A microphone, sometimes referred to as a mike or mic (pronounced "mike"), is an acoustic to electric transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, tape recorders, hearing aids, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, in radio and television broadcasting and in computers for recording voice, VoIP and numerous other computer applications.




An Oktava condenser microphone





The word "microphone" (Greek mikros "small" and phone "sound") originally referred to a mechanical hearing aid for small sounds.[1]


The invention of a practical microphone was crucial to the early development of the telephone system. Emile Berliner invented the first microphone on March 4, 1877, but the first useful microphone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell. Many early developments in microphone design took place in Bell Laboratories.



Principle of operation


All microphones capture sound waves with a thin, flexible diaphragm (or ribbon in the case of ribbon microphones). The vibrations of this element are then converted by various methods into an electrical signal that is an analog of the original sound. Most microphones in use today use electromagnetic generation (dynamic microphones), capacitance change (condenser microphones) or piezoelectric generation to produce the signal from mechanical vibration.



Microphone varieties


Capacitor or condenser microphones


In a capacitor microphone, also known as a condenser microphone, the diaphragm acts as one plate of a capacitor, and the vibrations produce changes in the distance between the plates. Since the plates are biased with a fixed charge (Q), the voltage maintained across the capacitor plates changes with the vibrations in the air, according to the capacitance equation:


Q = C \cdot V


where Q = charge in coulombs, C = capacitance in farads and V = potential difference in volts. The capacitance of the plates is inversely proportional to the distance between them for a parallel-plate capacitor.:


C \propto \frac{A}{d}



Capacitor microphones can be expensive and require a power supply, commonly provided from mic inputs as phantom power, but give a high-quality sound signal and are now the preferred choice in laboratory and studio recording applications.



Electret capacitor microphones


An electret microphone is a relatively new type of condenser microphone invented at Bell laboratories in 1962 by Gerhard Sessler and Jim West [2], and often simply called an electret microphone. An electret is a dielectric material that has been permanently electrically charged or polarised. The name comes from electrostatic and magnet; a static charge is embedded in an electret by alignment of the static charges in the material, much the way a magnet is made by aligning the magnetic domains in a piece of iron. They are used in many applications, from high-quality recording and lavalier use to built-in microphones in small sound recording devices and telephones. Though electret mikes were once considered low-cost and low quality, the best ones can now rival capacitor mikes in every respect (apart from low noise) and can even have the long-term stability and ultra-flat response needed for a measuring microphone. Unlike other condenser microphones, they require no polarising voltage, but normally contain an integrated preamplifier which does require power (often incorrectly called polarizing power or bias). This preamp is frequently phantom powered in sound reinforcement and studio applications. While few electret microphones rival the best DC-polarized units in terms of noise level, this is not due to any inherent limitation of the electret. Rather, mass production techniques needed to produce electrets cheaply don't lend themselves to the precision needed to produce the highest quality microphones.



Dynamic microphones


In a dynamic microphone a small movable induction coil, positioned in the magnetic field of a permanent magnet, is attached to the diaphragm. When sound enters through the windscreen of the microphone, the sound wave vibrations move the diaphragm. When the diaphragm vibrates, the coil moves in the magnetic field, producing a varying current in the coil through electromagnetic induction. The principle is exactly the same as in a loudspeaker, only reversed. Dynamic microphones are robust, relatively inexpensive, and resistant to moisture, and for this reason they are widely used on-stage by singers. They tend to have a poor low-frequency response, which is advantageous for reducing handling noise as a vocal mic, but tends to exclude them from other uses.



Ribbon microphones


In ribbon microphones a thin, usually corrugated metal ribbon is suspended in a magnetic field. The ribbon is electrically connected to the microphone's output, and its vibration within the magnetic field generates the electrical signal. Basic ribbon microphones detect sound in a bidirectional (also called figure-eight) pattern because the ribbon, which is open to sound both front and back, responds to the pressure gradient rather than the sound pressure. Though the symmetrical front and rear pickup can be a nuisance in normal stereo recording, the high side rejection can be used to advantage by positioning a ribbon mic horizontally, for example above cymbals, so that the rear lobe picks up only sound from the ceiling. Other directional patterns are produced by enclosing one side of the ribbon in an acoustic trap or baffle, allowing sound to reach only one side. Ribbon mics give very high quality sound reproduction, and were once valued for this reason, but a good low-frequency response can be obtained only if the ribbon is suspended very loosely, and this makes them fragile. Protective wind screens can reduce the danger of damaging the ribbon, but will somewhat reduce the bass response at large miking distances.


Ribbon microphones don't require phantom power; in fact, this voltage can damage these microphones.




Inside the Oktava 319 condenser microphone



Carbon microphones


A carbon microphone, formerly used in telephone handsets, is a capsule containing carbon granules pressed between two metal plates. A voltage is applied across the metal plates, causing a small current to flow through the carbon. One of the plates, the diaphragm, vibrates in sympathy with incident sound waves, applying a varying pressure to the carbon. The changing pressure deforms the granules, causing the contact area between each pair of adjacent granules to change, and this causes the electrical resistance of the mass of granules to change. The changes in resistance cause a corresponding change in the voltage across the two plates, and hence in the current flowing through the microphone, producing the electrical signal. Carbon microphones were once commonly used in telephones; they have extremely low-quality sound reproduction and a very limited frequency response range, but are very robust devices. Unlike other microphone types, the carbon microphone can also be used as a type of amplifier, using a small amount of sound energy to produce a larger amount of electrical energy. Carbon microphones found use as early telephone repeaters, making long distance phone calls possible in the era before vacuum tubes. These repeaters worked by mechanically coupling a magnetic telephone receiver to a carbon microphone: the faint signal from the receiver was transferred to the microphone, with a resulting stronger electrical signal to send down the line.



