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Recording Methods & Sound Stage - HP vs Speakers

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by tigon_ridge, Jul 15, 2009.
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  1. tigon_ridge
    So let me get this straight. Because most recordings are done with speakers being listened to in mind, we will never have sound stage coming from IEMs or headphones as we do from speakers... okay. So, my question is: if recordings were done with headphone listeners in mind, would binaural recording be the ideal method?? In other words, would you prefer the extremely 3-D sound stage of binaural, to stereo speakers sound stage for your favorite pieces? Please post your thoughts.

    I've listen to both, and let me tell ya... I am convinced that if I could listen to some my favorite songs as binaural recordings through headphones, I would probably become as addicted to headphone listening as a crack addict is addicted to, well...crack.

    Headphones are already superior to speakers as far as detail and clarity goes, but would binaural be the next step...to place it them above speakers in the category of sound immersion (stage) as well?

    Note: Thanks to Boomana for encouraging me to start this thread.
     
  2. Acix
    Binaural recordings are great, there is an option to get similar results in any bedroom studio...by positioning the instruments and shape your mix in 3D sound image (which requires some knowledge in recording and mixing). People start to be more aware of 3-D by listening to the new generation hps, like the Ultrasones and the K701/2, which have extreme abilities to recreate a 3D sound sphere.
     
  3. donunus
    with Binaural you have the option of feeling like you are really experiencing a live performance where you are actually there if the dummy head is placed within a live audience. It will be like the musicians are in front of you while the audience sounds like they really are at your sides and behind you. Ive heard great depth from speakers going from the speakers to way behind it but have never heard realistic depth coming toward me past the speakers and going to my back except the usual washed out sounding "out of Phase" info that goes behind your head in an indistinct way.

    So yah I would say that Binaural is a little more capable than speakers in soundstage IMO
     
  4. John Willett
    For proper binaural you just need two microphones and a dummy head (or real head).

    You can also get pretty good results using a Jecklin Disk or Schneider Disk - I have both a Jecklin and a Schneider disk myself.

    The 3D results can be absolutely superb - but some people (like myself) have difficulty in locating sounds in front of them.

    The only time I heard superb spatial sound was when I was listening, sitting in the same place as the microphones were when the recording was made.

    I did some recordings recently for an audio art project in Steinway Hall in London and the comments came back that people couldn't tell the difference between when whey were listening to the recording and when the pianist was playing the piano live. [​IMG]

    I was then asked to record their next project (Jecklin disk with MKH 20 mics for the first project and Schneider disk with Neumann KM 183-D digital mics for the second project) which was received just as well. [​IMG]


    If you want to listen to binaural, Mike Skeet has made quite a few CDs made with dummy heads:- Jazz, steam trains, demo CDs, etc.. You can buy these on-line from his Cornucopia website HERE. Prices are only £5 for the UK and £6.80 for the rest of the world, carriage paid - so affordable just for a listen.

    In the UK, Mike is a well known character in the recording industry and makes his own dummy heads - it's not unknown to hear a ring on your doorbell and see Mike standing there with a dummy head already recording your reactions. [​IMG]

    (NB: I have absolutely no commercial interest in Mike's CDs)
     
  5. tigon_ridge
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by John Willett /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    For proper binaural you just need two microphones and a dummy head (or real head).

    You can also get pretty good results using a Jecklin Disk or Schneider Disk - I have both a Jecklin and a Schneider disk myself.

    The 3D results can be absolutely superb - but some people (like myself) have difficulty in locating sounds in front of them.

    The only time I heard superb spatial sound was when I was listening, sitting in the same place as the microphones were when the recording was made.

    I did some recordings recently for an audio art project in Steinway Hall in London and the comments came back that people couldn't tell the difference between when whey were listening to the recording and when the pianist was playing the piano live. [​IMG]

    I was then asked to record their next project (Jecklin disk with MKH 20 mics for the first project and Schneider disk with Neumann KM 183-D digital mics for the second project) which was received just as well. [​IMG]


    If you want to listen to binaural, Mike Skeet has made quite a few CDs made with dummy heads:- Jazz, steam trains, demo CDs, etc.. You can buy these on-line from his Cornucopia website HERE. Prices are only £5 for the UK and £6.80 for the rest of the world, carriage paid - so affordable just for a listen.

    In the UK, Mike is a well known character in the recording industry and makes his own dummy heads - it's not unknown to hear a ring on your doorbell and see Mike standing there with a dummy head already recording your reactions. [​IMG]

    (NB: I have absolutely no commercial interest in Mike's CDs)




    Thanks for the very interesting replies, guys. Keep this thread alive and going, because I feel that what John Willett and others have said here are all the more evidence that the ideal personal listening experience is through headphones... not speakers! If only we can get demands to become more mainstream, the music industry will likely consider binaural for more of their recordings.

    Question: For listening to binaural recordings, is it better to listen with full-size headphones, or IEMs? Is there a difference? I'm guessing that for IEMs to sound the same as headphones, the microphone would have to be placed within the ear canal of the dummy head, rather than at the entrance?
     
  6. tigon_ridge
    I started this thread, initially, because there was a conversation about whether or not high-end custom IEMs could have sound stage comparable to headphones. It seems, these days, IEMs are winning against comparatively priced headphones (especially considering that many headphones need expensive amping to drive correctly) in the areas of clarity and detail, but falling behind in sound stage. The JH-13 Pro appreciation thread, a few are already giving the JH-13 the upper in sound quality in all areas, except sound stage. Remember, sensitive IEMs may benefit from a $100-$200, whereas headphones like the hd800 requires an expensive amp to bring out its full potential.

