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The X-Y array is perhaps the easiest to set up and the most widely used stereo miking configuration. X-Y requires two identical directional micro phones that are mounted so that their grills are nearly touching, or with their diaphragms angled apart in such a way that they aim approximately towards the left and right sides of the instrument or ensemble. Unlike what you may think, the mics are not crossed in an X pattern in this configuration. In fact, the mic capsules are placed as closed as possible to one another in a 90-degree angle.
The greater the angle between microphones, the wider the stereo spread. Let's hear this for ourselves by setting up two identical cardioid mics in an X-Y configuration. Set the trim or gain control and fader levels, so both mics are at the same level, then pan the channel hard left and hard right. (music playing) Just to hear what it sounds like, replace one of the mics with a different cardioid model.
As you can hear, the stereo image becomes very imbalanced and unnatural sounding. (music playing) Now go back to the original configuration that has the identical mics. Change the angel of the mics from 90 degrees to 60. Notice how the stereo image changes. (music playing) Now change the angle of the mics from 60 degrees to around 120.
Once again, notice how the stereo image changes. (music playing) Return the mics to 90 degrees again. Now we're going to pan both mic channels to the center. One of the great things about the X-Y configuration is that it sounds pretty good when converted to mono. That's not the case with some other stereo configurations as you'll soon hear.
Setting up some stereo configurations like X-Y can be a real pain, since it requires a couple of heavy duty mic stands and a lot of patience to place everything just right. If your planning on doing a lot of stereo miking, a worthwhile purchase is a stereo bar. This allows you to use just one mic stand and allows for a precision replacement of a couple of mics in any configuration. That's how to record in stereo using the X-Y miking configuration. Walk around the room and find the sweet spot and place the mics there.
Set the preamp and fader levels so each channel is exactly the same and pan both hard left and right, make the sound feel wider or more narrower according to taste by changing the angle of your mic capsules. (music playing)
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