Suggestions for a stereo system recording method (binaural, etc)?

I’m looking for a way to record audio from a stereo system for two reasons: 1) to do some A/B/X testing of speakers/settings after recording the playback and putting them through EAC
2) do a ‘virtual walkthrough’ of speakers I test in the future*. Give the listeners a sense of what the system sounds like tonally and imaging-wise when played back and be able to compare against other systems/settings I've recorded in the same environment
* Note: I understand that short of spending thousands that there’s no way to get absolute accuracy but that’s not necessarily what I’m after. I’ll have objective data (FR, etc) to supplement any reviews. This really is one of those projects that would have a list of caveats but still something I’d like to explore, nonetheless. I am looking for a logical, cost-efficient and “ok, that’s fair” method. No need to preach to the choir.

I did this with my car stereo last year so I could record the effects of two DSP settings and compare them back and forth to see which one I liked more. At that time I used some binaural mics placed at my ear canal. It worked to highlight differences. However, I had to record at a low volume because the mics would distort when powered off the Andromeda USB stick I used to power and record the stereo signal.


I considered something like the miniDSP EARS for this task. I just don’t know anything about it. And it’s hard to get a handle on whether or not the community feels it’s an adequate way to do this kind of testing.
Another option was to use the Sony ECMXYST1M stereo mic – which I already own - attached to my Sony camera and set the angle up to be 110 degrees to simulate an ORTF pattern; though the two mics here would be within inches of each other.
Of course, there's the B1-E (or some variant of this product by BE) but that's a bit more money than I can justify for this little "project".

So, I’m reaching out to you all here. Any suggestions? I’d prefer something that’s efficient and can be replicated easily but also no more than maybe $250-300 if at all possible. And if my sony camera mic is OK then I'll just carry on my merry little way. I know I am not the only person who has done this or wants to do this but there’s a lot of variables at play and I’m just looking to strike some sort of reasonable balance.
 
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Digital. If for no other reason than simplicity. I'm envisioning a computer based setup. If I wanted to load this file up in EAC for A/B/X or if I wanted to send the files to friends to have them give me their thoughts. (again, this project is more for fun than it is about creating the perfect recording method)

Before, I used Audacity to record the sound system using binaural mics; just opened the program and hit record. Saved the file. Simple and effective.
 
Then a common PC will do the job. Discarding notebooks because thet are mostly non configurable, a good PC audio card will preform. I can't suggest any brand, because my knowledge in the item is very low and old. I am still using AMD486's running DOS and the Soundblaster 16 (legendary) and for my poor ears in which musicality is not a pro, is more than sufficient.-
 
Highly recommend these in-ear binaural mics: USB Microphone, Binaural microphone, stereo Microphone, Wireless Microphone, Digital Recorder, Custom Cables and more at Rock Bottom Prices from The Sound Professionals - Great deals on Microphone, Preamplifier, Digital Recorder, Cable and more!

I made binaural recordings of two speaker systems for comparison here: KEF LS50 (David) Versus JBL 4722 Cinema (Goliath) Speaker Comparison with Binaural Recordings
You can download the binaural recordings and listen for yourself. I have tried a lot of different binaural mics and these were the best I found.

Good luck!
 
Those are the same design I have now. But I bought mine years ago so I’m assuming the elected itself is different. Are you using an external battery? I use an andromeda USB stick to record stereo but that may be a weak link as well. Mind telling me the rest of your measurement setup?

Edit: I see you are using the external battery.

I’ll have to dig through my emails to see the exact model of binaural I have but I’m hopeful the design has improved and using updated ones would net me a better result. I actually have two pair but the others look more like cheap IEMs with the electet facing outward.
 
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^ can't edit. Not andromeda usb. Andrea USB. Back in 2010 this was what the soundprofessionals site recommended. Crazy to think it's been nearly ten years now. Man, time FLIES.


Also, I just read your review and listened to a few tracks. I was quite surprised how different the two sounded with respect to the sense of space relayed in the recording by the two systems. I have used Kef (tested a few of their drivers extensively; scroll to the bottom and follow the links) and run JBL Pro Cinema in my home theater. So I'm aware of the basic differences when it comes to their respective designs regarding directivity. However, hearing the two A/B'd back to back is very telling. I actually preferred the LS50's sound. But I don't want to get derailed here...

Anyway, thanks for sharing that link. I'll bookmark your site for sure. I dig what you're doing. :)
 
Thanks. Yah, the differences in directivity and how much the direct versus reflected sound is interesting when you A/B them.

The external battery/preamp did not measure well as it turns out. So I ditched that and got a different preamp. Here is the current setup with measurements. I also ordered the XLR ends with phantom power converter. I used this setup to record headphones in that article and compare much like I did with the JBL Cinema and LS50's.

I could not get the link you provided to load, just times out. I will try again tomorrow.

Cheers!
 

Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
I'd second the the Sound professional in ear mics. I was about to pull the trigger on a pair today, but in the DIY spirit have decided to build my own.

