Recording Ambience

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I recently bought a pair of Line Audio CM3’s. I was wondering on tips for recording Stereo Ambience. I have seen different stereo spacing bars and ORTF mounts and I do realize different set ups will be a different sound but how do recordists reduce wind noise. Do they make blimps for these set ups? Just looking for information or someone to point me in the right direction.

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I record ambiences in ORTF with this:

http://mymic.rycote.com/products/windshield-solutions/stereo-windshield-kit/stereo-windshield-ws-ae-ortf-kit-lemo/

Works great.

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When I got my CM3s I used a pair of Rode WS8 which are quite cheap. They don’t work as well as the Rycote Ball Gags or Extended Ball Gags but they’re decent for the price.

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Different stereo setups do sound different, and all are not created equal. XY is definitely the most common in field recording, I’d guess MS is second. ORTF is great too! In fact, they are all great, you just need to figure out which is best for what you want to record. For example, if you are recording traffic relatively close, you’d probably not want to use ORTF with cardiods, as you’d probably get a slight dip in the high freqs right at the mid point. Wouldn’t be as bad as a super card, but it would be there. XY would probably make for a better setup there. MS would be great for that too, though you’d need a fig8 mic.

ORTF also doesn’t like things like waves crashing, and can tend to be a bit phasey on close up leaves / brush movement. Doesn’t happen all the time, but something you need to be careful of.

For more distant ambiences (nothing happening in the foreground), I tend to like the space of ORTF better – XY can sound crammed sometimes. ORTF is nice and wide sounding.

As for wind, you definitely want a blimp of sorts. Rycote makes XY and ORTF blimps, but they’re CRAZY expensive. I really like the ORTF one. The XY one is decent, but it has those little red rubber bands that always dry out and snap, so it’s not my favorite…

I’ve seen some people manage to fit a stereo bar inside a RODE blimp (since they’re so big). That’d probably be your most versatile solution for the money – you could switch between XY and ORTF (not sure how big the mics are, but maybe even spaced pair??).

If you’re looking for even cheaper, you might consider something like a Rycote softie or smoothie per mic. Not the best in heavier wind, but it’d get you started for a decent price. And you wouldn’t have to worry about the setup fitting inside a blimp…

DPA has a great resource on stereo setups here: http://www.dpamicrophones.com/mic-university

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Gordon Hempton recommends building a cheap DIY rig to handle wind protection when out recording nature:

My DIY windscreen is a 5 foot tripod (fully extended) with the center column inverted and the microphones hung below. The entire setup is then covered with a layer of either mosquito netting, foam or both. While this looks like and embarrassing costume no one is there to see you. The large enclosed area between the microphone and the windscreen preserves fidelity and does a remarkable job of imaging.

DIY windscreen tips:

  1. Seal off the central column of the tripod so that it is not an open tube because this will create a flutelike sound when wind passes over it. A piece of foam will do and can easily be removed, too.
  2. Enclose the setup with a pyramid-shaped cover of ½” reticulated foam. Reticulated foam can be purchased relatively inexpensively from foam shops.
  3. For very light breezes you can use mosquito netting instead of reticulated foam. If using camouflage netting this can also be used over the foam cover to help conceal it from wildlife.
  4. Bring tent pegs to keep the covering taut and the noisy insects out.

I’m considering building and testing one of those in the near future.

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Cm3s sound great! A friend and I did a double ORTF rig using Rycotes’ baby ball gags with bbg’s windshields and lyre shockmounts (these are a bit at the expensive side). Since the cm3s are really tiny, the heavy lyre suspension (INV-HG) is the one that works best for them. We used a tripod as well.

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I think as well as considering mic arrays it’s worth considering positioning and levels. For me a good ambience is quite dynamically flat with all elements coming in at a fairly consistent level. For example if you’re recording a market ambience you wouldn’t want everything thrown out of balance by a particularly loud trader stood right next to you. The usual use for an ambience is as a bed of sound that sits underneath dialogue or other important events that would likely be added after the fact. Any sudden spikes in the ambience would draw attention to itself, so whilst you can always sort minor issues in post I would suggest a recording position that captures a well balanced overview of the scene at hand.

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