History of Stereo Miking
The technique of stereo miking had been invented a little before the 1930s, but at that time, Bell Laboratories in the US and EMI in the UK performed a lot of research on the number of recording microphones and playback loudspeakers needed to create a sense of realism for the listener.
It turned out that two microphones on the front end and two loudspeakers on the back end were the minimum, but they found out that different microphone arrangements produced different results. Below are four of the most common arrangement techniques.
Stereo Miking Techniques
The most basic technique is the spaced pair. This technique takes two identical microphones and places them on stands usually 3 to 10 feet apart. The distance will depend on the size of the musical group being recorded.
A spaced pair gives you a very open, spacious sound because the sound of the left-side players reaches the left microphone a little sooner than the right microphone. This time delay creates that extra spaciousness that most people like.
The downside is that the players in the middle of the stage sometimes don’t sound quite right because they’re being picked up by two microphones at the same time, and neither mic is directly in front of them. This causes some tonal variations and makes it a bit harder to tell exactly where the sound is coming from, so it’s not quite as accurate.
X-Y Pair: Coincident Pair
In X-Y Pairs, two identical microphones are mounted together in one location one above the other. The position of the microphone heads and the angle between the microphones are both important here. There are a few different X-Y pairings, and the first we’ll discuss here is the coincident pair.
In this arrangement, you mount the microphones so they’re arranged in a horizontal V, with the bottom part of the V aimed at the stage. The heads of the microphones should be at the bottom of the V. Stack them so that they are as close together as possible in a horizontal arrangement. That way, the sound arrives at each mic at the same time.
A coincident pair gives you excellent positional accuracy. Because the sounds from the sides arrive at the same time, it’s very easy to tell the location of each player on the stage. The downside is you don’t get quite as much spaciousness, which can make the recording sound dry or dull depending on the acoustics of the room.
X-Y Pair: Near-coincident Pair
A near-coincident pair will provide more spaciousness. This technique uses two identical microphones mounted in a horizontal X.
There are different standards for the angle and distances between the mics, but one of the most popular is the French ORTF arrangement. This uses a 110-degree angle between the microphones with the microphone heads positioned six inches apart. This slight separation between the heads mimics the spacing between our ears, resulting in very good positional accuracy and spaciousness.
One of the most interesting stereo miking techniques is called mid-side or MS. In this technique, you use a cardioid microphone called the mid in the center and point it at the stage. It picks up the mono sound just like any microphone would. Then, use a bi-directional mic for the side mic. Position it just under the mid mic so it’s facing left and right. The side mic picks up the ambience and positional information.
The signals from the mid and side mics go through a small matrix circuit that combines them in certain ways so that you get a left channel output and a right channel output.
You can make mid-side recording with two separate mics (one cardioid and one bidirectional) or one dedicated stereo mic that has two elements in it and the processing circuitry build in.
Because both the microphones are at the same point in space, a mid-side recording gives you excellent positional accuracy, so it’s easy for the listener to visualize where the players are on stage. If you vary the level of the side mic, you can control the stereo image. In other words, you can control the amount of spaciousness, even in post-production. Plus, you only have to mount one microphone on a stand, which is both an easier setup and less distracting to the musicians and the audience.
Microphone Mounting Tips
You can use two different microphone stands, but if you want to make it easy, Shure makes a great adaptor called the A27M. This adaptor allows you to use one microphone stand and put two microphones on it while controlling the angle between the two microphones and the location of the microphone heads relative of each other.
Choosing the Right Stereo Miking Technique
Which one is right? It all comes down to personal preference and the source that you’re trying to mic. If you’re miking a small orchestra and you want a spacious sound, try the spaced pair. If you’re just miking a couple of cellos in a small group, try the near-coincident pair. If you don’t have much choice about where the mic stand can go at the venue, or you want to be able to remix the stereo image later, try a mid-side microphone or combination.
Check out our 40-page Microphone Techniques for Recording booklet for more information and ideas.
