skip these mics and rely on a Hamasaki square or IRT cross farther back in the hall. Omni's can work in large spaces. I almost always slip the time alignment in post to reduce slap echo.

OCT produces much better localization than you're accustomed to if you've used Decca trees. Compared to a stereo array, there in more vagueness in the central imaging. Modeling the array in Image Assistant shows a flat spot there.

I don't care much about precise localization in the side segments. If you do, you can read the Williams papers on critically-linked 5 channel arrays and adapt his ideas to an OCT front triple. See AES convention papers 5336 and 6059.

Standard OCT does not down-mix to stereo well. There's a varient called OCT 2 that places the center cardoid at a different forward distance and adds an electronic delay to compensate. This is a workable compromise, but I prefer to simply put a dedicated stereo pair on the same bar.

SONC arrays

I'll mention these briefly because the OP inquired about all-supercardiod LCR arrays. Benedict Slotte designed several such arrays with different recording angles by using a clever computer optimization strategy to balance competing objectives. Low out-of-segment crosstalk was one; minimizing the central localization "flat spot" was another. Details are given in AES convention paper 6509.

It takes time and planning to build up a SONC array and you need to know the desired recording width in advance. An "umbrella -type" rigging system like DPA's would be the best choice, I think.

I chose this technique for an immersive recording where I wanted to use supercardioids for the upper layer and have them coincident with the main L&R mics to avoid the comb-filtering from the more common vertically-displaced upper square.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording

Last edited by David Rick; 4 weeks ago at 11:53 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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jimjazzdad's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This thread has been a great read. Thank you Mr. Rick for the very thorough explanations.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
SCHOEPS OCT sets for surround recording microphones

DPA immersive sound / object-based audio microphones

Last edited by surflounge; 3 weeks ago at 06:50 PM..
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #20
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick ➑️
Here are my promised notes on surround arrays with which I've had good results.

OCT LCR + with various surround mic strategies

This technique was invented by Wittek and Theile at Schoeps and you can find simple instructions for using it on the Schoeps web site. It is my first-call pick for LCR pickup because it's easy to customize for different stage widths and it produces consistently good results.

An OCT array consists of two sideways-facing supercardioids with a forward-facing cardioid in the center, pushed forward by 8 cm. The recording angle can be adjusted from 90 degrees to 160 degrees (total) and is varied simply by changing the spacing between the L & R mics. When using a T-shaped bar system, one can quickly and easily tweak this angle at the last minute based on the imaging heard in the control room.

The side-facing supercardioids end up having their nulls aimed at the opposite-side recording segment, which suppresses conflicting localization cues. It's fortunate that Schoeps supercardioids exhibit very consistent sound off-axis; the best choice for OCT is MK41V's because their vertical bodies prevent unwanted acoustic shadowing. When not employed for surround, they make a nice coincident pair by mounting them vertically on an AEA SMP 17 bar. Adding the 1-meter AEA bar and a Decca tree coupler gives you what's needed for OCT. (There are a couple of assemblies from Grace that will work too.)

If you need more LF heft than supercardiods can deliver, you can augment the L&R mics with a pair of omni's low-passed at 40 Hz. Since their HF response is irrelevant, it's not required to employ Schoeps omni's to match the sound. I tend use DPA 4006's, but often I use nothing because I get enough LF signal from my surround mics.

There are several options for rear or surround pickup. Rear-facing cardioids, 40 cm behind, can be added. (I add another AEA bar as part of the same rig.) I like this option because their nulls face the stage and I can adjust their spacing to change the rear recording width. Occasasionally, I'll substitute supercardioids and tilt them upward to reduce a troublesome balcony reflection. One can also skip these mics and rely on a Hamasaki square or IRT cross farther back in the hall. Omni's can work in large spaces. I almost always slip the time alignment in post to reduce slap echo.

OCT produces much better localization than you're accustomed to if you've used Decca trees. Compared to a stereo array, there in more vagueness in the central imaging. Modeling the array in Image Assistant shows a flat spot there.

I don't care much about precise localization in the side segments. If you do, you can read the Williams papers on critically-linked 5 channel arrays and adapt his ideas to an OCT front triple. See AES convention papers 5336 and 6059.

Standard OCT does not down-mix to stereo well. There's a varient called OCT 2 that places the center cardoid at a different forward distance and adds an electronic delay to compensate. This is a workable compromise, but I prefer to simply put a dedicated stereo pair on the same bar.

SONC arrays

I'll mention these briefly because the OP inquired about all-supercardiod LCR arrays. Benedict Slotte designed several such arrays with different recording angles by using a clever computer optimization strategy to balance competing objectives. Low out-of-segment crosstalk was one; minimizing the central localization "flat spot" was another. Details are given in AES convention paper 6509.

