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Mid-Side advice - shotgun or not?


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First time poster - please excuse the ignorance...

 

I'm looking to put together a MS rig to capture ambiences and occasionally sound for use in special effects / sound design - dialogue recording is not the goal; the main requirement is a rig that's suitable for interior and exterior recording. My question is, should I only be looking at setups consisting of two separate sdc mics ( most likely choosing between a Sennheiser MKH or Schoeps CMC6 set) or would a shotgun MS mic (currently considering the Sanken CMS-50 or a used Neumann RSM-191) serve me just as well?  

 

Whilst researching forum posts I get the sense that the shotgun approach should only be considered if recording dialogue is necessary - for anything else only a two (separate) mic approach is appropriate. Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Is the shotgun option a 'no compromise' option? I'd love to hear any thoughts or advice from forum members. Thanks!

 

 

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Depends how „shotgun“ the shotgun is... with mkh 416 or cmit i feel to much seperation from the laserlike mid signal, but its a compromise that is working O.K. 

I prefere the soundstage of RSM 191, Gefell M310/KM120 or KM140/KM120, but then i sometimes miss the „reach“ to isolate certain sounds/voices... 

 

Rent it and check by yourself...

 

Normaly i prefer two SDC solutions as i can swap the mid mic for my needs between shotgun, hyper or card...

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Hi Al, and welcome to JWS 

 

You may well end up here with a dozen or so testimonies from people saying they get great results with their Schoeps pair, their MKH pair, their Sanken, their RSM, shotgun front end, omni front end, etc etc etc. It's a wide and variable question to advise on and most opinions are going to be valid in their way - so good luck in advance! Hey, here I am!

 

Personally my MS / MSM rig is variable based around a Schoeps Fig 8 constant (purely because that's what I have) and I concur with haifai that you should leave yourself the choice for variation. Even if you did pick up an 'in one' MS mic like the RSM there is nothing to stop you strapping a different front capsule atop the fig 8 position whenever you wanted to.

 

For ambience type recordings a subcardioid capsule is often popular, as it can be for musical applications. Halfway between the benefits of omni and cardioid. For fx recording of a 'specific subject' rather than soundscape anything from cardioid to short shotgun. As a sound effects editor I rarely use the side aspect of a MS recording for film tracklay however and even more rarely would record fx in MS: I would just dematrix it if necessary and use the mono front end. Broadcast, radio, podcast, music etc as well as ambisonics is a different thing though.

 

I have to think though that as a starting off point for a general MS rig you cannot go wrong with 'cardioid front, fig 8 side' but the best advice is already in the reply above mine - try a few out and decide what suits your needs best

 

Jez Adamson

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Aloha, for many years I have used Sennheiser MKH 30/40 mics for MS recoding. They have always been great for getting the desired results. For my use the Audio Developments Matrix box gives me the flexibility to adjust the total MS pattern, opening up or reducing the overall polar patterns needed.

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Thank you to everyone for their thoughts - it's really appreciated.

 

15 hours ago, Constantin said:

Does it need to be MS? I think for ambiences there are nicer sounding setups and for fx the side is probably mostly not really needed as Jez mentioned above...

 

It doesn't have to be MS, but having played around with the technique (after years of assuming XY was the 'only' way to record stereo) I've really fallen for the possibilities it offers. What would your preference be for ambiences, Constantin? By way of context, I'm currently working on a museum installation which will rely heavily on weather / outdoor + indoor environment ambience for its sound design and I'm intrigued by how stereo image manipulation might play a part in the final result. I'd initially considered going down the Ambisonics route, but hardware restrictions at the museum meant there'd be no benefit from doing so.

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10 minutes ago, Al Reid said:

Thank you to everyone for their thoughts - it's really appreciated.

 

 

It doesn't have to be MS, but having played around with the technique (after years of assuming XY was the 'only' way to record stereo) I've really fallen for the possibilities it offers. What would your preference be for ambiences, Constantin? By way of context, I'm currently working on a museum installation which will rely heavily on weather / outdoor + indoor environment ambience for its sound design and I'm intrigued by how stereo image manipulation might play a part in the final result. I'd initially considered going down the Ambisonics route, but hardware restrictions at the museum meant there'd be no benefit from doing so.

What are the hardware restrictions – and more specifically how will sound be presented to the audience?