Piezo microphones


A piezo (pronounced "pee-ay-zo" or "pie-ee-zo") microphone uses the phenomenon of piezoelectricity—the ability of some materials to produce a voltage when subjected to pressure—to convert vibrations into an electrical signal. Piezo transducers are often used as contact microphones to amplify acoustic instruments for live performance, or to record sounds in unusual environments (underwater, for instance).


An example of this is Rochelle salt (potassium sodium tartrate), which is a piezoelectric crystal that works as a transducer both ways; it is also commonly used as a slimline loudspeaker component.



Laser microphones


A laser microphone is an exotic application of laser technology. It consists of a laser beam that must be reflected off a glass window or another rigid surface that vibrates in sympathy with nearby sounds. This device essentially turns any vibrating surface near the source of sound into a microphone. It does this by measuring the distance between itself and the surface extremely accurately; the tiny fluctuations in this distance become the electrical signal of the sounds picked up. Laser microphones are new, very rare and expensive, and are most commonly portrayed in the movies as spying devices.



Speakers as microphones


A loudspeaker is the exact opposite of a microphone, since it's a transducer that turns an electrical signal into sound waves. However, because a conventional speaker is constructed much like a dynamic microphone (with a diaphragm, coil and magnet), speakers can actually work "in reverse" as microphones. The result, though, is a microphone with poor quality, limited frequency response (particularly at the high end), and poor sensitivity.


In practical use, speakers are sometimes used as microphones in such applications as intercoms or walkie-talkies, where high quality and sensitivity are not needed. However, there is at least one other novel application of this principle; using a medium-size woofer placed closely in front of a "kick" (bass drum) in a drum set to act as a microphone. This has been commercialized with the Yamaha "Subkick".[3]



Other microphone types


A pressure gradient microphone is a microphone in which both sides of the diaphragm are exposed to the incident sound and the microphone is therefore responsive to the pressure differential (gradient) between the two sides of the membrane. Sound incident parallel to the plane of the diaphragm produces no pressure differential, giving pressure-gradient microphones their characteristic figure-eight directional patterns. They are also called "velocity microphones", since the output voltage is proportional to the air particle velocity.


A lavalier microphone is made for hands-free operation. These small microphones are worn on the body and held in place either with a lanyard worn around the neck or a clip fastened to clothing. The cord may be hidden by clothes and either run to an RF transmitter in a pocket or clipped to a belt (for mobile use), or run directly to the mixer (for stationary applications).


A wireless microphone is one which does not use a cable. It usually transmits its signal using a small FM radio transmitter to a nearby receiver connected to the sound system, but it can also use infrared light if the transmitter and receiver are within sight of each other.


A contact microphone is designed to pick up vibrations directly from a solid surface or object, as opposed to sound vibrations carried through air. One use for this is to detect sounds of a very low level, such as those from small objects or insects. The microphone commonly consists of a magnetic (moving coil) transducer, contact plate and contact pin. The contact plate is placed against the object from which vibrations are to be picked up; the contact pin transfers these vibrations to the coil of the transducer. Contact microphones have been used to pick up the sound of a snail's heartbeat and the footsteps of ants. A portable version of this microphone has recently been developed.


A throat microphone is a variant of the contact microphone, used to pick up speech directly from the throat, around which it is strapped. This allows the device to be used in areas with ambient sounds that would otherwise make the speaker inaudible.


A parabolic microphone uses a parabolic reflector to collect and focus sound waves onto a microphone receiver, in much the same way that a parabolic antenna (e.g. satellite dish) does with radio waves. Typical uses of this microphone, which has unusually focused front sensitivity and can pick up sounds from many meters away, include nature recording, outdoor sporting events, eavesdropping, law enforcement, and even espionage. Parabolic microphones are not typically used for standard recording applications, because they tend to have poor low-frequency response as a side effect of their design.







The most common connectors used by microphones are:


  • Male XLR connector on professional microphones

  • 1/4'' mono phone plug (UK "jack plug") on consumer (less expensive) microphones

  • 3.5 mm mono mini phone plug on very inexpensive and computer microphones


Some microphones use other connectors, such as TRS, 5-pin XLR, or stereo mini phone plug on some stereo microphones. Some lavaliers have a proprietary connector to connect them to their transmitter. Since 2005, professional-quality microphones with USB connections have begun to appear, designed for direct recording into computer-based software studios.



Impedance matching


Microphones have an electrical characteristic called impedance, measured in ohms (Ω) that depends on the design. Low impedance is considered under 600 Ω. Medium impedance is considered between 600 Ω and 10 kΩ. High impedance is above 10 kΩ. Most professional microphones are low impedance, about 200 Ω. Less expensive models have an impedance of at least 600 Ω. Low-impedance microphones are preferred over high impedance on long-run cables for two reasons: one is that using a high-impedance mike with a long cable is likely to result in loss of high frequency signal; the other is that long high-impedance cables tend to pick up more hum (and possibly radio-frequency interference (RFI) as well).


To get the best sound, the impedances of the microphone and the equipment to which it is connected must match. There are transformers (called matching transformers) that adapt impedances, such as DI units. In general, any XLR microphone can be connected to any mixer with XLR inputs, and any plug microphone can be connected to any jack plug that is marked as a microphone input, but it can't be connected to a line input.