It takes time and planning to build up a SONC array and you need to know the desired recording width in advance. An "umbrella -type" rigging system like DPA's would be the best choice, I think.

I chose this technique for an immersive recording where I wanted to use supercardioids for the upper layer and have them coincident with the main L&R mics to avoid the comb-filtering from the more common vertically-displaced upper square.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
My thanks to Mr. Rick and others for the great summaries of real world experience, pitfalls, etc.!

SUMMARY OF WHAT I'VE LEARNED:
* All in one 5.1 mics = "better sound through marketing"
* There is no perfect way to get 5.1 from any mic array
* Each step forward in 360 detail (vs stereo) risks 2 back
* Coincident is more bullet proof but a bit less spacious
* Coincident is the way to go on percussion (no blur!)
* But spaced arrays can work for ambient (crickets, etc.)
* But not too far spaced or it is just multiple mono
* For spaced, subtle time delay cross talk can ruin the 3D
* Clever setups like OCT optimize for L/C/R separation
* Hypercards opposite harnesses phase cancellation!
* Even though rear L lobe picks up R, it mostly cancels!
* This is the genius of OCT for L/C/R in a nutshell...
* But if you don't need a center channel, more options...
* IRT card cross w/ playback via 4 square speakers = 360
* But live percussion centered might work best via M/S
* Sure, you sacrifice some 360 ambience, but...
* Adapting to musical performance beats rigid "theory"!

Hopefully I'm on the right track with my logic... I hope anybody who sees a flaw there will chime in BEFORE I buy the mic setup listed below!

MICS I'LL BUY FOR 5.1 (and stereo string quartets)
* Core array will be Schoeps OCT surround setup
* 3 X Cards for C, and Back L/R
* 2 X Hypercards for Front L/R
* Schoeps OCT Surround Tree to mount it all
* Augment above with one additional card for IRT Cross
* Can then play w/symmetrical 360 if center isn't needed
* Schoeps IRT Cross mount for above
* Augment above with one additional Schoeps figure 8
* This allows M/S (or double M/S) for live percussion
* Blimp mount for double M/S, wind balls for others
* 4 cards also work for string quartets in crappy rooms!

BUDGET (original goal was $10,000 - $15,000)
* 4 X Schoeps CCM4 = 4 X $1,828 = $7,312
* 2 X Schoeps CCM41 = 2 X $1,828 = $3,656
* 1 X Schoeps CCM8 = $2,122
* Subtotal Mics Only: $13,090
* Money left for trees/blimps/wind balls/tax: $1,910

I'm going to wait at least a week before buying so that anybody who sees a flaw in my plan can weigh in...

I am increasingly intrigued by the possibilities opened up by the Josephson C700S, especially if it really does work in "ambisonic mode" too (which is supported by my Sound Devices MixPre10ii). Maybe that could substitute for my Schoeps figure 8 in the plan above and add a lot of versatility in the studio? But at over $7,000 by itself it does blow my original budget.

Does anybody with direct experience want to go to bat for the Josephson C700S and convince me to expand my budget to accommodate?

I'm almost there on my own...

In any case, thanks to ALL who have contributed to this discussion... My FIRST THREAD after lurking for years!

I've read all of your posts at least three times and by the third time I think I fully understood the implications of your experienced recommendations.

THANKS!
Old 3 weeks ago | Show parent
  #21
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
you may wanna consider a soundfield mic (sps-2000) or a pair of austrian audio oc-818's, both of which are not that expensive but can yield excellent results; the oc-818's can also get used on their own in a variety of other situations.

you may also wanna check this thread for what i consider to be a smart idea how to configure an excellent l/c/r/lfe array (to which you then may add a speced pair of rear-surround mics:

Double mid side? Well a variation with a quite different purpose...

nothing wrong with schoeps btw; except that they are not exactly cheap and that depending on climate/weather conditions, you may need to heat them for outdoor use.






p.s. the josephson is great - but large and heavy so more likely more suitable for indoor use only.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 weeks ago at 05:22 PM.. Reason: info added
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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surflounge's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years

