In the world of stereo recording, getting that perfect sound can be a bit of a puzzle. It’s all about understanding and mastering the art of stereo miking techniques to make the sound really come alive.
Let’s jump right into some of these techniques.
Starting off with the spaced pair mic technique, or the A/B technique as it’s often called, it’s a pretty straightforward yet effective way to capture stereo sound.
You take two identical mics—usually omnidirectional or cardioid—and place them a good distance apart. How far apart? Well, that could be anywhere from a few feet to over 30 feet, all depending on what you’re recording and how wide you want your stereo sound to be.
The magic of this spaced mics setup comes from the sound hitting each microphone at slightly different times. This gives you a nice, natural sense of depth and space.
Just watch out for potential phase issues due to these time differences—you don’t want your sound losing focus. This technique comes in handy when recording big ensembles, orchestras, or wide instruments like drum kits or grand pianos.
Next up is the X/Y technique, also known as the Coincident Pair. For this, you’ll need two directional mics—usually cardioid, supercardioid, or hypercardioid.
You’ll want to get the diaphragms of these mics as close together as possible, typically angled between 90 to 120 degrees.
What’s great about this setup is that it gives you a crisp stereo image with excellent phase coherence since the sound hits both mics at the same time.
This is perfect for recording smaller groups of instruments or when you need a solid central image, like a choir or a solo instrument.
Do note, though, that the X/Y technique might not give you the same sense of spaciousness as spaced pairs or other stereo miking techniques.
The M/S (Mid/Side) technique is a unique beast in the world of stereo miking. It gives you great control over the width of your stereo image.
You’ll need two different types of mics for this: a cardioid mic (Mid) facing the sound source and a figure-of-eight (bidirectional) mic placed sideways.
The Mid mic captures the mono information, while the Side mic gets the stereo information. In post-production, the M/S recording is decoded into a regular left/right stereo setup, and you can adjust the balance between the Mid and Side signals to control the stereo width.
This versatile technique is suitable for both studio recording and film sound production.
Lastly, we have the Decca Tree technique, a premium method named after Decca Records where it was first created. This involves three omnidirectional mics arranged in a T-shape: two mics spaced apart in a left/right setup and a third in the center and slightly forward.
The Decca Tree technique captures a wide and natural stereo image with a clear center, making it ideal for recording large ensembles or orchestras, especially in rooms with good acoustics. It’s often used in classical music recording for its ability to capture the ambiance of the recording space.
So, there you have it—the 4 best stereo miking techniques that are invaluable tools for any audio engineer. Each one has its own strengths and is best suited to different recording situations.
By learning and applying these techniques, you can capture sound in all its stereo depth and richness.
Remember, recording sound is part science, part art—so keep exploring, experimenting, and enjoying the journey of finding that perfect sound. Happy recording!