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Multichannel Microphone Array Design

Multichannel Microphone Array Design Book Review

Long‑serving readers of Sound On Sound may recall my review in 2015 of Michael Williams’ two‑volume tome, Microphone Arrays For Stereo And Multichannel Sound Recording. I’m pleased to report that Michael has continued his research in this field, specifically into 3D arrays, and has recently published a new edition entitled Multichannel Microphone Array Design. This latest version contains all of the information from the previous two volumes in a new, 444‑page single volume. Each chapter has been updated where necessary, and the chapter order has been restructured for a more logical flow of information. More importantly, though, this new book also includes much new information regarding 3D audio arrays and their practical design and applications.

As before, the book starts with a review of stereo loudspeaker configurations before discussing Michael’s superb Stereo Zoom concept to explain the real‑world aspects of familiar stereo microphone arrays. Chapter 3 concerns ear training to recognise and analyse the key sonic aspects of different stereo mic arrays, while the next chapter dives into designing stereo mic arrays in even greater detail. The special case of Mid‑Sides arrays is given its own chapter.

Horizontal multi‑channel arrays are given the same expansive treatment in Chapter 6, while Chapter 7 extends these ideas to include height options. The book closes with four annexes, the first of which covers the requirements of windshielding for outdoor applications, with an analysis of different solutions. Annex B looks at a multi‑channel colour‑coding standard for XLRs to help with hooking up multiple microphones in the correct order. The third annex explains ‘Zenith Zone Steering’ (you’re going to have to read the book to get to grips with that!) and, lastly, Annex D reproduces various full‑page diagrams of SRA charts for both stereo and multi‑channel arrays.

Michael has made this new volume an easier and more logical book to read, greatly aided by revised layouts and clearer diagrams..

By reordering some of the chapters, I think Michael has made this new volume an easier and more logical book to read, greatly aided by revised layouts and clearer diagrams. For owners of the earlier two‑volume books much of the content will be familiar, of course, but the new material concerning 3D audio is a very welcome and helpful addition, which is increasingly relevant to modern recording requirements. As before, there is also an associated website with additional information (, which continues to be updated with new material in development (including three‑channel ‘Triphony’ array designs).

The science of designing stereo and multi‑channel microphone arrays is certainly complex enough to warrant being called an art, but that science is explained clearly and thoroughly in Michael Williams’ new book. Anyone with a technical interest in the underlying knowledge of microphone arrays will find MMAD a genuinely fascinating and informative book and, as I mentioned when reviewing the previous incarnation, this work really is unparalleled and may well revolutionise the way practitioners think about different microphone array techniques in real‑world applications. Very highly recommended.

The paperback book is available directly from Michael Williams via the email address given below.


€48 (about $50) plus postage.