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The wackiest mic in your collection...


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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe

The wackiest mic in my collection is also one of my best - a soundfield microphone system.


I hate you!


In a totally "nice" way of course!
;):D
Cool mic!
:thu:



Me, too!

I think Audio Technica has either duplicated or licensed the technology for their own mic. Let me see if I can find the information...

It's different, but also a 4 or 5 element microphone. I believe it was intended for shotgun use but with better fidelity.

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Interesting mics, though I'm quite disappointed in the text that accompanies the Shoeps link.

They make claims that the Sphere yields better stereo reproduction than binaural heads through loudspeakers, something I will only believe when I hear it.

Binaural heads (and this sphere, despite their protestations) lose most of their effectiveness through loudspeakers because the interaction of the left and right speakers obliterates much of the side specific information that creates a 3D image. How they think their Sphere can compensate for unknown interactions better than a binaural head I haven't a clue, but from everything I've studied about stereo and binaural recording, this sounds like an overzealous marketing department fudging the facts.

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Originally posted by fantasticsound

Interesting mics, though I'm quite disappointed in the text that accompanies the Shoeps link.


They make claims that the Sphere yields better stereo reproduction than binaural heads through loudspeakers, something I will only believe when I hear it.


Binaural heads (and this sphere, despite their protestations) lose most of their effectiveness through loudspeakers because the interaction of the left and right speakers obliterates much of the side specific information that creates a 3D image. How they think their Sphere can compensate for unknown interactions better than a binaural head I haven't a clue, but from everything I've studied about stereo and binaural recording, this sounds like an overzealous marketing department fudging the facts.

 

I think you're absolutely right about the limited use of binaural heads, which is why they've become less useful for stereo recording than once hoped. These days, they're more of a research tool than anything else, I believe.

 

However, the sphere really does do a better job than a 'head," particularly when aiming for playback on speakers rather than through headphones. While there's physics to support the better performance of the sphere through speaker playback, if you think about it, it makes sense.

 

The mass of the head in a binaural head mic provides a greater block between the microphones placed on either side of it, and therefore more radical seperation between right and left channels. It is like a super jecklin disk, with minimal bleed through between channels.

 

The sphere, however, provides less of a physical barrier between the channels, with a shared portion of audio slipping more easilly from one half to the other. There's no big fat head in between, just a little sphere.

 

Therefore, when you play the channels back through speakers, each is going to include not only discrete material panned left and right, but more shared material than what you get with a head recording. This shared material helpls it gel more naturally, with a more cohesive stereo image through speakers than the more unnaturally seperated channels collected by a binaural head.

 

-PL&B

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I see. So it's not so much about 3 dimensional sound (through speakers or headphones) as it is about a better stereo image through loudspeakers, where the strengths of binaural recording are not only lost, but can be a liability when reproduced in open air on loudspeakers.

Schoeps should probably be more clear about this in the text on their web page.

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Originally posted by fantasticsound

I see. So it's not so much about 3 dimensional sound (through speakers or headphones) as it is about a better stereo image through loudspeakers, where the strengths of binaural recording are not only lost, but can be a liability when reproduced in open air on loudspeakers.


Schoeps should probably be more clear about this in the text on their web page.

 

That's right, although I'd make one tweak: the "better stereo image" is intertwined with better "3 dimensional sound." I'm not sure that you can seperate the two. For example, if you recorded the same source through a head and a sphere and played them back through speakers, you'd probably think the sphere was not only better stereo but also better 3-d. I think both qualities are part of the same thing.

 

The more radical seperation you get through recording with a head doesn't neccessarily fold back into what you would hear through your ears once the signal is played back through speakers. Less natural stereo, less good 3-d.

 

The other part of what you said I think is exactly right: the effect of the binaural recording through a head becomes a liability when reproduced through speakers.

 

I visited the Neumann USA HQ in CT and had a conversation that touched on some of these issues with karl Winkler, who's the Neumann USA guy (and a wonderful audio person / great guy). I asked him who was buying their heads these days, and he told me it was primarily research folks. FWIW.

 

Out of curiousity, I snooped around for some more info on the sphere and found this page. They make the point that - with the sphere - they are trying to bring the effect of recording through a dummy head and playing back through headphones into the realm of speakers - that the sphere transfers the dummy head/headphone experience into sphere/speakers.

 

I don't know how much of that is true, but I believe that it is to some extent, and I know that some really nice recordings have been made thorugh the Schoeps sphere. Jerry Bruck, who's the US Schoeps distributor and head cheerleader, and has contributed to the sphere design, I believe, has tried to convince me to move from the Soundfield to the Schoeps sphere in the past. My sense is they're both great systems; while the capsules in the Schoeps are probably more flattering than those in the Soundfield, the stereo system in the Soundfield - how it pulls information in from 360 degrees into a wonderful "soundfield" for lack of a better word, is probably better than what you get with the Schoeps.

 

As for the text on the web - it's likely written by Jerry and others who have a stake in the mic, which may have colored the presentation. Perhaps we should get Phil to review the thing and provide a more comprehensive description.... Although it's doubtful that EQ would sponsor the review of such a WACKY MIC.

 

-Peace, Love, and Brittanylips

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Well, you never know Brit-lip s (BTW, very clever with the Phil-Lips :D ) - I can send it up the flagpole and see if Eugene salutes - he really likes shootouts, so maybe a comparison of the Neumann, Soundfield and Schoeps might be of interest to him... but if not, maybe they might consider it for a Pro Review here... that way, everyone could contribute.

Either way, I'll have to discuss it with everyone - Eugene, Jerry, the folks here, etc. I can check into it if there is enough interest. What do you folks think?

