excerpts from a 1989 letter to Home & Studio Magazine describing
DSM & Multitrack Technique.
Updated 11/23/2004 descriptions of related surround sound recording/speaker
Our recorded music lacks the real dimension and emotional
content now found only by attending live concerts and performances.
Paul White once wrote all that's needed is a good pair
of microphones to make a perfectly good stereo recording. However,
Stereo microphones (that includes single point and two separate microphones)
do not record sounds the way we experience them live.
SURE ........... We still feel
some excitement and a measure of pleasure while listening to a good
recording, but....... for the most part.......... nobody is even
remotely fooled into the kind of rapture and joyful feeling that can
only be had at a live concert.
is this? IT'S REALLY VERY SIMPLE!
SHAPING OF SOUND (by the
true HRTF acoustic properties of a person's head) BEFORE RECORDING
WITH THE MIC IS ALL THAT'S MISSING FROM MAKING IT VIRTUALLY SURROUND-SOUND
have to either wear on your head, or use an acoustically correct HRTF
baffle. This is the only way to operate DSM mics patented (US#4,819,218)
Dimensional Recording Area Method (that's about .5" to
2.5" away from the ear outer perimeter). This is what makes it
headwearing (being part of the microphone system) works
best for some location recording, often it is more practical or
easier (especially for live performance or studio session), to
use a regular mic stand or boom stand. This is made possible
with the world's only HRTF acoustically correct GUY
or LiteGUY dummy
head baffle to precondition the acoustic reception before mic-recording
any live sound.
all there is to it !!!
allows two track or multitrack recording of any sound in true 3-D
or HRTF baffled DSM 2-channel stereo mics naturally record the
surround ambient within each recording.
natural encoding sounds binaural-real on headphones, and gives precise
wide 2-speaker playback imaging.
the same recording is played with SRS circle sound, Dolby Pro Logic,
or DTS NEO-6 2-channel-to-surround decoder turned on, the surround channels
play back in full 360° for 'you-are-there' cinema surround in 4,
5.1, 6.1, 7.1 speaker channel realism!
this to yourself by downloading sample
recordings to your portable MP3 player, or burn a CD to play on
any CD player with stereo speakers, or play the CD on any DVD/CD/MP3
video player with 2 channel-to-surround decoding turned on.
I REALLY HAVE TO WEAR THE MICROPHONES? CAN'T I USE A MIKE
STAND OR SOMETHING?
.......... You really must be wearing the microphones in the Dimensional
Recording Area, or use a true HRTF baffle.
simple reason for this and NOT conventional usage of bare microphones
on stands (or boom) is the primary element missing from all recorded
sound today is the psycho acoustic signatures (A.K.A. The
Acoustic Transfer Function or HRTF) our head (and,
to a lesser degree, upper body) create within the acoustic
a conventional microphone or mixing multiple microphones is recording
sound that our brain cannot relate to as being real sounding!
studios might well consider the GUY or LiteGUY dummy recording
head substitute. The LiteGUY HRTF baffle is most versatile
with conventional 5/8" mic stand or Boom threaded mounting,
field recording, many choose to wear the DSM mics; a real person
actually works the very best and allows full real-time monitoring
of EXACTLY what the DSM mic is recording just by listening!
......WAIT A MINUTE! ......ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT BINAURAL RECORDING...?!!?
..........it may sound like the same because
of the head worn (HRTF) aspect but, there are major differences and results
between Binaural method and Dimensional Stereo-Surround Microphones (DSM)
"in or near the ears"
placing microphones inside or directly adjacent to the ears of a real
person or dummy head usually produces very real sounding recordings........
made with 'mics-in-or-near-ear' HRTF Binaural is limited to headphones
only without sounding mostly awful.
reason for this limitation is simple; Binaural
mics use the very complex shapes of the EAR
to alter the sound before the mics pick it up.
you want to listen to a Binaural recording, NO EARS CAN BE USED TO
REPROCESS THE RECORDED SOUND A SECOND TIME; this will confuse your
(especially the closed cup types) eliminate
ear flaps in the listening process; the perceived sound goes directly
into your ear canal. Your brain will then correctly recognize the
psycho-acoustic dimensional cues contained in the recording without
doesn't easily mix to mono without disagreeable results.
CONTRAST TO BINAURAL.....
RECORDING METHOD & MICROPHONES HAVE NO SUCH LIMITATIONS as found
with binaural methods ... NONE!
can be mixed to monaural, listened to on mono/stereo/surround sound
speakers, headphones, and is virtually compatible with all playback
headphones/surround speakers the recording is heard as a 360 degree
ambient field, just like binaural. On simple Stereo Speakers,
the rear ambient sounds are naturally folded into the front facing
sounds for a wide 180 degree sonic image with just the right mix.
DSM recordings will playback on all surround speaker systems.
recordings are naturally Dolby Pro Logic/DTS surround sound decodeable
THIS SOUNDS LIKE IT'S MAYBE USABLE FOR A LIVE PERFORMANCE
RECORDING........I'M A STUDIO MIDI / Electronic Composer / Musician
USING MULTITRACK RECORDINGS TO LAYER AND EVOLVE MY FINAL MUSICAL
can the DSM recording method possibly work with Multitrack, and
more important ...... MIDI ....... that's totally
in the electronic domain and not acoustic... ???
an acoustical recording method (however effective) work
with any purely electronic instrument... ???
