In terms of your stereo image, do you prefer the fixed perspective of something like an NT-4, H4N, or D-50, or do you prefer the variable perspective of a pair of shotguns?

I personally prefer the weaker center of a spaced-pair, which has to added coolness of being able to control the focus of your two sides individually, but what do you guys think?

Edit: I totally forgot about M/S. So I'll update the question.

For stereo field recording, do you prefer X/Y, spaced pair, or M/S? Or something else; ORTF, blumlein, AB, &tc?

6 Answers 6


There is something about a perfectly placed ORTF pair for me that just has this depth to it that I cannot make out of a wide spaced pair of shotguns. It's wide and realistic to me on speakers and on headphones (something I need to watch out for because some of my work ends up on iPods so headphones must be thought with - more so than a film usually is).

I also really really really like using Blumlein in certain applications.

But, the spaced pair is great, too. It's got sometimes wildly different information that is great to place in the surrounds, for instance.

That's just my 2 cents. I'm sure there will be great answers to come along shortly.


It depends, like most other things.

If it's ambiance and vehicle bys I prefer XY or ORTF. If I'm capturing the sound of a space (like a reverb) I prefer AB - seems a bit wider to me because of the hole-in-the-center


Depends on what you have available, time, budget and microphone-wise:

Blumlein is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way (apart from a stereo mic, of course) to achieve a reasonable stereo image.

ORTF will give you better separation, but takes more setup time and experience to obtain optimal results. Jecklin, my personal favourite, requires even more effort, but is well worth it. However, I will admit I am biased toward music recordings.

I prefer to only use a spaced pair for ambient fill and surround application and will never rely on that as my primary source in the field. Firstly, as the stereo image is created almost entirely from time difference, the stereo image is not focused. Secondly, setup is tricky - the further apart the mics are, the more ambient and less detailed the recording becomes. The closer together they are, the less effective the stereo spread. Thirdly, there are just so many variables that must be taken into account, phasing being the most common. This configuration is a lot easier to control and pull off successfully in a studio environment.

I always find it helpful to set up a centred omni as well, if this is at all possible. This can be blended in as required and is usually also beneficial to the dialogue.


Where do you all think that midside fits into the equation. It's easy to set up and easily variable in post, but at what cost? I've read some people are down on it, but does that just stem from the necessity of post?


I've switched to a soundfield mic which captures 4 channels and allows me to vary the stereo width in post as well as create a 5.1 version.

  • Cool! It looks kinda fragile with that tiny little supporting pin. Any issues/worries when transporting it? The software dependent thing too looks like it might be a bit of a pain too.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 6, 2011 at 17:04
  • Thats a badass looking mic! I wish I had one.
    – Chris
    Jun 6, 2011 at 18:08
  • It is quite robust, it came in a pelican case and terminates in 4 standard XLRs and you just switch on phantom for each channel. When it is out and about it is in a shockmount within a zeppelin, so far everything has worked really well.
    – user80
    Jun 6, 2011 at 21:56
  • The software is not too bad, once you have set up the 5.1 aux and panned the four tracks properly it is really easy to use.
    – user80
    Jun 6, 2011 at 21:59
  • @Iain, Oh, I think I misread their blurb. It looked to me like the recording process was software dependent. If it's just the mixing process that requires a matrixing plug, that's totally fine. Awesome even.
    – g.a.harry
    Jun 7, 2011 at 17:42

For me it depends entirely on the subject matter.

For ambiances I never really run M/S because I don't want to run into any dolby decoding weirdness down the road when those files get panned out to the surrounds. I also don't worry about having a solid center channel, so I tend to go either spaced pair or ORTF.

For spot sources that are static but making noise in space (like doors, machines, etc) I'll go M/S. This gives me an on-axis mic as well as the verb from the S side, and I'm not as concerned about dolby messing me up later on. I tend to decode M/S recordings before they go into the library fwiw.

For sources that are moving in space (car bys, etc) I'll tend to just run mono and track them as they move, then do the proper panning in post.

I use XY much less these days. Sometimes in a studio context, but very rarely out in the field. ORTF and MS have pretty much replaced that in my technique.

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