I was chatting with a friend recently and the meme below came up. A few minutes ago, it hit me that the meme could be a good way to structure a post or set of posts about my MSc project, that and it means that I don’t have to do this through the medium of interpretive dance!
It has been pointed out to me that my blogs are usually quite long. I agree, I do love the look of my text! Anyway, anyone who could have a passing interest may get pushed away by my blabbing so like a meme, this post is going to describe the project I am doing in a short and sweet way. It is important that I use the blog to keep track of the project in all its technicalities, but I also want to keep an informality to posts at the same time. What better way to do that then through a meme!
The Soundfield system allows an engineer to replace the 5 microphones normally used for surround sound recording of classical music with a single microphone. The Soundfield microphone allows an engineer to adjust what has been recorded after the recording takes place to create the best sounding production that is possible from the microphone being placed where it is. It is quite easy to setup and use. This is a huge selling point. Imagine taking a photo and wishing you could change the lighting days, months or years after the photo is taken!
A “traditional” surround recording system uses 5 separate microphones, also known as a multi-microphone array. Each microphone has its own stand with each having a specific angle and distance relationship with each other. The rear microphones are generally spaced a fair bit away, sometimes meters away. They can be difficult to set up and if a mistake is made, it can not be fixed after recording, a bit of a hassle and you can’t adjust things after the recording like you can with the Soundfield.
Well, there are significant physical differences between the Soundfield and traditional arrays. Does the Soundfield sound better or worse to a set of listeners in a specific recording session? Can they both achieve excellent results? If one does and the other doesn’t, why is that? Would the Soundfield rate with listeners given the significant differences between it and traditional arrays? Is the ease of use and after recording touch ups worth any quality issues that the Soundfield may have?
Well, this is a tough one. A lot of those questions can be answered by saying each recording method has its own characteristics. Certainly, there wouldn’t be one better or one worse across music recording as a whole. But, if you record a musical ensemble and play the results to some listeners and ask them what they prefer, maybe one method would stand out. At this early stage of the project, I would wonder what people think. I think that the two methods are both as good as each other and are viable methods of recording music, but when recording a musical ensemble I would question how listeners would react to how differently the Soundfield deals with the rear microphones.
Well, I am not too sure about this one yet. Since my last post, I have been doing a lot of reading and my literature review so far do not show much research directly comparing the traditional arrays vs. the Soundfield for the type of music I want to use (small classical group). So I am on the fence. As an engineer, it would be great to know that the easier to use Soundfield is as preferred if not more preferred than traditional arrays. So, lets find out.
Through research of the various Audio Engineering Society papers, I have found that the Decca Tree and its derivative called the Fukada tree surround arrays are two of the most preferred traditional arrays. So, to ensure that the Soundifeld is getting a fair fight as such, I want to record a small classical ensemble with the arrays. To make sure everything is equal, the arrays will be setup simultaneously and recorded at the same time too. Then I want to play extracts to listeners to find out which is the most preferred.
I ruddy hope so!
My next project post will be about what I have found during my literature reviews!
Thanks for reading!