Mid-Side (MS) Recording – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Sound Engineering Glossary

What is Mid-Side (MS) Recording?

Mid-Side (MS) recording is a technique used in audio recording and production to capture a stereo image of a sound source. It involves using two microphones – one pointed directly at the sound source (the “mid” microphone) and one placed at a right angle to the mid microphone (the “side” microphone). The mid microphone captures the sound coming directly from the source, while the side microphone captures the sound from the surrounding environment. These two signals are then combined and decoded during the mixing process to create a stereo image with a wide and natural sound.

How does Mid-Side (MS) Recording work?

In MS recording, the mid microphone is typically a cardioid or omnidirectional microphone, while the side microphone is a figure-8 microphone. The mid microphone captures the mono signal of the sound source, while the side microphone captures the stereo information of the surrounding space. The two signals are then recorded onto separate tracks.

During the mixing process, the side signal is duplicated and phase-inverted. The mid signal is panned to the center of the stereo field, while the duplicated side signal is panned hard left and right. By adjusting the levels of the mid and side signals, as well as the width of the stereo image, the engineer can control the perceived width and depth of the sound.

What equipment is needed for Mid-Side (MS) Recording?

To perform MS recording, you will need a mid microphone, a side microphone, a microphone preamplifier, and a recording device. The mid microphone should be a cardioid or omnidirectional microphone, while the side microphone should be a figure-8 microphone. It is important to choose microphones with similar frequency responses and sensitivity levels to ensure a balanced stereo image.

Additionally, a microphone preamplifier with phase inversion capabilities is necessary to decode the side signal during mixing. A recording device with at least two input channels is required to record the mid and side signals onto separate tracks.

What are the advantages of using Mid-Side (MS) Recording?

One of the main advantages of MS recording is its ability to capture a natural and spacious stereo image. By separating the mono and stereo components of the sound, MS recording allows for greater control over the width and depth of the stereo field during mixing. This technique is particularly useful for recording acoustic instruments, ensembles, and ambient sounds.

MS recording also offers flexibility in post-production. The engineer can adjust the balance between the mid and side signals, as well as the stereo width, to tailor the stereo image to the specific needs of the project. Additionally, MS recording can help reduce phase cancellation issues that may arise when using traditional stereo recording techniques.

How can Mid-Side (MS) Recording be used in sound engineering?

In sound engineering, MS recording can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the stereo image of a recording. For example, MS recording can be used to capture the natural ambience of a live performance or to create a sense of space in a mix. By adjusting the levels of the mid and side signals, as well as the stereo width, the engineer can manipulate the perceived depth and width of the sound.

MS recording can also be used to correct phase issues in a stereo mix. By adjusting the phase relationship between the mid and side signals, the engineer can minimize phase cancellation and create a more coherent stereo image. Additionally, MS recording can be used to isolate specific elements of a mix, such as vocals or instruments, by adjusting the balance between the mid and side signals.

What are some tips for achieving optimal results with Mid-Side (MS) Recording?

To achieve optimal results with MS recording, it is important to carefully choose and position the microphones. The mid microphone should be placed directly facing the sound source, while the side microphone should be positioned at a right angle to the mid microphone. It is important to experiment with microphone placement to find the optimal balance between the direct sound and the ambient sound.

During mixing, it is important to pay attention to the levels of the mid and side signals. The mid signal should be panned to the center of the stereo field, while the duplicated side signal should be panned hard left and right. By adjusting the levels of the mid and side signals, as well as the stereo width, the engineer can create a balanced and natural stereo image.

It is also important to monitor the phase relationship between the mid and side signals. If the phase is not aligned correctly, it can result in phase cancellation and a loss of stereo information. Using a phase correlation meter or listening in mono can help identify and correct phase issues in the mix.