A microphone's directionality or polar pattern indicates how sensitive it is to sounds arriving at different angles about its central axis. The polar pattern represents the locus of points that produce the same signal level output in the microphone if a given sound pressure level is generated from that point.


An omnidirectional microphone's response is generally considered to be a perfect sphere in three dimensions. In the real world, this is not the case. As with directional microphones, the polar pattern for an "omnidirectional" microphone is a function of frequency. The body of the microphone is not infinitely small and, as a consequence, it tends to get in its own way with respect to sounds arriving from the rear, causing a slight flattening of the polar response. This flattening increases as the diameter of the microphone (assuming it's cylindrical) reaches the wavelength of the frequency in question. Therefore, the smallest diameter microphone will give the best omnidirectional characteristics at high frequencies. The wavelength of sound at 10 kHz is about an inch (2.5 cm) so the smallest measuring microphones are often 1/4" (6 mm) in diameter, which practically eliminates directionality even up to the highest frequencies. Omnidirectional microphones, unlike cardioids, do not employ resonant cavities as delays, and so can be considered the "purest" mikes in terms of low coloration; they add very little to the original sound. Being pressure-sensitive they can also have a very flat low-frequency response down to 20 Hz or below. Pressure-sensitive mikes also respond much less to wind noise than directional (velocity sensitive) mikes.


A unidirectional microphone is sensitive to sounds from only one direction. The diagram above illustrates a number of these patterns, with the microphone capsule being represented as a red dot. The top of the diagram is the front of the mic. The sound intensity for a particular frequency is plotted for angles radially from 0 to 360°. (Professional diagrams show these scales and include multiple plots at different frequencies. These diagrams just provide an overview of the typical shapes and their names.)


The most common unidirectional mike is a cardioid microphone, so named because the sensitivity pattern is heart-shaped. A hyper-cardioid is similar but with a tighter area of front sensitivity and a tiny lobe of rear sensitivity. These two patterns are commonly used as vocal or speech mikes, since they are good at rejecting sounds from other directions. Because they employ internal cavities to provide front-back delay, directional mikes tend to have more coloration than omnis, and they also suffer from low-frequency roll-off. These problems are overcome to a large extent by careful design, but only the best cardioids can begin to approach the performance of a tiny low-cost omni in terms of absolute accuracy. This is not always recognised, but is the price paid for directionality, often needed to exclude ambient reverberation wherever very close placement is impossible.


Figure 8 or bi-directional mikes receive sound from both the front and back of the element. Most ribbon microphones are of this pattern.


Shotgun microphones are the most highly directional. They have small lobes of sensitivity to the left, right, and rear but are significantly more sensitive to the front. This results from placing the element inside a tube with slots cut along the side; wave-cancellation eliminates most of the off-axis noise. Shotgun microphones are commonly used on TV and film sets, and for location recording of wildlife.


An omnidirectional microphone is a pressure transducer; the output voltage is proportional to the air pressure at a given time.


On the other hand, a figure-8 pattern is a pressure gradient transducer; the output voltage is proportional to the difference in pressure on the front and on the back side. A sound wave arriving from the back will lead to a signal with a polarity opposite to that of an identical sound wave from the front. Moreover, shorter wavelengths (higher frequencies) are picked up more effectively than lower frequencies.


A cardioid microphone is effectively a superposition of an omnidirectional and a figure-8 microphone; for sound waves coming from the back, the negative signal from the figure-8 cancels the positive signal from the omnidirectional element, whereas for sound waves coming from the front, the two add to each other. A hypercardioid microphone is similar, but with a slightly larger figure-8 contribution.


Since directional microphones are (partially) pressure gradient transducers, their sensitivity is dependent on the distance to the sound source. This is known as the proximity effect, a bass boost at distances of a few centimeters.



Measurements and specifications


Because of differences in their construction, microphones have their own characteristic responses to sound. This difference in response produces non-uniform phase and frequency responses. In addition, mics are not uniformly sensitive to sound pressure, and can accept differing levels without distorting. Although for scientific applications microphones with a more uniform response are desirable, this is often not the case for music recording, as the non-uniform response of a microphone can produce a desirable coloration of the sound. There is an international standard for microphone specifications (IEC 60268-4), but very few manufacturers adhere to it.


A frequency response diagram plots the microphone sensitivity in decibels over a range of frequencies (typically at least 0–20 kHz), generally for perfectly on-axis sound (sound arriving at 0° to the capsule). Frequency response may be less informatively stated textually like so: "20 Hz–20 kHz ±3 dB". This is interpreted as a (mostly) linear plot between the stated frequencies, with variations in amplitude of no more than 3 dB plus or minus. However, one cannot determine from this information how smooth the variations are, nor in what parts of the spectrum they occur. Note that commonly-made statements such as "20 Hz–20 kHz" are meaningless without a decibel measure.


The self-noise or equivalent noise level is the sound level that creates the same output voltage as the inherent noise of the microphone. This represents the lowest point of the microphone's dynamic range, and is particularly important should you wish to record sounds that are quiet. The measure is often stated in dBA, which is the equivalent loudness of the noise on a decibel scale frequency-weighted for how the ear hears, for example: "15 dBA SPL" (SPL means sound pressure level relative to 20 micropascals). The lower the number the better. Some microphone manufacturers state the noise level using ITU-R 468 noise weighting, which more accurately represents the way we hear noise, but gives a figure some 11 to 14 dB higher. A quiet microphone will measure typically 20 dBA SPL or 32 dB SPL 468-weighted.


