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I want binaural sound for my project - but should i record in binaural or ambisonics?
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It depends on your project. Recording in binaural sound provides a great recreation of the world, as a human being might hear it if they were there. However it is a fixed perspective recording- whichever way the binaural head was facing when you recorded it will be the way the listener experiences the sound. This is perfect in many applications, however increasingly we are creating "virtual reality" like experiences, where the user can look around. This might be a film taken with a 360 degree camera, or a computer modelled space, and the user might listen to it using a VR headset or by moving their mobile phone around. In this case we don't want a fixed perspective recording, we want a way that the perspective of the recording can follow where the user is looking. Not always but sometimes. Let's take a simple example, if the user is in an auditorium looking at a stage with a performance happening on it, we want the perspective of the audio to have the stage in front of them. But if they look to their left, the stage will now be on their right, and we'd likely want the audio to appear to come from the right too. A binaural head pointing at the stage will always have the sound coming in to both ears. An ambisonic mic is typically a 4 channel microphone, that records sound from 4 directions. In the same way a 360 camera uses multiple cameras to generate a 360 degree view of the world, so an ambisonic mic does the same for audio. The clever bit is what you can do with an ambisonic recording after you've made your recording. You can generate a binaural simulation from the ambisonic recording, and you can choose in software which way your virtual binaural head is facing. And in fact most of the VR platforms now include software which will import an ambisonic recording and based on where the user is looking will generate a binaural simulation in real time. So if they look to the left of our auditorium, the sound will binaurally pan to the right. However ambisonic recordings rendered into a binaural simulation don't sound quite as good as a real binaural recording. The imaging isn't quite as dramatic. So it's a choice of flexibility & being able to rotate (ambisonics), versus a fixed perspective but one with a dramatic rendition (binaural)..
Neumann KU100 binaural head
This is one of the best sounding binaural mics available. It is robust and practical to use, with microphones internal to the head. There is a 5-pin XLR on the bottom of the head, with a lead supplied to break out to two XLR plugs. There is a mic stand thread on the bottom and top of the head, and it can be stood on most mic stands - it is heavy, so care is needed. The mic is powered by standard phantom power (48V).
Sennheiser Ambeo microphone in Rycote Babyball windshield
This A-Format ambisonic microphone is ideal for field recording of 3D sound. Sennheiser provide free plug-ins to decode this microphone to B-Format ambisonics. Records to 4 audio channels. This microphone works on a similar principle to the Soundfield SPS200 microphone. Supplied with 1.5m cable, 5m extension cable and breakout cable to 4x XLR.
Telinga Universal parabolic microphone mount
This is a special type of microphone mount, designed for very long distance pickup. You see it used a lot of recording birdsong, for long distance surveillance and for atmos at sporting events. The compromise you get for such directional sound is that they don't pick up much low or mid frequency sound. Am omni mic is inserted into the centre of the parabolic mount - I use a Rode NT5 with the replacement omni capsule.
The Telinga model is useful in that it rolls up which makes it a lot more portable if you're going to be doing a lot of walking. You'll notice a variety of stress fractures from being rolled up, and various dents, but these don't affect the sound.
Featured Conventional microphones
DPA 2011C compact microphone, available individually or as a matched stereo pair.
These make awesome float mic's due to their extremely small size, low noise and excellent feedback rejection. They are also great as an XY pair for stereo recording, or individually to mic up instruments.
Neumann KM184 microphone, available individually or as a matched stereo pair,
Excellent for stereo recording, or individually for mic'ing string instruments or anything with a fragile beautiful nature!
Neumann KMS105 microphone
Excellent live vocal mic. A superb colourful sound and hypercardioid response makes for good feedback rejection. Once you try this you'll never want to use an SM58 again!
Aquarian Hydrophone H2A-XLR
Hydrophone for underwater recording, 9m cable length.