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Author Topic: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?  (Read 12172 times)

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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« on: October 01, 2014, 03:03:36 PM »
We (Core Sound) manufacture TetraMic, an ambisonic microphone. It's small, competitively priced, and produces a four-channel B-format recording. For playback that four-channel recording can be decoded to two-channel stereo or binaural, but it can also be decoded to full surround (with height) for playback over almost any number of speakers. It can also be decoded to simple 5.1 surround. Decoding is easy.

If you go to LMA or Dime, essentially all of the recordings are in two-channel format, intended for playback over two speakers or headphones. Surround (even 5.1) is a rarity.

Since it's so easy, why do you suppose most tapers are still recording concerts for only two-channel playback? Why aren't tapers making more B-format or even fixed format multi-channel surround recordings?

« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 05:12:22 PM by Len Moskowitz (Core Sound) »
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Offline perks

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 03:14:02 PM »
My neck hurts when I stealth a Soundfield.
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Offline bombdiggity

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 03:25:49 PM »
I haven't heard enough (well any) field recordings of this sort so I have no idea what I'd get or why I'd want to use it. 

I can say that in general I want a focused sound : typically as direct a line as I can get on the proceedings. 

A surround field of room reverberations, or worse chattering, drinking, eating, etc. is not my goal.  I'm trying to avoid that. 

Most audience located applications probably are going to get less music and more random ambient factors with a surround approach as opposed to a directional one. 

That said I do a fair amount of onstage and stage lip work where I could see some utility in reproducing a wider field.  I think in general I at most want 180 degree coverage for that though.  What's behind the (conventional) mics or my position I don't want (I put them where I do to try to minimize the potential soundstage I don't want). 

That said there are a few who want to introduce some (diffuse) crowd ambiance into their recordings.  Maybe they'd want something of that nature. 

Of course I may misunderstand what these mics actually reproduce in which case I return to my start (I don't know them and haven't heard the results). 
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 03:52:30 PM by bombdiggity »
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2014, 03:31:26 PM »
We (Core Sound) manufacture TetraMic, an ambisonic microphone. It's small, competitively priced, and produces a four-channel B-format recording. For playback that four-channel recording can be decoded to two-channel stereo or binaural, but it can also be decoded to full surround (with height) for playback over essentially any number of speakers. It can also be decoded to simple 5.1 surround. Decoding is easy

If you go to LMA or Dime, essentially all of the recordings are in two-channel format, intended for playback over two speakers or headphones. Surround (even 5.1) is a rarity.

Since it's so easy, why do you suppose most tapers are still recording concerts for only two-channel playback? Why aren't tapers making more B-format or even fixed format multi-channel surround recordings?

There are a few reasons.

a. I own stereo pairs of mics, I do not own or have the budget to buy an Ambisonic mic
b. I own a stereo, I do not own any surround sound playback systems.
c. In most cases, I am working to maximize the performance to audience ratio. Adding extra mics to capture the room runs counter to this.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2014, 03:31:53 PM »
Not to knock the TetraMic, but I think stereo recordings made with fine German condenser mics are going to sound better than recordings made with the electret capsules in that mic.
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2014, 03:44:43 PM »
Not to knock the TetraMic, but I think stereo recordings made with fine German condenser mics are going to sound better than recordings made with the electret capsules in that mic.

Maybe.  But our good friend Ozpeter posted a rather interesting comparison here:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remote-possibilities-acoustic-music-location-recording/951015-classical-orchestra-positioning-m-s-mic-pair-3.html

Of course I'm biased, but although I heard my mix many years ago (seven I think), I'd never heard the main pair until last month.  My opinion is neither file posted is as good as a simple 50/50 mix of the two; the quite expensive German main pair was lacking in lows, not because of their quality but because of laws of physics as they apply to directional capsules.  And the spot-omni mix, although it worked incredibly well given its setup, missed detail in some of the sections (notably cellos and some of the winds), and was a bit hyper-realistic.

I have no doubt that Ozpeter's final mix (I think there were also some flankers involved) was even better than the 50/50 approach.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 04:03:29 PM »
A: Most of the time I give the band a copy right after the show. The sets are usually 90 minutes that wont fit on a CD without editing so I burn both sets to one data DVD. The fact that it is a DATA DV which confuses more of them than it should. Surround would just confuse them more. Many will not have the playback gear.
B: Price. Don't get me wrong, the price is fair, I'm just poor.
C: I'd love to have one to play with but there is a lot of other gear I need more. Maybe one day.
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Offline acidjack

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 04:11:36 PM »
I think Ambi mics are a great option and have always wanted to play with one. I like the ability to adjust pattern in post.

As to listening to "surround sound" on playback, I know there are those here that do it, but I just don't see it. Listening to music is actually nothing like listening to a 7.1 Hollywood movie. Those that remember (or in my case, have a father who collected) Quad in the 70s know how that turned out.

Personally, for music, I would rather listen to music in stereo on an excellent stereo pair than "surround sound" that brings a center channel and rear speakers into the mix.

But that doesn't mean I'm knocking ambisonic mics. I think the real reason most tapers don't use them is they are too lazy to do the work in post. Look how many people don't bother with EQ, which is child's play compared to mixing down an ambisonic recording, or so I'm told.
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Offline Chuck

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 04:14:30 PM »
Not to knock the TetraMic, but I think stereo recordings made with fine German condenser mics are going to sound better than recordings made with the electret capsules in that mic.

Maybe.  But our good friend Ozpeter posted a rather interesting comparison here:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remote-possibilities-acoustic-music-location-recording/951015-classical-orchestra-positioning-m-s-mic-pair-3.html

Of course I'm biased, but although I heard my mix many years ago (seven I think), I'd never heard the main pair until last month.  My opinion is neither file posted is as good as a simple 50/50 mix of the two; the quite expensive German main pair was lacking in lows, not because of their quality but because of laws of physics as they apply to directional capsules.  And the spot-omni mix, although it worked incredibly well given its setup, missed detail in some of the sections (notably cellos and some of the winds), and was a bit hyper-realistic.

I have no doubt that Ozpeter's final mix (I think there were also some flankers involved) was even better than the 50/50 approach.

My aim wasn't to disparage electrets as I still own and use a pair of your MSH-1O's and my current favorite omnis are Audix M1290-o. I guess my point is that it's hard to beat a nice pair of high quality condensers for recording. I haven't heard any surround sound recordings that sound as good as a stereo pair sound. I have found that I really don't like surround sound audio recordings of concerts. The surround is fine for movies, but not for the best musical reproduction in my opinion.
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Offline Sloan Simpson

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 04:26:54 PM »
Like others, I don't want to hear what's coming from behind me in a club.
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Offline flipp

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2014, 04:29:02 PM »
the following are my main reasons:

Quote

I own stereo pairs of mics, I do not own an Ambisonic mic
I own a stereo, I do not own any surround sound playback systems
too lazy to do the work in post

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2014, 04:44:09 PM »
Lot's of responses since I started typing this and got distracted.

Here’s a list of reasons off the top of my head:

-Limited playback opportunities.
-Increased complication in understanding the various approaches in recording for surround (2-channel stereo is already complex).
-Increased recording hardware complexity and costs.
-Increased editing complexity, complications, and lack of robust support in commonly used editing software.
-Increased storage requirements.
-Lack of standardized universal, free distribution/playback formats.
-Doesn't fit easily into the model of recording to promote lesser-known acts which drives much of this taping culture.
-Doesn't fit well with the modern lifestyle listening habits of most listeners.
-Misunderstandings of the advantages over 2-channel stereo, and mischaracterizations of expected disadvantages.

And the biggest one-
-Most simply haven't been convinced.  They haven't heard good enough examples to be convinced these hassles are worth making the extra effort to overcome them.

Some of those challenges have become less problematic than they used to be, given the on-going advances in computing and recording hardware such as inexpensive multi-channel recorders and other gear such as your TetraMic.  But all of them remain challenges over 2-channel stereo recording and playback, some of them quite significant.

Here’s a realistic if somewhat dark view of the current state of things. I’ll follow up later with the brighter evangelistic take, because really I’m a true believer and optimist-

The field of amateur live music recording is relatively small, within which surround recording will always be at best a sub-set.  I've found very little interest here at TS in even discussing surround and potential ways to go about recording it.  I’m unaware of anyone else actually making live music recordings in surround.  Here's the previous attempt at a general discussion- http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=7947.msg1658425#msg1658425.  That was the original Surround live recording thread from 2003.  Todd E bumped it in 2009 and that's when I became aware of it, I bumped it again in 2011 and it immediately died a quick, sharp death.  Since then I've given up discussing it around here, but still sneak mention into discussions when it's somewhat relevant.  That rarely goes anywhere other than a PM or two on rare occasions.

There have been a few users of various portable Soundfield microphones on-board here, although all of them have used the microphones to produce 2-channel stereo rather than surround, as far as I’m aware.  There are some some DTS encoded surround recordings from the early to mid 2000’s posted on Archive, Etree and elsewhere, but all of the ones I’ve sampled are either simply dry SBD routed to the front speakers with a stereo AUD routed to the surrounds, or are otherwise made from a few conglomerated 2-channel stereo recording setups with the surround being at best an afterthought and not well implemented.

Almost no one has a system setup for proper playback.  Most home theater cinema systems are sub-par at best for good surround music playback and not up to the quality of their stereo playback, their car stereo, or their headphone system.  Most commercial surround sound music releases are a joke and not worth the effort to reproduce them.  On top of that, very few listeners are even willing to take the time to sit down and experience something like a fully immersive surround listening experience which commands all of one's attention.  Readers here are a few of the last remaining exceptions to that, but how many outside of us even have decent stereo systems much less take the time to sit down an listen to an entire album or live recording?

[edit to add link to previous TS discussion above]
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 05:09:21 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Chuck

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2014, 04:54:04 PM »
When I have the option to listen to 5.1 concert playback or 2 channel I always prefer the two channel. Partly because my playback is for movies, not music. But, I also find listening to surround sound to be fatiguing. I watch football games with the 5.1 on and it's good for that though.
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Offline Wiggler

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2014, 05:43:41 PM »
I think surround recording great for near field not good for the far field recordings most tapers make.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2014, 08:21:07 PM »
I've used the surround sound some with FCPX, but it was difficult to output 5.1 from the laptop and be able to hear the panning so I put it aside.  I recently bought a new laptop though and I will check it out again soon.  It has HDMI and Optical outputs.  I would like to test a surround mic before purchasing, and mix with a good SBD recording or multitrack.  It also depends on the venue.  This might be good for mid-size and larger venues, but clubs... nah.

And to echo what AcidJack said, some people are too lazy or don't have the computer skills to use much editing software.

I'm mostly interested in surround sound for videos and home theatre use.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 08:40:25 PM by DF81 »

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2014, 08:57:24 PM »
Okay, my last post was all the bad and the ugly, here’s the good (cue the red-tailed hawk cry and warble whistle, knock off the desert dust and wet those chapped lips)..

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool firm believer in live music surround recording.  Not in surround album releases. And not in a way that has very much in common with film surround sound or television broadcast surround. 

The first part of that statement at least probably comes as no surprise to many of you who have been kind enough to bear with my frequently over-worded posts here, where my enthusiasm for surround recording occasionally seeps in. This is likely to be another one of those.  I’ll try and explain why I feel so strongly that way, and why I think others might also find it as rewarding, but I’m well past expecting to convert anyone here to recording surround.  It’s taken me about 7 years of experimentation to get to where I’m relatively comfortable and satisfied with several basic recording approaches to doing it, depending on the situation and constraints.  It’s certainly no “one approach fit’s all” kind of thing on the recording side of things, although I do think there may be positive movement towards eventually finding a few “universal formats” which are at least appropriate to mix to, from which specific formats like stereo or specific surround playback formats may be derived as appropriate.  My greatest desire at this point is to find ways to share this experience which I’ve personally found to be so rewarding and compelling with others who might appreciate the experience of it and I hope to be working towards doing that more effectively in the next few years.  In all likely hood that will involve not just appropriate editing of the recordings for an appropriate playback and distribution format, which is one of the larger challenges for both surround recording in general and for me personally, but also a dedicated portable playback system I can transport easily enough to haul around and share the experience - since those two sides of the coin are essentially inseparable.  I’ve already begun to slow down on the recording side, so those are obvious next steps.