The maximum SPL (sound pressure level) the microphone can accept is measured for particular values of total harmonic distortion (THD), typically 1%. This is generally inaudible, so one can safely use the mic at this level without harming the recording. Example: "142 dB SPL peak (<1% THD)". The higher the value, the better.


The clipping level is perhaps a better indicator of maximum useable level as the 1% THD figure usually quoted under max SPL is really a very mild level of distortion, quite inaudible especially on brief high peaks. Harmonic distortion from microphones is usually of low-order (mostly third harmonic) type, and hence not very audible even at 3-5%. Clipping, on the other hand, usually caused by the diaphram reaching its absolute displacement limit (or by the preamplifier), will produce a very harsh sound on peaks, and should be avoided if at all possible. For some mikes the clipping level may be much higher than the max SPL.


The dynamic range of a mike is the difference in SPL between the noise floor and the maximum SPL. If stated on its own, for example "120 dB", it conveys significantly less information than having the self-noise and maximum SPL figures individually.


Sensitivity indicates how well the mike converts acoustic pressure to output voltage. A high sensitivity mike creates more voltage and so will need less amplification at the mixer or recording device. This is a practical concern but not directly an indication of the mike's quality, and in fact the term sensitivity is something of a misnomer, 'transduction gain' being perhaps more meaningful, (or just "output level") because true sensitivity will generally be set by the noise floor, and too much "sensitivity" in terms of output level will compromise the clipping level. There are two common measures. The (preferred) international standard is made in mV per pascal at 1 kHz. A higher value indicates greater sensitivity. The older American method is referred to a 1 V/Pa standard and measured in plain dB, resulting in a negative value. Again, a higher value indicates greater sensitivity, so −60  dB is more sensitive than −70 dB.



Measurement microphones


Some microphones are intended for use as standard measuring microphones for the testing of speakers and checking noise levels etc. These are calibrated transducers and will usually be supplied with a calibration certificate stating absolute sensitivity against frequency.



Microphone calibration techniques


Pistonphone apparatus


A pistonphone is an acoustical calibrator (sound source) using a closed coupler to generate a precise sound pressure for the calibration of instrumentation microphones. The principle relies on a piston mechanically driven to move at a specified rate on a fixed volume of air to which the microphone under test is exposed. The air is assumed to be compressed adiabatically and the SPL in the chamber can be calculated from PV = const. The Piston phone method only works at low frequencies but can be accurate and is related to an easily calculable sound pressure level. The standard test frequency is usually around 250 Hz.



Reciprocal method


This method relies on the reciprocity of one or more microphones in a group of 3 to be calibrated. It can still be used when only one of the microphones is reciprocal (exhibits equal response when used as a microphone or as a loudspeaker).



Microphone techniques


There exist a number of well-developed microphone techniques used for miking musical, film, or voice sources. Choice of technique depends on a number of factors, including:


  • The collection of extraneous noise. This can be a concern, especially in amplified performances, where audio feedback can be a significant problem. Alternatively, it can be a desired outcome, in situations where ambient noise is useful (hall reverberation, audience reaction).

  • Choice of a signal type: Mono, stereo or multi-channel.

  • Type of sound-source: Acoustic instruments produce a very different sound than electric instruments, which are again different from the human voice.

  • Situational circumstances: Sometimes a microphone should not be visible, or having a microphone nearby is not appropriate. In scenes for a movie the microphone may be held above the pictureframe, just out of sight. In this way there is always a certain distance between the actor and the microphone.

  • Processing: If the signal is destined to be heavily processed, or "mixed down", a different type of input may be required.

  • The use of a windshield as well as a pop shield, designed to reduce vocal plosives.


Basic techniques


There are several classes of microphone placement for recording and amplification.


  • In close miking, a directional microphone is placed relatively close to an instrument or sound source. This serves to eliminate extraneous noise, including room reverberation, and is commonly used when attempting to record a number of separate instruments while keeping the signals separate, or when trying to avoid feedback in an amplified performance. This technique was first used by Les Paul on his version of "The Tennessee Waltz" with Mary Ford.

  • In ambient or distant miking, a microphone—typically a sensitive one—is placed at some distance from the sound source. The goal of this technique is to get a broader, natural mix of the sound source or sources, along with ambient sound, including reverberation from the room or hall.


Stereo recording techniques


There are two essential components to placing objects (phantom sources) in the stereo sound-field between the loudspeakers. These are the level difference Δ L, the relative loudness, and the time-delay difference Δ t, the difference in arrival time. The "interaural" signals (binaural ILD and ITD) at the ears are not the stereo microphone signals which are coming from the loudspeakers, and are called "interchannel" signals (Δ L and Δ t). These signals are normally not mixed. Loudspeaker signals are different from the sound arriving at the ear. See the section "Binaural recording for earphones".



Conventional stereo recording for loudspeakers


The following microphone techniques can be used to capture the live "soundstage":


  • The X-Y technique involves the coincident placement of two directional (cardioid) microphones. When two directional microphones are placed coincidentally, typically at a 90° angle (or greater) to each other (typically with each microphone pointing to a side of the soundstage), a stereo effect is achieved simply through intensity differences between the sound entering each microphone. Due to the lack of time-of-arrival stereo information, the stereo effect in X-Y recordings has less ambience. The main advantage is that the signal is mono-compatible, i.e., the signal is suitable for playback on non-stereo devices such as AM radio. If two bi-directional (figure 8) microphones are used instead of cardioid microphones, this technique is known as a Blumlein pair .

