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Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Anonymous » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:37 pm

Hi, I wonder if there are any cheaper options on those dummy heads for recording binaural sounds. Last time I checked they cost a fortune, but I don't know if that's because they had extra-good mics in. But I'm happy enough with my binaural mics, so it's just the head.

Short of grave robbery or cutting the snout off a pig's head from the butchers, I'm not sure what the options are. I'd like to record outdoors with it. If it's too expensive, I won't dare take it out with me (not even to the opera) or I might fall in love with it like the last one, and get arrested! I'm not too fussy about its looks as long as it's not embarrassing.

I want to play instruments to it (serenade it under the window) to capture what an audience member would hear if he/she had a plastic head.

Cheers

(No, I do want one)
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:50 pm

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby turbodave » Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:08 am

Yeah! but come on , you create a monster and look what happens ..he resents you, kills locals due to being misunderstood and ultimately kills himself as a result of self loathing , but not before killing you cos you made him soooo UGLY! its not worth it! and all for some binaural action! dave
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Pangloss » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:10 am

Hi J.A.S.

I regularly use a setup I have made myself for binaural recording which is very effective. I simply put two Oktava pencils with omni capsules on a stereo bar and place a plyloard/deadsheet/foam baffle with a small hole in between them. I once stuck a pair of fake Mr Spock ears to each mic to try and get the early reflection thing going but I did not notice a huge improvement in realism.

I'm thinking about getting an old shop dummy head, filling it with gel and sinking a couple of silver bullets into it. Or digging up corpses.

The setup I use already works really well for me as an ambient room mic. Just pan all close mics to the same positions in the stereo field as what you hear in the binaural channel and everything comes to life. I haven't had any problems with mono compatibility.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby MarkOne » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:48 am

Pangloss wrote:
I'm thinking about getting an old shop dummy head, filling it with gel and sinking a couple of silver bullets into it. Or digging up corpses.


I think the sliver bullets are only necessary if you're going to be dealing with Werewolves. For regular zombies, I believe shotguns are the way to go.

... I'll get me coat.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:33 am

The kind of polystyrene manikin head used for wigs and the like would be a good place to start if it has to look head shaped -- but try to find one that is as life size and of normal proportions as possible. Some are slightly smaller than normal and often strangely elongated and alien-like!

But actually, because everyone's head is a slightly different size anyway, and everyone's ears are different, I'm not convinced that there is an ideal head shape, and a head approximation is just as good from the acoustic point of view.

You can experiment with a flat baffle disc (as in a Jecklin disc), and then start adding foam or polystyrene to it to 'flesh out' the sides to transform it more towards the flattened sphere shape of a human head.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby James Perrett » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:35 am

Mike Skeet is probably the best authority on budget binaural recording. I'm not sure whether he has any current web pages but I found

http://web.archive.org/web/20060502033152/http://www.britishmusiclabel.com/info/binaural.html

which has a few tips.

James.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:12 am

Yes, it's quite amazing what he manages to achieve with some plywood and a couple of kitchen sieves!

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:24 am

Nah! You don't need anything that special. Stick the mics out of holes cut in a Sainsburies wine carton* and stuff carton with old socks.

Even crap mics and Dolby B cassette gives really scarey results!

Dave. *I mean the cartons the bottles come in NOT the wet stuff!
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Pangloss » Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:17 pm

MarkOne wrote:
I think the sliver bullets are only necessary if you're going to be dealing with Werewolves. For regular zombies, I believe shotguns are the way to go.

... I'll get me coat.

A wolf's head would markedly improve the top end, I reckon.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:22 pm

Thanks for all the advice. I'm happily surprised it's not as difficult as I'd thought!

The Jecklin Disk approach might be a better option for me since you can use larger mics and it is supposed to translate well to speakers too:

The disk has to be a 2 cm thick muffling layer of soft plastic foam or wool fleece on each side, 35 cm in diameter; the distance between the microphones should be 36 cm.

wikipedia: "The concept is to make use of the baffle to recreate some of the frequency-response, time and amplitude variations human listeners experience, but in such a way that the recording also produces a useful stereo image through loudspeakers."
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby John Willett » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:48 pm

James Perrett wrote:Mike Skeet is probably the best authority on budget binaural recording. I'm not sure whether he has any current web pages but I found

http://web.archive.org/web/20060502033152/http://www.britishmusiclabel.com/info/binaural.html

which has a few tips.

James.

Mike Skeet has quite a few interesting articles on-line on the Saturn Sound website HERE.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby John Willett » Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:53 pm

J.A.S wrote:

The Jecklin Disk approach might be a better option for me since you can use larger mics and it is supposed to translate well to speakers too:

The Schneider Disk may be a better option as it has a "ball' in the middle and more closely approximates the human head.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:16 pm

Well seeing as we've strayed into the land of Schneider Disks, I happened to have made my first one this week for a String Quartet recording (Being discussed in this thread: String Quartet - input from John 'Schneider' Willet welcome!).

Here's some photos of my set up:

Image

Image

Image

Construction method:

250mm diameter disk of 25mm thick high density neoprene foam.

150mm diameter polystyrene ball

Black Fluff

Cut the ball in two (well 20mm either side of its equator).

Stuck the ball halves onto the foam disk.

Covered in black fluff

Took half an hour, probably cost a tenner!

Sounds fine!

Bob
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby The Elf » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:43 am

I'm always impressed at how resourceful you are Bob!

Where did you find all the bits to do this? I can't imagine walking into my local store and asking for a polystyrene ball and some black fluff!!
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:05 am

It's a kiwi thing. Its an attitude of being able to make anything from some number 8 wire and a piece of 4 x 2!

