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    745 sounds
    180 posts
    XY stereo recording mic setup advice


    Hi everyone,

    After some time recording with the built-in mics of my Zoom H4n I'd like to improve the quality of my field recordings using external mics. I have a matched stereo pair of Oktava MK 012-01 MSP2 (cardiod capsule) that I normally used for music recording, and now I'm re-purposing them for field recording. For now I'm arranging them 90º like in the pictures below (yes, I know....). Also you can see the wind shield I use which well, it is probably not the best.

    Any suggestions for improvement? I might be doing it completely wrong, let me know if that is the case hehe

    Thanks in advance!!!



    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    502 sounds
    204 posts


    I like it. If they are strapped with the rubber bands, though, it's going to be a pain in the ass to rearrange the mics if you ever want to adjust them to a wider width for ambient recording type stuff.

  • avatar
    3533 sounds
    524 posts


    Nice setup. Arranging the caps right at 90º is ok but, frankly, I don't think its justified since the cardiods are not much directional. Have you considered placing the caps looking in opposite directions? That would be simpler, and more effective regarding the stereo image IMHO. Most importantly, what kind of signal and in which context are you planning to use it? Field, music in venues...? Parallel mics with caps looking in opposite directions would mean easier protection from wind (for example inside a blimp), which is a must for field recording.
    Hope this helps

    D
    edit: now I see you explicitly say field-recording, I should read before posting smile

  • avatar
    114 sounds
    18 posts


    I'd advise you to sell that Oktava RIG and get an Audio Technica BP4025 stereo mic instead. Much smaller footprint, less hassle to carry & move it around and the most important of them all: much less self noise. I used Oktava MK012 before and its self noise was above tolerable levels for me.

    It becomes much more obvious when you do field recording. If you crank up the gain to capture some distant village, owls in the forest at night or any kind of similar scenario the noise will be apparent.

    There's one other solution, you can try to mod them. I saw some pretty great Oktava MK012 mods that makes them indistinguishable than Neumann KM184s.

    If you go for the BP4025 route, I'd suggest this cable too: https://www.thomann.de/intl/tr/pro_snake_splitkabel_stereomono_xlr.htm

  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    Thank you very much for your comments stomachache, dobroide and CaganCelik,

    @dobroide: I set 90º angle but I have not thought much about it. I guess it comes from previous experience in music recordings to keep mono compatibility. But I don't really care about that here. I like the idea of mics looking in opposite directions, that would also make mic positioning simpler although it would require different solution for wind protection. I guess I could use something like this: https://www.thomann.de/intl/rode_blimp_mkii.htm This seems to be for one mic only but I guess there are versions for 2 or I can simply hack it and make the two mics stand together. I'll experiment!

    @CaganCelik: BP4025 looks great but it is a bit more expensive that my Oktavas. I've heard about oktava mods. I'll investigate more as I've been doing some DIY electronics recently so I guess it should be relatively easy. Also thanks for the cable suggestion. I already noticed with the first few experiments I did that the "two cables tied together" solution is not very nice hehe

    I'll share some recordings as soon as I'm more confident with the rig. Now I'm mostly waiting for spring to advance so the trees in my garden get populated with many birds and I can wake up early in the morning to record them smile

    Thanks

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    7 sounds
    1 post


    CaganCelik wrote:
    I'd advise you to sell that Oktava RIG and get an Audio Technica BP4025 stereo mic instead. Much smaller footprint, less hassle to carry & move it around and the most important of them all: much less self noise. I used Oktava MK012 before and its self noise was above tolerable levels for me.

    In my experience, you can only notice the Oktava's self noise if you have a relatively quiet preamp. That is not the case of the Zoom H4n, the preamp noise will be higher than the mic self noise. And the self noise difference between the Oktava and the Audio Technica is no more than 4-5 dB. It can be a big difference, if you have a preamp that is clean enough to notice it. And no, the H4n's is not that clean. If you want to worry about mics self noise you'd need a recording unit with better preamps, and that means $$$. Maybe a good cheap solution is a second hand Fostex FR-2LE. I've had two of them and they have relatively quiet preamps for the price. But I had phantom noise issues in one of them, so I don't know if these units are that reliable (in any case, they are more reliable than a H4n).

    I've never liked XY for field recording, except in some situations. I'd rather try the Oktavas in some semicoincident setup (ORTF, NOS, DIN...). like @dobroide writes, it depends on situation.

    I don't like too much the Oktavas in cardioid mode, I find it's top end a little dirty. But I love them in omni mode, I don't find the dirtness of the MK012's cardioid capsules in the omnis.