  • The Mid-Side (M-S) technique is a special case of X-Y and uses a directional cardioid or an omnidirectional pressure microphone (M) and a bidirectional (figure-8) microphone (S), placed at a 90° angle to each other with the directional microphone facing the soundstage. The outputs of these microphones are mixed in such a way as to generate sum and difference signals between the outputs. The S signal is added to the M for one channel, and is subtracted (by reversing phase and adding) to generate the other channel. M-S has two advantages: when the stereo signal is combined into mono, the signal from the S microphone cancels out entirely, leaving only the mono recording from the directional M microphone; additionally, M-S recordings can be "remixed" after recording to alter or even remove the stereo spread. The M-S technique with an omnidirectional M microphone is equivalent to X-Y with two cardioids at a 180° angle.

  • Near-coincident recording is a variant of the X-Y technique and incorporates interchannel time delay by placing the microphones several inches apart. The ORTF stereo technique of the Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (Radio France), calls for a pair of cardioid microphones placed 17 cm apart at an angle of 110°. In the NOS stereo technique of the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (Holland Radio), the angle is 90° and the distance is 30 cm. The choice between one and the other depends on the recording angle of the microphone system, not on the distance to and the width of the sound source. This technique leads to a realistic stereo effect and has reasonable mono-compatibility. These interchannel signals have nothing to do with interaural signals which come only from artificial head recordings. Even the spacing of 17 cm has nothing to do with human ear distance. The ORTF and NOS engineers did not think in those terms, because this microphone system was developed for a set of stereo loudspeakers, not for earphones.

  • The A-B technique uses two omnidirectional microphones at a moderate distance from each other (20 centimeters up to a few meters). Stereo information consists of large time-of-arrival distances and some sound level differences. With excessively large distances, the stereo image can be perceived as somewhat unnatural, as if the left and right channel are independent sound sources without an even spread from left to right. A-B recordings are not so good for mono playback because the time-of-arrival differences can lead to certain frequency components being canceled out and others being amplified, the so-called comb-filtering effect, but the stereo sound can be really convincing. If wide A-B is used for large orchestras, the center can be filled with another microphone. Then one gets the famous "Decca tree", which has brought us many good sounding recordings.

  • The Blumlein shuffler technique uses two microphones spaced around 20 cm (head width), and these are usually, but not necessarily, omnidirectional. A special "Blumlein shuffler" circuit integrates the difference signal, before matrixing it to produce an output in which phase (time delay) information has been converted to amplitude difference. This is a purist technique for providing true stereo from binaural capture, permitting omnidirectional microphones to be used (with their low coloration and flat low-frequency response) for true stereo. It has been little used, probably because of the lack of commercial shufflers. While offering very realistic stereo, it can emphasise low frequencies picked up from the sides unless the shuffler incorporates rolloff in the difference path. A central baffle, in the form of a foam disc suspended between the microphones, provides level separation above 2 kHz where the shuffling has to be phased out.

  • The Baffled Omnidirectional technique uses a pair of near-coincident omnidirectional microphones with an absorptive baffle between them and is closely related to binaural technique. Stereo information consists primarily of time-of-arrival differences between the microphones and intensity differences from the baffle. The Jecklin Disk, described by the Swiss radio technician Juerg Jecklin, uses of a 30 cm flat circular sound absorbing baffle arranged vertically with the faces perpendicular to the sound source. Pressure microphones are placed 16.5 cm apart, directly left and right of the disk's center. The KFM Sphere, described by Guenther Theile, consists of two pressure microphones mounted on opposite sides of a 20 cm sphere. The microphones are mounted flush with the surface and arranged with the 0-axis perpendicular to the sound source.


Surround Microphone Techniques


  • The Double MS Technique was developed by Chris Wittig and Neil Muncy, and uses a front-facing mid-side microphone pair of direct sound pickup and a rear MS pair facing away from the front. The rear pair is placed at or just beyond the critical distance of the room where the reverberant sound level equals the direct sound level. The matrixed outputs feed front-left, front-right, rear-left, and rear-right speakers.

  • The Surround Ambience Microphone Array was developed by Gunther Theile of the Institute for Rundfunktechnik (IRT). Four cardioid microphones are placed 90 degrees to each other and 21 to 25cm apart. No center channel is described.

  • The Spider Microphone Array uses a special mike mount with five arms that radiate out from a center point, like a star. At the end of each arm is a condenser microphone aiming outward from the center. Two examples: The Microtech Gefell INA 5 uses five M930 mics in shock mounts. In the SPL Atmos 5.1/ASM 5 Surround Recording System, five Brauner condenser mikes feed a five channel mixing console, which adjusts the mic polar patterns and offers panning, bass management, and surround monitoring. SPL's Web site is www.spl-usa.com Both systems use the Ideal Cardioid Arrangement (ICA 5, ITU-775 specification), developed by Volker Henkels and Ulf Herrmann.


Binaural recording for earphones


Binaural recording is a highly specific attempt to recreate the conditions of human hearing, reproducing the full three-dimensional sound-field with earphones. Most binaural recordings use model of a human head, with microphones placed where the ear canal could be. A sound source is then recorded with all of the stereo and spatial cues produced by the head and human pinnae with frequency dependent ILD (interaural level difference) and ITD (interaural time difference, max. (Δt) = 630 µs = 0.63 ms) ear signals. A binaural recording is usually only somewhat successful, in addition to being highly inconvenient. For one thing, it tends to work well only when played back directly into the ear canal, via headphones (no speakers), as other methods of playback add additional spatial cues. Furthermore, as all heads and pinnae are different, a recording from one "pair of ears" will not always sound correct to another person. Also, headphones have a frequency response that compensates for the fact that the reflections from the pinnae, head and shoulders strongly affect the frequency spectrum, with the assumption that a recording is taken with a flat frequency spectrum. Introducing the spectral distortion already in the binaural recording results in an unnatural frequency spectrum, even when played through headphones. Finally, as visual cues are generally much more powerful than auditory cues when determining the source of a sound, binaural recordings are not always convincing to listeners.