Josephson C700S stereo microphone
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
That's quite a shopping list, @ ampedclassical but here are a few things to consider:
  • Buying 4000-series DPA's instead of Schoeps will save you over a hundred dollars per capsule. Both are "A list" mics, and both are available in compact versions, but they are sonically a bit different and each has strengths and weaknesses in field deployment. (In brief: don't leave DPA's in the sun and don't leave Schoeps in the wet.) Given present supply chain disruptions, you might want to check which ones are actually available.
  • For reliability in challenging field conditions, nothing beats Sennheiser RF condensers, which will never get crackly or spitty because they don't use high voltage polarization. The MKH 80xx series will save you $400-500 per mic. I can't tell you how they'll sound in an OCT array, simply because I haven't done it yet, but I rate them in stereo use as a strong B+, on par with Neumann SDC's -- nothing to apologize for.
  • If you stay with Schoeps, buy the MK41V instead of MK41 capsules. Less shadowing in OCT, plus easier to use as a coincident pair.
  • You can easily economize on surround channel mics because they're used lower in the mix. Four MK4's for an IRT Cross = overkill. I've found that lesser SDC's such as my AKG C460/CK61's work just fine as rear facing cardioids. They may be sizzly and obnoxious on axis, but their average diffuse response sounds really nice. I'm rather curious about the new Austrian Audio CC8's, but haven't heard them yet.
  • Don't buy one figure-eight mic; buy two so you can do Blumlein stereo on your off days or use them as the front pair in a Hamasaki square. There's nothing wrong with an MK8 except the price, but you can buy a pair of MKH 30's for $2500 and those are the best figure-eight ever made.
  • The suggestion of @ deedeeyeah to put a couple of OC818's in inventory is a good one. AKG 414EB-P48's are my second choice for figure-eights when I run out of Sennheisers. The Austrian Audio mics he's recommending are their direct descendants. My old ones get used in M/S, either with one another or with something else like a Schoeps or DPA as the mid mic. Their reverberant response is less colored than most LDC's and I'm happy to use them as the rear pair in a Hamasaki square, where they can switch between side-facing figure-eight and rear-facing cardioid duty on very short notice.
  • I don't think I'd buy that Schoeps OCT bar. It's over-priced and under-featured compared to the AEA and Grace modular systems, which can easily be repurposed for other uses.
    AEA Mini Decca Tree
    If you want to convert this into a full five-mic system, AEA can help you select the hardware you need.
    Grace Design Modular Surround Bar
    If you imagine expanding to a full immersive rig some day, this seems to be the hardware system of choice.
  • These surround mounting rigs are heavy. Invest in one of the sturdiest Manfrotto light stands, preferably one with an articulating front leg to handle sloping floors. Here's the required spigot to thread adapter, made by AEA.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #24
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Rick ➑️
That's quite a shopping list, @ ampedclassical but here are a few things to consider:
  • Buying 4000-series DPA's instead of Schoeps will save you over a hundred dollars per capsule. Both are "A list" mics, and both are available in compact versions, but they are sonically a bit different and each has strengths and weaknesses in field deployment. (In brief: don't leave DPA's in the sun and don't leave Schoeps in the wet.) Given present supply chain disruptions, you might want to check which ones are actually available.
  • For reliability in challenging field conditions, nothing beats Sennheiser RF condensers, which will never get crackly or spitty because they don't use high voltage polarization. The MKH 80xx series will save you $400-500 per mic. I can't tell you how they'll sound in an OCT array, simply because I haven't done it yet, but I rate them in stereo use as a strong B+, on par with Neumann SDC's -- nothing to apologize for.
  • If you stay with Schoeps, buy the MK41V instead of MK41 capsules. Less shadowing in OCT, plus easier to use as a coincident pair.
  • You can easily economize on surround channel mics because they're used lower in the mix. Four MK4's for an IRT Cross = overkill. I've found that lesser SDC's such as my AKG C460/CK61's work just fine as rear facing cardioids. They may be sizzly and obnoxious on axis, but their average diffuse response sounds really nice. I'm rather curious about the new Austrian Audio CC8's, but haven't heard them yet.
  • Don't buy one figure-eight mic; buy two so you can do Blumlein stereo on your off days or use them as the front pair in a Hamasaki square. There's nothing wrong with an MK8 except the price, but you can buy a pair of MKH 30's for $2500 and those are the best figure-eight ever made.
  • The suggestion of @ deedeeyeah to put a couple of OC818's in inventory is a good one. AKG 414EB-P48's are my second choice for figure-eights when I run out of Sennheisers. The Austrian Audio mics he's recommending are their direct descendants. My old ones get used in M/S, either with one another or with something else like a Schoeps or DPA as the mid mic. Their reverberant response is less colored than most LDC's and I'm happy to use them as the rear pair in a Hamasaki square, where they can switch between side-facing figure-eight and rear-facing cardioid duty on very short notice.
  • I don't think I'd buy that Schoeps OCT bar. It's over-priced and under-featured compared to the AEA and Grace modular systems, which can easily be repurposed for other uses.
    AEA Mini Decca Tree
    If you want to convert this into a full five-mic system, AEA can help you select the hardware you need.
    Grace Design Modular Surround Bar
    If you imagine expanding to a full immersive rig some day, this seems to be the hardware system of choice.
  • These surround mounting rigs are heavy. Invest in one of the sturdiest Manfrotto light stands, preferably one with an articulating front leg to handle sloping floors. Here's the required spigot to thread adapter, made by AEA.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
Thanks so much Mr. Rick and all of the others who've contributed to this thread!

