Capturing Room Ambience with a Surround Mic

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Dale Watson’s critically acclaimed 2007 CD release, From the Cradle to the Grave, was recorded in a cabin once owned by the late Johnny Cash. The small room with bare wood walls and floors yielded a warm sound that was difficult to capture.

The setup was minimal and excluded both P.A. and monitoring systems. Furniture was used to muffle mic “bleed” from the drums and steel guitar. Watson sang into an RCA 44 Blackbird ribbon microphone, while a Shure SM57 was placed in front of the steel guitar’s amp, an AKG C451EB captured the fiddle player and two microphones captured the drums. A Holophone H2-PRO surround microphone was placed in the center of the room.

AMD’s Digital Media and Entertainment team assisted in the album's production. “The Holophone H2-PRO captured the warmth and mood of the room’s ambience unbelievably well, and everybody was very, very happy with the mic’s performance," says AMD engineer Kelly Stuart. "It was so simple to set it in the best spot sonically in the room. We left it, never moved it and everybody went to their stations and we recorded the album. It couldn’t have been any easier than that. The record is getting a lot of critical acclaim for its simplicity and the H2-PRO was part of that.”

Audio was recorded on 16 channels: eight with the Holophone H2-PRO and eight with other instrumental and vocal mics. The H2-PRO and auxiliary mics were run through RME OctaMic preamps into a MOTU 896HD FireWire audio interface, and then into an AMD Turion 64 mobile processor-based laptop computer from HP.

The 7.1 recording captured by the H2-PRO was taken to Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Studio in Austin, Texas, to sweeten up the stereo mix, as well as add a horn section to selected tracks.

“The Holophone H2-PRO did such a great job of capturing the cabin’s feel,” adds Stuart. “The H2-PRO has become our go-to piece for all our live recording projects.”

For more information on the H2-PRO, go to www.holophone.com/products.html. For more information on AMD LIVE! technology, go to http://amdlive.amd.com/.