Nearly every recording I’ve made since about 2007 has been made in some form of surround.  I can easily count the exceptions.  It may sound cliché, but I’ve found the proper playback experience of the ones I didn’t screw up some how to often be at least on-par if not significantly superior to the live experience, at least sonically.  At its best the experience is completely transformative, like a teleportation time-machine.  Ironic perhaps, but that playback experience has been one of the greatest windows to really understanding and finding a far deeper enjoyment of the actual performance of live music for me.  I’ve had the opportunity to hear some really excellent live recordings through outstanding high-end 2-channel stereo playback systems in dedicated rooms, and it is true that at their best they can approach some (but not all) of the qualities of great surround playback.  But that’s rare, and I don’t have anything like that kind of budget.  I can achieve a superior suspension of disbelief much more consistently at a far lower cost with surround.  There are plenty of other hurdles though.  If there was an easier and less isolated way to achieve the same transformative experience with just two channels I’d do it.

For me the motivation for making live music recordings mostly comes from just two things: that transformative experience, and the interesting intellectual challenge in understanding how it works well enough to engineer a systems approach for achieving it with the resources I have available, within all the given constraints.

The ultimate potential of surround sound is the live music experience.  Good movie surround is great and live sports surround sound has great potential in similar ways to movies.   Like movie surround, the goal of suspension of disbelief to achieve an emotive connection is the same, but the particulars are very different, and so is the essential essence of the experience I think.  Movies and sports are highly if not primarily visual experiences and that visual experience is reinforced and improved by good immersive surround. By contrast, live music surround is an auditory experience first and foremost, a visual image is secondary and actually distracts from the ultimate suspension of disbelief, given the viewer’s expectation of cuts, zooms and modern production techniques. Modern viewers have long learned to accept the visual constraints and "language of video", they no longer actually fear for their lives when a train runs through the cinema screen like audiences did in the early silent movie era, they don't get confused and sea-sick with quick pans like audiences used to in the early days, but that knowing it's a cheat is still there subconsciously.  I don't mean to belittle great video of live music, but even the very best of it is never presented in a fully immersive visual-surround format except maybe at Epcot or IMAX, at best it's a big HD image screen in front.  In contrast with cinema, with surround music-only playback the lack of any visual image can actually heighten the auditory sense of acuity and the near-magical sense of teleportation.  I'm not saying I can do it to that quality, but that's the potential of it, and I've tasted it.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 09:04:10 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2014, 08:59:32 PM »
Not in surround album releases.


You obviously haven't listened to the new Magical Mystery Tour blu ray.  Holy crap.  George Martin's son mixed the 5.1 surround sound.  Far better than the 2009 stereo remasters.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2014, 09:36:59 PM »
No I haven't.  I'd like to though.  Honestly I have very few commercial surround releases.  I find many of them gimmicky, sometimes that's appropriate but it's really a whole different ball of wax than what I'm shooting for, stuff like being in the middle of the band onstage with musicians all around, or sounds flying all around the room. All that is more like movie type surround.  Cool and I don't mean to belittle it, but not my goal. 

Even the surround releases I've heard which aim for a more "natural live surround experience" are not really like being at a live concert.  The Grammy winning ones are well crafted but really more like abstracted versions of live concerts than the real experience of being there- nice ambiances, good imaging and all that, but you are never right there upfront in the audience like being at the actual event.  It usually sounds like the audience is all around but oddly distant and removed, as if you are listening alone from a chair suspended from the rafters above them.

Of the very few I have, one of the best is a DPA surround sampler with a sample of an orchestra recorded with several different versions of their surround decca tree using various combinations of their microphones.  Very informative for comparing omni's vs cards, vs subcards on the surround channel for instance.  I remember the one using five spaced 4015's as being really sublime.

Might checkout some of the better surround releases for what they are, but I just have much less time and interest in most of that stuff than I do in my own live recordings these days.  I mostly listen to the commercial stereo in stereo in the car on CD or off a player.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2014, 09:44:52 PM »
No I haven't.  I'd like to though.  Honestly I have very few commercial surround releases.  I find many of them gimmicky, sometimes that's appropriate but it's really a whole different ball of wax than what I'm shooting for, stuff like being in the middle of the band onstage with musicians all around, or sounds flying all around the room. All that is more like movie type surround.  Cool and I don't mean to belittle it, but not my goal. 

Even the surround releases I've heard which aim for a more "natural live surround experience" are not really like being at a live concert.  The Grammy winning ones are well crafted but really more like abstracted versions of live concerts than the real experience of being there- nice ambiances, good imaging and all that, but you are never right there upfront in the audience like being at the actual event.  It usually sounds like the audience is all around but oddly distant and removed, as if you are listening alone from a chair suspended from the rafters above them.

Of the very few I have, one of the best is a DPA surround sampler with a sample of an orchestra recorded with several different versions of their surround decca tree using various combinations of their microphones.  Very informative for comparing omni's vs cards, vs subcards on the surround channel for instance.  I remember the one using five spaced 4015's as being really sublime.

Might checkout some of the better surround releases for what they are, but I just have much less time and interest in most of that stuff than I do in my own live recordings these days.  I mostly listen to the commercial stereo in stereo in the car on CD or off a player.


If you are a Beatles fan (and have a good 5.1 playback) it's something you need to purchase.  I hope all the albums are 5.1 eventually.  Wow. so good.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Magical-Mystery-Tour-Blu-ray/53311/
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 09:48:15 PM by DF81 »

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2014, 10:08:03 PM »
I am and I will, thanks.  I need to get a blu-ray player at some point anyway.  I'd like to find one that can also still play DVD-A.
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Offline tim in jersey

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2014, 10:57:13 PM »
Personally, I have a tough enough time of keeping up with my 2 track and 4 track recordings.

I can just imagine how back-logged I'd get if I threw Surround in to the post-processing workflow. I would never get to just sit back and enjoy the recordings I've made. I've got plenty of examples of stereo stuff that needs some tweaks from 2, 3, 4+ years ago that I'd enjoy listening to that are just sitting on a HDD as it is...

In addition, I'm working on getting rig 2.5 and maybe 3.0 going for festy season...


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2014, 11:17:59 PM »
Yep, that's really my biggest issue Tim!

Enough of my earlier evangelizing.  Thanks for the ear and the space.

I’ll just address a few things I noticed in posts above which I think are entirely understandable misconceptions, but which don’t apply to surround recording of live music, at least in my experience.

But first a few thoughts on the TetraMic-
The Core TetraMic and the SoundField SPS2000 are very cool and relatively new tools, available at price-points low enough to be more widely attainable by amateurs like us.  I find the TetraMic to be most useful for its amazing stereo output flexibility- the ability to change patterns and mic angles after the fact is truly fantastic.  It’s also very small and unimposing. I justified buying one as part of my recording self-education and it has served very well in that role. It’s patterns are very accurate and it’s sound is much better than might be expected from the pedigree of capsules it uses.  I credit that to the innovative approach which both corrects and matches the native frequency response of the capsules in software, and matrix all four of them to produce virtual microphones with superior polar properties to those of the native capsules.  To my way of thinking it's a quite nice, super flexible stereo microphone with unique features that are very applicable to tapers.  It's great on-stage.  It would be easier to use with a few updates to it's software I'd like to see, and less kludgy powering options (I think Len may have addressed power options recently with an additional add-on product).

However, the TetraMic is not my preferred choice for multi-channel surround recordings of music unless maybe serving as a stereo microphone in a larger array with other microphones.  It’s small and convenient and might be an optimal choice for surround for video with minimal extra stuff, but in my experience optimal surround arrays for music recording and playback over 5 or more speakers absolutely requires space between microphones. 

I find an appropriately spaced or baffled array using 4 to 6 standard directional and omni mics like we all use for stereo recording to be superior for surround recording of music.  And yes, just like with stereo, great sounding microphones sound great in surround arrays.  My current 'reference' open recording array uses four Gefells (two cardioids, two supercardioids) and two DPA s (miniature omnis) into a Tascam DR-680.  So yeah, that's six mics, but not an uncommon amount around here, and it requires no unusual gear, just an unusual microphone arrangement and mounting setup.  The recording gear isn't really that much of a constraint, it's everything else.

Not mentioned in this thread but a common pitfall-
With the notable exception of widely spaced omnis, standard 2-channel stereo recording microphone setups plus extra microphones cannot be expected to work optimally for surround or offer a significant improvement over 2-channel stereo.  However, some good multi-channel surround recording setups can work very well for deriving a 2-channel stereo mix, and that compatibility is a very welcome side-benefit.  Sound familiar?  It's similar and relates to discussions of mixing two stereo pairs together- when that is likely to be beneficial and when it's less likely so, and has informed my comments in those discussions here at TS (for instance, adding a wide spaced pair of omnis is probably going to offer more advantage than a second similarly near-spaced pair right next to the first pair on the same stand).

One more that will be harder for some to believe-
Believe it or not, unless your stereo microphone setup is attenuating the distractions of bad audience members and over-reverberant rooms significantly enough so that those things are fully beneath the threshold of awareness on playback, and the stereo microphone setup which achieves that for you does not significantly compromise other otherwise desirable qualities in the recording which could have been achieved with a different stereo microphone setup if they weren't a problem, those problem noises originating from behind your recording position may actually be less distracting in properly mixed surround.  That's probably difficult to believe, but it’s actually an extension of one of the important difference between stereo and mono.  With stereo it becomes much easier to differentiate between separate sources, and do things like follow separate but simultaneous melodic lines on two different instruments than it is with mono.  That's partly based on the “cocktail party” effect where we are able to listen to one conversation and ignore the others in a crowded room.  With mono reproduction you simply can’t do that.  In surround it’s actually much easier than in two-channel stereo, and unless the offending noise is completely pushed beneath your threshold of awareness by your stereo technique, those distractions can actually be easier to ignore and less annoying in surround than in stereo.  Still sucks though, like it did live in the room at the time.  Note that this is different than being hyper-aware of noises at the live event only to find you don't notice them on the recording.  I still find that happens even though I'm recording sounds arriving from all directions.
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Offline justink

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2014, 11:32:13 PM »
We (Core Sound) manufacture TetraMic, an ambisonic microphone. It's small, competitively priced, and produces a four-channel B-format recording. For playback that four-channel recording can be decoded to two-channel stereo or binaural, but it can also be decoded to full surround (with height) for playback over almost any number of speakers. It can also be decoded to simple 5.1 surround. Decoding is easy.

If you go to LMA or Dime, essentially all of the recordings are in two-channel format, intended for playback over two speakers or headphones. Surround (even 5.1) is a rarity.

Since it's so easy, why do you suppose most tapers are still recording concerts for only two-channel playback? Why aren't tapers making more B-format or even fixed format multi-channel surround recordings?

we are.  there's lots of them out there.  especially Dave Matthews Band recordings. 

don't even need a special TetraMic to do it!    ;D
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2014, 11:38:08 PM »
Point me to a good one if you can, I'd like to check it out.   I've heard a few but haven't been overly impressed with them.  As I just mentioned above, it's not so much the gear required to do it, it's setting up the microphones in optimal arrangements which are quite different than those typically used for stereo recordings.


I want to be completely fair to Len here in my critique I just posted above, and note that I haven't had the opportunity to hear any true 3-dimensional ambisonic playback from the TetraMic using a minimum of 8 speakers arranged at the vertices of a cube, or a more complex geometric configurations of additional speakers spaced equally all around the listening space, and I don't know anyone who has that kind of setup outside of a sound lab at university.  That’s actual ambisonic surround playback in its true sense without compromise or conversion, but of course it’s far more esoteric than horizontal surround formats like 5.1 and its derivatives and it's not how most users would use an ambisonic microphone.  My impression of TetraMic’s capabilities for surround decodes to more than 4 speakers might change if I ever get the chance to listen that way or rig something like that up myself.  I’d like to do that simply for my own curiosity and education at some point.  I've considered doing something like that using 8 small computer speakers or the like attached to the top and bottom of the legs of a typical pop-up canopy.  I do regularly use 8 speakers for surround playback at home, but they are arranged more like a 7.1 setup, with an extra speaker in the center in back and without the .1 (3 mains in front and 5 surrounds around the sides and in back, no sub)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 11:43:45 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline tim in jersey

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2014, 12:01:34 AM »
Statement: most amplified PA mixes are barely stereo mixes.

Given the current state of affairs at small clubs, medium venues, and even big outdoor events, that I record in, why would I want to record ambient crowd noise in 5.1? I get plenty of that in stereo with 2 mics as it is.

Yes, I want some "room air" for reference from the AUD mics. I generally want to get the VOX prescence from the SBD and combine it with the low-end from the AUD...

I'm happy with 4 chan. matrices for now.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2014, 05:34:18 AM »
Two ears, two speakers, two mics. = I'm good
Stereo is capable of more than we give it credit for and playback of stereo is virtually everywhere.

What is everyone using to encode and playback multi-channel these days?
Last thread was awash with DVD-A encoding worries, Scott had written code, commercial mastering and encoding programs  were megabuck$$$$
How do I best record and playback and share a 5.1 or 7.1 ?
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2014, 08:00:52 AM »
DAW software has been capable of 5.1 mixing for quite some time.  Cubase 2 could do it, so could Wavelab 5 (just two that I used early on).  Wavelab could burn DVD-A as well.

Of course nothing can play DVD-A, but that's a different problem.  It's a dead standard.

I'm as guilty as anybody else; I build my studio wired in-wall for 5.1, with the speakers located at the correct angles and distances from the mix position.  I have a six-channel amp.  And then I only ever built the mains and sub.

Offline mysticeyes

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2014, 10:10:31 AM »
I'm old-school, old-fashioned and behind the times. I have two channels of playback, and I'm very happy with what I have (Martin Logan, Krell and Threshold), and have been for over fifteen years. My preamp doesn't even have knobs to allow alteration of bass or treble. The thought of another playback system that would include five or six more speakers and a lot of sound "processing," and add delay to certain channels, etc., just makes me ill. Not that I could even afford such at the moment. However, it would be great to have a surround system for watching movies, and only for movies!

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #28 on: October 02, 2014, 10:15:50 AM »
However, it would be great to have a surround system for watching movies, and only for movies!

Football also sounds good to me in surround sound. :)
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #29 on: October 02, 2014, 10:25:20 AM »
Statement: most amplified PA mixes are barely stereo mixes.

Given the current state of affairs at small clubs, medium venues, and even big outdoor events, that I record in, why would I want to record ambient crowd noise in 5.1? I get plenty of that in stereo with 2 mics as it is.

Yes, I want some "room air" for reference from the AUD mics. I generally want to get the VOX prescence from the SBD and combine it with the low-end from the AUD...

I'm happy with 4 chan. matrices for now.

In many, the mixes are mono.  If you're being blasted by a mono PA mix, how could surround recording be of much benefit?

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #30 on: October 02, 2014, 10:48:16 AM »
Surround recording is out of place for most live music recording for all the reasons listed here. It's very cool technically and can lead to a very immersive experience.

Personally, if I'm going to sit down in an immersive surround sound system I want to see video too. I can only sit with my eyes closed meditating on the music for so long. It might just be me and maybe I have ADD.

If there's video, I'm coming to the theory that your eyes might help you tune out the distractions like the people talking behind you much like you do at a concert and therefore the full surround experience becomes more valuable. I think it's cool to imagine hearing a group of talkers moving through a festival crowd from behind (not distracting, just the festival type deal) and as they walk past they come into view and the sound follows them as they move up into their preferred position to spread out a blanket.

For audio alone the benefit of surround seems to be a very niche market. And then right now the video market seems to expanding in the small/mobile screen with earbuds market rather than home theater.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2014, 11:12:02 AM »
DAW software can do it, but most implementations I know of have until recently have been awkward and not really very well thought-out, or only well implemented in the more costly versions.  I use Samplitude V10 Master which has limited channel counts, some decent matrix surround support, DVD-A burning, etc. , but the strong multi-channel implementation in that version was in their way too expensive professional Sequoa version.  I have an upgrade to their newer Samp Pro X, mostly due to the elimination of the track limits and the far more robust surround support that trickled down since, but haven't really used that yet.   Reaper support may be good, haven't looked too deeply since I'm already in the Samp camp.

I mostly use the DAW for mixing to two-channel.  I have some surround projects stored as Samplitude native VIP projects played directly from the DAW, which work from the raw track files.  Once fully edited I'll probably store the finished output as multichannel FLACs, playable through Foobar or whatever.  Multichannel FLAC > analog out through a multichannel soundcard / or direct PCM out over HDMI.  But most of my current surround playback is still hardware based, files transferred back to SD cards put back into the multi-track recorders for playback, through hardware EQ and delay if that's necessary and not available on the recorder.  Works at home, sound quality is great, but its clunky and not easily transportable or share-able.

Encoding to other than FLAC (various flavors of Dolby/DTS are the obvious options) is a whole 'nother can of worms.  Encoding software costs money, a lot for the new lossless formats with high channel counts, but not overly cost prohibitive for traditional lossy 5 channel DTS last I checked.  Might be able to do it on the cheap with Dolby Live or whatever they call the real time encoding output option targeted at computers and game consoles (also a DTS version).   I've done matrix encoding for mix-down to 2-channel, not using the official Dolby or DTS encoders, but either the matrix surround mode in Samp or simple delays, stereo over-widening, and phase manipulation.  Decodes pretty nicely through PLIIx or NEO6, but the discrete playback is superior.  It's an easy way for stereo compatibility though.  I once looked at picking up a Lexicon home theater receiver which had the option of Logic7 matrix encoding on it's SPDIF output from a 7 channel analog input.

VST plugin multi-channel support has slowly grown far more common.

The most likely future of all this is probably not multichannel speaker playback so much as headphone-based surround visualization with head-tracking.  I can see that being far more likely.

Statement: most amplified PA mixes are barely stereo mixes.
Two ears, two speakers, two mics. = I'm good
In many, the mixes are mono.  If you're being blasted by a mono PA mix, how could surround recording be of much benefit?

A single solo performer without a PA is a mono source.  An important question I think is this- Can the acoustic experience of listening to that solo performance in a live-acoustic performance space be recreated well enough to completely convince a listener willing to suspend disbelief so that the listener experiences the reproduction as if transported back into that original performance space, by way of a mono recording? A stereo recording? A five channel recording? Seven? The answer is subjective and partly depends on the listener, but is also based in acoustics, the mechanism of human hearing, and how robust we'd like the recreation illusion to be.

If anyone cares to hear more about my experience with recording setups for 5 up to 8 channel playback I'm happy to share what I know.  To repeat what I mentioned earlier, I really don't expect anyone else to try any this stuff.  I'd expect if anyone is interested in discussing it, it would be simply based on a technical interest.  It's obviously something which interests me a great bit and I get a great deal of pleasure from, and that's enough for me.

There's nothing at all wrong with stereo, or mono for that matter, or enjoying either and feeling no need to go any further.  Things are far simpler that way!


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Offline Chuck

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #32 on: October 02, 2014, 12:05:38 PM »
For me it's still worth while to record mono sources in stereo, because it does give you the illusion on playback of the physical space. Also, the audience applause etc... always sounds great in stereo. In fact, I still get chills and the sensation of being there when the applause comes after a great performance heard on playback.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #33 on: October 02, 2014, 01:15:45 PM »
^^ some people love the "reality" of boomy reflections and crowd noise more than others.   :P
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #34 on: October 02, 2014, 01:29:48 PM »
^^  When I'm listening for fun, I find that I usually listen past those things on a recording the same as I do at the performance.  If I'm critiquing a recording, no. 

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2014, 01:43:12 PM »
I don't know about you people, but I have only two analog inputs in my brain.
 
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2014, 01:59:30 PM »
If I am in a very nice sounding room and  I want to hear it I will use a sub-cardioid mic.  If the room doesn't sound good I go for a more direct sound with a hypercardiod.  I would make the argument you can get all the room sound you want with a single pair of mics.  (assuming a standard 2 channel PA)

Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2014, 02:11:26 PM »
I don't know about you people, but I have only two analog inputs in my brain.

You also have bone conduction, but that only matters at LF and mostly with your own voice.  More importantly, your outer ear enables you to distinguish front-to-back and top-to-bottom when coupled with the massively powerful processor that is your brain.

Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2014, 02:11:37 PM »
Lots of interesting and thoughtful responses. Thanks!

If I am in a very nice sounding room and  I want to hear it I will use a sub-cardioid mic.  If the room doesn't sound good I go for a more direct sound with a hypercardiod.  I would make the argument you can get all the room sound you want with a single pair of mics.  (assuming a standard 2 channel PA)

[Marketing hat on]

A nice thing about an ambisonic mic (like our TetraMic) is that it is a card, a subcard, a hypercard, an omni, any mix and number of those previous four mics with each one pointed in any arbitary direction you desire, a Blumlein array (crossed figure-8s), an X-Y array, a 5.1 surround array with three cards pointing forward and two hypercards rearwards and an omni for LFE, and lots of others too, including those that preserve height information.

And you don't have to decide which mics and patterns you want to record with before you go to the venue, or even while you're recording. You get to experiment with  and decide what sounds best afterwards, in post-production.

And lastly, if you've recorded with a pair of ambisonic mics, you get to include spaced arrays (like ORTF and spaced omnis) among your choices.

[Marketing hat off]
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 02:21:55 PM by Len Moskowitz (Core Sound) »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2014, 02:39:56 PM »
I don't know about you people, but I have only two analog inputs in my brain.

A strong argument for headphones (and binarual recording), but not a good one for recordings made for playback over speakers.

If I am in a very nice sounding room and  I want to hear it I will use a sub-cardioid mic.  If the room doesn't sound good I go for a more direct sound with a hypercardiod.  I would make the argument you can get all the room sound you want with a single pair of mics.  (assuming a standard 2 channel PA)

Totally reasonable and true.  No need to assume a standard PA, non-standard PA or no PA though.  You can get all the room sound you want with just one mic for mono, two for stereo. 

Here's an interesting thing about that though- a mono recording is much less tolerant of the level of reverberant room sound than a stereo recording.  The the sound becomes muddled, unclear and objectionable much quicker as reverberant levels rise compared to direct sound levels when there is only one microphone and speaker, compared to two.  The same trend holds true moving to additional discrete playback channel counts.  So in that sense (admittedly one of the few), a decent mono recording is actually harder to make from an overly reverberant room than a decent stereo recording, and that trend continues as the channel count increases.  Not much else with all this get's easier, but that important aspect does.

An important part of finding optimal microphone arrangements for multi-channel recording is increasing the directivity of the three front channels and the separation between them over what is provided by optimal 2-channel stereo configurations.  Again, that same principle applies to three (or four, or more) channels which will be mixed down to stereo, which is a pretty common thing around here.  However, once mixed, that extra tolerance against additional reverberance I mentioned above is lost.  That aspect is entirely dependent on increasing the number of playback channels and maintaining that increased degree of separation that was provided by an appropriate microphone configuration all the way from the microphone to the individual speaker.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 09:05:44 AM by Gutbucket »
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Offline boyacrobat

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #40 on: October 03, 2014, 08:25:08 AM »


I think personally the surround concept is still in infancy
maby by design a mistake

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #41 on: October 03, 2014, 09:53:38 AM »
I'd love to try it, and there have been a few shows in the past that I would have LOVED to have run a surround rig (Super Furry Animals used to have a surround PA & Roger Waters/The Wall).

I'm with the "too much trouble" crowd for most shows though. I'm happy with my 2 channel recordings. They accomplish what I want, which is a decent sounding recording to remember the show by.

I think the additional cost (I have a long list of things I want before surround), plus the hassle will probably keep me from ever running surround though.
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #42 on: October 03, 2014, 10:58:01 AM »
I think the additional cost (I have a long list of things I want before surround), plus the hassle will probably keep me from ever running surround though.

A complete surround recording system looks like this:

    TetraMic (or other ambisonic microphone)
    Tascam DR-680 (or other four channel recorder)

Total cost is around $2000.

Quote
I'm with the "too much trouble" crowd for most shows though.

Set the mic up where the sound is good. Set levels and hit record.

Since there's only one mic, it's actually simpler than running a traditional stereo rig.

The recording gives you mono, stereo, binaural or any kind of surround.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 11:21:15 AM by Len Moskowitz (Core Sound) »
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #43 on: October 03, 2014, 12:00:57 PM »
I think the additional cost (I have a long list of things I want before surround), plus the hassle will probably keep me from ever running surround though.