I've wondered why so many field recording specialists use Sennheiser but figured there must be a trade off for their robustness (lower voltage polarization, makes sense!).

You mentioned that both DPA and Schoeps are "A-List"... I've had good experiences with DPA's stage mics (DPA-4099 series) and I've got no special allegiance to Schoeps except that they've been used on some recordings I love and their white papers on mic technique have really helped me understand the basics. But for my use, I'll be recording at night in higher humidity far more often than under the hot sun in the day, so...

I think I should rebuild my shopping list around the DPA 4000 series (saving some money and looking a little more sleek too!).

I also agree that two figure 8s with multi-pattern versatility make more sense than one since my budget does allow it.

REVISED 5.1 FIELD & INDOOR QUARTET MICS
* 4xDPA 4011 Cards (IRT Cross in field/Qtets inside)
* 2xDPA 4018A Supercards (F-L/R for OCT surround)
[Q: DPA has no "hypercard"? Supercard OK w/ OCT?]
* 2xOC818 (8/multi for versatility, Mid/Side options)
* Grace Design Modular Surround Bar
* Manfrotto light stand with articulating front leg
* AEA spigot to thread adapter

REVISED BUDGET (original goal was $10-15,000)
* 4 X DPA 4011 Cards = $1,799 each = $7,196
* 2 X DPA 4018A Super Cards = $1,889 per = $3,778
* 2 X OC818 8/Multipattern = Pair $1,750
* Subtotal Mics Only = $12,724
* Grace Design Modular Surround Bar = $1,155
* Manfrotto 269HDBU (heavy w/ leveling leg) = $467
* AEA spigot to thread adapter = $56
* Subtotal stands/adapters only = $1,678
GRAND TOTAL (before tax): $14,402
[Ham. Square Option: 2 more OC818s = $1,750?]

As before, I'll wait at least a week for anybody who sees a flaw or has a better idea to weigh in...

But it seems we're really close to solving my original problem in a way that's fully optimized for my specific purposes now : )

And within my original budget even!

Who knows how long it will take to assemble this package with today's supply chain issues... But I can wait over the winter and I'm really excited to finally have an "A-List" mic collection to build upon!

Thanks to everybody who has helped me get there!
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i'd rent a couple of systems before i'd sink this much money as imo only experimenting under real-world conditions will give you a 'feel' for different system's behaviour and idiosyncrasies.

___


personally, i can't get bothered deploying large, spaced arrays in most situations: not that i don't like results but mostly there's simply not enough time to adjust things once the rig flies above the conductor's head so let me repeat what i'm mostly using:

- for immersive, double m/s (or soundfield) for 5.1, double ortf for height channels - very compact, rather lightweight, highly capable of delivery very credible results; much preferred over spaced systems on instruments with lots of transients - maybe not as 'lush' as spaced arrays but i'm using artificial efx anyway so my quantec, tc lex or sony add what the array didn't capture...

- IF i get time to experiment and/or know the venue, my favourite setup for some years now has been an l/c/r+lfe array and a pair of widely spaced ambis (which are not part of the front array but positioned/flown at some diatance).

the pattern of the rear mics depends on venue, front mics see pic. worth noting that i add a mk8 for m/s in the center (so i can ditch the 'outriggers' if not needed) and a blm03 (or 4007 which i'm using for measurements anyway) or then an mk2 - all with a steep lpf - for lfe.

___


i wouldn't mind using 5 mkh800 twins in a polyhymnia pentagon either (i got to use one on a few occasions and results very terrific) but costs are rather prohibitive while schoeps capsules and preamp bodies can regularly be found for reasonable prices.

imo there's something to be said about recording/mixing relatively small ensembles (such as a string quartet) in surround: i don't think surround arrays work very well... - i much prefer upmixing from spots and use whatever main system that is suitable to room, often m/s or ortf, occasionally a/b and almost always a pair (if not two) of ambis: the further the distance, the wider the spacing btw (to prevent the image from becoming mon-ish).

finally, the use of the center channel for music production remains to be a controversial topic... - for this reason alone, i occasionally deploy an additional system which aims at 4.0 rather than 5.1!
Attached Thumbnails
Best mics for double duty in 5.1 field rig & stereo studio work (string quartets, etc.)?-20211116_094133.jpg  
Old 1 week ago
  #26
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David Rick's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
At the risk of blowing the budget, the one thing I'd expect in such a kit that I don't see is a pair of DPA omni capsules with silver, black, and trapezoidal grids. Those omni's are how DPA earned their reputation, after all! If it were my call, I'd have no trouble giving up a couple of the cardiod capsules to keep the budget in line. But a big DPA kit without omni's? Heresy!

David
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