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16 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

Personally my MS / MSM rig is variable based around a Schoeps Fig 8 constant (purely because that's what I have) and I concur with haifai that you should leave yourself the choice for variation. Even if you did pick up an 'in one' MS mic like the RSM there is nothing to stop you strapping a different front capsule atop the fig 8 position whenever you wanted to.

 

For ambience type recordings a subcardioid capsule is often popular, as it can be for musical applications. Halfway between the benefits of omni and cardioid. For fx recording of a 'specific subject' rather than soundscape anything from cardioid to short shotgun. As a sound effects editor I rarely use the side aspect of a MS recording for film tracklay however and even more rarely would record fx in MS: I would just dematrix it if necessary and use the mono front end. Broadcast, radio, podcast, music etc as well as ambisonics is a different thing though.

 

Thanks haifai and Jez - some good, pragmatic thinking here; feel a bit dumb that it didn't occur to me that strapping an alternative fig 8 to an existing MS shotgun is an option 😂 

 

I have access to a RSM 191, so will take the opportunity to play around with that and also rent one or two options to inform myself of what's possible, as haifai suggests. Thanks for the tip on trying a sub cardioid, Jez  - again, I'd just assumed a vanilla Mk4 capsule was 'the thing' for the mid signal.

 

Really glad to have found the forum!

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4 hours ago, daniel said:

What are the hardware restrictions – and more specifically how will sound be presented to the audience?

 

It's not definite yet, but most likely each room (3) will use 3 projection screens to display visuals and a pair of loudspeakers for stereo reproduction. I'm pushing for multi-channel sound, but it looks like this isn't a priority for the folks creating the budget...  However, a gig for later in the year (if distance restrictions ever lift sufficiently for filming of crowds) will feature Saxon battle scenes; the director wants immersive sound so I foresee renting a Soundfield - or possibly a double MS rig - come the time. Fingers crossed.

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7 hours ago, daniel said:

What would your preference be for ambiences, Constantin?


I generally don’t like coincident stereo techniques. They all have their uses, MS in particular, but I think that for ambiences you should at least use an ORTF setup or a spaced pair, or any other technique of non-coincidental mics. 

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Same here.

 

Started with a integrated M/S setup (Sennheiser MKH 418). While it's easy to set up in a standard basket for shotguns it has its shortcomings.

 

The mid is really a little bit to tight for ambience recordings, the integrated figure8 is on the noisy side.

 

This led me to have a flexible M/S setup with card, hyper-card and wide-card.

 

Still, if you really want nice stereo ambiences, there are better techniques as Constantin already stated.

 

I use ORTF or similar setups depending on the source. But you'll need matched cards/hyper-cards and/or sub-cards plus a stereo bar and some kind of windjammer for each mic.

Generally, the setup time takes longer, booming is often not possible but stereo separation is often much better in my ears.

 

I bought into a modular mic system with 2 amp units, a matched card pair, a figure8 followed by a matched hyper-cards pair and a 3rd amp plus a wide-card pair and maybe omnis at some point later this year.

 

This will allow nearly every stereo technique but does come at a prize.

 

Nevertheless, M/S with card or hyper-card will be my goto setup if speed and size is important.

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5 hours ago, kavenzmann said:

Same here.

 

[...]

 

Nevertheless, M/S with card or hyper-card will be my goto setup if speed and size is important.

 

+1. Only use MS if booming and original stereo audio is required at same time. Or in windy conditions because an MS setup can easily be fitted into a storm proof boom. I'm ok with Sennheiser MKH 60 + Ambient Emesser ATE208.

I find MS sounding quite "artificial", it becomes even more weird if there are unwanted sounds from behind (e.g. traffic).

 

Way better stereo results I got with ORTF setups (2x Schoeps MK4) - the best for good ambiences, classical music, choirs, audience noise/applause.

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On 6 July 2020 at 12:02 PM, Al Reid said:

Thanks haifai and Jez - some good, pragmatic thinking here; feel a bit dumb that it didn't occur to me that strapping an alternative fig 8 to an existing MS shotgun is an option

 

NOT what I meant! I meant that the side mic of say an RSM or Sanken could be used yet one could change the Mid mic to another type, say omni or whatever!

 

On 6 July 2020 at 4:43 PM, Al Reid said:

 

It's not definite yet, but most likely each room (3) will use 3 projection screens to display visuals and a pair of loudspeakers for stereo reproduction. I'm pushing for multi-channel sound, but it looks like this isn't a priority for the folks creating the budget...  However, a gig for later in the year (if distance restrictions ever lift sufficiently for filming of crowds) will feature Saxon battle scenes; the director wants immersive sound so I foresee renting a Soundfield - or possibly a double MS rig - come the time. Fingers crossed.