A complete surround recording system looks like this:

    TetraMic (or other ambisonic microphone)
    Tascam DR-680 (or other four channel recorder)

Total cost is around $2000.

Quote
I'm with the "too much trouble" crowd for most shows though.

Set the mic up where the sound is good. Set levels and hit record.

Since there's only one mic, it's actually simpler than running a traditional stereo rig.

The recording gives you mono, stereo, binaural or any kind of surround.

I'm moving more in the direction of close mic'ing. My wish list for mics is easily 2K before I even consider something like this.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #44 on: October 03, 2014, 12:08:52 PM »
Get the M201 instead, it can work for nearly anything that the mics on your list can, and it's smaller and incredibly durable.  And the MD421 has the worst mic clip of all time.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2014, 12:28:26 PM »
"A complete surround recording system looks like this:

    TetraMic (or other ambisonic microphone)
    Tascam DR-680 (or other four channel recorder)

Total cost is around $2000."

A nice playback system for surround sound could be multiples of that amount....

Offline bombdiggity

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2014, 12:29:51 PM »
I like the way Beyers sound (though don't have any). 

Found this quote about the M201 :

 Steve Albini: "If the SM57 were a microphone, it would sound like this"

;D
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #47 on: October 03, 2014, 12:51:18 PM »
My most portable, smallest, and least expensive open-recording surround setup works quite well, can be assembled on the cheap.  It fits easily in a backpack all pre-wired and ready to record in under a minute-

DR2d (4-ch recorder)
2 x CA-UGLY (4 ch of PIP low-voltage mic power/amplification, substitute PIPsqueeks or whatever)
2 miniature low-voltage omnis (or subcards), 2 miniature low-voltage directional microphones (cardioids or supercardioids)
Stand and custom mounting bars (telescopic TV antennas)

Primary cost driver is the choice of low-voltage microphones.  I currently use DPA miniature omnis and hypercards, but AT miniatures worked very well in my development prototypes. Naiant or Church Audio mics would be obvious alternate choices.  Doable for ~$800+ for everything.
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #48 on: October 03, 2014, 01:03:40 PM »
Get the M201 instead, it can work for nearly anything that the mics on your list can, and it's smaller and incredibly durable.  And the MD421 has the worst mic clip of all time.

The MD421 does have a stupid clip, but I love their sound.

Will check out the M201, price is good. Bit more than the e906 (which I want anyway for small tight stages), but if it's half as good as the M88, I'll be happy.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #49 on: October 03, 2014, 01:43:51 PM »

The MD421 does have a stupid clip, but I love their sound.


Great sounding dynamic mics!
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #50 on: October 03, 2014, 02:01:00 PM »
MD421 is good, but the mic & clip always struck me as so old sci-fi phaser gun-like, "oops handle on the ray-gun prop broke again."

I'm moving more in the direction of close mic'ing.

Again, certainly not trying to sway you (really I'm not, although all this may sound like it), but I found this interesting and it sort of relates, probably more for some of what you record than others-

The on-stage small-ensemble jazz surround setup which has worked best for me (when the situation allows it) isn't close mic'd, but I found it effectively works something like an 'array of individual spot mics with some bleed' on a trio compared to a typical on-stage stereo-pair capturing the whole stage.  It allows for a degree of re-balancing as necessary and mixes down to stereo very nicely, with great imaging from the 'engineered bleed'.  You probably remember seeing the photos of the setups I posted a few years back in one of the on-stage recording threads.

Generally its 3 supercardioids (I usually use ADK TLs set to supercard pattern) arranged in sort of a miniature Decca tree-like triangular formation at floor level, centered on the group.  Usually if a drummer is in the middle, the center mic is only a few feet from his kit, just off axis to the kick, angled upward to point at the bottom snare.  Left and right mics set about 45-degrees away facing either side, more or less on-axis with the guitar amp on one side and the bass (or organ/keys) on the other.  Microphone spacing arrived at by the Michael Williams multi-microphone-array-design (MMAD) extension of the Stereo Zoom stuff, as determined by those microphone patterns and angles.  2 surround mics facing out into the room, best set as a further extension of that Williams array to 5 chs, but those are less critical than getting the arrangement of the front 3 main mics for LCR (wide spaced cards facing out into the room or boundary mounted ominis under the stage lip work well too). 

Recording into a DR680 without using an external digital-out preamp to get the extra two channels, I use the remaining 6th analog channel as a single close mic for whatever needs it: bass, 2nd leslie cab, sax, singer, etc.  The three main Left/Center/Right channels aren't totally isolated, and good multi-channel playback imaging depends on the arrangement managed bleed between them, but each ends up sort of effectively spot mic'ing the individual players of a trio.  In a 2-channel stereo mix, even larger level, eq and panning, changes to all channels can made which provides some nice flexibility.  The trade-off from individual close-mic'ing everything is the bleed and more limited channel isolation, the advantage in imaging, depth and feel is also the bleed and more limited channel isolation.  It's sort of half-way between an on-stage pair alone and close-mic'd instruments alone.  For surround playback to 3 or 5 channels, there is still a bit more balancing possible without screwing up the image than is possible with just a stereo-pair and stereo playback, but not as much as mixing this down to 2-channel stereo.
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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #51 on: October 03, 2014, 02:24:45 PM »

Again, certainly not trying to sway you (really I'm not, although all this may sound like it), but I found this interesting and it sort of relates, probably more for some of what you record than others-

The on-stage small-ensemble jazz surround setup which has worked best for me (when the situation allows it) isn't close mic'd, but I found it effectively works something like an 'array of individual spot mics with some bleed' on a trio compared to a typical on-stage stereo-pair capturing the whole stage.  It allows for a degree of re-balancing as necessary and mixes down to stereo very nicely, with great imaging from the 'engineered bleed'.  You probably remember seeing the photos of the setups I posted a few years back in one of the on-stage recording threads.

Generally its 3 supercardioids (I usually use ADK TLs set to supercard pattern) arranged in sort of a miniature Decca tree-like triangular formation at floor level, centered on the group.  Usually if a drummer is in the middle, the center mic is only a few feet from his kit, just off axis to the kick, angled upward to point at the bottom snare.  Left and right mics set about 45-degrees away facing either side, more or less on-axis with the guitar amp on one side and the bass (or organ/keys) on the other.  Microphone spacing arrived at by the Michael Williams multi-microphone-array-design (MMAD) extension of the Stereo Zoom stuff, as determined by those microphone patterns and angles.  2 surround mics facing out into the room, best set as a further extension of that Williams array to 5 chs, but those are less critical than getting the arrangement of the front 3 main mics for LCR (wide spaced cards facing out into the room or boundary mounted ominis under the stage lip work well too). 

Recording into a DR680 without using an external digital-out preamp to get the extra two channels, I use the remaining 6th analog channel as a single close mic for whatever needs it: bass, 2nd leslie cab, sax, singer, etc.  The three main Left/Center/Right channels aren't totally isolated, and good multi-channel playback imaging depends on the arrangement managed bleed between them, but each ends up sort of effectively spot mic'ing the individual players of a trio.  In a 2-channel stereo mix, even larger level, eq and panning, changes to all channels can made which provides some nice flexibility.  The trade-off from individual close-mic'ing everything is the bleed and more limited channel isolation, the advantage in imaging, depth and feel is also the bleed and more limited channel isolation.  It's sort of half-way between an on-stage pair alone and close-mic'd instruments alone.  For surround playback to 3 or 5 channels, there is still a bit more balancing possible without screwing up the image than is possible with just a stereo-pair and stereo playback, but not as much as mixing this down to 2-channel stereo.

I've found that if I position a stereo pair above and behind the drummer to capture the full kit sound as he hears it there is often a good amount of bleed from the other instruments. I use this as my base in the mix, then add close mics and stagelip to balance.

Having 16 channels to play with pushes the decision making to post.
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Offline ~Jon Stoppable

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #52 on: October 03, 2014, 02:33:41 PM »
Will check out the M201, price is good. Bit more than the e906 (which I want anyway for small tight stages), but if it's half as good as the M88, I'll be happy.

It's at least that, although the M88 is nicer.  My preference if I still did live sound would be for M88 on vocals and M201 everywhere else.  M201s can do vocals but their windscreens won't stay on reliably for handheld use.

I don't like either on kick though, rather have something dedicated like a D112.  And yeah, the E906 is convenient on amps as it doesn't need a stand.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #53 on: October 03, 2014, 03:49:04 PM »
Having 16 channels to play with pushes the decision making to post.

Heh, heh, now that's way more complications in setup and post work than I care to mess with.  Kudos to you and the others around here who do high channel count multi-mic'd, multi-tracked location recording. 

That stuff makes 4 to 6 mics in a surround array seem simple and minimalist in comparison!
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #54 on: October 08, 2014, 06:31:34 AM »
One more aspect that I think hasn't been mentioned in this thread is that, despite all their flexibility in postproduction, those soundfield mics and their derivatives are coincident setups while the more popular schemes are  ORTF, AB or various kinds of baffled setups. Both have their advantages and drawbacks but it appears that people prefer the more open, spacious sound and the greater depth of an ORTF recording to the more precise localisation of e.g. a M/S setup.

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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #55 on: October 08, 2014, 09:40:06 AM »
One more aspect that I think hasn't been mentioned in this thread is that, despite all their flexibility in postproduction, those soundfield mics and their derivatives are coincident setups while the more popular schemes are  ORTF, AB or various kinds of baffled setups. Both have their advantages and drawbacks but it appears that people prefer the more open, spacious sound and the greater depth of an ORTF recording to the more precise localisation of e.g. a M/S setup.

As I've noted before, you can use two soundfield-type microphones to do the spaced array thing, like ORTF and AB.

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Offline 2manyrocks

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #56 on: October 08, 2014, 09:55:57 AM »
You first asked the question why tapers aren't recording for surround sound more or less without explaining why they should.  Although Gutbucket has posted his perspective in some detail, here's your opportunity to explain your thoughts on why more tapers should record for surround sound.  Why should we?

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #57 on: October 08, 2014, 10:05:55 AM »
Hi Ralf,

Actually that's one of the main points I was making in previous posts in the thread.

Len's counter argument to that is that you can simply use two ambisonic microphones, spaced apart as you like.


Here's a couple other thoughts on coincidence and spaciousness-
Although it's true that by their very nature, single ambisonic microphone techniques are always coincident and have no time-difference information, it doesn't necessarily follow that all coincident stereo techniques are incapable of sounding sound open and spacious.  Although that's generally true for coincident techniques using cardioids, it's less so for optimally angled stereo configurations using microphone patterns with reverse-polarity rear lobes.  Blumlein crossed figure-8 recordings can sound quite open and spacious, to my ear somewhat subjectively more like non-coincident techniques at least in that sense of openness and spaciousness if not in other ways.

Here's a TS thread from 2008 discussing it in detail- Why Blumlein sounds more spacious than other coincident or near-so arrays

The other thing that comes to mind is some modern ambisonic decoding software techniques (to 2-ch stereo, binaural, or horizontal multi-channel) which purport to simulate near-spaced or A-B microphone setups.  How they do that without any actual time-difference information in the original recording I have no idea.  Well I have some ideas, but I don't really know.  If interested in that check out Harpex.  I've not demo'ed it to play around with the non-coincident decodes it offers, but I've heard good words from those who have.  There is an free on-line conversion service for processing short B-format snippets (and M/S, Blumlein, and other native array input formats) which a user can upload and choose various decode outputs.  I've been meaning to give that a try with some of my TetraMic recordings.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 10:08:32 AM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #58 on: October 08, 2014, 10:13:09 AM »
You first asked the question why tapers aren't recording for surround sound more or less without explaining why they should.  Although Gutbucket has posted his perspective in some detail, here's your opportunity to explain your thoughts on why more tapers should record for surround sound.  Why should we?

There are two ways I answer that.

The first is: if you can record a single recording that can be used, with only very minimal extra effort, for both very high quality stereo and full surround playback, at no additional cost, why wouldn't you? And if it actually simplifies the recording process and gives you lots more flexibility in your (virtual) mic placement, aren't those also significant incentives?

The second is: if you haven't heard a full surround (including height) recording of a live concert, you're missing a very exciting and unusal listening experience.

