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Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

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Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Mike Senior » Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:10 pm

Anyone have any special tricks or 'rules of thumb' for judging stereo spread or dry/wet level over headphones when recording with a stereo mic rig on location? Clearly experience is a big part of it, but are there any good ways a newbie can fast-track their progress here?

Things like reference tracks, vectorscopes, and crossfeed plug-ins all spring to mind (and things like the Stereophonic Zoom charts can also be helpful), but is there anything else? I'm just riffing here, but maybe some way to guess initial miking distances in terms of the critical distance, maybe?

Interested to hear any ideas on this one, however off-the-wall...
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:33 pm

I find it quite hard to judge how the imaging will work on speakers from headphones alone, and so I always use a vectorscope of some kind -- usually a DK Technologies MSD600M++.

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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby The Elf » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:00 pm

During a break I will go out and listen to a test recording on phones in the performance space. It's amazing how much this can tell you.
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Mike Senior » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:14 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I find it quite hard to judge how the imaging will work on speakers from headphones alone, and so I always use a vectorscope of some kind

That's kind of my tack too.
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Mike Senior » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:15 pm

The Elf wrote:During a break I will go out and listen to a test recording on phones in the performance space. It's amazing how much this can tell you.

That's a cool idea. I like that a lot! :) I'll give that one a try on my next job...
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Mike Senior » Mon Sep 30, 2013 4:39 am

Mike Senior wrote:
The Elf wrote:During a break I will go out and listen to a test recording on phones in the performance space. It's amazing how much this can tell you.

That's a cool idea. I like that a lot! :) I'll give that one a try on my next job...

Although, it just struck me that this would surely depend heavily on the relationship between the acceptance angle and the 180-degree headphone-listening stereo panorama. Any thoughts on this The Elf?
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby The Elf » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:55 am

Mike Senior wrote:
Mike Senior wrote:
The Elf wrote:During a break I will go out and listen to a test recording on phones in the performance space. It's amazing how much this can tell you.


That's a cool idea. I like that a lot! :) I'll give that one a try on my next job...


Although, it just struck me that this would surely depend heavily on the relationship between the acceptance angle and the 180-degree headphone-listening stereo panorama. Any thoughts on this The Elf?

It's all about compromise, as ever. No mic is perfect and no stereo mic technique is perfect. But my little trick helps me to know whether the recording I'm making is creating a believable sense of space and depth. Headphones can tell me that better than speakers - it removes other spatial 'interference'.

There will always be a dislocation between reality and the recording (e.g. if spot mic's or wide omnis are in use), but as long as the illusion of genuine space is supported I'm OK with it. When I listen in headphones in the performance space I know within seconds whether I'm on it or not.

I have a dual ORTF recording that I am particularly proud of where I noticed that I'd captured a car driving outside the hall. The effect of hearing this in headphones in the actual hall was eerily realistic! It's become a reference standard for me!
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Re: Judging stereo mic techniques over headphones

Postby Mike Senior » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:25 am

The Elf wrote:There will always be a dislocation between reality and the recording (e.g. if spot mic's or wide omnis are in use), but as long as the illusion of genuine space is supported I'm OK with it. When I listen in headphones in the performance space I know within seconds whether I'm on it or not.

Thanks for the clarifications, The Elf. It's always interesting hearing the thinking behind these kinds of decisions.
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