Microphone manufacturers


  • AKG Acoustics

  • Audio Engineering Associates

  • Audio-Technica

  • Audix

  • Behringer

  • Beyerdynamic

  • Blue Microphones

  • Brauner Microphones

  • Brüel & Kjær

  • CAD Professional Microphones

  • DPA Microphones (formerly known as B&K)

  • Earthworks

  • Electro-Voice

  • Feilo

  • Groove Tubes

  • Josephson Engineering

  • Lauten Audio

  • M-Audio

  • Manley Labs

  • MicFactory

  • Microtech-Gefell GmbH

  • Milab

  • MXL

  • Georg Neumann GmbH

  • Oktava

  • Røde Microphones

  • Royer Labs

  • Samson Technologies

  • Sanken

  • Schoeps

  • SE Electronics

  • Sennheiser

  • ShinyBox Audio

  • Shure Incorporated

  • Sonic Studios

  • Sony

  • Soundelux Microphones

  • SoundField

  • Studio Projects













A to Z of Music Instrument and Equipment Suppliers in the UK





Extensive range of pipe organs built by Allen.

A wholly owned British company established in 1969 to handle the sales, service and hire of Allen Organs in the U.K., with, over 3500 instruments installed in churches, schools, crematoria, concert halls, and private homes.

Trada Business Campus, Stocking Lane, Hughenden Valley, High Wycombe,
Buckinghamshire, HP14 4ND. ENGLAND.
Telephone: 01494 563833   Fax: 01494 563546  sales@allenorgans.co.uk




Bagpipe retailer in Leith, Scotland, whichbegan in1981 with the setting up of the "International Piper" magazine with the late Captain John A MacLellan, former director of the Army School of Bagpipe Music at Edinburgh Castle.

Lorn House, Links Gardens Lane, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 7JQ

+44 (0) 131 553 5503   +44 (0) 131 553 5550  enquiries@bagpipesofcaledonia.com



BARNES & MULLINS   Suppliers of guitars, PA's, effects, saxes and more.




BONNERS  A range of musical instruments for sale at Bonners Music instrument shops in Brighton and Eastbourne.


BOOSEY & HAWKES  Publishers, online catalogue of instruments, music books CD's.




Insurance from Cornhill for musical instruments.

Allianz Cornhill Musical Insurance is one of the UK's leading specialist musical instrument insurers. Pioneered cover for the music industry over 40 years ago, under the British Reserve Insurance Company and continue to offer flexible cost effective policies.
Allianz Cornhill House, 6 Vale Avenue, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1EH

Tel:  0870 2400 303




Probably the oldest prestige piano companies in the world.  Holds the Royal Warrant as manufacturer of pianos to Queen Elizabeth II.




Organ builders with a base in Northamptonshire. Founded in 1960, Copeman Hart enjoy an international reputation for producing not only the most pipelike sounds but the most comfortable, authentic consoles.

Tel +44 (0)1933 652600  Fax +44 (0)1933 652288  Email info@copemanhart.co.uk



Courtney Pianos 

Oxford based specialists in restoration and retail of traditional pianos, particularly the better-known makes/models built between the 1890s and 1940s.




(7,246)Drums, Drum Sets, and Accessories (4,459)Live Performance Equipment and Accessories (3,360)Keyboards / MIDI and Accessories (2,133)Guitars, Amps and Accessories (1,787)




Digital Village is one of the UK's most comprehensive studio equipment, pro-audio and computer music website. Digital Village have dedicated teams of experts that will help you choose the right equipment for all your music technology needs. For telephone mail-order, expert advice, price-beating enquiries and the best package deals on your studio equipment, please contact your nearest DV branch.  Whether you choose to purchase on-line, in-store or via telephone mail-order, contact Digital Village – a supplier of professional recording equipment for over 25 years.
562 Brighton Road, South Croydon, Surrey, CR2 6AW United Kingdom
Tel: 020-8407 8444 Fax: 020-8407 8438
Email: southlondon@digitalvillage.co.uk   exportsales@digitalvillage.co.uk



DOLPHIN MUSIC  Next day delivery on all orders.




eBay is the world's largest online marketplace with over 10 million items for sale and 42 million registered users, eBay is the place to find the things you want or sell the items you have. Simply follow the instructions to register.



FENDER (UK)  Fender guitars and amplification UK dealers and prices.



GUITAR SUPERSTORE  Great site for guitars and everything guitar related.



GUITARIST MAGAZINE  Well known magazine for guitarists.




Guitar lessons on DVD, CD and video helping guitarists improve including beginners, intermediates and advanced players. Based in Hampshire. Tel: 0800 781 0414.



At this musical instrument and accessorie shop you can buy guitars, drums, percussion instruments and all of the accessories to go with them. Delivery is free on orders over £15.