HARMAN Professional Solutions Delivers a Seamless Audio Experience at Montreal’s Hotel William Grayby JBL Professional | Mar 22, 2017Moog Audio installs an end-to-end networked sound system made up of JBL speakers, Crown amplifiers and BSS Audio systems for Montreal’s newest boutique hotel
MONTREAL—Systems integrator Moog Audio recently installed a complete audio system by HARMAN Professional Solutions at Hotel William Gray, a new boutique luxury hotel located in the heart of downtown Montreal. The building consists of a newly constructed glass tower integrated with two historic buildings that date back to the 18th century. Owner Group Antonopoulos hired Moog Audio to install a new audio system that would match the hotel’s chic style and provide a great listening experience for guests. Moog Audio selected a complete HARMAN solution consisting of JBL Control Series speakers, Crown amplifiers and BSS Audio networked audio systems. The integrated system provides Hotel William Gray with exceptional sound quality, easy-to-use operation and clean, modern styling.
“We were chosen for the project because our designs are very strong technically,” said Alexandre Kano, President of Moog Audio. “We always use the latest technology, and our clients know the system will be up to date. The JBL Control Series speakers are very compact, and they deliver so much sound for their size. Also, the colors and grills of the speakers are aesthetically beautiful.”
SC Media Canada supplied the audio equipment for the entire project. Using a single distributor and a complete HARMAN solution helped Moog Audio streamline the installation process and complete the project quickly and efficiently.
“For a big project like this, there are so many components involved—from audio processing and amplification to speakers and brackets,” said Kano. “The support from SC Media and HARMAN was amazing. They came to the site, tested everything and helped us solve any issues that came up. Instead of having to deal with 15 other distributors, we were able to use one manufacturer and distributor. The hotel staff has told us how simple and seamless the system is to use, and the client told us it was one of the best projects they’ve ever done. It was a huge project and everything is working flawlessly. The system is bulletproof.”
The eight-story Hotel William Gray features 127 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of event spaces, including an upscale restaurant and lounge, roof terrace, luxury spa with outdoor pool, ballroom, indoor garden, fitness center, boutique clothing store and Café Olimpico—a famous Montreal establishment. Moog Audio wanted to create one centralized and interconnected audio system for the entire hotel, which would allow the staff to play the same music throughout all of the different locations in the building simultaneously, and create a consistent, cohesive atmosphere for guests.
Developing one system for the entire building proved to be a challenge, since each area had unique requirements. The restaurant needed larger speakers in order to accommodate musical performances, while the ballroom needed versatile speakers that could be optimized for speaking conferences and presentations. And the outdoor terrace speakers needed to be weatherproof to protect against the elements. Thanks to the wide variety of speaker sizes in the JBL Control Series line, Moog was able to customize the solution perfectly to each different environment.
“There are so many different Control Series models, that we were able to adapt to each different room and suit any occasion,” said Kano. “We used the JBL Control 25 speakers in the restaurant so DJs or small bands could play. During the hotel opening, they had a DJ hook his gear directly into the system without any additional speakers. People were coming up to the DJ and telling him how good it sounded.”
Due to the customizable nature of the BSS Audio system, Moog Audio was able to create presets to minimize any feedback and easily tune the system room by room, ensuring that everything was operating at maximum efficiency and there were no frequency issues.
“In the ballroom where they have a lot of conferences, we isolated all the frequencies that can cause feedback and saved them in the system,” Kano continued. “In the restaurant, we used a leveling feature to make sure the music stays at a constant volume while guests are dining. The entire system is very consistent.”
Discover the key features of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SZ2, Flagship 4-channel controller for Serato DJ (black)
ELX118 performance with self-amplificationEVS-18K woofer for extended LF32 Hz – 130 Hz frequency rangeLightweight, cool-running 700 W Class D ampSelectable Normal/Boost modesXLR and TRS combo inputXLR parallel output
The JBL PRX800W series is the most advanced PA in its class. Wi-Fi technology and sophisticated DSP give you complete control over system tuning and performance via the free PRX Connect app. An efficient 1500-watt class-D amplifier and patented JBL Differential Drive® technology provide best-in-class power and reduced weight. And the rugged all-wood cabinets feature a redesigned input panel and universal power supply for easy, reliable operation worldwide. Designed to deliver legendary JBL sound for bands, DJs and more, PRX800W represents the next generation in smart live sound reinforcement.
Possibly the most futuristic of the new Startec Series effects, the Starburst is a rotating “futuristic Mirrorball” fixture that sends out incredibly concise beams of colored lighting that create a moving array of super-effective ‘stars’ when projected onto walls, ceilings and floors. This ‘night-sky’ effect is enhanced by the unit’s powerful 50W source, which consists of five 15W six-color (RGBAW+ PURPLE) LEDs and generates highly powerful beams of light in a wide pallet of colors. Furthermore, the Starburst’s tight beam angle helps the shafts of light cut through darkness and fog to offer a futuristic, far-reaching effect that will transform any small-medium sized venue.
