I was faced with the problem of recording an acoustic guitar and getting some stereo width, without a matched (or even remotely similar-sounding) pair of mics to capture a natural stereo sound. I had the idea to use two mismatched mics and pan the "main" microphone just off-center, pan the "extra" microphone way off to the opposite side, and bring the "extra" mic's level up from nothing until the left/right channels have roughly equal loudness.

This idea could be extended to double-tracked instruments, pairs of similar sounds (like hi-hat and shaker), lead vocal and harmony, etc- having the "main" recording just off-center, and the "extra" one way off to the opposite side at a lower level, so that the left and right channels still have roughly equal loudness.

Is this a common practice? Are there any unusual or confusing psychoacoustic effects to be wary of with this technique?

1 Answer 1


It's common enough to use disparate mics on an acoustic. Personally I'd use a U87 on cardioid near the sound hole pointing approximately at it [tweak position to avoid boominess] and a flat, broad spectrum omni such as the DPA 4006 up at the nut, slightly further out than the 87, to grab string noise & more of the top end, and some room around it.

This kind of forms a stereo pair, but not one you could really pan hard R/L.
Instead, pan the 87 to where you want the instrument to appear to be located in the stereo field & pan the 4006 more towards or even slightly beyond centre until you can hear it broaden the sound. The omni will sound more ambient anyway, and this will add depth & broadening of 'location' to the first mic.

I suppose you could consider that this forms a 'Haas pair' (a term I just made up;) People often confuse what Haas or precedence effect is - it is the ability to distinguish the location in space of a primary sound despite interference from early reflections, rather than because of them. The early reflections serve to establish the ambient space the primary sound is in. Here we have a 'natural primary plus ambient' pair, so moving the ambient mic towards centre will push the primary towards that space.

If you then want to add reverb to the pair, consider adding more to the already ambient mic than the close mic. Use a true stereo verb so it doesn't wash out the staging we just created.

You could try something similar with a true double-track, using the second as an 'ambient' for the first, rather than the all-too-common 'one left, one right', but have a listen to what they did in this track…

I like to point people at this recording - all electrics, no acoustic, but the electrics have been miked in a similar manner to the above; close & ambient, one hard-panned, the other towards the centre. There's also a not identical second part treated equally but panned to the opposite side. This, combined with how they've pushed the drums & bass back in the centre, gives the perfect U-shape to the sound stage. There's an occasional lead/riff guitar that breaks this shape. The vocal sits right out front & the BVs between the kit & the LVox.

Don't laugh, I'm not trying to rick roll you - you'll hate the song, but this is one of the best 'staged' recordings with a very simple structure, so you can easily hear it.
Here it is, in all its cheesy glory…

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