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I take one issue with what you've written, BL. That is, the Schoeps sphere will not provide as good a 3D image as a binaural head will. The caveat is that 3D image is only available if the unique phase information for localizing sound is isolated to the appropriate ear. Any crosstalk between channels (as is inherent with loudspeakers in open air as opposed to closed headphones) destroys the 3D image.

But a binaural head is a lot more than the shape of the dummy head. Most importantly, it should have "ears" molded from a real person's ears. The sphere does not provide anything like this physical filtering of incoming sound.

In college, a classmate of mine in demonstrated a homebrew binaural head made from a mannequin head, some cheap, RS transducers, and molds he and a classmate made of his own ears. Even without an impedance matching, mechanical connnection mimmicking the bones in the ear, the 3D image was absolutely amazing.. in headphones, of course.

So I can appreciate that there is a 3D element to the sphere that would be better sounding based on your previous observations regarding the separation of the head's transducers vs. the sphere's, but as for an absolute 3D image, the binaural head will always trump the sphere... provided the playback system completely isolates right output to right ear only, and left output to left ear only.

This would explain why they sell most, if not all, binaural heads to researchers.

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Originally posted by fantasticsound

I take one issue with what you've written,
BL
. That is, the Schoeps sphere will
not
provide as good a 3D image as a binaural head will. The caveat is that 3D image is
only available
if the unique phase information for localizing sound is isolated to the appropriate ear. Any crosstalk between channels (as is inherent with loudspeakers in open air as opposed to closed headphones) destroys the 3D image.


But a binaural head is a
lot
more than the shape of the dummy head.
Most
importantly, it should have "ears" molded from a real person's ears. The sphere does not provide anything like this physical filtering of incoming sound.


In college, a classmate of mine in demonstrated a homebrew binaural head made from a mannequin head, some cheap, RS transducers, and molds he and a classmate made of his own ears. Even without an impedance matching, mechanical connnection mimmicking the bones in the ear, the 3D image was absolutely amazing.. in headphones, of course.


So I can appreciate that there is a 3D element to the sphere that would be better sounding based on your previous observations regarding the separation of the head's transducers vs. the sphere's, but as for an absolute 3D image, the binaural head will
always
trump the sphere... provided the playback system completely isolates right output to right ear only, and left output to left ear only.


This would explain why they sell most, if not all, binaural heads to researchers.

 

I really don't know -- maybe! I'm not convinced that's true, but i really don't know and you may be right.

 

I would say that in my experience, listening to some of the results, the sphere and Soundfield system produce an impressive sense of depth. For example, I was using the Soundfield to record a string quartet and one of their watches went off - it started beeping. On playback, it wasn't simply a matter of right vs. left - you could hear exactly where the beeping watch was - exactly which player, which arm. It was as if you could reach into a 3-dimensional recreation of the event and touch the watch. It was uncannny.

 

I'm not familiar enough with heads to say definitively that the head would not have been even better (played back through headphones). But I'm not convinced that simply sticking microphones into fake ears on the side of a fake head repolicates the human experience of depth as much as other, less intuitive, approaches.

 

But maybe!

 

-PL&B

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Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe

Well, you never know Brit-lip s (BTW, very clever with the Phil-Lips
:D
) - I can send it up the flagpole and see if Eugene salutes - he really likes shootouts, so maybe a comparison of the Neumann, Soundfield and Schoeps might be of interest to him... but if not, maybe they might consider it for a Pro Review here... that way, everyone could contribute.


Either way, I'll have to discuss it with everyone - Eugene, Jerry, the folks here, etc. I can check into it if there is enough interest. What do you folks think?


Phil-lips ( :D )

Well, personally, I always like this kind of stuff. However, these mics have a relatively small market - high-end accoustic - that doesn't seem all that Eugene-ish or EQ-ish. Nonetheless, as examples of interesting, unusual and frankly, fantastic mic technology, perhaps there would be interest in some kind of odd-ball article. And while the sphere is really a rarified beast, something like the Soundfield or Audio Technica could arguably have a larger market if people understood what these things are. Given the quality and versatility of the Soundfield, for example, even though it costs [whatever] thousands of dollars, that is less money than all the mics/equipment you would have to buy to replace its many functions: stereo pair, surround kit, vox mic, preamps, etc.

if it did turn into an article, i would not include the head with the Schoeps/Soundfield/Audio Technica (those three, I think would make an interesting comparison). The head is really a different animal and while it's interesting to discuss differences, I don't think that anyone thinks "should I buy a head or a sphere?" Rather, I would split it into two: an article about dummy heads (if that's what floats your boat), and an article about bleeding edge stereo micing systems (if that's what propels your Nautor's Swan high-tech sailing vessel). Or perhaps, a dummy-head side bar. In the shape of a head. Or a dummy. Or something.

Also, because this involves such specialized tech, I would want to hear from egg-heads and users.

Bottom line i suppose is are you really interested enough in this stuff to dive into it? Whatever I write about always develops from what I'm interested in. Same thing with you, I imagine.

P, L, &

Brit-lips

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Originally posted by Lee Knight

I really like the cheap little omni test mic from Behringer. It was dirt cheap, and it is noisy so it won't really work for ambient room pick up on an acoustic instrument, for instance...


...but stick it right up on an acoustic guitar and it really sounds cool. Put it in the middle of a rhythm section tracking session and squeeze the heck out of it. You'll hear the bass player tenny's sliding across the floor as he goes into his "rocking stance".


It's not strange or wacky I guess, but it's the closest I could get.

 

 

I hear yea!! one of the best recordign of acoustic I have done was with 2 of these - I put one of the 1/2 way between teh hole and the neck. and the other one 8 inch under the armpit at the back of the body on the right side (you have to picture yourself holding a GTR and the "hole" you have under your arm.

it was great!

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