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Hey everyone,

I usually record stereo using XY but I've seen some hardcore support for M/S on here. I know how it works but I'm just looking for advice on what mics to use to test it out.

My university has a huge mic catalogue at their disposal so pretty much anything goes.

  • Where r u study? – bohitomi Jan 18 '12 at 22:51
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From my observations, these are the most used MS pairs in field recording:

  • Sennheiser MKH 40 or 50 (or 8040 or 8050) paired with an MKH 30 or MKH 800
  • Schoeps CMC bodies with MK4 or MK41 capsules paired with an MK8
  • Schoeps CCM4 or CCM41 paired with a CCM8
  • Neumann KM100 bodies with AK40 or AK50 capsules paired with an AK20

There are also single stereo MS mics like the Sanken CSS5, Sennheiser MKH418, or the Neumann RSM 191i

I personally own a Schoeps pair and love the sound of them.

  • Another vote for the Schoeps CCM4 + CCM8 combination. Add another CCM4 and you can do double m/s within a very small package which can be decoded into surround without phase problems. – EMV Jan 17 '12 at 18:26
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    We've got an MKH418S at work. Nice mic, but fairly noisy. Good option if you're looking for a "single point" solution, but I'd avoid otherwise. – Shaun Farley Jan 17 '12 at 20:41
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    Yes, I'd agree with your observations about the 418. The side channel is pretty noisy. I've found that to be true with other single MS mics as well, with the exception of the RSM191. A pair is definitely the way to go. – Justin P Jan 17 '12 at 21:13
  • Must say it doesn't really surprise me, all of the ones I've seen has had pretty much the exact same size as their mono counterpart. I guess fitting two trafos in the same space a single one normally doesn't have much room to wiggle its toes in probably calls for some compromises to work... – Christian van Caine Jan 18 '12 at 21:15
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I'd say this is more dependent upon your application than, "this pair of mics in any situation."

I have a Sennheiser MKH-30/40 pair at home myself for use out in the field (one day, I'll buy a Schoeps pair as well). I'll frequently pull out a Neumann TLM-103/170R pair at work when we're recording in our live room . As far as LDCs with selectable patterns...we have a pair of U87's, but their noise floor can be a little high for M/S purposes. Good for louder sources that don't need a ton of gain, but not my first choice. An alternative to the U87's, that I find more useful/fits a broader set of applications, is a pair of Audio-Technica AT4050's (a highly underrated mic, in my opinion).

Update:

So, I've added a Neumann RSM-191 to my collection, and it's an awesome mic. Probably not worth it if you can't find a used one to purchase (which I did). It and the Sennheiser pair remain my go to M/S rigs. And I typically decide based on the recording situation. The RSM-191 is noisier than the Sennheiser pair, but has a tone I prefer. So, if it's quiet stuff...Sennheiser. In a louder environment...Neumann.

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This forum convinced me to go for the MKH 40/30 and I couldn't be more happy. Love these mics! I also bought an extra MKH 40 for ORTF recording. Stereo Rycote for the MS rig and Rycote baby ball gags for ORTF. The next step for me now is two MKH 8020's for spaced omnis. I even still use my old NT4 with the blimp for some TV work, as I feel XY is great for that media.

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I love working with the schoeps DMS pair. The combination of CCM41 (mid) and CCM8 (side) and an additional CCM5 for the rear usually gives me pretty much everything I want in postproduction. You can widen your recordings all the way to the surrounds or just pinpoint the supercardioid to the dialogue. The CCM5 has a pretty good low end when set to omni, I think even better then their "true" omni's.

Of course it still comes down to the film you're making and the location you're shooting on.

The senheisser 418 comes in handy for the really wide shots. But I've never found a really good sounding MS shotgun mic, which isn't strange since a shotgunmic goes a bit against the "ms principal" I guess.

Best way to find out what you like best is to set up a couple of sets on the same, well chosen spot and do a recording with all pairs at the same time. Then just decode the signals and do a listening test by switching from one pair to the other.