Good mono recordings can be great to listen to. Good stereo recordings can be even better. Good surround recordings can be better still.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 10:17:27 AM by Len Moskowitz (Core Sound) »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #59 on: October 08, 2014, 11:44:36 AM »
My most portable, smallest, and least expensive open-recording surround setup works quite well, can be assembled on the cheap.  It fits easily in a backpack all pre-wired and ready to record in under a minute-

DR2d (4-ch recorder)
2 x CA-UGLY (4 ch of PIP low-voltage mic power/amplification, substitute PIPsqueeks or whatever)
2 miniature low-voltage omnis (or subcards), 2 miniature low-voltage directional microphones (cardioids or supercardioids)
Stand and custom mounting bars (telescopic TV antennas)

Primary cost driver is the choice of low-voltage microphones.  I currently use DPA miniature omnis and hypercards, but AT miniatures worked very well in my development prototypes. Naiant or Church Audio mics would be obvious alternate choices.  Doable for ~$800+ for everything.

As an experiment, how would you do this with a pair of AT853s and DPA4061s running into a DR680? 

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #60 on: October 08, 2014, 02:29:14 PM »
My most portable, smallest, and least expensive open-recording surround setup works quite well, can be assembled on the cheap.  It fits easily in a backpack all pre-wired and ready to record in under a minute-

DR2d (4-ch recorder)
2 x CA-UGLY (4 ch of PIP low-voltage mic power/amplification, substitute PIPsqueeks or whatever)
2 miniature low-voltage omnis (or subcards), 2 miniature low-voltage directional microphones (cardioids or supercardioids)
Stand and custom mounting bars (telescopic TV antennas)

Primary cost driver is the choice of low-voltage microphones.  I currently use DPA miniature omnis and hypercards, but AT miniatures worked very well in my development prototypes. Naiant or Church Audio mics would be obvious alternate choices.  Doable for ~$800+ for everything.

As an experiment, how would you do this with a pair of AT853s and DPA4061s running into a DR680? 

Okay, here’s a basic 4-channel 'from the audience' recording arrangement which works well using those microphones, especially outdoors in an amphitheater or festival situation, which can be used for surround playback over a standard 5 channel setup or for mixdown to regular 2-channel stereo-

1) Space the 4061s (or whatever omnis you have) at least 3’, up to 6’ apart total. Use those as the Left and Right channels.
2) Arrange one AT853 cardioid in the middle facing directly forward (subcard or supercard will also work, even omni, but directionals are better).  This is the center channel.  Space it about 10” forward of the omnis if possible.  Note- good clarity and a nice mid and high-frequency response are important qualities in the center channel microphone, strong bass response is not important.  The omnis take care of the bass.  A more directional pattern for the center mic helps exclude audience sound and reverberance from the rear, with a focus on good clarity for the music in front sort of like mixing in a dry SBD, and that's one of the primary goals of the center channel.  A secondary goal is providing accurate imaging across the Left/Center, and Center/Right segments of the array, which is arrived at by an appropriate combination of the 3 mics- their spacing, pattern, and the angles between them.
3) Arrange the other AT853 cardioid so it faces directly to the rear, positioned more or less as a mirror image to the front-center microphone.   A cardioid pattern works best for the rear facing microphone because it needs to maximally exclude sounds arriving from the front to do it's job.  It forms the surround channel and gets routed to all of the surround speakers.


Record those four channels to the DR-680 (or any 4 channel recorder).  I usually route the L/R omni pair to channels 1&2, the center to channel 3, and the single rear facing surround channel to channel 4.  Set record levels normally, but see the note I’ll put in a flowing post about recording levels, which can be a way of working around certain playback adjustment limitations.

The result is a 4 channel LRCB recording (Left, Right, Center, Back) which is similar to and could also be referred to as LRCS (S for surround), but LRCS is a convention specific to Dolby matrix encoding for 2-channel, so I prefer to label it LRCB since this format is intended to remain discrete.   

I’ll explain the playback part in a following post.  Playback has more potential complications than making the recording, which is actually pretty simple.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 04:23:29 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #61 on: October 08, 2014, 02:30:09 PM »
But before I get to playback-

If you have available two additional supercardioid microphones and are recording into a DR-680 where you can record 6 channels, you can improve on that simple 4-channel microphone setup by recording 5 or 6 microphone channels total, without really complicating the mic bar rigging at all.  To do that, add the pair of supercardioids spaced about 15” to either side of center (30” total) facing directly to either side (180 degrees apart, just like the front/back cardioids, but pointing directly at the omnis).  Leave the center and rear microphones the same, and space the omnis a full 5 to 6’ apart.   I attach the supercardioids to the same telescopic TV antenna mounting bar which holds the 4061s, so there are no extra mounting equipment required, just two more mics and cables into channels 5&6 of the DR-680.   

When you add the side facing supercardioids you can eliminate the rear facing cardioid if you like, but it’s still nice to have.  You then have a surround variant of the Optimum Stereo Cardioid microphone setup (OCT), which is a well established front channel surround recording configuration.

Alternately you could record the SBD to 5&6 if you like.   
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 03:54:19 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #62 on: October 08, 2014, 05:52:05 PM »
Okay, now for getting that 4 channel recording into a 5 channel surround system-

If you have four or more channel output capability from of your DAW (analog out through a soundcard or interface box probably, maybe LPCM via HDMI), load the files in there.  That will give you the most control over properly balancing the channels with each other, and doing that is absolutely critical for good results.

If not you can play the files back directly off the recorder, but adjustment of individual channel level balance (and EQ if you want to get fancy and really dial things in) is not possible on the DR-680.  You have a few options in that case:

1)   You might run the 4 channel output from the 680 through the channels of an analog mixer to get independent level control (and optionally EQ) over each channel individually, as long as you can get the 4 channel output out of the mixer you are using without summing to 2-channel.  The direct channel outs might work, AUX or Effect sends, 4-ch tape outs, whatever.
2)   You might insert some other sort of analog volume control (like a cheapo in-line passive variable-level headphone attenuator pots) in each channel, or at least in the center and back channels so you have the ability to attenuate them separately from Left/Right.
3)   If you have an Edirol/Roland R44, you can just transfer the files to that and gain control over individual channel output level as well as the option for individual channel playback EQ (which is nice to have, but not nearly as critical as independent control over levels). 

If using either the DR-680 or R44 for playback, make sure the menu is set correctly so that the output from the recorder’s RCA jacks is each channel independent of the others and not a stereo mix appearing across pairs of RCAs.  On either recorder it is very easy to overlook that since all channels will have output from them either way.


Plug that 4ch output (over which you now have some kind of individual level control) into a home-theater amplifier, which will provide amplification and global control over volume and bass/treble tone adjustment.  Usually you will plug into the analog 5.1 or 7.1 RCA inputs used for a DVD player.  Route the 4 output channels to the 5 inputs channels as follows- Left>Left, Right>Right, Center>Center, and Surround to both surround channels via an RCA ‘Y’ splitter.  You can split the surround channel further to send it to more than two surround channels if you have those available.

The other connection possibility is HDMI sending multichannel LPCM from your DAW.  In that case you would ‘mult’ the back channel output within the DAW so it is feeding all the available surround channels in the LPCM stream (virtual ‘Y’ splitters).
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 06:27:39 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #63 on: October 08, 2014, 06:26:41 PM »
Finally the fun part.  You now have signals reaching the 5 inputs of the receiver, and have independent level control over balancing them.  You can now actually hear something.

First run through the surround receiver setup and balance the system correctly as necessary.  Basic stuff, forgive me for even mentioning it, but most of them are not set up right, even when people think they are. Check the number of speakers, presence or absence of a subwoofer, double check and set the correct distance/delay settings for all speakers, and run the pink-noise function to get the output level from all speakers as close as possible to each other.

With all that out of the way-

Mute or unplug the center and back inputs and play your recording with just the Left and Right channels.  Adjust the channel level balance of just the spaced Left/Right omni pair alone.  EQ them if you like.  If it’s a recording made outdoors at a fest or amphitheater it probably sounds pretty good, just like a spaced omni recording should.  Without getting into stuff like dynamic compression or stereo width manipulation, that’s pretty much the full extent of the adjustment you have over a straight 2-ch stereo AUD recording. 

Once happy with that, un-mute the center channel and bring it up in level until it blends seamlessly into the Left and Right channels.  It should make the entire stage across the front more solid like at the live event, improve the clarity and mid/treble range over the spaced omnis alone, improve the imaging all across the front, and make the recording sound more present and less reverberant, less distant.  If you want to EQ the center to blend even better, mute the Left/Right and get the center sounding good on its own first, keeping in mind that that the bass in the center channel doesn’t matter and might even be better EQ’d down.  Once you get the center sounding good, take it’s level back down, unmute the L/R channels, then readjust the center level balance as appropriate to blend with the L/R channels.  Play around with the center level.  You'll find there is a range of acceptable levels, within which you gain some nice control over the reverberant balance, the overall tone, the width of the front stage, and the solidity and dominance of the center which isn't available to you in 2-channel stereo.  You can also globally change the overall tone with the bass/treble controls (like you can with stereo) across all three channels together, but unlike stereo, you also have control over frequency equalization of elements within the front stage by tweaking the center differently from the Left and Right sides.  It's all inter-related.  That's why I suggest its best to start by getting each part sounding as good as possible on it's own before combining them.  That makes it's easier to find the magical optimal blend.

If all that EQ talk is too much, forget all that and just get the levels right.  That's the most important part.

Once the three front channels are well balanced things should sound really good.  Clear, big, wide, stable, a lot like it does live.  At that point you can bring up the back channel routed to the surround speakers.  The appropriate level (and EQ) will vary a lot more than the center, depending on the material, the recording environment, the audience and other stuff.  The optimal level will also vary significantly during a recording.  You’ll most likely want more at the start and end and between songs when it’s mostly audience reaction all around, more for quieter or simpler songs, less when things get loud an complex, less if the audience in back is obnoxious, or if the environment is overly reverberant.  You can ride the level of it for your own listening enjoyment, or just leave it at the lowest acceptable level.  A bit to little is better than a bit too much, but you will probably always want some level from that back channel. Even at low levels where you otherwise don’t notice the contribution from the surrounds, a front/back sonic dimension and depth will manifest within in the room, the whole environment will sound more natural and less 2-dimensional, the bass will sound more live and substantial, the music less anchored unnaturally to the front of the room as if listening through the window of a press-box.  You may notice that you can listen with enjoyment facing sideways, and not just straight ahead, and that the image doesn't collapse to the nearest speaker as easily if you get up an move around.  The best level for the back channel is one where you don’t consciously take notice of the sound from the back and sides during the music until it is muted, or until the audience reaction between songs comes in and totally envelops the room.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2014, 06:28:54 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #64 on: October 08, 2014, 07:18:19 PM »
If you recorded 6 channels by including the supercardioids to form an OCT + spaced omnis setup (or maybe just record 5 by eliminating the back facing channel), the routing is a bit different.

For 5 channel playback-
The center mic still goes to the Center channel.
The Left and Right supercardioids go to the Left and Right channels.
The Left and Right omnis go to the Surround Left (side) and Surround Right (side) channels.
The optional Back facing cardioid is ignored (saved for later projects).

For 6 or 7 channel playback-
If the receiver has 7.1 channel DVD inputs, the Back cardioid channel is split with a 'Y' like before, and routed to both the Surround Back Left and Back Right channels.

Trick for 6 or 7 channel playback using a 5.1 receiver (this is what I do)-
If the receiver only has 5.1 ch DVD inputs you can still playback full 6 channel surround on most receivers, because the DVD inputs typically bypass the bass management system in the receiver in multichannel DVD input mode.  As far as the receiver is concerned, in that mode the .1 DVD input is just another channel, with an RCA output instead of an internal amplifier following it.   So the Back facing cardioid is run through the .1 channel of the DVD input on the receiver which provides level control for it along with the other 5.  The subwoofer RCA output from the receiver then feeds an external amplifier with it's output level set to match the other 5 channels of the receiver, and that amplifier drives one or more speakers in the very back of the room.  All  channels are then controlled using the one master volume control of the 5.1 receiver, it's master mute (and at least on my Panasonic receiver, 6 ch global bass/treble tone control).
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #65 on: October 08, 2014, 08:26:32 PM »
Why record 5 or 6 channels instead of 4?