    About your XY setup. I'd place the capsules as close to each other as possible, mantaining your chosen angle, in order to minimize phase issues.

  • avatar
    2651 sounds
    1202 posts


    Frederick I love your setup. And for sure it works.

    To hear, you first have to listen
  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    I just uploaded some sounds using this setup mentioned above (XY 90º).
    https://freesound.org/people/frederic.font/sounds/485440/
    https://freesound.org/people/frederic.font/sounds/485439/
    https://freesound.org/people/frederic.font/sounds/485438/

    For next recordings I'll try with the caps looking opposite directions smile
    Thanks for your input!

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    Hi again, I just uploaded a new field-recording, this time arranging caps 180º as suggested by some of you. Here’s a picture oh the setup:

    It is a recording of the whole night, divided in 4 parts:

    - From 22h to 00:30h
    - From 00:30h to 3h
    - From 3h to 5:30h
    - From 5:30h to 8:30h

    I had to use two different wind screens, one for each mic. Also I saw a bit different levels in the two mics. I guess this is because of the 180º although maybe also because of the windscreens. Anyway, I enjoy the recording although the noise floor in the Zoom H4N is really… ough… for these kind of recordings. I guess this is where a low-noise pre-amp makes the difference. Anyway, I’m happy so far with this results. Thanks for all your suggestions smile

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    3533 sounds
    524 posts


    My first impression: the whole night and no wind? You should *definitely* buy lottery...
    Also, I'm really envious of your confinement environment! woot

    Now, in long sound samples I like to look at the spectral image (to spot unusual high-frequency sources without having to listen the sample in full), so I'm right now trying to download one of the samples. Yet, as usual, the speed is desperately slow. Have you considered to upload at least a few smaller chunks as WAVs?

    D

  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    haha it was a very calm night, I think I could even have recorded without the windscreens...
    and yeah, my confinement environment is great smile

    I had many problems uploading the very long mp3s, so maybe next time I should do it differently. I did not upload WAV because it would have taken much longer and also because in my recorder I recorded mp3 320kbps because I did not have enough space on the SD card to record all night in WAV weird (don't tell anyone!)

    I know about download/upload speeds... I'll discuss with the the team to see if we can at least do some experiments with increasing this bandwidth. The problem is that this is shared with university bandwidth so if we go too crazy maybe freesound takes it all hehe

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    oh! I was just told that the day I made the recording is the “international dawn chorus day”! Maybe that’s why there was no wind smile
    https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/dawn-chorus-day

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    2651 sounds
    1202 posts


    frederic.font wrote:
    oh! I was just told that the day I made the recording is the “international dawn chorus day”! Maybe that’s why there was no wind smile
    https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/dawn-chorus-day

    Hi frederic,

    What a great project. I listened to a part. around two o'clock in the morning you can hear the nightingales and other birds singing. A dog responds to a screaming cat or fox. The nightingale continues undisturbed. Magnificent.
    Thank you.

    To hear, you first have to listen
  • avatar
    745 sounds
    180 posts


    Thanks @klankbeeld, your recordings inspire me smile

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    2651 sounds
    1202 posts


    frederic.font wrote:
    Thanks @klankbeeld, your recordings inspire me smile

    Watch out. today I had my belongings unattended in the park for 3 hours. When I came back half my windjammer was eaten by a bird. he must have a nice nest now. smile

    To hear, you first have to listen
  • avatar
    17 sounds
    511 posts


    klankbeeld wrote:
    .... Watch out. today I had my belongings unattended in the park for 3 hours. When I came back half my windjammer was eaten by a bird. he must have a nice nest now. smile

    My bad.
    I've been training Goldfinches in Soft-furnishing-your-home with cotton wool but I have a thieving Squirrel too. (Had to relocate Globfilch Home Depot to the end of a very thin branch.)

    http://fonehome.myzen.co.uk/extlink/Globfilch1030791a.jpg"

    http://fonehome.myzen.co.uk/extlink/KitchenCam1040250.jpg"

    Love this thread Frederic.

    Wibby

    Heaven in the sky is to die for, Heaven on earth is to live for.
  • avatar
    3533 sounds
    524 posts


    strangely_gnarled wrote:
    klankbeeld wrote:
    .... Watch out. today I had my belongings unattended in the park for 3 hours. When I came back half my windjammer was eaten by a bird. he must have a nice nest now. smile

    My bad.
    I've been training Goldfinches in Soft-furnishing-your-home with cotton wool but I have a thieving Squirrel too. (Had to relocate Globfilch Home Depot to the end of a very thin branch.)

    http://fonehome.myzen.co.uk/extlink/Globfilch1030791a.jpg"

    http://fonehome.myzen.co.uk/extlink/KitchenCam1040250.jpg"

    Love this thread Frederic.

