Microphone Techniques for Quality Studio Recording

Blackwater Recording ‘Takes’ a Closer Look

Blackwater Recording takes a look at some microphone techniques for quality studio recording. Part of the fun in studio recording may be experimenting with different mic placements. Before heading into the studio, it would be wise to consider the different-yet-specific microphone techniques behind stereo recording.

For the generations that listened to speeches or music coming from one speaker, these microphone techniques may seem “too much.” Using headphones or ear buds enables present-day listeners to enjoy creative ways to hear intriguing sound placements. But how do studios achieve these various results?


A Few Words About Monaural (Mono) Sound

Those who know monaural sound recognize it as the recording you get from using one microphone and one speaker. It is what many of us may think of when we see classic images of performing artists. Whether it was on stage or in a studio, using one microphone gives you monaural sound.

Today, there are several instruments that continue to sound great this way. The most common of these include bass, kick drum, snare drum, and lead vocals. Most listeners expect to hear these balanced or in the center of our listening environment.

Stereo, however, adds more than just another layer to recording. Give a listen to your favorite songs or podcasts today. Think about ‘surround sound.’ See if you can discern some of the different microphone techniques that we’ll talk about here.


How Do They Do That?

Beyond the singular or balanced center of our audio sphere, are several types of ‘stereo’ microphone techniques. With the advent of stereo and sound processing, we can record audio more creatively. As a result, obtaining the best stereo results in the studio often requires knowing various ways to situate the microphones.

The first and most obvious difference is the use of more than a single mic. Attempting the various creative stereo options requires the pairing of at least two or more microphones. These techniques capture different right-and-left sound signals based on their direction and placement.


Four Different Basic Types of Stereo Microphone Techniques

There are the four basic types of stereo techniques you may want to try:

Coincident Pair Microphone Techniques

By aiming the microphones in different directions, the engineer captures signals from the left and right of the sound stage. Some common coincident pair techniques are: X-Y, Blumlein, and Mid-Side.

Near-Coincident Pair Stereo Microphone Techniques

This technique utilizes two microphones placed with a relatively small spacing between elements. Techniques possible with this pairing include: ORTF, NOS, DIS, EBS, RAI, Olson, and Faulkner Array.

Baffled Pair Stereo Microphone Techniques

A baffled pair utilizes two microphones with a relatively small spacing between them along with a barrier. Baffled Omni, Jecklin Disk, and The Wedge are common techniques.

Spaced Omni Microphone Techniques

This uses two or more omni-directional mics spaced a relatively large (1ft. or more) distance apart. Spaced Omnis and Decca Tree arrays are common spaced omni techniques.


Microphone Techniques Offer Creative Options

As you might guess, there are pros and cons associated with the various microphone techniques. Our friends at Audio University offer an in-depth look at what you might expect. Few of us may have the equipment to try these arrangements at home.

You may want to experiment with some of these microphone techniques in our studio setting. Trying out different mic placements can bring a new or unique sound. Specifically, when you look to obtain a certain audio effect, knowing the right microphone technique can help achieve that result.


Technique ‘Take’ Away From Blackwater Recording

If you have spent little or no time in a recording studio, these stereo techniques may seem a little challenging. While surprising perhaps, they do not have to be mysterious. Take time to speak with the recording engineers at Blackwater Recording and discuss your creative options with us. We look forward to seeing you again soon.


To consult or schedule with the professionals at Blackwater Recording, Inc., call us at (540) 721-1413.  All hours are by appointment only. Check back to read our blog regularly for helpful tips microphone techniques for quality studio recording.