The 5 channel OCT + spaced omni setup is a significant further improvement over the already impressive 4 channel setup described above.  Each supercardioid forms a near-spaced pair in combination with the center cardioid.  Each of those pairs has a Stereo Recording Angle which hands-off seamlessly to the other side in the middle.  The conical null plane of the supercardioid on each side faces the direction of the main front speaker and surround speaker on the opposite side, so the channel separation across the three closely spaced main LCR playback channels up front and the between the Left/Right main channels and their opposing surround channel on the opposite side in back is maximized as much as possible.  That means there is minimal L in the R channel and vice-versa, until well out to the far sides when the reverse polarity lobes come in at low level and help to decorellate any reverberant pickup from the far sides reaching the Left and Right channels.  It also means Rear Left Surround reaching the Front Right speaker is minimized and vice-versa.  Probably least important aspect, which is still very nice to have, is the surround channels are now fully discrete for even greater natural 3-dimensional ambient envelopment and improved directional imaging of audience sounds (which further improves the cocktail party effect related ability to 'tune out' sounds in back which we don't care to pay attention to).
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #66 on: October 08, 2014, 08:45:56 PM »
I appreciate the usual details, Gutbucket.

However, the last 6 posts are why I don't want to consider recording in surround sound.  Way too complicated for my audio aural experience.  I wouldn't ever release a recording but I'd have hard drives filled with GB's full of surround sound files undecoded.
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #67 on: October 08, 2014, 08:48:57 PM »
Decades ago I set up a pair of speakers in the back of my listening room with a Dynaquad hookup, then some years later I repeated this experiment with a Sony ambience amplifier. It was pleasant and interesting, and the listening experience (with my own, mainly two-microphone recordings) suddenly became less exciting if you switched the rear channels off--proof that something positive was being offered.

But it never got to where it seemed like a natural part of the playback, and it always required fiddling with the front/back balance, which was a substantial distraction. Every recording needed different settings; many recordings (especially multi-miked commercial LPs) didn't benefit much from having the rear channels no matter what settings were chosen. It wasn't long before I went back to just two speakers.

Nowadays I could easily record with the Schoeps "double M/S" approach and derive high-quality surround from that, but I find that I just don't want to bother. I record mainly for other people--mostly musicians--and they all have two-channel playback systems. I don't think I know anyone who listens to music recordings in surround, other than two antithetical groups of people: (a) some engineers I know, mostly in Europe, who are professionally involved with surround sound, and (b) some other people who play back all their recordings on their (relatively casual-fi) video sound systems, who don't bother to turn the rear channels off even though they're usually not sitting in the central listening area.

No doubt surround can help to recreate something like "the feeling of a concert hall experience." But when I record, I'm not trying to recreate that experience. I'm not even sure why anyone would want to, unless they got interested in that challenge for its own sake. I'm a trained classical musician who mainly records classical music, but to me there's nothing sacred or special about any particular concert hall, or concert halls in general. They're places where people like to go to hear (and some of us go to perform) some kinds of music; they're good at supporting that activity. But they represent a certain, special listening "idiom," while I'm just trying to present the music the best I can for the playback approach that nearly everyone employs for home listening--a pair of front loudspeakers spaced some distance apart. The two sound idioms (concert hall vs. home listening) are very different.

Many people here record with one of two types of pickup technique, one of which has terrible stereo imaging (spaced omnis) and the other one of which doesn't often capture the spaciousness of a hall (X/Y, especially when cardioids are used, even worse when they're dual-diaphragm cardioids, and worst of all when the angle between them is too narrow). So evidently, a lot of people are willing to give up a whole lot of one or the other main benefit of stereo, even though there are perfectly viable alternatives.

--best regards
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 09:19:32 PM by DSatz »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #68 on: October 08, 2014, 10:53:33 PM »
vanark, Most of that stuff is in the last 6 posts is detailing playback complications and explaining a few ways of working around them for anyone who is interested and would actually like to try it.  Much of the remainder is an attempt at some explanation of why it works rather than a straight outline of what to do.

But at the heart of it you're absolutely right of course!


DSatz, thanks for your insightful and always welcome comments.  You're also are of course completely correct, except I'll disagree about the ability to achieve high-quality surround (for music at least) from a double M/S setup.  Double M/S is a subset of ambisonics, using a 'native array' of standard capsules for horizontal only recording and reproduction (as opposed to a tetrahedral array as used in the SoundField and TetraMic ambisonic implementations).  As a first-order coincident format, I maintain that it is limited to at most 4 channel output in high-quality and that the quality of it's output for channel counts greater that that will degrade rapidly due to the increasing overlap of the first-order microphone coincident patterns, especially in an asymmetric playback array such as the common 5 channel surround setup for film (ITU-R BS 775).  At it's heart this is basically the same argument you make against coincident formats for 2-channel stereo using cardioids.  All this is not to say double M/S is may not be an wise choice for TV surround, film ambiance work or any application where it's small and compact size is more important than the ultimate sound quality for multichannel music reproduction, especially since many of those applications targeting the common 5-channel playback arrangements reserve the center channel for dialog use only.  Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I venture there are no professional orchestras using a double-M/S or a tetrahedral ambisonic microphone in place of a main microphone spaced array of some sort + surround mics for their 5 and 7 channel film soundtrack recordings, irregardless of the section and spot microphones used.

My experience in experimenting with Dynaquad hookups, ambience extraction and matrix surround techniques years ago was similar to what you describe.  Interesting, fun to play with, exciting on some material, I personally learned things from playing around with those things but eventually they were not something that stuck.

I mentioned at the start of this thread that I'm not out to convert anyone.  But I would like to share what I've learned with anyone here who is interested at all, even if no one else ever cares to try any of it.  For me, working through all this and developing techniques which accomplish what I want to achieve, although far from a mainstream approach, is all part of the fun, challenge and enjoyment for me.  In part it's a challenge for its own sake like you say, but I would have dropped it all long ago if that's all it was.  It really does grab me in a way no stereo reproduction has ever been able to do, and is a deeper path into the emotional and artistic essence of music for me.  That part of this is a completely personal thing, and perhaps a guilty and selfish pleasure on my part, but regardless I value that experience greatly, and for me that in itself is enough.  There are far worse personal vices to chase. 

Great performance spaces aren't sacred, neither are any recording techniques, playback systems, or priceless instruments with astronomical values made by artisans centuries ago on which highly talented musicians perform.  But what is truly special and perhaps sacred is the transcendent experience which really excellent music is capable of stirring within us.  For me, on top of all this being an interesting intellectual challenge, a fun hobby and diversion from other more serious facets of my life, it is most valuable to me as a tool for chasing, enhancing and making the most of that personal transcendent experience.  That it is capable of doing that is absolutely astounding to me, and more than reason enough for me to pursue it.  If other's can get the same enjoyment from it in the minor sense, or anything close to the transcendence its opened up for me in that greater sense, that's fantastic, but I'm not pursuing this with that expectation.  The goal for me isn't perfect 'fidelity' in recreating the original, I know it's all at best a convincing illusion.  It's not even about sharing the music, as laudable as that is and although I hope that's a by-product of all this. It's really just about making what's "good" in my personal experience of the music "better", and secondarily discussing the pursuit of that on this technical music recording forum.

And for that reason, I did sort of hope that more people around here would be interested in discussing the basic acoustics, engineering and stuff on which this is based, along with the practical implementations, but that is what it is, and there seems to be less discussions of that type around here than there were a number of years ago.  This thread got me worked up and obviously uncorked the ink a bit.

~Regards and thanks for the ear.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #69 on: October 08, 2014, 11:02:44 PM »
Some stuff I already wrote earlier but didn't post so I’ll post it now before I sign off-


Here are a few things I've leaned with those setups which surprised me, and may be hard for you all to believe-

I knew I wanted the omnis widely spaced for optimal low frequency envelopment, and to generally match the stereo SRA at the recording positions from which I’m using this setup.  That doesn't change between these 4 to 6 channel setups.  It is about twice what I would use and generally suggest for a 2-channel A-B setup from the same location, which is typically about 3’.  That’s probably not hard to believe.

I thought making the surrounds discrete by using the omnis for that role instead of mult'ing all the surrounds from a single rear facing microphone would be a lot more important for good surround ambiance than I now think it is, even though it does offers a very welcome improvement (the improvement in audience imaging is far greater, but that doesn't really matter so much in the grand scheme of things). 

I was surprised that pointing supercardioids directly to the sides works so well as Left/Right channels, even though I know that its in combination with the center microphone, I understand the Stereo Zoom implications combined with the narrower speaker spacing between L/C and C/R compared to a stereo pair setup feeding L/R speakers spaced twice as wide, and that it is based on the OCT setup designed and well justified on strong theoretical grounds by Gunther Theile.  It still feels somewhat odd to me angling what is essentially a main L/R pair 180 degrees apart, pointing directly to the sides, even with a center cardioid in the middle facing directly forward.  I know many of you will dismiss that outright as being simply insane, despite any logical justifications for it.


And a few concluding remarks from earlier, then I’ll let it lie-

Good pedigree mics are always best, but a good recording position and appropriate mic configuration are far more important.  Inexpensive mics properly arranged and placed in a better recording position will make a far superior recording than zillion dollar mics plopped down wherever without much thought behind their setup. Just like stereo.

These mic setups have a lot of thought and experimentation behind them on my part but are actually quite simple to setup and use. Even the 5 (or 6) channel OCT+omnis setup basically has all the mics arranged more or less in a row, essentially distributed along long bar except for the center/back pair, which doesn't stick out far enough to be much more of problem than a typical stereo setup.   I find that to be the case even at outdoor events where people march around with stuffed animals on poles and other crazy stuff.  Audiences tend to arrange themselves naturally in rows either standing or sitting in folding chairs and the wide but thin front/back setup works well in that situation. The 6' width of the omnis can be somewhat difficult to manage at times but no different than a stereo pair of spaced omnis spaced the same distance.  It’s really not too bad to handle or even very visually intrusive from behind with the thin black TV antennas and lightweight miniature omnis. I love help blocking but commonly run these things myself from the middle of a crowd.  If the situation is sketchy but manageable, I can retract the omnis to a narrower spread of 3’ or so and comfortably block solo.

One of the most important aspects in working through how to go about conceptualizing what is going on with all this, then putting stuff together and testing variations to confirm how it actually works in the real world, has been reading and referring to the basic work of people I deeply admire who have graciously shared much of their knowledge on the internet, such as David Griesinger, Michael Williams, Gunther Theile, Eberhard Sengpiel, and Stan Linkwitz to name only a small handful of many of the top of my head.  I’ll never achieve anywhere close the accomplishments and contributions of those experts, but I still enjoy sharing what I’ve learned of all this and TS is the place I can do that.

Thanks also to the gear-makers that make this possible. Especially the smaller manufacturers which make gear specifically targeting live music recording who are members here such as Jon at Naiant, Chris at Church Audio, Len at Core Sound, and cable makers like Ted and Darktrain.  These surround recording systems I’m writing about use gear from all of those guys.  Thanks.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #70 on: October 08, 2014, 11:05:29 PM »
Oh yeah, forgot this side note I had posted earlier, then removed because it wasn’t really relevant and distracted from the stuff I was posting about.  But people asked about this earlier and it seems to be a common question in dealing with surround so here it is (re-posted):

On the .1 channel in 5.1, 7.1 etc.-

You can always ignore recording a .1 channel.  The recording of a .1 channel is completely separate from the effective use of subwoofers on playback.  Recording a .1 channel is completely unnecessary and a useless complication which gains you nothing.  Storage of a .1 channel is an archaic, pre-digital movie cinema holdover and 'work around' from the era when sufficient dynamic range for tactile rumble and boom was limited by large theater analog playback system equipment.  The recording of a .1 channel is completely separate from the effective use of subwoofers for playback, which can very advantageous.  Proper bass-management for mulitchannel playback augmented by subwoofers, and for small satellite speaker / subwoofer playback systems which are totally dependent a subwoofer for large portions of their frequency response, is specific to the particulars of each system and is done at the playback system level.  We easily record the full frequency range with two channel stereo, we can do the same with multichannel.  Ignore the .1 and focus on the main channels.  It still applies to cinema sound, but is really only for compatibility reasons and not based on any rational requirements for modern surround recording and reproduction.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #71 on: December 02, 2014, 03:31:27 PM »
I had forgotten that we had a similar discussion a number of years back, at least the details of the Soundfield/TetraMic ambisonic microphone options for stereo, until I came across the older thread today.  Linking it here as its relevant to this discussion- http://taperssection.com/index.php?topic=141195.msg1823667#msg1823667
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Offline DSatz

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2014, 12:59:46 PM »
gutbucket, I just wanted to say "Yes, I agree" to the paragraph in your first message from Oct. 8, where you discussed the limitations of double M/S as a pickup method for 5.1 surround.

