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Correct X / Y Set-Up?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by tmix, Dec 15, 2003.

  1. tmix

    tmix Guest

    I had an unusual "discussion" On Saturday Night with some "Award Winning Producer" as I was setting up room mics to mic a live band.
    I have always set up coincident xy with the capsules stacked one on top of each other(at 90-110 deg) so as not to shadow each other. He "Insisted" that this was wrong and that he "always" put them face to face (at 90 degrees)almost touching. This seemed counter intuitive to me but I have learned over the years I don't know everything . What are your takes?

    This person swears all the local symphonies do it this way etc, blah blah blah. I told him I respectfully disagree.

    Please respond for my peace of mind!
  2. ssltech

    ssltech Guest

    To my mind the theoretical ideal is for thei capsules to physically occupy the same space. Since this is not possible, you need the closest thing.

    I too always set them up one-above-the-other, in fact I too was making an X/Y recording on saturday night, a 30-piece Brass Band in a church in Winter park. -I stacked SP B1's one-above the other, and such is the regularity of this anner that I've made a bar with the correct spacing to keep the capsule grilles about a sixteenth of an inch apart at the closest point.

    If you think two-dimensionally then this is the better option. If you work ORTF then it's a little more like how he's describing, but not so close together... perhaps that's what he meant?

    -Certainly if he says that "stacked" X/Y is just never done then he's "never been to that many parties"!

  3. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002

    I'm not sure I completely understand how he meant to describe the setup, but AFAIK (and as far as I use) the XY setup is a coincident pair stereo technique and I set it up so that the two capsules are one over the other at the narrowest distance possibile, I almost always make the two touch; the angle is given by the distance you put the stereo pair at (usually btween 90 and 110) since the two capsule point at the far outer ends of the source to be recorded; this is how I use it, but I'm open to different approaches, as stereo miking techniques are a very subject to change due to users and mic types, plus my fav technique for choir or orchestra OHs is ORTF.

    Hope this helps


    P.S. :"The Force" in 'Star Wars' is actually Gaffer tape...
    -It has a light side and a dark side... and it's strong enough to bind the whole universe together"
    :D :D :D :D :c: Keith, I almost fell out of my chair reading this..
  4. tmix

    tmix Guest

    Thanks Guys!
    Refresh my memory, How are mics to be set up in ORTF manner?

    Typically I have used coincident or spaced x/y where the capsules are about 7 inches apart (about skull thickness... at least mine) and 90-110 deg mainly cardiod capsules.
    Is'nt that ORTF?
  5. musicalhair

    musicalhair Guest

    Honestly, I've never met anyone that called themselves a producer that knew anything at all about any aspect of music or recording. That definately reflects the small pool I swim in. I've never met a "producer" that can read music, play an instrument, actually know how to record something or point to something they actually did to make a recording. Don't get me wrong, I know and met musicians that produce or engineers that produce, but I've been disappointed by everyone I've met that tosses around the title "producer" without any other skills.

    If the "award winning producer" (Oh, btw, I have a couple of chess tournament trophies, am I now an award winning bassist/guitarist/producer?) is saying that you should set them up so that a shadow is cast, explain to him the physics of the matter in the most condescending way possible and you'll not hear a peep out of him the rest of the night (ie put him in his place early or trip over his feet all night). I can't really get a good picture in my head of what he is saying you should do, but I imagine he is seeing an MS set up.
  6. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002
    ORTF is a near coincident stereo technique, where you put two cardioid mics (but several folks experiment with supercardioid also) spaced about 7-8 " and angle them about 110° to resemble the kind of stereo pickup of the human ear, so you were just correct; I like it for its wide but not too holed in the middle stereo image (as AB), very real and natural.


  7. blairl

    blairl Guest

    Microphone University
  8. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    I'm not sure there's a "right" or "wrong" way to do it...like you, I've mostly seen it done with one on top of the othoer, but I've done it the other way as well (mainly when using a stereo bar, which doesn't provide the flexibility to place them on top of each other) with fine results. Obviously your award-winning friend has as well, so if it's worked for him what's the problem? (At the same time, he should know better than to think his way is the only way.) If you're concerned about it, maybe try doing a quick scratch track both ways and see which sounds better. I imagine that each microphone would block more off-axis sound in "his" way compared to "your" way from a physical perspective, although I'm not sure how much of an issue that really is.

    Strange that he'd say that all the local symphonies do it that way, though...the X/Y technique in general is not very popular for symphonic recording or recording from a distance in general. That's what I find most objectionable about what he says. But who knows? Maybe all the people who record the local symphonies all learned from one guy.

  9. tmix

    tmix Guest

    I appreciate all the replies.
    I don't mind being challenged to review my methods from time to time, and experiment to find new ways.
    I believe the only reason I had a little bit of a hard time with it was the person's delivery to me, and statement about the symphony usage of that technique which seemed odd at best.

    Thanks again!
  10. Dr. Gadget

    Dr. Gadget Guest

    The method he describes is the european x/y configuration vs. the american configuration that you use. I find it interesting that DPA discusses only the american configuration on their site even though they are a european company.

    I record small ensembles using the european method, diaphrams at the same level edges almost touching. Most likely, there is no difference in the results that the human ear can distinguish.


    KB Gunn
  11. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Home Page:
    I can't understand why the europeans would use a technique that would not want to minimize the possibility of reflections from the face of one mic grill into the other.
  12. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
    so with a pair of say 451s your diaphrams are about a centemeter away from each other. Definatly in the proximity effect range of a cardioid mic. And your reflected delay time is .3X msec. Maybe those refections are what give the setup user a preference over stacking the X/Y. Which BTW is how I do it.

    And also BTW, I am totally shooting in the dark with this reply for shits and giggles. I'm not questioning anyone knowledge of acoustics. I was just happy to figure the incredibly simple formula out to get that number. And I hope I'm right, surely someone would point it out if I were blaringly wrong.
  13. Dr. Gadget

    Dr. Gadget Guest

    When I bought the matched pair oktava small diaphram condensers from the Sound Room, I asked Taylor Johnson what he thought the best was to set them up was. He recommended the european method on a Sabra stand with shock mounts. Ya know, I just took his word for it and the results are always just fine. I don't know about the math or physics behind it. It sounds good, so I stick with it. I suppose it would probably sound just as good the other way.


    KB Gunn

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