 

I find ambisonics an excellent potential solution for gallery work (so long as the sound can handle the format, ie phase and abandonment of local definition). When the visuals are the key thing and sound is the poor cousin sometimes it's actually nice to take advantage and allow the sound to show off when it isn't constrained by factors like precise audience localisation (and often sync)...

 

Ambisonics is MS, too, in the manner that there are two mids (omni and fig8) and two sides (both fig8) ... or is that three? and one mid? or three mids? ughhh! But my point is that MS can be a good recording companion for an Ambisonic replay ... but it will not be automatically straightforward without a mix.

 

12 hours ago, Mungo said:

(... cutting here good advice sorry! ...)

I find MS sounding quite "artificial", it becomes even more weird if there are unwanted sounds from behind (e.g. traffic).

 

Excellent point from a regular MS recordist, that the side mic can pick up unwanted stuff (actually Mungo, it won't be from behind, ha ha, sorry for being the pedant)! Though I should point out that this is not the reason I avoid (the S from) MS for film effects - it is just because the inherent phase replay of MS doesn't sit nicely with multiple tracks in either LCR + surround nor with the encoding of multichannel film systems. I HAVE recorded Blumlein (crossed Figure8) and there are occasions where phase techniques can be used to good effect but it is a complicated situation in film that the rerecording mixer needs to know what is there and judge how it will work with both the coexisting sounds and the replay format. Too often it is just more shit to deal with, and often mute out.

 

Jez

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/8/2020 at 3:20 AM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

 

it is just because the inherent phase replay of MS doesn't sit nicely with multiple tracks in either LCR + surround nor with the encoding of multichannel film systems.

Hi guys,

some great insights in this discussion!

@The Immoral Mr Teas , if I may ask, could you elaborate on what you said about MS not sitting nicely with multichannel encoding? I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts about this.

Personally, I've always found the stereo image of M/S recordings (especially of ambiences) a bit "weird" or "unnatural", for reasons I can't really grasp. I often have this feeling that there's a clear center image, combined with a L-R stereo field that sounds as if it's "behind" my ears, rather than in front, and that (even when reducing the S part of the M/S) the stereo part of the sound is somewhat disconnected from the center part - an issue I never experience with ORTF or XY. When listening on headphones this effect becomes even more pronounced. Does anyone else experience this?

The attractive part of M/S is that it's so much more compact than an ortf setup, and you have a real center, as opposed ot a phantom center.... you win some, you lose some...

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Sometimes I also feel that the results are weird with an MS setup. 
idealy, one should use a cardioid as Mid.This would theoretically result in a perfect XY after matrix.

But as soon as you use a shotgun, the phase relation between the Mid and the figure of eight will be very dependent often frequency and give these weird results. 
On the other hand, MS is so practical in a run and gun situation that it is often a no brainer. 

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4 hours ago, sonnenstudio said:

The attractive part of M/S is that it's so much more compact than an ortf setup, and you have a real center, as opposed ot a phantom center.... 


I have an ORTF rig based on two Schoeps CCM mics which live in a pretty compact Rycote. As a purely stereo setup this almost as small as an MS rig. You could of course add a center mic to an ORTF rig if you wanted to, but I always felt that for film work this is less relevant as you would probably put the dialog in the center. 

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I have a MKH418s because it's useful for when I just want to carry one mic around the city. 

I agree with kavenzmann's earlier post about the faults of the mic, they don't bother me too much when spot recording city sound effects like vehicles, construction, traffic, etc. I have also noticed that the side is not very forgiving to wind noise in a rycote windjammer as I have been recording every thunderstorm outside my window on my fire-escape this pandemic. But I wouldn't use the 418s for very quiet ambiences. Spaced Omni and ORTF rule the world of recording quiet ambiences.

I wish that Sennheiser would make a 5pin MZX 8030 series module that would allow you to screw on different Mid capsules rather than using the MKH30 strapped to a MKH8040, 8050, or 8060. (Sennheiser, if your on here and take my idea, I want a t-shirt) 
 

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14 hours ago, sonnenstudio said:

 

@The Immoral Mr Teas , if I may ask, could you elaborate on what you said about MS not sitting nicely with multichannel encoding? I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts about this.

