Hey guys,

I currently have a Sanken CS-3e for mono sfx recording and a Sony D50 for stereo/ambience recording. I'd like to move on from the D50 to either the MKH8040/30 m/s rig or a 8040ST setup. I haven't had any experience with either and it's impossible to rent either setup in my location (Singapore).

I'm primarily looking to record stereo effects/ambiences in the field/studio.

Any feedback, past experience or comments on either rig would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance.

  • Keep in mind that the Rycote parts for an MKH 8040ST rig are very expensive (probably twice as much as setting up the MS rig you suggested), I learned that one the hard way. – Justin P May 31 '13 at 17:03

Since the mkh8030 doesn't exist, you'll need to go with the stereo 8040 setup if you want to stay in the 8000 series. If you want MS in the MKH series, pick up (2) mkh800's or an mkh40/30 combo.

  • Yup i'm aware that the 8030 doesn't exist, sorry if it was unclear but I was referring to a MKH 8040 + MKH 30 combo...that would work, wouldn't it? And in the future I could pick up an additional 8040 to make a 8040 pair... The MKH 800 looks really nice, but at $3000 a piece its waaay above my budget! :( – adsr May 31 '13 at 4:25
  • 8040 + mkh30 works and sounds awesome, but you have to also buy either a fieldmixer or a recorder to hook them up. – Arnoud Traa May 31 '13 at 11:24
  • but regarding your decision, it is worth considering an xy for ambiences (when correctly setup, less phasing issues in multichannel mixes). ms is better for sfx in my opinion. – Arnoud Traa May 31 '13 at 11:26
  • Hey Arnoud, could you elaborate more on the MS being better for sfx part? I'm quite curious since I haven't had the chance to record sfx in MS. Thank you! – adsr Jun 1 '13 at 6:29
  • well obviously, ms is more flexible. you can get closer to a subject/object (smaller width of the unit). and most of all you can record moving objects better (car pass byes). oh btw i meant 'an xy OR ORTF/AB for ambiences'. it totally depends on what you're trying to get of course.. – Arnoud Traa Jun 1 '13 at 10:45

How flexible and fast does it need to be? Will you be buying dedicated shockmounts and wind protection?

An MS setup can fit in a single zep that is easy to manage, and record both mono and stereo, the width of the latter is adjustable in post. You also need a mixer or recorder that let you monitor in MS.

A stereo setup is more flexible because of the many angles and distances you can use, which gives perspectives that many prefer before MS or XY when it comes to ambiance. It can be more troublesome to transport and set up though.

  • Obviously I'd prefer it to be as fast and flexible which is why I'm slightly leaning towards the MS setup. Just had a look at Rycote's website it seems the ORTF windshield kit is basically the same as the Stereo AE kit except for the suspension system which I should be able to buy separately. Obviously this won't work for AB spaced pair configs but it's nice to know there is the option of having an ORTF solution in a zep. Thanks for the reminder that a stereo setup is more flexible than a MS setup, it's a very valid point that slipped my mind. – adsr Jun 1 '13 at 6:27

fwiw -- I have a MKH50+MKH30 M/S combo in a single Rode blimp --> SD744t and I love it. No regrets.. All fits in one big pelican and there's always the option of just using a mono spot. The 50 has a slightly odd bass extension, but I've come to love that too. Great reach and not too ugly off-axis. 5 minutes for the kit to warm up and settle down and the noise floor is incredibly low.

  • hi james, same mic setup here (also in rode blimp, not a big fan but it works). regarding the warm up time, i've never experienced anything like that with my recorder (sx-r4) and these mic's. do you have a sample recording? i'll make one also.. – Arnoud Traa Jun 1 '13 at 10:42
  • Hi Arnoud -- If I get a sec this week I'll do so. It's a very subtle difference I've noticed when plugging in and going straight to recording a very quiet source (breathing, light foley). Hopefully I'm not imagining it! It could be that my 744 is a little older. perhaps someone here more technically proficient could provide an electrical explanation... capactors? humidity? Science. – James Hayday Jun 2 '13 at 22:40

For wide ambience recordings MS and XY setups often sound "narrower" than reality, while an ORFT/NOS/AB setup can give you that "widescreen-sound". Because the latter use a distance between the mics, there can be phasing issues when summed to mono, with passing cars for example. And the setup isn't as easy, like other people pointed out. So I guess it depends on what you'll need most in the beginning. Once you can afford a third mic two MKH4080s plus a side-mic can give you lots of flexibility, like double MS, AB, XY.

You can try the effect of the distance between the Mike's with your Sony D50, just do the same recording in XY and with the mics spread to the wide setting (sort of a mini ORTF). It can make quite a difference on certain sources.

  • I'm hard pressed to agree with M/S sounding "narrower" - a lot depends upon how you master the files and alter the phase correlation of both mics pre-matrix (in my case, a 4 sample delay on the side mic proved to even out the spaciousness of the LCR balance). A lot of what you get out of M/S is the time spent carefully mastering the files, both pre and post matrix processing - with XY you're kinda stuck, and I agree that XY does have a narrower feel (but again this also depends upon how you align for an XY) – Stavrosound Nov 11 '13 at 18:38

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