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Stereophonic Recording Techniques: Old Challenges, New Approaches

[Feature Article] The challenge of stereophonic sound recording and reproduction has always been one of how to deliver a convincing sound stage, localizable source images, and a satisfactory sense of space from as small a number of loudspeakers as possible. All sorts of psychoacoustic tricks are employed in this process, because it is not possible to render an acoustically accurate soundfield over a wide range of listening positions with a small number of loudspeakers. Aesthetic judgments, often disregarded in the quest for scientific correctness, also have a large part to play in the choice of an appropriate solution. Practical stereophonic recording approaches have employed various compromises between the different requirements, and this remains true with modern 5.1 techniques. It is still difficult, for example, to come up with a single microphone array that will capture all of the cues required to deliver accurate phantom imaging of individual sources at the same time as satisfyingly spacious reverberation. Most often this is overcome in practice by using hybrid techniques that involve panned spot microphones in addition to or instead of a main front array, as well as either artificial reverberation or some sort of spaced array to pick up decorrelated natural reverberation. Notwithstanding this there are still attempts to devise “purist” main microphone arrays that are claimed to do it all.

JAES Volume 54 Issue 3 pp. 225-229; March 2006
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