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Comparison Of Field Microphone Arrays: S…ass vs pibo

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This clip presents two simultaneously captured field recordings, made on two different microphone arrays, set up side by side, to compare their ability to render a natural soundscape.

The first example was recorded on a SASS unit modified to mount a pair of Sennheiser MKH20 omni microphones.

The second was made by a pair of independently baffled omnis (PIBO) on a T-bar. Microphones in this rig were Audio Technica 3032s. Description of this experimental rig can be found here:

Both recordings were made on Sound Devices 7 series recorders. The recording is of birdsong from east Gippsland, Australia. Distant vehicles and wave wash provide some spacial texture. The recordings have been balanced for ambient volume, but otherwise unprocessed. The raw wav file may be downloaded for critical listening.

My assessment of this trial is that the SASS creates a subjectively wider stereo image, probably due to its 'wings', however the PIBO rig is more balanced without any muffled sound sources as it has no rear 'shadow'. Considering the irregularities of sound in natural environments, the differences discernable are relatively slight, and far less than other stereo mic arrays I am familiar with. Both these rigs do a very fine job. The PIBO is light, compact, versatile, simple to make, inexpensive, and may be a worthy option for any field recordist wishing to explore soundscapes.

There is another example of this mic array here:

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