    Wibby

    What a beauty, these pics made my day! Thanks for sharing

    D

  • avatar
    17 sounds
    511 posts


    Thanks D.

    Glad there wasn't a Mic inside. Would've survived the Goldfinches, but probably not the Squirrel - he had sharp teeth and lots of determination.

    (Sorry for being off topic, but perhaps I will deploy a mic some time. None of my gear is portable, all 230v with Sure SM57s, so lots of setting up and 8 hours of finger-on-the-record-pause button for very average recordings.)

    Wibby

    Heaven in the sky is to die for, Heaven on earth is to live for.
  • avatar
    623 sounds
    26 posts


    Hi to all of you guys,

    this is a great thread! Just want to share something smile About 5 years ago I built a stereo rig for my matched Røde-NT1As.

    You can find instructions here: https://inovember.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/diy-stereo-rig-for-nt1-as/

    Maybe with some modifications this would also work with small condenser mics like the Oktavas?
    I imagine a horizontal design with small diameter cages...

    The blimps are working incredebly good, btw. The "cat" is made of the furry outside-layer from a pillow I bought at a local store.(Something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Faux-Furry-Pillow-Polyester-Lavender/dp/B0841PJZ52 )

    You can see/hear the rig here: https://youtu.be/Cz8lFb_pse0 (other videos as well)
    This one was recorded with the same setup: https://freesound.org/people/eardeer/sounds/512090/

    I used a H4n-pro for these recordings and I´m saving up for an AudioDevices MixPre or similar device at the moment. As CaganCelik mentioned, low-selfnoise preamps and mics are defenitely key if doing nature/ambiance recordings.

    Also, I can really recommend the NT1As as field-recording mics. Great, bright sound, good resolution and very low-selfnoise. Not the smallest mics around, but incredibly sturdy an reliable. Only in very, very moist conditions they could produce some popping noises.

    Have a good day everybody!
    Jan

  • avatar
    259 sounds
    155 posts


    That pillow is kind of expensive! But ... I just looked back at a photo I have of a DIY boom setup I did years ago for a film project and I was kind of surprised to see a piece of duct tape holding the fur together along one side -- seems like that would have countered the effectiveness, but it didn't. So maybe having something already sewed into that shape could still be a great advantage, especially if you don't have a sewing machine.

    For that DIY boom I mentioned, I had just picked out some faux fur from a fabric store and wrapped it around a blimp frame I had bent into shape with wire that was attached by compression to the mount (which in turn consisted of a couple of fender washers and a 1/4 inch camera mount compatible bolt at the end of one of those long poles with various end attachments for changing light bulbs in hard-to-reach high recessed fixtures -- I may have also used some adapter from the camera mount to mic stand, I can't remember). The whole thing cost nearly nothing. The mic was an AT shotgun mic of some sort that probably cost several times as much as what I put into the rest of the rig (I keep wondering where I put that mic). Anyway, I was amazed at the great performance of that DIY "furry fabric around the blimp frame around the shock-mounted mic" contraption. Too bad we didn't get to use any of that sound due to a rush in post production and some snags in our flow that made it pretty much impossible to quickly replace the entire sound track of the combined video source material (yes, I knew even then of tools to do it, but it was a 24-hour film contest and after spending hours arriving at a clean sound track to replace the original, we just ran out of time and had to use on-camera-mic sound already on the video). I haven't had any need for a boom pole since, but I really do want to find that shotgun mic again.

    Anyway, I thought maybe I should mention another approach one might take for stereo, which is a Jecklin disk. I also built one of those to put some MXL 603 condensers on. I think I started with a circular piece of wood in the center, maybe plywood, but then there was some sort of soft rubbery stuff on each side (can't remember what it was now) and I took a rubber ball about 7 inches in diameter and cut it in half to mount in the center on each side, and I bought a couple of flush-mount mic stand thingies to screw onto each side out near the edge such that the mics would end up angled out somewhat with the capsules centered over the ball halves. Does it work? I dunno. I don't think I ever actually used it. sad I suspect it could be a decent performer for field recording (if wrapped in faux fur fabric). Supposedly, the conventional wisdom is that a Jecklin disk can give a good stereo image, but it also will make any problems with the acoustic environment very noticeable.

    --
    zimbot

    -- Keith W. Blackwell
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