Decca head?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by QuickDiscs, Mar 14, 2005.

  1. QuickDiscs

    QuickDiscs Guest

    I know that Decca Trees have been talked to death on this forum and maybe this has been talked about allready.
    Has any one ever tried a Decca Tree but with the mics together like a human head. Two ears and a Nose, these mics would have to be caridiod, but I no a lot of engineers that use cardiod Decca Trees for orchestras on movie scores, with spot mics to. Can anyone tell me if this would work I'm guessing not becase I'v never seen it done.
  2. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    Hi Quickdisk,
    I think you can safely assume that just about everything imaginable has been tested over the years. It is only that some things survive the listening test, and some not.

    The best thing in my ears is to experiment a lot. Put the mics up, record, listen, evaluate. Then read a bit more of what the people ahead of us has done and recommended.

    My impression of a Decca Tree, never test one myself though, is that you have the two stereo mics rather far away from each other. Try it yourself, and you will probably end up with a "hole" in the middle. Add the third mic to remove the hole.

    The idea of two ears + nose is more or less what some surround setups look like to me. They would add extra mics in the back of the head as well.

    But go ahead, use whatever mics you have, test it out. To me the really bad tests had been the most rewarding from a learning point of view.

    Gunnar Hellquist
    happy amateur.
  3. Plush

    Plush Guest


    What Ho??

    The main idea of the tree is to create spaciousness and timing differences. That could not be accomplished with your idea of closely spaced omnis. Does the nose hear?

    There ARE specific methods that recreate head based listening.
    Among the more interesting are two omnis on either side of a Jecklin disc or Schneider disc. If you decide to experiment with these, use omnis that have a slightly rising high end.
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Actually, I think what you're describing has already been done. (Someone help me out here....was it Sennheiser with the mics in the plastic "head" - simulating human hearing by putting mics where the ears were? I forget who had this, but it was an interesting concept, at least.)

    And, I wouldn't be so hasty to discount a mic at the 'nose' position, either; even enlarged out to the standard Decca tree formation, it's still the same concept.

    Believe me, I'm not into wacko theories or carpet-lifts for my speaker cables, but don't discount all the orifices in the human head - we have sinuses, ear canals, the throat itself, eardrum/ tympanic resonance, eustacean tubes; it all adds up to how each individual hears the world around them. (Case in point is how most people freak out when they hear themselves on tape for the first time. It's QUITE a wake-up call. Don't forget how badly one's hearing can be affected by a bad head-cold, too.)

    All I'm suggesting is that it (the nose) might have more than a little influence on localization and how we hear than you may realize. (I believe there's some kind of theory - true or not - on miniscule iron deposites in the bridge of the noses of some people (males?) and it alledgedly assists with direction. (Has nothing to do with refusing to stop for directions when in a car, however!)

    Consider this about mono & stereo recordings: I have recently reviewed (& subsequently purchased) the Lipinski L-505 speakers and one of the (many) things that impresses me with these speakers is how MONO signals sound on them. (you only THINK you know mono, I assure you...)

    Sure, stereo signals are gorgeous, and spread out all across the spectrum like a rainbow, but experiencing mono signals on these speakers is like nothing I've ever heard before: True, solid imaging, literally right in front of your face. It's almost spooky.

    I've enjoyed a number of recordings now where the soloist (preferably female - Allison Krauss, for one) appears to be sitting about 1" in front of me, almost tickling the bridge of my nose. It really is THAT amazing, and that well-done. It's actually become my mono "Litmus test" to make sure everything is lined up perfectly when I'm centering a track. I then close my eyes and check to feel the "tickle" above my nose of a perfectly aligned mono signal.

    Laugh if you want, but I wouldn't dismiss the importance of SOMETHING in the middle of one's head (Perhaps the nose itself or the sinuses) as important for localization and imaging.
  5. QuickDiscs

    QuickDiscs Guest

    There are some different head mics out there, ones named Fritz.
    I think I'm going to try my idea out, what is the worst thing that could happen (it could sound like $*^t) I'm not scared! plus no one seem to get what I'm saying, or cares.
    I would need the front facing mic (the nose) to cover the very front of the sound scape, the orchestra. Because both side mics would be completely 90 to the front. Take a normal Decca Tree but pull all the mics in till they all touch each other, make them all cardiod and make them all face 90 degrees from each other.
    I'm guessing that it will sound thin, for lack of a better word, and not cover the full orchestra well enough. Might be like a bad surround sound knock off.
  6. QuickDiscs

    QuickDiscs Guest

    plus no one seem to get what I'm saying, or cares.

    I take that back. That did not come out right, I did not mean that you don't care, I know that you all care very much about the jobs you do that's why were all here. I appreciate all your responses. I respect all of you that deserve it. Its been a long day later. :?
  7. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    One problem is that it would no longer be a "Decca Tree" which is a particular type of microphone setup that was used by Decca to record with. We use the Decca tree to do most of our classical recordings and find it works well. What you are discribing may also work but would not be in keeping with what the Decca engineers were trying to accomplish.

    Most things in audio are valid and if what you are discribing works for you then use it. I have recently seen a lot of 5.1 microphone setups used for recording and some of them look very strange indeed (circles, squares, triangles and all their variations). If they are getting good results, and I have to assume they are, then old ideas of conventional microphone placement for recording large ensembles changing in the era of surround.

    I spent an enjoyable afternoon talking to Lou Burroughs of EV at a AES show in the distant past. I learned more about microphones in that four hour discussion with him than I had learned in all the time I had been doing audio. It was very enlightening and very informative to learn from the man who literally wrote the book on microphones and their uses. I came away from that discussion with lots of new ideas and lots of myths busted.

    Try anything but make sure you are not hearing what you want to hear instead of what you are really hearing.

  8. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Tom has the answer, namely try it and then decide. If you have multi-track, then you can easily use the "tried-and-true" main array and your "head-without-a-head" array and compare in the comfort and calm of the mix-down.

    Early on Decca tried baffled M-49s but with a little wider spacing than what you describe for reasons of increased time intensity differences. Because you are using cardioids you are well into the realm of off-axis coloration with such a beast.

    Try it and report back!

  9. RTM

    RTM Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    North Carolina
    Binaural Aachen, Koss and Decca Head recordings....

    Binaural has been explored but apparently not all that well documented in the internet era. It yields very interesting results, though decidedly different from any standard Spaced pair/Stereo theology.
    I ran across this thread trying to research the sub category of a short (22 Titles) series of '70's LP's by Decca who's sub-label is entitled "Head" and then the catalog number. I have reissues of several of them and they don't sound like they're binaural, but I'm not certain, as very little information exists about them. The vast majority of search engine hits will default to either executives, reproduction LP cartridges or the ubiquitous "tree". I have a number of binaural recordings originally broadcast on "Audiophile Audition" in the '90's as well as a few Koss (label) Classics CD's that are binaural. It seems to work best for Headphone playback, which is, of course the big "sell" for binaural in the first place. The standard for these recordings seemed (at the time at least) to be the "Aachen" head. I've read that it's been resurrected by some surround sound techs for movie "foley" tracks.....

    Just hoping to add to the dialogue and thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to yield further information.

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