HI! I d like to know if anyone have used a Sanken CSS 5 for recording ambience. What do you think about it? Is it noisy? I m planning to use it with a sound devices 702 to record some forest ambience. Thanks a lot!

6 Answers 6


I think it's an awesome microphone but as Justin says, it does have a good amount of self noise. If all you're looking to capture is ambience I would check out some other mics.

We have it here at the studio and use it 90% of the time for our recordings however most of it is during Foley/source grabbing sessions.


It's a great mic and I'm sure it'll perform well, but I much prefer using it for spot fx over ambiences. Resist the temptation to use it in wide mode as it has a bit more self-noise in that mode.

I prefer using a Schoeps MS pair or a Sennheiser MKH combo for this sort of thing. If you can swing it, spaced omnis sound fantastic on ambiences.

Here's a similar thread:


  • @Justin Thanks! Do you think a Rode or a Audio Technica stereo shotgun could be an option? thanks! Jul 22, 2010 at 20:26
  • The Rode NT-4 can sound nice, but I'd use the CSS5 if I had to choose. I'm not familiar with the Audio Technica stereo shotgun, but I imagine it could have the same problem as the CSS5 (high noise on the side element) which seems to be a problem with the whole stereo shotgun design (with the exception of the Neumann RSM 191).
    – Justin P
    Jul 22, 2010 at 20:59

The CSS5, being a stereo shotgun mic, would not be my first choice for forest ambiance unless I was attempting to pick up specific sounds such as birds, wildlife, etc along with stereo ambiance.

For true (non-specific) ambiance, I would try a non-shotgun stereo mic from Sanken, Pearl, sE Electronics, or any of the other major brands.



I love the mic and use it on everything, but as the other two said, there's the self noise issue. Not really a problem if you aren't cranking your pres, but I find that if I get over 40% - 50% up on my 702T or 744T pres, you start hearing a lot of noise.

I'll do a noise test for you if I get the chance to.

In the meantime, there are a number of recordings with the mic on my blog. (www.colinhartonline.com)

  • That would be great! thanks! Jul 22, 2010 at 20:20
  • @Colin Do you think a Rode or a Audio Technica stereo shotgun could be an option? thanks! Jul 22, 2010 at 20:26
  • I recently tried one of the AT stereo shotguns (not sure which one) and found it a bit too noisy for ambiences.
    – jgrzinich
    Oct 10, 2010 at 19:21

I have a CSS-5 and have used it quite a lot all over the US and Mexico for recording ambient sounds. The microphone itself has near zero self noise. What people are hearing when plugged in to a SD 702/744/442 are the mic pres when they are cranked way up. Vie plugged the CSS-5 in to my Avalon AD2022 mic pre and i have never once heard self noise from the mic. But with my 442/744 combo I do hear a slight bit of self noise when recording extremely quiet forest ambience and have the mic press cranked up.

The only mics I know of on the market that are quieter would be the Schoeps. The Rode and Audio Technica stuff is a big step down from the CSS-5 and those definitely have more self noise.


I think it is a great sounding mic, and I too wouldn't recommend it for quiet ambiences. It is a mono compatible design, but it is not true M-S. it actually has 3 electronically balance capsules which accounts for some of the noise when they gain is cranked. That being said, I've heard plenty of great ambience recorded with that mic.

The MKH series will be one of the more popular choices for ambiences.


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