Using Sound Active mode, the Starburst’s effects will bounce and rotate in time with the music, for eye-catching, synchronized results. Or, using DMX-Controlled mode, users can go more in-depth with their programing; controlling color, rotation speed and strobing to mesmerize audiences with a varied and exciting display.
A REBORN CLASSIC
The PLX-1000 is precision engineered for the booth, drawing on 50 years’ experience of making high-end turntables. The result is a familiar layout with some next generation improvements, including a high-torque direct drive system, multi-pitch control, club-grade build and sound quality, and detachable power and audio cables. It’s solidly built for excellent vibration damping and ultra-precise, high-grade audio playback.
Simply add your choice of cartridge and stylus to the PLX-1000 (not included) and combine with your mixer for an ideal setup for turntablists. An ideal match for DJs is the handmade PC-X10 (sold separately).
Thunder Audio deploys JBL VTX V25-II line arrays and Crown I-Tech HD amplifiers to power dynamic performances by Ellie Goulding, Major Lazer, Lana Del Ray and more
CHICAGO—Thunder Audio recently deployed a large-scale JBL by HARMAN VTX Series system at Lollapalooza 2016 to power a diverse lineup of high profile artists at the festival’s Bud Light stage, including Ellie Goulding, Major Lazer, Lana Del Ray, The 1975, Future, Disclosure, HAIM and many more. Thunder Audio used the JBL VTX system at Lollapalooza 2015, and selected the system once again for its smooth frequency response, powerful output and ease of deployment. The VTX system’s clear and transparent sound quality was especially important, and enabled Thunder Audio to accommodate a wide range of sonic requirements.
“We always set up the system as flat as possible out of the box without a lot of processing or equalization—the system already sounds great with the JBL voicings,” said Greg Snyder, Vice President of Sales at Thunder Audio. “We’re handing the FOH engineers a very flat and neutral system that works well for any type of music, so they don’t have to do a lot of work to get the sound they want for their artist. This makes it much easier to meet the artists’ expectations and everyone had a great time using it.”
The system Thunder Audio deployed included two main arrays of 18 x VTX V25-II, two arrays of 8 x VTX V25-II for outfills, 8 x S28 subwoofers flown per side, and 30 x S28 on the ground deployed in 10 clusters of 3. The entire system was powered by 72 Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers and Thunder Audio used JBL HiQnet Performance Manager 2.0 software to configure, optimize and monitor the entire system.
“When we built the system, we chose to use Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers for the power,” said Snyder. “There’s so much power on reserve, and we get clarity out of the full spectrum of the system, whether it be low, mids, highs or subwoofers. If a dynamic drum roll or a downbeat occurs, the power is always there and it’s always clean. Last year, we updated our VTX system with new waveguides that made the high frequency even more spectacular and crystal clear. And with the development of Performance Manager 2.0 software and how far it’s come, the entire system is bulletproof.”
As with last year’s festival, the Thunder Audio team faced some significant challenges during deployment. The site received lots of rain in the week before the festival and the area in front of the stage retained a lot of water. Thunder Audio needed to get the system up quickly to avoid tearing up the ground.
“We had to make sure the audience could enjoy where they were standing without getting stuck in the mud, so we needed to build the system quickly while still maintaining the site,” said Snyder. “VTX is one of the most user-friendly systems to deploy, since it can easily be flown standing up or laying on its face. Deployment was very quick and within a couple hours we had all the main clusters and out fills up. Then all we had to do was fork down our subwoofers, which we placed on pallets to keep them out of the mud.”
The artists performing at the Bud Light stage had drastically different sonic qualities—from intense and bass-heavy electronic sounds to rock and roll to modern pop. As an early adopter of the VTX Series, Thunder Audio and was initially drawn to the system for its versatility and its ability to produce excellent results with any type of music.
“With today’s digital consoles and very diverse frequency requirements, it’s important to have a PA that can accurately reproduce the sounds going in to the system,” said Snyder. “With VTX, the sound that comes from the system is record quality. We heard Major Lazer, Ellie Goulding and all of the acts as they’re truly supposed to sound. Even with 40,000 people in front of the PA, the system still sounds great and gives the artists exactly what they’re looking for. In the end, we’re trying to make everyone’s job easier. VTX is a dynamic product and it becomes one with the artist that’s performing.”