Unfortunately I'm not in the loop enough any more to know what microphone setups the major European orchestras are using for surround broadcasts or recordings. The next NY AES convention, when I see some friends from Germany and elsewhere, I'll ask. But if any of them are one-point setups, or even self-contained "tree"-type setups like the Microtech Gefell five-mike setup, then I think that would be for the sake of full compatibility with two-channel playback--a special requirement for broadcasting that doesn't apply quite as much with other forms of distribution (whatever those may be).

--best regards
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #73 on: December 12, 2014, 06:06:12 PM »
Thanks, I'll be interested in hearing about that.

I assume the focus of most professional surround recording of music done on-location with surround microphone arrays these days is orchestral recording of film scores by movie studios, at least here in the USA.  The situation may be somewhat different in Europe.


I'm convinced the greatest potential for growth of good surround playback will be via virtualized binaural playback using ordinary headphones, and perhaps secondarily in-car-surround-audio, rather than in-room multi-channel surround playback setups in people's homes.   If there is a future for surround recording of live-music of the type this web-forum focuses on, with wide distribution of those recordings as is done today with stereo recordings, I expect that is how most people will listen to and enjoy them.


My greatest challenge and focus at this point forward lies on the post-recording side of things.  Software tools are advancing and slowly falling into place.  I really like to find a way to mix my recordings to a single distributable format which works for fully discrete multichannel surround playback over speakers, virtualizes to binaural headphone playback, and which also folds down gracefully without artifacts for regular 2-channel stereo speaker or headphone playback.  In light of that, I've recently been reading a bit about the Auro-3-D format which is very interesting in that it purportedly can, among other things, losslessly encode effectively 16+bits of multichannel information into a two channel 24-bit stereo PCM file by using a few of the least significant bits to store something like checksum and metadata, allowing for either extraction of the original 6 channels of 16+bit information from the single 24-bit stereo PCM file by use of a decoder, or direct stereo playback of the file for a 2-channel fold down mix without any decoding.

The encoding and multichannel extraction is proprietary at this point is seems, but apparently has potential to become something of an open format.  In any case, the 2-channel WAV is always playable.  Interesting paper on the codec downloadable at this link-

http://www.auro-3d.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/Auro3D-Octopus-White-Paper-v2-7-20111117.pdf
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #74 on: December 13, 2014, 07:21:30 PM »
Have you seen this excerpt from a Paul McCartney virtual reality concert? It's available as an app from Jaunt VR:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jauntvr.preview.mccartney
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #75 on: December 14, 2014, 02:58:20 AM »
Thanks, I'll be interested in hearing about that.

I assume the focus of most professional surround recording of music done on-location with surround microphone arrays these days is orchestral recording of film scores by movie studios, at least here in the USA.  The situation may be somewhat different in Europe.


I'm convinced the greatest potential for growth of good surround playback will be via virtualized binaural playback using ordinary headphones, and perhaps secondarily in-car-surround-audio, rather than in-room multi-channel surround playback setups in people's homes.   If there is a future for surround recording of live-music of the type this web-forum focuses on, with wide distribution of those recordings as is done today with stereo recordings, I expect that is how most people will listen to and enjoy them.


My greatest challenge and focus at this point forward lies on the post-recording side of things.  Software tools are advancing and slowly falling into place.  I really like to find a way to mix my recordings to a single distributable format which works for fully discrete multichannel surround playback over speakers, virtualizes to binaural headphone playback, and which also folds down gracefully without artifacts for regular 2-channel stereo speaker or headphone playback.  In light of that, I've recently been reading a bit about the Auro-3-D format which is very interesting in that it purportedly can, among other things, losslessly encode effectively 16+bits of multichannel information into a two channel 24-bit stereo PCM file by using a few of the least significant bits to store something like checksum and metadata, allowing for either extraction of the original 6 channels of 16+bit information from the single 24-bit stereo PCM file by use of a decoder, or direct stereo playback of the file for a 2-channel fold down mix without any decoding.

The encoding and multichannel extraction is proprietary at this point is seems, but apparently has potential to become something of an open format.  In any case, the 2-channel WAV is always playable.  Interesting paper on the codec downloadable at this link-

http://www.auro-3d.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/Auro3D-Octopus-White-Paper-v2-7-20111117.pdf

Dolby Atmos is coming to home theater systems in the future.

Atmos is a method of defining a mix independent of speaker placement. Place your sources in 3D space (which may be modified over time). Give Atmos the details of your speaker setup, number of channels, placement, etc and it processes the mix custom to the room.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #76 on: December 15, 2014, 01:41:44 AM »
The technology behind object-based systems (as opposed to more traditional channel defined systems) like Atmos and DTX MDA is very cool, yet I don't see an object-based system being obviously advantageous in live-music recording.  It's value for constructing complex movie sound from a multitude of individual elements is easy to see, and I can imagine it being used for building surround music recording similarly from individual elements. It seems to me it's analogous to building a stereo mix from a multitrack, panning individual elements around, as opposed to recording with a stereo or surround microphone array with microphones assigned directly to playback channels.

For a more on Atmos, MDX, Auro-3D, etc., here are a number of videos from Mix Magazine's Imersive Sound Conference-http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/Mix-Magazine-Immersive-Sound-Conference

The DTS Headphone X surround visualization sounds potentially promising.  I haven't heard any demos of it yet.  However, I remain suspicious of any virtualizer which doesn't use individual measurements of the users own HRTFs. In my experience the only headphone surround visualization I've heard which worked incredibly well without artifacts (so utterly convincing it's spooky) is the Smyth Realizer- http://www.smyth-research.com/, capable of up to 8 channels placed anywhere, but that's a rather costly dedicated processing box which requires specific calibration for each listener using miniature microphones placed in one's ears to record personal HTRFs for all speaker locations to be reproduced and for correcting the headphone response itself. If anyone reading this ever gets a chance to have the personal calibration done and demo it, I recommend doing so highly. I haven't yet listened to Darin Fong's Out Of Your Head multichannel virtualization plugin, which purportedly uses speaker measurements taken with the Smyth Virtualizer but use generic HRTFs instead of being personalized to the listeners ears.  Demos files can be found here- https://fongaudio.com/demo/

I'll have to checkout that McCartney VR concert excerpt too.
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #77 on: December 21, 2014, 04:20:10 PM »
Dolby Atmos is coming to home theater systems in the future.

Atmos is a method of defining a mix independent of speaker placement. Place your sources in 3D space (which may be modified over time). Give Atmos the details of your speaker setup, number of channels, placement, etc and it processes the mix custom to the room.

Ambisonics does the same and it's open source, mature, and essentially free. In my opinion, Atmos is Dolby's attempt to keep their rather lucrative cinema franchise going with a surround product that's no better than Ambisonics, especially when Ambisonics is supplemented by other perceptual location enhancers like Harpex.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #78 on: December 23, 2014, 01:01:51 PM »
Outside of both systems 'decoupling' the mix from the playback speaker arrangement, the biggest difference between Atmos and Ambisonics is that Atmos is object based, so some things remain defined as individual elements which play back at specific times and in defined spatial locations all the way to the rendering device in the theater, rather than being a fully pre-cooked mix.  That's where much of the value exists in the new formats, for cinema applications at least.

Other than the techniques for recording, one of the aspects I find most interesting and applicable here is this 'decoupling' of recording and storage formats from playback formats.  I think that's where the most growth and adoption potential for surround sound lie in general, and more specifically for a wider application of surround sound for music reproduction.  Ambisonics has been capable of that from the beginning that’s the way it is almost always used. 

Perhaps ironically, the surround recording techniques I've discussed previously in the thread are mostly conceptually simple approaches with direct mapping from microphone channel to speaker playback channel.  That direct channel mapping is what presents the biggest problem with playback flexibility. Those techniques and the recordings made with them needn't always be constrained that way though, and that’s the direction forward to greater adoption.

In the commercial cinema world, which drives the surround sound market and where all serious technological developments are focused, Dolby now markets their zillion speaker Atmos system to theater owners, while Barco offers lower-cost 9 to 12 channel Auro theater options, and DTS offers their alternate take on commercial movie theater.  All those companies now talk about arriving at a defacto common open standard to simplify the creation, and distribution of  film content (or rather ‘digital theater’, as 'film' rapidly becomes an archaic term sort of like us referring to live music recording as 'taping').  They differentiate themselves by marketing their own production tools to creators, while understanding the value of producing output which will work more or less everywhere through any other company’s B-chain reproduction equipment, but also strongly market their own versions of that reproduction gear to differentiate themselves to theater owners.  The differences lie at the ends of the chain, the need for common ground lies in the middle. This is the direction things are rapidly moving in the cinema world, and is the reasonable and perhaps inevitable approach as surround sound playback solutions constantly evolve towards more and more complex arrangements at the front and back ends of the chain.

In contrast, the situation of the past 25 years or so has been one of final reproduction formats which are more or less standardized (5.1 / 7.1), but using different proprietary distribution formats specific to each company: Dolby digital, DTS, SDDS.  Now the reproduction formats have become different from each other, and it has become beneficial to these companies to provide movie studios and theaters with more of an open common storage and distribution format, while freeing themselves to develop creation and final playback tools where they can differentiate their products.  This is a business to business thing between companies such as Dolby, movie studios and theater owners and doesn't directly affect us as individuals but is a positive trend and the trickle-down from this dynamic has the potential to be very beneficial..

Ambisonics already works that way.  It exists in all three realms- recording/creation, storage/manipulation, and playback.  It is almost never used exclusively for all three, especially playback, at least outside of research institutes and places like science museums. There is no potential for growth of classic ambisonic playback through geometrically symmetrical playback arrays, although there is possibly some application of ambisonic techniques to improve non-ambisonic playback.  It can be used for storage, but is only used in the cinema world on the content creation side (recording), so its use as a widespread storage format is unlikely and also less flexible.  It is obviously used for recording via ambisonic microphones as well as other direct creation techniques, and in that case is often directly converted to some other form for storage/manipulation and final output (ie: directly from microphone A-format to a virtual 2-channel stereo output for instance through a SoundField microphone controller box or the Tetramic software)

Ambisonics might be best utilized as a simple and powerful manipulation tools for other formats, separate from its creation and reproduction aspects, where the techniques work for stereo manipulation as well as multichannel surround.  Ambisionics ‘decoupled’ the recording/creation stage from the storage/manipulation stage and the playback stage from the start, long before other surround formats which are only beginning to do so now.

Harpex exists in this world of ‘decoupled’ formats, as it is specific purpose is to convert and manipulate ambisonic (or other) input to form two-channel stereo or binaural headphone output.

Outside of the cinema, binaural reproduction over headphones is the most likely way for a majority of people to be able to enjoy surround content these days, regardless of whether the content was originally constructed from objects flown around by a mixer on a dub-stage, or recorded with microphones binaurally, ambisonicly or some other way.  Yet that same content should be expected to also work in the car, out of the TV, over a traditional stereo system, in the home-theaters of the few that have them, in the big-ticket Atmos or Barco or DTS theaters downtown, or wherever.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 01:08:03 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #79 on: December 23, 2014, 01:17:50 PM »
> Harpex exists in this world of ‘decoupled’ formats, as it is specific purpose is to convert and manipulate ambisonic (or other) input to form two-channel stereo or binaural headphone output

It does much more than that and is not limited to two-channel formats.

It does active filtering, and to my ear, it tracks objects based on their frequency features.

See harpex.net for more details
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #80 on: December 23, 2014, 04:44:16 PM »
Right, thanks for posting the link, and perhaps I should have phrased that a bit differently. I realize Harpex is capable of a multitude of output formats.  I haven't used it myself yet, but it is cool stuff.  However, regardless of it's methodology and quality, it converts the input to a different output format.  In doing that it is an excellent example of 'decoupling' the recording format from the playback format.  The only exception I can think of would be when Harpex is set to output a 1st order ambisonic B-format file, from a B-format input, in which case it is acting as a form of processing, but isn't translating between different formats.

