stereo microphone setup for bird recording

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: stereo microphone setup for bird recording
From: Vicki Powys <>
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 12:52:49 +1000
on 1/7/03 5:18 PM, john boyce at  wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> has anyone ever tried using two mono mikes (unidirectional or
> supercardioid type) to make 'stereo' recordings of nature sounds. Is two
> mono mikes a good way to go or is it too complex to get the orientation
> of the mikes right to give reasonable stereo sound. Also what do people
> mostly do with a single mono shotgun mike (the most common setup I
> guess), do they record just a single channel and duplicate that channel
> later on at the computer stage or do you rewire the mike to give signal
> to both channels of the recorder. Any comments or help much appreciated.
> John Boyce


Two mono mics work just fine for stereo and this method is widely used for
stereo recording of nature sounds.  There are limitless possibilities for
mic set-ups.  You can use two shotgun mics set in a V-formation with a
narrow angle of say 30 degrees.  Or you can use two cardioid mics set at a
wider angle, say 60-110 degrees.

You can also place two mono mics (cardioid or omnidirectional) parallel to
one another, with the mics separated by anything from centimetres to several

And then there's the lovely binaural stereo where you use a dummy head with
omnidirectional mics (must be omnis).  The idea here is that you have some
sort of baffle between the mics to mimic the sound-deflecting effect of our
own head which separates our ears. You can use a 1 foot square block of
upholsterer's foam for the head, with the two mics set at at 180 degrees to
one another, capsules facing outwards.  Variations on the dummy head theme
are only limited by the user's inventiveness, trial and error, and careful
listening to various effects.

If you are recording with a single mono shotgun mic into a two-channel
recorder, then you simply obtain a connecting lead that will feed a mono
sound into both channels of the recorder.  Alternatively if you had already
made a recording on one channel only, the recording would still be useable
because you can duplicate the sound to a second track, as you suggest, on
the computer, or else transfer the sound to another recorder using a mono to
stereo dubbing connector.

There is a good introductory article to stereo recording, on the web:
"Stereo Microphone Techniques" by Bruce Bartlett

Hope all this helps,

Vicki Powys
Sound Editor
Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group

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