Personally, I've always found the stereo image of M/S recordings (especially of ambiences) a bit "weird" or "unnatural", for reasons I can't really grasp. I often have this feeling that there's a clear center image, combined with a L-R stereo field that sounds as if it's "behind" my ears, rather than in front, and that (even when reducing the S part of the M/S) the stereo part of the sound is somewhat disconnected from the center part - an issue I never experience with ORTF or XY. When listening on headphones this effect becomes even more pronounced. Does anyone else experience this?

The attractive part of M/S is that it's so much more compact than an ortf setup, and you have a real center, as opposed ot a phantom center.... you win some, you lose some...

 

I think MS is an excellent technique for many, generally 2 channel, systems or purposes: the two obvious being radio (taking advantage of the inherent mono compatibility) and vinyl (it was rare for me to encounter a tracking or mixing session where MS didn't come up somewhere). I would add any (2 channel) scenario where the sound in front is 'documentary' essential and the sound around it is 'a beautification' which could be the case for radio documentary, podcast ditto and Alan Lomax/David Lewiston/Harry Smith style folk song collection.

 

It does of course also work in multichannel formats (re ambisonics) but I have personally found that the side signal just becomes a complication in the 5.1 etc formats of film - both in itself within the LCR soundscape and in the encoding to eg Dolby Digital. I'm afraid I cannot comment regarding Dolby Atmos or other more recent systems, perhaps things have moved on. But in my experience 'phase tricks' never worked easily in a film theatre. (Indeed in some ways they don't with vinyl either but there has been many decades of knowing what does work in this field).

 

I would be interested to hear if there are indeed problems associated with ambisonics in 3D VR production since this is where (after sports broadcasting) the more recent boom in the technique seems to have come from. I have a Soundfield and as mentioned several MS / MSM combo possibilities- I just don't use them for film effects. In fact for film I like the opportunity to go to the opposite extreme from coincident to spaced techniques - although I probably go for the middle ground of semi spaced (such as ORTF) most of the time.

 

11 hours ago, henrimic said:

ideally, one should use a cardioid as Mid.This would theoretically result in a perfect XY after matrix.

 

Absolutely - a perfectly perceived XY sound angle at least.

 

10 hours ago, Ken Goodwin said:

I wish that Sennheiser would make a 5pin MZX 8030 series module that would allow you to screw on different Mid capsules rather than using the MKH30 strapped to a MKH8040, 8050, or 8060. (Sennheiser, if your on here and take my idea, I want a t-shirt) 

 

I can only wonder why they never came out with the expected if not promised MKH8030 ... was it expected relative low sales (yet they gave us the 8090) or would they have needed to make it slightly fatter or longer (who would really care)? A mystery. Personally I would prefer to keep the side capsule vertically coincident hence piggy backed but it's not a bad idea at all - particularly for double MS in a blimp.

 

[edit addendum] - actually when I think about it I would probably prefer such a module over a standard mono MKH8030 purely for the added usefulness even if you didn't intend to screw another 80 capsule in front. There would also be the possibility of screwing a second 8030 capsule in front at 90 degrees (admittedly some fine manufacturing needed here) for a sweet blumlein mic (like a midget SM69 or that nice old Schoeps model) or as part of a WXY array.

Jez

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On 7/25/2020 at 9:28 PM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

[edit addendum] - actually when I think about it I would probably prefer such a module over a standard mono MKH8030 purely for the added usefulness even if you didn't intend to screw another 80 capsule in front. There would also be the possibility of screwing a second 8030 capsule in front at 90 degrees (admittedly some fine manufacturing needed here) for a sweet blumlein mic (like a midget SM69 or that nice old Schoeps model) or as part of a WXY array.

Jez


A double 8030/30 blumlein would be an amazing tool. 

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On 7/29/2020 at 12:39 AM, soundtrane said:

also consider DMS. i set up an MKH8040 matched pair with an MKH30 last year. initial test recordings resolved into surround using the Schoeps plugin sounded fantastic. 

 

 

Yes!  I use an MKH 800 Twin with an MKH 30 and the post options are great.  Very much like horizontal only ambisonic native array.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update, 6 weeks on - after too much back and forth I bit the bullet and opted for a couple of Schoeps CMC6 bodies, a Fig 8 capsule and a couple of Mk4 capsules. So, all bases covered, a dent to the bank balance but with flexibility for the future in terms of alternative patterns. I'm a happy bunny 😁

 

Thanks to you all for pitching in with advice and opinions - very much appreciated 👍

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