Hi to all field recordists.

If using a stereo shotgun microphone, how could you hear what it is you're recording through m/s encoding in real time (ex, not later on in the studio, rather while in the field)?

could it be done without an external mixer? if so, how? if not, how?

thanks, and have an awesome day!

4 Answers 4


To add to what @Shaun said, the Sound Devices 7 series recorders allow you to either record the decoded M/S signal or record the separated M/S signal to each channel while monitoring through the headphones the decoded signal.

Also, the Zoom H4n allows you to record the decoded M/S signal through the external XLR inputs. I've used this when with my stereo shotgun (sennheiser 418s) while traveling or recording in environments where I'd risk damage to a $300 recorder rather than a $2000 one.

  • Gary can i ask what did you use to power up with phantom the 418 with the H4N? Mar 31, 2011 at 15:06
  • @Nikos, the H4N provides phantom power. The option's buried in the menus somewhere.
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 31, 2011 at 16:44
  • @Nikos, what @g.a.harry said. The M/S decoding is part of the reason I went with the H4n. I had looked at other small handhelds with XLR inputs (Tascam DR100) but the Zoom was the only small handheld XLR that could decode M/S.
    – user6508
    Mar 31, 2011 at 18:38

Some recorders/mixers, i.e. many from Sound Devices, have M/S decoding built into the unit. Granted, I believe you're actually recording the decoded stereo signal using that functionality, but you can always derive the M/S signal again in your DAW if you like.

You could also look around for one of AEA's MS38 Lite headphone amp. It was a very compact belt-pack decoder. They're discontinued now, but you might be able to find one used somewhere......just don't ask me where.

Here's a link to their page showing their legacy (discontinued) M/S products.

  • Shaun said, "I believe you're actually recording the decoded stereo signal using that functionality, but you can always derive the M/S signal again in your DAW if you like." This is incorrect. Sound Devices recorders allow you to either monitor your ms signal decoded, or record it decoded (or you could do both, but then you won't hear anything). I usually like to record the discrete mid and side channels but monitor them decoded.
    – bpert
    Apr 9, 2011 at 0:44
  • @bpert - Ahh. I use the 744t all the time, but have never bothered to actually look at that function more carefully...color me a little lazy. ;) I like to record discrete and monitor discrete; I don't actually like listening to the decoded signal when recording M/S. Because of that, I never touch the M/S decoder settings. Thanks for the info! Apr 9, 2011 at 1:13

@Shaun, basically I could record the mid mic to channel 1, and the figure 8 to channel 2, at the same time I could monitor the signal in M/S

And when I import the files to my computer, I have 1 mid mic file, and 1 side mic file, which I could make M/S by putting them in my daw, doubling the 2nd channel and flipping its phase polarity.

  • Yes, I know how to deal with M/S. I suggested the AEA MS38 Lite because you could feed the outputs of channels 1 and 2 (mid and side) from your recorder to AEA ride. Then, you're still recording your mid/side configuration, but you can listen in the decoded stereo. That is, as long as your recorder has outputs. Feb 5, 2011 at 13:32

@dimitri you don't say which mic or recorder you are using, but almost all non-budget field recorders have M/S monitoring features.

This is not always the case with field mixers though.

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