  • I'm curious how you are mounting your Double MS set? Is it in a Rycote? If so what size, mounts etc.. I've tried a very similar setup with and MK41 in the front, MK8, and MK4 in the rear and I dig the sound. – Justin P Jan 18 '12 at 0:38
  • I've seen the original mount once, but it didn't seem handy for booming. At my school we've mounted the DMS in a cinela suspension. At first just the MS and the CCM5 as coincident as possible just behind the MS. It's a tricky job, but with a bit of effort you will get there and you'll have a DMS set good for booming and atmospheres. – Taco Drijfhout Jan 18 '12 at 13:22
  • I'll see if I can get a good picture of it. – Taco Drijfhout Jan 18 '12 at 13:23
  • Thanks! I'd love to see the mount as well. I use a CCM8 on a CMC641. – cocteau Jan 19 '12 at 18:39
  • I have a couple of picture here, but no clue how to put it on this page, suggestions? – Taco Drijfhout Feb 11 '12 at 12:02
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The Shure VP-88 is a good example of a stereo mid-side microphone that is useful in field recording. It is OK indoors for recording music too, though I don't care for the treble presence peak of the side element. It is a well thought-out mike for field use, as Shure offers shock mounts and windscreen accessories suitable for pro level use, and the VP-88 can run off an internal battery (no phantom power needed).

  • I dig our VP-88, though it is noisy enough that I won't use it to record things softer than my speaking voice. It's also relatively heavy. With that said, easy to use and great tonality. – Rene Jun 29 '12 at 13:32
  • +1 on the Shure VP88 - before you google and decide it's too noisy (it's not) try it out for yourself, test it though because it sounds great and contrary to what someone with a faulty version put out there,causing a bunch of parrots to copy his comments without trying this - it's not noisy!!! we have 2, incredible mic. – Chris Mar 19 '13 at 19:37
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It depends what you want to record; if you're looking for a wide stereo field you're best off to use a cardioid or omni as your mid mic. If you want to record spot fx or dialogue with a bit of (stereo) ambience, get a shotgun as your mid.

Any of the above mics are great recommendations. Don't think a shotgun had been listed yet, so I'd like to add a Sennheiser MKH60, 8060, or 416 (or Rode NTG3). As for omni, a Sennheiser MKH20 or 8020 would be great. For your side mic, an MKH30 will sound great with any of these.

  • I always advise against trying to use an omni as the mid in an M/S system. Reasons why explained here: dynamicinterference.com/blog/2012/01/… Use it as a, separate, low frequency enhancement channel instead...just apply a good low pass filter around 100 or 120 Hz before adding it to your decoded M/S signal. – Shaun Farley Jan 17 '12 at 20:44
  • Interesting, though I think it goes a bit far to say that MS 'doesn't work' with an omni (which is how your article starts). It's certainly possible, and I have heard plenty of great sounding ambience recordings made with omni/fig-8 MS. Blumlein even described the use of an omni in his Mid/Side patent. But yep, perhaps if you'd fold 'omni-MS' down to mono you get issues - this is something I haven't tried (and don't own an omni mic myself to try out either). Cardioid is certainly more common, and likely preferable, then. ;) – Daan Hendriks Jan 17 '12 at 21:43
  • +1 to Shaun. All you do is make a cardiod pointing 90 degrees to the left, with humongous risks of phasing. That's the very technique used in poly-pattern mics to change between them. You can use another Figure Of 8 though to get an omnidirectional pattern with full stereo though, but to be frank that's not a personal favorite... – Christian van Caine Jan 18 '12 at 17:47
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I've been using a MKH30/60 pair. It seems great except there is something of a hole in the image at the frequencies where the interference tubes start to take affect.

  • Are you sure you really have the two membranes totally aligned? I haven't had that problem before what I can remember, though I used a 416. – Christian van Caine Jan 18 '12 at 17:55
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I use M/S setup Rode NT2000 (Figure 8 Mode) & Rode NTG2 (Shotgun Mic).

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Yet another vote for the Schoeps 41/48 combo, HOWEVER, I (and others I know) have experienced noise issues with these mics when used in very humid environments. A fluctuating high freq whine. The Sennheisers seem to be more rugged in this respect, but if I'm not in a jungle, Schoeps all the way.

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