There are so many microphones on the market that it can hard to understand what each one does. Stereo microphones certainly have their uses and are ideal for certain environments.
What is a Stereo Microphone? Stereo microphones are a type of recording equipment that has two in-built microphones. (Simply two microphones in a single unit). This allows them to record sounds similar to how our ears will pick it up. Stereo microphones create stereo outputs due to the two microphones recording at the same time, this allows the recording to have depth and direction.
Stereo recording can be a complicated topic when you're first starting out. In this article, we will cover the pros and cons of stereo microphones and how you can get the best possible recordings.
For more information on the differences between stereo and mono, check out our page on the differences between stereo and mono.
What Is a Stereo Microphone?
There are so many different types of microphones. It can be hard to keep track of all the different types of microphones and what they are used for.
A stereo microphone is a recording device that has two in-built microphones.
The purpose of a stereo microphone (and stereo recording) is to create a left and right audio image. By doing this you can mimic the sounds of the environment just like you are there in the present moment.
By having a left and right audio you can assign one channel for the left ear and one channel for the right ear.
This can then give depth and direction to the recording.
Stereo Microphone's Pros and Cons
Using a stereo microphone comes with its pros and cons, and depending on what and where you are planning to record will determine whether you should use a stereo microphone.
The Pros of Stereo Recording
Stereo microphones are great for recording environments and instruments due to the two or more channels.
By having two or more channels you can add depth and direction to the recording and make it sound like you were there in the present moment. This makes the recording sound more realistic.
For example, if you were standing next to the ocean, you may hear the ocean's waves crashing in your left ear and seagulls in your right ear.
Therefore we can record sounds and play them back similar to how our ears pick up the sounds, just like we were there. This makes the recording sound really realistic.
The Cons of Stereo Recording
but.. they aren't great for recording vocals or dialogue for numerous reasons. Here's why:
Small movements of the vocalistic can be distracting for the listeners.
The purpose of a stereo microphone is to record the sounds in a room and output them in stereo. Due to this the microphones are very sensitive and can pick up the smallest sounds and any interferences, like the vocalist moving, will be picked up by the microphones.
For vocals and dialogue, it is best to use a condenser or dynamic microphone.
Also.. editing stereo recordings can also be much more confusing due to the two channels. It's best to use a mono microphone for recording vocals.
and lastly, stereo recordings have much larger file sizes compared to a mono recording due to the additional microphone output.
What Should Stereo Microphones Be Used For?
Stereo microphones are great for recording environments and instruments due to the two sound channels.
Stereo microphones use two channels (left and right) and by having those two sound channels we can build a recording just like how our ears would have heard it.
Just like how humans have two ears, stereo microphones have two microphones. We can assign each microphone to each ear. The left microphone for the left ear and the right microphone for the right ear. Therefore we can play the recording back and hear it just like we were there in the present moment.
What Is Stereo Recording and Why You Should Use It?
Although stereo microphones use stereo recording, the concept is slightly different.
Stereo recording is a technique that is used to record an instrument or the environment. It does this by using two or more microphones.
The pros of stereo recording are that it creates a left and right audio image that represents the room environment and might mirror how a person would hear those sounds if they were in the room at that time.
There's a numerous of different stereo recording setups that you can use, the most common ones are A/B, X/Y, and ORTF stereo recording.
Top 3 Tips To Get The Best Stereo Recording Quality
There's numerous things you can do to improve the sound quality of your stereo recording.
1. Get rid of as much unwanted noise as possible. You can do this by unplugging all machines, computers and other electrical devices that might be making some noise.
2. Dampen your environment if possible - You can use cubicle walls or sound absorbing panels to dampen your environment to prevent and avoid comb filtering. For more information on comb filtering read our article on what is comb filtering.
3. Make sure your microphone is up to scratch - No matter how good your recording environment is if you don't have a good microphone you're never going to get the recording you desire.