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Can I mike in surround with two SASS mics? (2 questions and replies)
MAKE A SURROUND SASS ARRAY
Soundmixer Gary Pillon came up with a clever way to mount two Crown SASS-P MKII stereo mics and two MB-4 mics to create a high-quality surround miking array. Two SASS mics are arranged back-to-back. They can be mounted on a common bracket, which you mount on a mic stand or camcorder. Or they can be mounted on two separate mic stands spaced about 1 meter apart.
Gary used the surround SASS array to build a complete virtual person system. The mic outputs feed a chest-worn digital audio recorder. Gary is shown below with a surround SASS array mounted on a camcorder.
Here it is mounted on a Fig Rig:
We also call the Surround SASS Array the "BBP" Array, which stands for "Billingsley, Bartlett, Pillon". Mike Billingsley and Bruce Bartlett developed the SASS mic, while Gary Pillon and Bruce Bartlett developed the Surround SASS array.
You can omit the rear MB-4 microphone if you want the system to be 5.1 surround. Each MB-4 mic mounts on the downward-slanting face of the SASS as shown. This puts the MB-4 mic capsules and the PZM capsules on a circle when the SASS mics are 2.5 inches apart. This circle matches the Holosonic Reference Theater circle.
According to our listening tests, the surround imaging of the array is very sharp except at the left and right sides. When the mics are mounted a few inches apart on a bracket, low frequencies are localized toward the listener while high frequencies are localized in the loudspeakers. When the mics are spaced about 1 meter apart, most of the frequencies are localized in the loudspeakers. You might get the same effect with two close-spaced SASS mics by delaying the rear channels about 3 msec.
The figures below show how to construct a mounting bracket from a 0.187-inch (3/16-in.) thick sheet of aluminum. This bracket is not commercially available. It holds two SASS mics back-to-back separated by a few inches.
Next, follow the procedure below for each microphone. You will need an Allen wrench that fits the bolts that hold the SASS back panel, and another wrench that fits the bolts that hold the SASS swivel mount.
1. Remove the back panel of the SASS and pull out the chassis. Be careful not to rip the wires.
Now you will attach the bracket to both SASS mics. You will need three # 8-32 bolts and nuts (not supplied).
1. With the SASS mics upside down, place the bracket so that the holes in the bracket align with the holes in each SASS mic.
The MB-4 has a higher output than the SASS, so set its record-level meter to match the SASS record-level meter when a person speaks in front of the mic. To reduce wind noise , put a piece of foam under the windscreen near the MB-4 to create an airspace.
We think you'll enjoy the wonderful spaciousness and precise imaging you'll hear with the BPP Array.
What's your opinion of using two SASS mics for a 4-channel surround recording? And what would be the best positioning for deploying them?
Reply: They should work great for surround. Put the front SASS in the usual position for stereo recording, and put the rear SASS about 3 feet behind the front SASS, aiming back into the hall. If you put them touching back-to-back, the front/rear separation is poor at low frequencies (unless you delay the rear SASS signals by at least 3 msec.)
With popular music, some engineers mike the on-stage instruments individually, up close, and use a SASS back in the hall for surround.
Also, click here: Surround miking with the SASS #1 (pdf file)
Lang Elliot is recording nature sounds in 4-channel surround with two back-to-back SASS mics. See the photos of his setup. According to Lang, "The two units are offset in the vertical plane, so that cable and connectors don't interfere with one another. This should not cause problems because most nature sounds occur in a horizontal plane, more or less."
"For surround, a meter spacing between the two units is more optimal. For me, it would be better to record this way and add some delay when mixing for 5.1. The reason is that this kind of setup gives me four mic-pairs to choose from for stereo tracks."
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