That 'decoupling' of recording and playback is not just something I think is interesting and useful, but is in my opinion vitally important for the advancement of surround sound if it to become more relevant, easier to use and more widely adopted.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 04:45:59 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #81 on: November 19, 2015, 08:24:05 PM »
I've been scheming for years about building a portable surround playback system which I can load into a car and take to a friends back yard, or a remote campsite back in the woods, maybe at a music festival where I'm recording.  Good enough to give people a first hand experience of what this is all about in person, outside of my own home.  A live-music surround road show of sorts; a first go at a portable musical teleportation time-machine playback system. 

The trick is making it good enough, yet portable enough, and not too much of a pain to setup and break down.

I getting closer, recently receiving a Coleman brand hexagonal pop up canopy - basically similar a standard 10' square pop-up canopy, but with six legs instead of four.  I plan to run speaker wiring though the collapsible frame, and install quick mounting points so I can pop-it-open, attach small outdoor patio speakers to each leg, and plug the wiring loom into a Panasonic class-D home theater receiver with 6-channel analog inputs, fed from the 6-channel analog output of a DR-680, and powered either by a long orange AC extension cord or an inverter and deep-cycle battery.   The hexagonal pop-up canopy will the speaker arrangement correct and easily repeatable, make the speaker wiring manageable, and will can provide some shelter - An immersive sound pagoda.

Any suggestions on appropriate small outdoor speakers?  They need to be weather-resistant, and relatively small and light as I'll need to pack 6 of them.  Thinking these may work, price is reasonable, but know nothing of the company- http://www.outdoorspeakerdepot.com/aphifioupapa.html

It may make sense to use very small speakers, and forget trying to get any bass extension from them, and just plan on filling the bottom with a subwoofer or two crossed high enough.  May need the subs anyway.  I'm thinking the tiny "bending-mode-radiator" Cambridge Audio Minx speakers could work quite nicely- very small, and they reportedly sound very good, but are way too costly and have a paper diaphragm.   An old Cambridge portable 2-channel sub/satellite system (ran off 12VDC, speakers and amp stowed inside the suitcase sub) which a friend brought to our campsite to review to my recordings made during a festival was part inspiration for this.

Maybe a plastic housed car sub for weather resistance, perhaps something like the Infinity Basslink?- http://www.harmanaudio.com/refurbished-speakers/BASSLINK+REFURB.html

Or maybe I'll need to build my own sub(s), perhaps housed in a hard-plastic Pelican-Case like briefcase or something similar.  Ideally the speakers could store inside them, say three or four suitcases total- one or two as subs, one for storing the HT amp and inverter, possibly a fourth for storing the remaining speakers.  Obviously this wouldn't be super compact, but three or four suitcases and the folded canopy in it's zippered bag would fit in the back seat of a car.

Thinking out loud here, and open to ideas and suggestions.

I can even imagine eventually doubling the speaker count to twelve for direct ambisonic playback with height- two speakers on each leg, forming an upper and lower hexagonal ring, with one at ground level, the other up at top canopy top level.  I have Tetramic recordings to feed it!
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 08:27:21 PM by Gutbucket »
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #82 on: November 20, 2015, 09:59:54 AM »
Hmmm ... I grabbed two sets of Cambridge Audio computer speakers with subs that were being thrown out at work. They have just been stored away but may have to drag them out an give them a try. The L-R speakers are cubes very similar to the ones you talked about.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #83 on: November 20, 2015, 10:25:15 AM »
Lee,
kindms gave me an older set like these newer models many years ago and they worked great until the electronics gave out.
https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/products/speakers/minx-min-12-22
 
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #84 on: November 20, 2015, 11:31:08 AM »
^ Those are the ones.  Haven't actually heard them myself.  You liked them?  Decent enough output level despite there size? 

If I can scrounge up six of those used at a decent price I'm thinking they may be ideal.  Certainly perfect size-wise.  However the cheapest I can find them new is $120 each ($199 list) and I need something at about half that cost, which is probably more in line with what these should cost new anyway.  The sub(s) needs to take over below about 120 to 150Hz with these.

The old portable CA sub/satellite system that friend brought along a few times used small traditional 2-way sats, somewhat bigger than these.  Sounded decent, and played loud enough with the sub.  The little sub was the weakest link there.

I'll be curious what you think of those CA computer speakers once you give them a listen, Walter, and if they are the Minx BMR style flat radiators or traditional two ways with a cone and dome tweeter.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #85 on: November 20, 2015, 11:50:35 AM »
^^^
I did like the ones I had, but I feel they were more like the ones cybergaloot is speaking of, as they were the very old style white cubes with subwoofer. There were 4 cubes with one sub in that package.
I agree that the cost you mention seems too high. should be able to find some CA surrounds for less.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #86 on: November 20, 2015, 12:05:48 PM »
The ones I have are old, at least ten years but the brand name rang a bell and I liked the little white cubes so I saved them from the dumpster. It's amazing what a university throws out sometimes. I'm in the midst of reworking my home audio workstation and can give these an A/B test easily enough once I get my new Mackie Big Knob monitor control wired in. It's looking to be a long Thanksgiving weekend project.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #87 on: November 20, 2015, 02:48:50 PM »
Why not Optimus 7 Pro AV?  Cheap, tank build, modifiable, plentiful.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #88 on: November 20, 2015, 04:53:15 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into these too.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #89 on: January 15, 2016, 04:24:43 PM »
I didn't read every post here so excuse me if this was already mentioned.  I've been live recording for 20+ years and I always thought the holy grail of live taping would be surround sound and high bit rate recordings?  When SACD and DVD-Audio hit the market I ran right out and got a player and some discs.  That was like 15 years ago?  Now the format is dead or almost dead.  I figured that artists  and the industry would totally embrace multi-channel sound?  I was wrong.  Everything went the other direction, lossy MP3.  I get a chuckle out of remembering how I predicted that MP3 would fail.  Boy I was wrong.  So was the industry.  The idea that overly compressed shitty sounding audio would dominate the industry didn't make any sense to me.  DVD blew VHS away.  I thought for sure high resolution, multi-channel audio would replace conventional stereo?  We all know how that has turned out.  As far as concert recording goes?  It's interesting.  It's more interesting when someone, in post, mixes a microphone recording with a soundboard and that gets mixed to multi-channel DVD-audio disc.  I remember fooling around with that.  In the end it just ends up being too much work for a slightly more interesting recording.  I personally feel that 5.1 or 7.2 is much better suited to movies and some concert movies.

As far as high bit rate recordings go?  I've done a few.  My hearing has been tested.  I've got better than average hearing.  I'm completely unimpressed with it.  I went back to 44/16.  It's just not worth the extra large file size for a live microphone recording of a loud rock concert.  However!  I do feel that both multi-channel and high bit rate are important tools in the studio and I could definitely see doing multi-channel surround of a live classical concert where the audience is dead silent except between songs.  That would probably sound amazing.

One last thing.  I'm sure many of us have 5.1 or 7.2 surround sound receiver/amplifiers?  If I playback a 2 track stereo recording that I've made?  I can play it back in 5.1 or 7.2 using different surround fields.  That's fun to mess around with every so often.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #90 on: January 18, 2016, 05:07:17 PM »
As far as concert recording goes?  It's interesting.  It's more interesting when someone, in post, mixes a microphone recording with a soundboard and that gets mixed to multi-channel DVD-audio disc.  I remember fooling around with that.  In the end it just ends up being too much work for a slightly more interesting recording.  I personally feel that 5.1 or 7.2 is much better suited to movies and some concert movies.

In my experience, the surround playback listening experience is far more interesting and worthwhile when the recording setup has been specifically designed and arranged for the pickup and playback of music in surround rather than "2-channel stereo plus other stuff".  Just like when used in combination with a 2-channel stereo AUD recording, a soundboard recording in combination with the surround microphone array can improve up-front clarity by contributing valuable direct sound.  Yet with the inclusion of the SBD or not, the basic foundation of the recording is the design of the microphone array, and that's even more important for worthwhile surround recording of music than with 2-channel stereo, because a large portion of the improvement provided by "surround sound" is creation of a realistic and convincing immersive ambience surrounding the listeners, real enough sounding to allow them to suspend disbelief and at least aurally believe they are "there". 

Sure, something of a surround ambience can be "faked" in various ways with varying degrees of success, one example being what some tapers were doing a decade back or so by putting the SBD in the Front Left/Right channels and an AUD in the Surround Left/Right channels.  But as you mention, that's only slightly more interesting than straight 2-channel stereo, and I personally don't find it very convincing when I listen to them.  Of all the recordings like that I've heard, (usually either DVD-A or DTS CD encoded) I haven't found any of them which are especially convincing or engaging.  I don't find that very surprising since none of those recordings were recorded with appropriate microphone arrays designed for recording surround sound information.  They're all either the combination of two separate 2-channel stereo recordings, or of a SBD and and a 2-channel stereo recording.

Recording (and playback) of surround sound for use with video or film is actually easier than recording for audio only playback.  The visual image dominates the experience and in essence "tells the ears what to expect".  The listener is far less critical of the spatial qualities of the sound itself.  Try turning off the TV and only listening to the audio portion of the surround concert films to see which ones still hold up and which fall flat without the visual crutch.  Many if not most of them get away with mutlitrack mixes and "stereo plus other stuff" tricks.  Very few of them use appropriate microphone arrays designed specifically for multi-channel surround recording, which provide an extension of all the appropriate psycho-acoustic cues we expect from an excellent 2-channel stereo recording.

Although it's harder to do, it's not impossible.  As I'm sure I've said earlier in this thread, I still believe it's one of the last areas where tapers can still do better than many professional producers.  That's partly because I know how good it can be, and because most professional producers are using safe, reliable methods which are "good enough" to satisfy their customers, and good enough for video, even if it isn't really producing satisfying surround audio only listening significantly better than 2-channel stereo.  And partly because an appropriate surround recording microphone array in an appropriate place in the audience capable of translating the "you are there in the heart of it live music listening experience" is vulnerable to the yahoos, superfans, and drunken idiots surrounding it.   Professional producers can't afford to take those risks.  We can.  And along with those risk comes the potential rewards.  Its not appropriate everywhere live music is made and recorded, and it doesn't always pan-out, but sometimes the situation is right and it pays off in spades.

Conversely I don't find much value in high bit-rates.  I'm not saying they are worthless or a bad idea, only that the sound-stage solidity provided by The addition of the center channel (in combination with appropriate microphone technique) and the spatial envelopment provided by the surround channels (again, in combination with appropriate microphone technique) provide far greater, very real returns.  It's very easy for anyone to hear the improvement, but only when recorded and reproduced properly.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #91 on: January 18, 2016, 05:34:29 PM »
One last thing.  I'm sure many of us have 5.1 or 7.2 surround sound receiver/amplifiers?  If I playback a 2 track stereo recording that I've made?  I can play it back in 5.1 or 7.2 using different surround fields.  That's fun to mess around with every so often.

Some of those surround routines which "add ambience" can do wonders for a straight, dry SBD.  And some of the matrix surround modes (which do not "add ambience" but only distribute what's already there across the available playback channels) can work well to extend a good 2-channel stereo recording which already contains sufficient balanced ambience to surround playback. That's not always the case though.  Exceptional 2-channel stereo recordings are often better played back through 2-channels, properly setup.  I typically prefer the DTS NEO6 music matrix to the Dolby PL2X music matrix for that, but both require some tuning of the parameters for best result.   

That gets to a frequent test I use to determine if my surround recording efforts of live music are actually worthwhile to me or not- critical comparison of my best effort 2-channel stereo down-mix to the discrete multi-channel version.  The discrete multichannel version must be supperioir to both direct, un-molested 2-channel playback of the stereo version, as well as playback through those DTS and DOLBY matrix up-mix surround modes.  In this case can "stack the deck" by using some mixing tricks so that playback through the matrix usually beats straight stereo playback because I'm mixing down from the discrete multi-channel surround material and can do things like route the audience info to the surrounds in ways which work better than sending a typical "purist stereo" recording through the same matricies, but unless the discrete surround playback is significantly better than the matrix surround playback of the 2-channel mix, I might as well just record in surround, but mix-down to 2-channel and listen through the matrix.  That would be a lot easier and would playback everywhere.  Unfortunately it's never as good, as convincing or as "tele-transportative" as the discrete multi-channel playback.
volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values | numeric values > voltages > vibrations > virtual teleportation time-machine experience

 

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