Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stereo and Surround Sound Audio Recording

Sam Mallery has written a piece for B&H Insights on audio recording.  In Why and When to Use a Stereo Mic on a Camera, he focuses on consumer microphones for video-enabled DSLR cameras, and consumer cameras with 1/8” mini-plug inputs. He promises a later article on professional stereo microphones that connect with XLR jacks.

Products covered include the Audio Technica Pro-24CM ($63.19), with a Windtech MM1 softie ($29.95), with passing references to the Sennheiser MKE400 ($199.95), R0DE Stereo VideoMic ($249), and Azden SMX-10 ($64.95).

I'm a big believer in getting better audio, and adding an external mic to your kit is a big step forward; particularly if you can get it off the camera. But I'd rather save up for a good wireless mic, and I'm not convinced that a stereo mic is really necessary; maybe it's a good interim step.

One thing I did learn; I wasn't aware that some Sony cameras without a microphone plug may work with the Pearstone Microphone Adapter for Sony Camcorder Hot Shoe ($49.99).
The Pearstone Microphone Adapter for Sony Camcorder Hot Shoe frees you up from being limited to Sony's proprietary microphones by allowing you to use your own external microphone. This adapter, similar to the Sony VMC-K100, works with any Sony camcorder that has an Active Interface Hot Shoe (AIS). Simply connect the adapter to the camcorder's Active Interface shoe and connect your microphone jack to the side of the adapter. Please note, when the adapter is connected to the hot shoe, the camcorder's built-in microphone is disabled.

Personally, I'd recommend this earlier article on recording dual sound with a Zoom H4n (or similar): Tips for Using the Zoom H4n in a DSLR Video Shoot

Two channels not enough for you? How about 5.1? Kevin Reylek writes Surrounded! Recording 5.1 Surround Sound to your Camcorder with Holophone which looks at this unusual microphone.
The PortaMic 5.1 is an egg-shaped microphone with a standard shoe mount that allows you to capture 5.1 surround sound from a single unit mounted on top of your camera. It has 6 built-in microphones that capture left, center, and right channels in the front, left and right channels in the rear, and a subwoofer channel.
This is a $598.95 device - and that's the cheapest option - the PortaMic 5.1 Pro costs $899, and this article - unfortunately - isn't really a review. For more about what it's like actually using this kind of mic, you should check out one the review below:

[UPDATE] Reader jiredale drew my attention to the $89.95 Cascade Audio Vive. Can't argue with the price! There's a review of it at

1 comment:

ssmman said...

Although not a professional solution the VIVE "prosumer" surround microphone is inexpensive, simple to use and may be useful for some applications. Here is one review:

"Cascade Audio has introduced the Vive, a unique, patented surround microphone that produces Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Digital 5.1 compatible surround sound recordings on any stereo video camera with a mic input jack. Sold as an affordable ($89.95) after-market accessory at B&H Photo/Video, the Vive mounts easily to camcorders to record in true surround sound in a single step. Vive’s patented process encodes the signal and records onto any standard stereo media such as DV, DVD, CD, .WAV or MP3; no external hardware, additional software or “finalizing” steps are required. Vive mounts easily to any camcorder, connects to the auxiliary microphone jack and is compatible with all Dolby surround sound-enabled receivers in the marketplace. Vive also provides an option for recording a remote center channel using an additional lapel, hand held or wireless microphone."