TECH TIPS: Stereo Miking Basics

Here is some great stereo miking techniques from Shure.

If you want to capture a more natural sound in your recordings, it's time to learn a few fundamentals of stereo miking.

Early on, these techniques were developed to approximate the sound we hear in our own two ears. Stereo recordings give the listener sound images that correspond to the location of the instruments in the recording session - left to right and front to back. They provide a picture of the recording space's acoustics and capture sound source characteristics without the tonal imbalances that mono close miking can sometimes produce.

Stereo miking offers an open sound that is an alternative to multi-track recording.

Using just two or three microphones, stereo miking is still the preferred method to record classical music and small ensembles ambiently. In this article, we'll explain four of the most popular stereo miking techniques, illustrate them with images of mic set-ups from Shure's Performance Listening Center and provide audio clips that will amplify the critical listening differences.

Stereo Microphone Techniques

Every recording situation is different. Room acoustics vary, the instrumentation changes, even the type of music and tempo can influence the recorded sound you're trying to capture. You'll probably want to test more than one of the following techniques (and then make your own adjustments) to get the recording you want.

In the section below, we'll introduce you to the basics:

  • The Technique
  • The Microphones
  • Mic Positioning
  • Audio Sample
  • Pros and Cons

All in an easy-to-digest format that will give you enough information to get started using gear you probably already own. What's most important here? Your own critical listening skills, since stereo recording is an attempt to replicate the way your personal transducers (those ears of yours) process sound.


Keep in mind that stereo miking, just like any other audio exploration - whether its composing, performing, doing live sound or recording - is just that...a journey and an opportunity to experiment.

It is completely subjective, so try different techniques, borrow microphones if you need to and play with angles and positions to achieve the recorded sound you're after. Be careful about the most basic of basics - tightening stands and mic clips. Take your time. Be meticulous and the results will be more than worth your effort.

Several of the most common stereo miking techniques are known by different names. That can be confusing for the newbie recordist.

- Coincident-Pair
Also know as X/Y
Microphones angled apart with grilles touching.

- Decca Tree
A spaced microphone variation commonly used for orchestral recording. Developed as an A-B method adding a center fill, the technique was developed in the early 1950s by a team at Decca Records to provide a stereo image.

- Near-Coincident Pair
A common variation is called the ORTF system, so named for the French Broadcasting Organization that developed it. Microphones angled about 110-degrees apart, often with capsules about 6" to 7" apart .

- Spaced Pair
Mics spaced 3-10' apart, pointed forward.

- Mid-Side Technique
Also known as M-S.
Cardioid mic pointed forward, bi-directional mic side-pointed.

Original Author Shure

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