    So, I was thinking of the trend of audiophile technology, and the ideal setup, from the recording session to the ears...and I figured it must be: Binaural recording -> IEMs. I've already given reason why custom IEMs can be just as good as the best headphones. I haven't, however, reminded the reader that IEMs provide excellent isolation and portability! Do we at least somewhat agree with the last two paragraphs?

    My concern about binaural recording is the quality of recording by placing small microphones in/by the ear canal, versus the quality of a stereo recording. Obviously, with stereo recordings, the microphones can be larger (better?) in size. Would it make a significant difference in what we can hear? Will physical distance between instruments/vocals and microphones affect the integrity of the original sound of those instruments/vocals?
     
  7. John Willett
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tigon_ridge /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Question: For listening to binaural recordings, is it better to listen with full-size headphones, or IEMs? Is there a difference? I'm guessing that for IEMs to sound the same as headphones, the microphone would have to be placed within the ear canal of the dummy head, rather than at the entrance?



    It depends on how it was recorded.

    If the original recording was done with a microphone like the Neumann Dummy Head; then I guess that good IEMs may be preferable as the sound has already gone through the pinnae of the ears on the dummy head. If, however, it was made with a Jecklin or Schneider disk, or on a microphone like the Neumann or Schoeps "sphere" mics and has not gone through artificial pinnae, then I would have thought that normal headphones would be better and put the sound through your own pinnae.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tigon_ridge /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    My concern about binaural recording is the quality of recording by placing small microphones in/by the ear canal, versus the quality of a stereo recording. Obviously, with stereo recordings, the microphones can be larger (better?) in size. Would it make a significant difference in what we can hear? Will physical distance between instruments/vocals and microphones affect the integrity of the original sound of those instruments/vocals?



    Good binaural recordings made with microphones such as the Neumann Dummy Head, Neumann and Schoeps Spheres and Jecklin and Schneider Disk recordings do *not* use small microphones - they use standers SDC capsule microphones and *not* miniature "lav" mics.

    The small in-ear microphones are a different matter, though; these are often used for "bootlegging" concerts. My own reservation with these is that you get image shift every time you move your head and the risk of recording your own personal noises (eg: breathing, coughing, etc.)

    If you are really interested in Binaural, give Mike Skeet a ring (contact details on his website I linked to earlier) as he has done more binaural recordings than most people have had hot dinners - and maybe buy a CD or two and listen to the results.

    I hope thsi helps.
     
  8. tigon_ridge
    Thanks for clearing some of that up. I guess I made a few incorrect assumptions. I don't Mike Skeet but will definitely check him out.
     
  9. ear8dmg
    Have a look into some of the threads in Computer Audio regarding soundstage and crossfeed plugins.

    With a good Dolby Headphone setup, simulating 2 speaker stereo, I could sometimes swear I was listening to a binaural recording. I bearly use my headphones at home without it now.
     
  10. tigon_ridge
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ear8dmg /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Have a look into some of the threads in Computer Audio regarding soundstage and crossfeed plugins.

    With a good Dolby Headphone setup, simulating 2 speaker stereo, I could sometimes swear I was listening to a binaural recording. I bearly use my headphones at home without it now.




    Thanks. So what exactly is a "Dolby Headphone setup"? I'm interested.
     
  11. tigon_ridge
    Okay, I found that a Dolby Headphone setup would require a component labeled with a "Digital Dolby/Headphone Dolby" or "Dolby Pro Logic II/Dolby Headphone" logo; but what products are we talking about, regarding audiophile gear? Is it the DAC?
     
  12. geof777
    When listening to speakers - I like to listen to the 'engineered' soundstage - the most natural of which is often the coincident pair method of microphone use. It is like you are audience to a performer or performers.
    With headphones the sound is somehow in your head - so even though there is less room for colouration and detremental effects - it is still unatural.
    So
    If they were to produce more recording specifically for headphones, and lets face it I reckon a lot of people use that method of listening these days, then I for one would be most interested.
    I tried listening to Binaurel recordings many years ago and was impressed, but I have not heard of much more progress or development in this area.
     
  13. ear8dmg
    There are various options for Dolby Headphone. It's available on a few PC soundcards, notably most of the Asus Xonar series. I use a D2 but the Essence STX is better for pure analogue quality.

    An alternative is using an AV reciever that includes it. I think many Marantz models have dolby headphone. Not sure if they upmix to 5.1 or 7.1 though (which is best avoided IMO) though. JVC do a standalone Dolby Headphone unit but not sure about its sound quality.
     
  14. tigon_ridge
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ear8dmg /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    There are various options for Dolby Headphone. It's available on a few PC soundcards, notably most of the Asus Xonar series. I use a D2 but the Essence STX is better for pure analogue quality.

    An alternative is using an AV reciever that includes it. I think many Marantz models have dolby headphone. Not sure if they upmix to 5.1 or 7.1 though (which is best avoided IMO) though. JVC do a standalone Dolby Headphone unit but not sure about its sound quality.




    Hmm, is this "Essence STX" audiophile quality, or will the typical environment inside a desktop create too much noise? How much is it? Also, by "upmix to 5.1 or 7.1" did you mean something like convert stereo to Dolby Headphone? If so, why do you think it should be avoided?
     
  15. John Willett
    All these other things are different from pure binaural dummy head which just requires two omni microphones at ear spacing distance with the size of a human head between them, often with artificial ears.

    The other methods all use electronic processing.

    And true binaural can give you height information as well as spatial in the horizontal plane.
     
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