This piano parts company, with an online catalogue, has been supplying piano tuners, manufacturers, technicians, schools, colleges and universities all round the world for over 120 years.
5 Bourne Enterprise Centre, Wrotham Road, Borough Green, Kent. TN15 8DG
TEL: 01732 886555   FAX: 01732 884789   E-MAIL: info@fletcher-newman.co.uk



Hobgoblin are specialists in traditional and acoustic musical instruments, selling guitars, banjos, whistles, flutes, mandolins, concertinas, harps, accordions and more.



Online musical instruments and accessories. guitars, violins, mandolins, strings, capos and leads, fender, ernie ball, martin plus many more. All orders £50 and over are delivered free.



Sell or buy your musical instruments and equipment simply. Vintage, brand new and second-hand musical instruments, equipment and accessories are traded.




Protect your musical instruments against theft, damage and accidental loss. Policies can also provide new for old cover, hiring of replacement equipment, personal accident protection and public liability cover.




In 1935 Jaques Samuel began what was to become London’s largest independent piano house.  142 Edgware Road, Marble Arch, London, W2 2DZ 

Tel: +44 (0)20 7723 8818      Fax: +44 (0)20 7224 8692




Concert piano technician also offering piano accessories, transportation and hire service.




Violin dealers, makers, repairers and restorers based in London.




Amusing online journey around this excellent London guitar shop.



MACHINE HEAD  Stockists of extensive range of guitars, amps, and accessories.




The world famous Marshall Amplification Plc began in 1962 in London England where Jim Marshall had a music shop and taught the drums.

Denbigh Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK1 1DQ

+44 1908 375411  +44 1908 376118   spares: 01908 375411

sales@marshallamps.com  support@marshallamps.com



Music Central sell musical instruments and accessories including guitars, drums, keyboards, amplifiers, effects, dj & disco, lighting and more.



A site selling everything you need and things you don't need, including sheet music, metronomes, music stands, electrical equipment, rosettes and much more!




Online advert site for musicians, instrument manufacturers and traders. Our categories cover all musical instruments and accessories




New & second-hand musical instruments, mail order music shop with a personal touch, advertise concerts, instruments & services FREE, concerts, repairers, teachers, GCSE Help Page, music links, joke page.




This site has a fantastic selection of sheet music, books about music, tutor methods and music accessories - covering a wide variety of instruments and genres.



Amplifiers, drum machines, effect pedals, acoustic guitars, bass guitars, electric guitars, travel guitars, microphones, leads, sheet music, strings and more. UK delivery is free on orders over £100.



MUSICAL WAREHOUSE  Australian musical instruments.



MUSICIANS SHOP  Discounted instruments and accessories with online facility.




NUSYSTEMS is an on-line store and mail order company for all your computer music and pro audio requirements. NUSYSTEMS build their own brand of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and Notebooks specifically for music production and recording.




Omega Music (UK) Ltd. has nearly 20 years' experience of operating a successful mail-order business. Noted for our integrity, we are one of the most respected music businesses in the north of England. Our Education Department supplies instruments and accessories to thousands of schools, colleges and universities nationwide. Our long-established retail store is the natural centre for music-making in our area and has on display one of the largest selections of musical instruments and accessories in the region.




A leading maker, restorers and dealers of antique pianos: grand, square, upright and fortepianos, based in Kent.



PETER SMITH & SONS   Guidance/ advice offered on new and second hand pianos.




Offers 4,000 products online, at competitive prices, for musicians of all types.




Harps, harp music, clarsach, pedal harps and concert harps.  Founded in 1980 by a group of craftsmen, all experienced in harp making.  Workshops are a converted coach house beside a large Victorian family home set in the Surrey countryside.

Tel. 01342 893242  Fax.  01342 892646   E-mail:  info@pilgrimharps.co.uk
Stansted House, Tilburstow Hill Road, South Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8NA



At Playrecord you can buy musical instruments, equipment, DJ equipment and accessories. Free delivery over £120.



PREMIER PERCUSSION   Information on percussion products, Leicestershire.




Guitar effects consoles, with fascinating history attached - Roger has worked with many of the true greats.

17 Salisbury Road, Worcester Park, Surrey, KT4 7DF. ENGLAND
Fax: +44 20 8330 4700   e-mail:info@roger-mayer.demon.co.uk



SAXOPHONES.CO.UK   Sales and rentals of saxophones, flutes and clarinets.



Here you can buy musical instruments and accessories, specialising in woodwind, brass and string instruments. Most items are available with 48 hour delivery in the UK. There is a second-hand sales area where you can sell your used instruments on line.



SOUND TECHNOLOGY PLC   Guitars, basses, sound software and more.



STATUS GRAPHITE   Hand-crafted graphite basses and guitars.



STRINGS DIRECT  Order strings online; accessories cables, useful tutorial.




Suppliers of classical guitars and associated recorded music.



THE CONTRABASS SHOPPE   Dealers in orchestral stringed instruments.




Manufacturers and suppliers of hardware and software for the church 

based in Cheshire.



The String Zone sell violin, cello, viola strings, instruments, bows, and a range of other accessories for orchestral players.




Three times a year, the Totnes School of Guitarmaking runs a 12-week course for up to seven people. Each of them has chosen what kind of guitar they want to make, and leaves at the end with the finished instrument.
Collins Road, Totnes, Devon, England, TQ9 5PJ
Phone: +44 (0)1803 865255  E-mail: info@totnesschoolofguitarmaking.co.uk




Think Music is a comprehensive direct musical instruments and equipment retailer. We have over 3000 product lines for you to browse and buy.



UK Websites Directory A new directory site worth a look! 




