When and How to Use a DSLR Stereo Microphone
For DSLR videographers, when you first learn about the potential high-quality audio from an external professional microphone, you may be fascinated about the various types of them. The primary two categories are the stereo microphones and the mono microphones.
Many times, we receive questions about the differences between these two types of microphones and how to pick which one to use. First, let’s look at the basics.
What Is a Stereo Microphone
In short, a stereo microphone includes two microphone capsules, which allows you to capture the real spatial sound with depth and dimension – a stereo recording has different sounds in each channel.
What Is a Mono Microphone
As the name suggests, a mono microphone (AKA. A shotgun mic) has a single microphone capsule, so that you can pick up sound narrowly from a single source – a mono recording sounds the same in the left and right channels.
When to Use a DSLR Stereo Microphone
The rule of thumb for choosing a stereo microphone is when you need to record ambient sound.
By design, stereo microphones can capture sound in a “natural” way, as the pickup pattern is wide. Just like our ears pick up sounds from different directions, a stereo microphone records various sound sources in an environment. For this reason, it is a popular choice for live event recording and in-the-field recording, so the listeners would feel they are right there.
Because of the broad pickup pattern, it is good to be mindful as to where you place a stereo microphone, and you may need to experiment a little to figure out the perfect spot.
Additionally, as stereo microphones are a popular choice for outdoor recording, make sure you are prepared with a good wind muff, and no a built-in foam windscreen is not enough. To learn the different types of windscreens, click here to read the recent article What is Microphone Wind Muff for? – Foam and Dead Cat Windscreens
When Not to Use a Stereo Microphone
In situations when you need to single out a sound source from the environment, a stereo microphone will not be the ideal choice. Here are a few scenarios when you will want to have a mono microphone handy:
1. Wedding vows: Even though people are mostly quiet when the bride and groom exchange vows, you will still want a mono mic and point it directly at the couple to get clear audio.
In many cases, videographers will prepare a few other options such as recorders and lav mics as well. Maybe we will write an article for the wedding recording tips soon.
2. Interviews, speeches, church sermons: Similar to the wedding vows, the goal is to get loud and clear audio about the interview content, not much need for the ambient noise.
3. Lead vocal: This is usually recorded using a mono microphone.
Two Popular Applications – How to Use a Stereo Microphone?
XY Stereo for Close Application: This is one of the most basic and wide-used applications for stereo microphones. The two tracks are usually positioned cross with each other at the 90º.
To make the most from the XY stereo microphone, you will want to point the center of the XY stereo at the direction of the center sound source, so that the two tracks will overlap and pick up the center sound and also a little ambient sound.
AB Stereo for Mid-Range Distance: This is a popular application for churches and orchestras. Usually, you would place two microphones apart from each other, facing in the same direction towards the sound source.
The distance between the microphones is three times the distance between the sound source to the closest receiver, therefore it is called the 3:1 rule.
Now that you have learned the basic of the stereo microphone, here are a few excellent single-unit stereo microphones for you: