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On Location Surround Recording Techniques?


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Howdy Gents,


So I'm potentially going off in April to Brazil to shoot part of a documentary and I was thinking I'd like to grab a bunch of surround Ambiences of the Rain Forest, and multiple other locations that I'd later use in the final mix (I'm also the post editor/mixer for these films.


The budget precludes the production from actually ponying up for the cost of a really nice surround config such as Schoeps OCT Surround setup so I'm trying to do one on a shoestring budget that I could absorb the cost on my own.  


What have you done to achieve decent quality recordings that you're happy with?


I was thinking of building my own mic tree mount system then buying some reasonably priced mics to populate it.


Any input would be greatly appreciated!




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Two 8 and one omnidirectional and you have an ambisonic (B format).
In other hand you have the Core Sound Tetramic http://www.core-sound.com/TetraMic/1.php or better a used Soundfield SPS200 (Both A format).


With ambisonic you have "n" channels of surround and only spend 3 (1º order ambisonic) to 4 (quad mic) recording channels
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Personally I like a double MS rig based on Schoeps mics. It only needs 3 channels, too, and sounds really nice. But it's not very cheap either, but you'll end up with three very nice mics which you can use in many other situations, too. Also, DoubleMS works nicely as a regular booming rig so you can use it for all your other recordings, too, and you are instantly ready to record ambiences.

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What kit do you have at hand?

If you have a m/s set up just add a rear mic.

If you have a AB or XY stereo stereo set you can always add 2x lavs for the rears.

There really is an endless list of possibilities..







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Thanks for the suggestions everyone.    I have attempted Field "Surround" Recordings using what I have:


the Schoeps CMIT5u (for the direct "center")

2 omni Sanken COS11d's  (for the +/- 45degree sides)

Zaxcom Fusion 12


I also have a Sanken CUB01 Boundary Mic that could be used in the mix.  My approach has been rather untested and more just by feel, but in the final mix that I used for the previous film, things worked out okay.  However, I'd like to be more consistent on my approach.


While that Soundfield SPS looks pretty sweet, the Core Sound Tetramic is more within my price range and it looks like with just a few breakout connectors, I might be able to swing it.  


I was reading about the best possible mic configs for fully enveloping sound and it seems that the further the spread between omni mics, more enveloping the sound feels.  From my own attempts, I've also found this to be true.  


The best part is that I have multiple inputs (8 analogs and 8 digitals) on the Fusion, so I could conceivably record two separate surround setups simultaneously.  



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Sounds like you really need to do some reading before you go any further.

Follow the links I posted, they cover theory and applications. That's why I included them..


You can always buy 2nd hand mics then resell after the shoot if investment is an issue.

(later edit)



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+1 for Schoeps DMS, its compact & light & makes for lovely, pristine recordings, but sadly, hardly shoestring...

As you already own a CMIT & also making a film, then adding a figure of eight and a small cardioid might be an attractive option for you, allowing you to be ready with one ( though a bit heavier...) rig with shotgun, mid side stereo and surround... very nice when schlepping around. A stronger front /center because of the CMIT, but maybe that works for what you're doing ( the audience will be looking where you are). 

The schoeps ccm4 - used or new - should hold most of its value should you change your mind. And you could buy an Ambient Emesser 8 in lieu of the much more expensive Schoeps ccm8, at least to start. But wait, there's more...now add a stereo Rycote ( or Cinela ) with enough room & dead air to hold & protect (figure of 8s are very sensitive to breeze & vibration), then a connbox with lemos or similar to connect all 3 mics, then 10-15 meters of 7 pin cable with fan out XLRs for your recorder. Thousands. But at least you can monitor it pretty well. 


SPS200 - in its own Rycote or Cinela - also nice & light & compact but more uni-purpose, not necessarily a bad thing. Only a couple of recorders can monitor ambisonic A format but lots of folks don't fret that and just place it where you want & press record: unlike music, ambience has a huge sweet spot -:) And while the SPS200 not as quiet as the Schoeps, in the usually busy jungle no worries there. But rare to find used.


Tetramic cheaper - never tried it, but John Leonard & others on this forum have given it great reviews.


And then there's the fairly new Brahma mic - by far the least expensive  ambisonic mic out there. Now we're getting closer to shoestring & sure there must be some actual reviews & test recordings around by now.


Which ever way you go put it on a mic stand and move far enough away, we are noisy fidgety creatures.

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Will this need to be ready in seconds? Go DMS on the main boom.

Will you have enough setup time and room in your luggage? Go for anything you like. Can be spaced/clumsy.

Are you sure you need a center channel for backgrounds? Wouldn't this be reserved for dialog and on-screen hard FX?

Maybe IRT cross: 4 cardioids, spaced about 10", at 90° from each other, pointing Front L/R and Back L/R.

With compact mics this can be done with two standard zeppelins. With standard mics you'll need four separate ball gags, or maybe softies will suffice.

If you don't want to spend the money for Schoeps CCMs or Sennheiser 8040, lots of budget cardioids out there. Line Audio CM3 get good user reviews and are quite small. Audix always seems worth a look. MBHO too.

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Bought a Sound Field SPS-200 when I could least afford it!


Just finished recording concerts in New Zealand and Italy


Have results at home both in stereo and 5.1 that are quite amazing!


Now it's of for a month of rental in Antarctica.


MikeSOUNDFIELDMicrophone Used On Recent Abbey Road Session.docpost-19-0-93737100-1421383993_thumb.jpgpost-19-0-02782800-1421384057_thumb.jpg

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I've used the DPA 5100 in a few exotic locations with phenomenal results. Its so sensitive you can't stand to closely or you'll hear yourself breathing. It works well in very humid conditions and I've had Schoeps mics fail in humidity.



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