Wasn't that hard really, foam from a place that sells foam, polystyrene ball from a boat supplier and fluff from a place that sells fabrics.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:47 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Yes, it's quite amazing what he manages to achieve with some plywood and a couple of kitchen sieves!

Hugh

Some musicians have scored dance tracks using less percussion gear


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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:39 pm

Hello, I'm finally getting around to doing this now.

I'd like to capture convincing directional effects throughout 360 degrees though. I mean, I want something recorded from behind the dummy head to sound like it is behind the listener.

So I'm wondering: Do I need to make realistic ear'oles for the (small in-ear binaural) mics and position the mics slightly forward?

Thanks
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby ef37a » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:35 pm

Josif A. Soterίou wrote:Hello, I'm finally getting around to doing this now.

I'd like to capture convincing directional effects throughout 360 degrees though. I mean, I want something recorded from behind the dummy head to sound like it is behind the listener.

So I'm wondering: Do I need to make realistic ear'oles for the (small in-ear binaural) mics and position the mics slightly forward?

Thanks
I don't think you need to do much other than attach the mics facing out of the head. It is many years ago now but I remember I just taped a pair of very cheap dynamics to some headphones and wore them and the results were scarily real. Folks talking outside the front window really WERE outside the window and I distinctly remember my wife rattling about in the kitchen, ~350drgs behind me being solidly in position and at the correct distance.

All that done on a Sony "pro" Dolby cassette. (must have another dabble with my AKG P150s and the NI Ka6!)

Dave.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:53 pm

Josif A. Soterίou wrote:I want something recorded from behind the dummy head to sound like it is behind the listener.

That's easy! it's getting things in front of the dummy head to sound like they're in front that the trouble starts!

The thing is that humans have evolved to use sight as the primary source of information. Consequently, when listening to dummy head recordings most people hear things behind them, but struggle to believe things are in front because they can't see them!

Do I need to make realistic ear'oles for the (small in-ear binaural) mics and position the mics slightly forward?

No. Two reasons: 1. everybody's ears are a different shape, and that shape is critial in their perception of where a sound is coming from. So you'll never be able to come up with a shape that works properly for everyone. 2. The mics will already suffer enough self-shadowing at HF for sounds from behind anyway.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:49 pm

You've got to use a pig's head, if only for the effect on the performers.

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby John Willett » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:04 pm

Josif A. Soterίou wrote:Hi, I wonder if there are any cheaper options on those dummy heads for recording binaural sounds. Last time I checked they cost a fortune, but I don't know if that's because they had extra-good mics in. But I'm happy enough with my binaural mics, so it's just the head.

Short of grave robbery or cutting the snout off a pig's head from the butchers, I'm not sure what the options are. I'd like to record outdoors with it. If it's too expensive, I won't dare take it out with me (not even to the opera) or I might fall in love with it like the last one, and get arrested! I'm not too fussy about its looks as long as it's not embarrassing.

I want to play instruments to it (serenade it under the window) to capture what an audience member would hear if he/she had a plastic head.

Cheers

(No, I do want one)


I use the MBHO Schneider disk for this (the MBHO Jecklin disk is also OK).

Alternatively, get a pair of artificial ears and a polystyrene wig stand and mount the ears in the head.

3rd option - talk to Mike Skeet.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:33 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:You've got to use a pig's head, if only for the effect on the performers.

J

No, that's only for horror film effects Jack

Classical music needs a dummy head wearing a long wig, and for metal music the head also needs to be mounted on an hydraulic ram to capture the head-banging effects


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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:49 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Josif A. Soterίou wrote:I want something recorded from behind the dummy head to sound like it is behind the listener.


That's easy! it's getting things in front of the dummy head to sound like they're in front that the trouble starts!


Oh. It's just that a lot of the pro dummy heads seem to have ears on. In my case, the in-ear mics face outwards when placed in real ears, but I'd like to use these in the dummy head. Without any protrusions for the ears, what would determine to the listener which is the back and which is the front?

I was introduced to this concept years ago from an example CD from a book on psychoacoustics. A man rattled keys around the dummy head and the direction was really convincing around the whole 360 degrees. That was pretty close up though I think.

Cheers.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:43 am

Josif A. Soterίou wrote:I was introduced to this concept years ago from an example CD from a book on psychoacoustics. A man rattled keys around the dummy head and the direction was really convincing around the whole 360 degrees. That was pretty close up though I think.

Hi Josif!

I wonder if that particular example works so well because it's a continuous sound that moves around you, so your ears 'follow' it more easily and fill in any gaps where the psychoacoustics start to wear a bit thin.

Spot effects from the back on the other hand may be more difficult for the brain to pinpoint (after all, we tend to move our heads to help localise objects that we can't see, and that approach doesn't work with headphones on).


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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:17 am

I was about to say the same thing. Thanks Martin!

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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby John Willett » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:38 am

With all this talk on Dummy Heads. maybe SOS should get Mike Skeet to write on the subject - his dummy heads are (in)famous.


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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:16 pm

Thanks. So all I need to do is point the binaural in-ear mics slightly forward then?

(I made a Papier-mâché head last night out of a head-sized balloon. I've got loads of paste left so I was thinking of pouring it into balloons and putting them inside the head to account for meaty gubbins. Don't know it it's worth the hassle.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Guest » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:11 pm

"Don't know if it's worth the hassle"... I meant to fill the dummy head in , so to speak. I was thinking about leakage through a hollow dummy head being an issue.
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Re: Binaural Dummy Head

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:33 pm

I'd be more worried about it resonating! Fill it with foam at the very least.

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