For a really good "as it sounded in the room" recording, use hyper-cardioid mics in ORTF style. Schoeps are the best, but are real budget busters. Maybe some other suggestions will pop up here. A Zoom or Tascam recorder will do nicely.
 
Thanks. Yah, the differences in directivity and how much the direct versus reflected sound is interesting when you A/B them.

The external battery/preamp did not measure well as it turns out. So I ditched that and got a different preamp. Here is the current setup with measurements. I also ordered the XLR ends with phantom power converter. I used this setup to record headphones in that article and compare much like I did with the JBL Cinema and LS50's.

I could not get the link you provided to load, just times out. I will try again tomorrow.

Cheers!

Ok. I noticed some hum and hiss with your recordings. Nothing I couldn't ignore. But since you said you upgraded your setup I'm curious if that has anything to do with why. Not trying to be rude. Just genuinely curious.


A Zoom or Tascam recorder will do nicely.

I'm considering going this route. I'm really close to ordering a couple Zooms to see what I think of them. The Zoom H3-VR looks interesting as it states it does binaural recordings (as well as ambeo; which I have no intention of using). The setup would also snap on to my camera so I could record video and audio at the same time and make my life a little easier. With Amazon's liberal return policy I may take a shot at this and compare it to the binaural mic setup I already own.

The Zoom H1n also looks like an interesting option but I don't think it would do what I'm after.


I like the middle-sides stereo method, using a cardiod mic for the middle and a figure-8 mic for the sides.

Never heard of this but I'll look in to it.






Thanks, all, for your help and suggestions thus far. I truly appreciate it.

- Erin
 
I found a used Zoom H3-VR for a good deal so I went ahead and ordered it. If it doesn't work out I can send it back. I'll give it a shot and post up the results here if anyone is interested.

However, I'm still looking for other ideas. So far the binaural measurement method is the leader for options. I'm specifically curious how the H3-VR in "binaural" mode will compare to actual binaural measurements; I assume they have some built in processing to account for HRTF. Guess I'll see. The pro for the H3-VR is that it is easy to carry since it's a single piece, easy to set up (no fooling with gain knobs on a separate box), and therefore repeatable. So I'm hopeful the results will be fruitful.
 
That's exactly the purpose of this thread. :)

I want to record sound from *insert source here*, record it, and play it back over headphones for evaluation purposes. These purposes could be to A/B/X between two systems, various DSP settings, or simply to have some comparisons between different systems to relay via YouTube (granted, with limitations due to codec compression, namely).
 

Pano

Administrator
Paid Member
2004-10-07 6:05 am
Panama
The main problem you'll run into is the room. As you are certainly aware, microphones pic up a lot more of the room sound than our ears/brains do. Getting a recording that sounds like it did live isn't easy. Usually you have to move the mics in close or use mics with a tight pattern, like hyper-cardioid.

If I were listening to your comparison recordings, I'd want to hear a natural sound, very close to what I'd hear listening to the system in the room. Too much room tone would not be accurate to the experience. That's your challenge.
 
Yes, it isn't quite as straightforward as it might at first appear. I'm glad mitchba is here :)

Ironically, what mitchba suggested I use is the same thing I already have; sans the new version. I just didn't have much luck with my binaurals because they couldn't handle more than about 90dB full range. They compressed badly. Here are those results, though, if anyone is interested in hearing them. It was to compare differences in Dirac Live target curves. I posted this a few months back on another forum so I'm gonna copy/paste here:
Below is a link to 4 .wav files, recorded with binaural mics in the main listening position.
DL stuff - Google Drive

Here’s the decoder ring and the corresponding color target curves (set to the same SPL @ 1khz)
1 (red) = My personal, manual, Helix tune
2 (green) = DL tune, curve set to emulate my personal Helix tune, using 1 single mic measurement
3 (green) = Same as #2 but using 9 mic placements in roughly the pattern DL suggested using the ‘chair’ technique
4 (blue) = DL tune, modified “Wisdom” curve with little more low end using the same 9 mic placements as #3.
Note: All of the DL tunes were done via two-channel measurements with the sub playing on either channel (sub is mixed mono so if the left is playing then only the left signal is passed to the sub, etc).


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Like I said, unfortunately the mics just couldn't handle higher volume and I had to record at a lower level than I typically listen to. So, if I were to stick with this method I would surely get better mics. I ordered these 10 years ago.

I wouldn't really take any of that to heart, though. It's more or less just to demonstrate that I've tried this method before but with distorted results and I'm hoping that getting better mics would remedy the issues I had. Hearing the results from mitchba's site gives me a lot of hope, though. Unfortunately I don't have the cash to order both the Zoom H3 and the updated binaural mic setup right now and since I'm more familiar with the process of setting up the binaural recording I went ahead and got the Zoom to try out and see how I like that first. If it's no bueno then I'll look in to getting better binaurals and go from there.