Organ builders and installers in Northern Ireland, started in the garage adjoining the home of Christopher Gordon-Wells in 1966 then expanded into an old schoolhouse at Stoneyford north-west of Lisburn. Present Gregg Street workshop, was purchased in 1971 and has been steadily adapted and adjoining properties acquired for larger voicing shop and pipe store.

83-87 Gregg Street, Lisburn, BT27 5AW, Northern Ireland
Phone: +44 (0)28 9266 4257 Fax: +44 (0)28 9260 3722
Email: wellskennedy@dnet.co.uk




Online store for PA, guitars, drums, pianos and more.

World of Music Limited, 20 Denmark Street, London WC1
Mail Order  0800 371 129   Offices  020 7497 1178   Email: info@world-of-music.co.uk




Builders of pipeless organs based in Surrey.

Wyvern Organ Buiders Ltd, Chobham, Woking, Surrey, GU24 8AQ. U.K.   

Tel: 01276 856363  Fax: 01256 855241   email: sales@wyvernorgans.co.uk







A to Z of Music Instrument and Equipment Suppliers International







The home of Gibson electric guitars today is "Gibson USA," built in 1974 in Nashville specifically for the production of Gibson's Les Paul guitars.

If you have a comment or question about anything related to Gibson Musical Instruments send an email to service@gibson.com. We'll do our best to respond within 24 hours.  You can reach the GMI Customer Support staff 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-4-GIBSON (1-800-444-2766).
Gibson's Customer Service in Europe, call 00 800 4GIBSON1 (00+800-444-2766-1)

Entertainment Relations,  3rd Floor, 29-35 Rathbone Street, London, England, W1T 1NJ    Tel. (0) 207.470.7800  Fax.  (0) 207.470.7870  Email: service@gibson.com.




Online suppliers of a variety of equipment for guitarists.




For 150 years Steinway has been dedicated to the ideal of making the finest pianos in the world. Site includes dealer locator.

1 Steinway Place, Long Island City, NY 11105
Tel. +1 718-721-2600    Email info@steinway.com



YAMAHA EUROPE   Product information from Yamaha's extensive portfolio.








Donation to the site  one line £20 12 mths




Donation to the site details  £40 12 mths



On receipt of  your donation we will email you to confirm the contact and other details your want posted.  Thank you for your for caring, your help and support.










Clarinets & Oboes


Computer Hardware

Computer Software

DJ Equipment

Drums and Percussion


Flutes & Piccolos

French Horns










PA public address equipment


Recording Equipment


Sound Modules




















A H Rahman



Alanis Morisette

Alison Kraus

All Saints

American Idol

Annie Lennox

Arctic Monkeys

Atomic Kitten

Avril Lavigne

Band Aid

Backstreet Boys

Babra Streisand

Barry Manilow

Barry White

Bay City Rollers

Beach Boys

Billy Joel

Bing Crosby

Black Sabbath


Bob Dylan

Bob Geldof

Bob Marley & Wailers

Bon Jovi

Boney M

Boyz II Men

Brenda Lee

Britney Spears

Bruce Springsteen

Bryan Adams

Bucks Fizz

Buddy Holly


Celine Dion

Charles Aznavour

Charlotte Church


Childrens Songs

Christina Aguilera

Chuck Berry

Cindy Lauper

Cliff Richard


Comic Relief


David Bowie

Def Leoppard

Depeche Mode

Destiny's Child

Dire Straits

Dolly Parton

Donna Summer

Duran Duran



Earth Wind and Fire

Eddie Arnold

Elton John

Elvis Presley



Eurovision Song Contest


Fleetwood Mac


Frank Sinatra

Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Frankie Laine

Garth Brooks

Gary Numan


Geri Halliwell


Gloria Estefan

Guns and Roses

Haircut 100

Hank Thompson

Iron Maiden

Janet Jackson

Jean Michel Jarre

Jethro Tull

John Denver

Johnny Cash

Johnny Hallyday

Johnny Mathis

Joni James

Joss Stone


Julio Iglesias

Justin Timberlake

Kate Bush

Kenny Rogers

Kylie Minogue

Led Zeppelin

Linda Ronstadt

Lionel Richie

Live Aid

Live 8

Louis Walsh

Luciano Pavarotti



Mariah Carey




Michael Bolton

Michael Jackson

Mireille Mathieu

Modern Talking

National Anthems

Nat King Cole




Neil Diamond


Olivia Newton-John

Patti Page

Pearl Jam

Perry Como

Petula Clarke

Phil Collins

Pink Floyd

Pop Idol

Pop Music



Ricky Nelson

Robbie Williams

Rod Stewart


Roxy Music

Rule Britannia


Shania Twain

Sharon Osbourne

Simon Cowell

Simply Red

Spice Girls

Stars in Their Eyes

Stevie Wonder

Sting - The Police


Terry Wogan

The Beatles

The Bee Gees

The Carpenters

The Clash

The Doobie Brothers

The Doors

The Eagles

The Jacksons

The Ramones

The Rolling Stones

The Royal Canadians

The Seekers

The Ventures

The Who

The X Factor

The X Factor 2005

Three Dog Night

Tina Turner



USA For Africa

Van Halen

Vicky Leandros

Wei Wei

Whitney Houston

World Idol

ZZ Top























Music companies looking for acts: please stay tuned and contact our A&R department 

or write to the address below, when you spot someone with potential.











A taste for adventure capitalists



Solar Cola - a healthier alternative



This website is Copyright © 1999 & 2006  NJK.   The bird logo and name Solar Navigator are trademarks. All rights reserved.  All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged.       Max Energy Limited is an educational charity.