IT CAN........and.........YES, IT
do DSM recordings successfully in a multiple track studio.......some
rethinking of the recording process is necessary.
of all, the electronic sounds WILL HAVE TO BE CONVERTED TO SOME FORM
OF ACOUSTICAL OUTPUT.
this may seem like bad news at first, it is (in reality)
a BENEFIT TO CREATIVITY and will ultimately enhance the final musical
of laying down just one track, it's now two tracks (stereo) for each
sound and there's more.................You must plan and set
up a sound stage.
stage is little more than the room or space you'd ordinarily record
a live group of musicians; for example, a four to six piece rock group.
White mentioned about Phil Specter's ability to have great sounding
acoustic rooms to record in, you have to find or created your own
(outdoors recording with some primary reflections is also a possibility).
sounding band practice type room may do the trick for starters.
it's time to acquaint you with the cardinal rules of DSM multiple track
#1: ONCE YOU SETTLE ON JUST WHERE THE MIKE IS TO BE PLACED, IT CAN'T
BE MOVED FROM THAT POSITION FOR THE ARRANGEMENTS DURATION.
someone is to wear the microphones, a chair placed at the
decided position is a good idea. Mark that spot with tape so that
it's an absolute. A better studio setup is achieved by using
the GUY 'Virtual Reality' recording head.
is important because DSM sound is a 3-Dimensional Holographic
sound recording; moving the microphones position around will
'smear' the acoustic image of the tracks you are about
#2: SET YOUR RECORDING LEVEL FOR THE MAXIMUM AND LOUDEST SOUND YOU
WILL RECORD (That's with some headroom) AND LEAVE IT THERE.
tracks are recorded at this setting regardless of softer type acoustical
instruments that may be included in the arrangement.
rule may be a tough one to understand; however....it
is very important; you must plan ahead. Changing
the reference levels for any one or more of the DSM tracks will
cause aberrations of the perceive acoustical ambient room
response that may be heard as a kind of distortion in the final
you change one, all the tracks must be adjusted identically
to keep coherency. In those arrangements where every instrument
and sound to be recorded are played together in real time, such
as in a jazz band direct to two-track stereo recording,
the level can indeed be adjusted as desired anytime; even during
Since you are going to use one DSM mic position for all the
sounds acoustic or electronic, a floor plan of just where
each sound is to come from is needed. The further the instruments
are from the mic, the less the recorded volume level. The
rule here is: double the distance to achieve a level drop of 6
db. This means that a scale drawing of the room you intend
to use as your sound stage is laid out noting the physical placements
of microphone, vocal, acoustic and electronic/MIDI instrument
sounds; include somewhere an arrangement number and the volume
reference level in case a track needs to be re-recorded later
down the line.
might be positioned close to the DSM pickups to gain on the other
instruments in the group....or ....vocal mic'd and fortified
with a staged PA system with vocal harmonization or processing.
can actually be wearing the DSM microphones in some circumstances
for a terrific intimate sound)
synths and instruments are in reality in
NOWHERE LAND !!! ..................
Since the MIDI sounds are purely electronic,
there has been no real physical space for them to occupy
or exist! For MIDI to be real sounding, we need to give this electrical
'sound' a physical reality. (No amount of reverb
or synthesizing with those ambient processors will give a totally electronic
sound signal a really convincing live space sound on a recording.)
'Nowhere' Land may just be an excellent
desired effect for some synth sounds.
We're talking about having a choice between nowhere
The electronic sounds must really
exist acoustically to sound alive.
This simply means you have to reproduce
them through a suitable amplifier and speaker(s) positioned
on the sound stage.
The photo shown below shows the HRTF
LiteGUY directly in front of the Vocal/Acoustic Guitar while simultaneously
recording the echo/reverb effects sound of a separately mic'd Didge.
The mic'd didge instrument is acoustically outputted by the
small instrument amplifier positioned behind the Vocal/Guitar.
Sounds can be positioned all around the DSM mics; be creative.
EQ, Reverb, Effects
are mostly done during the DSM track acoustical recording,
This simply means that as you listen to the speaker output of
the midi or synth, adjust the EQ and add other interesting touches first;
before DSM multitrack recording it acoustically.
In fact, playing around with effects on an already recorded DSM track
will, by degrees, remove the track from being somewhere to being back
Of course, it doesn't hurt to experiment. Using your
creativity can make such tweaking rather interesting now that you
have the somewhere to nowhere range under YOUR control.
..... LET'S JUST ASSUME THAT THERE MAY
BE SOMETHING TO ALL THIS ABOUT DIMENSIONAL RECORDING AND DSM MICS.
I'D HAVE TO DO IS STRAP A PAIR OF SHURE OR AKG STUDIO MICS TO THE SIDES
OF MY HEAD AND CHECK IT OUT............. RIGHT?
a fact of recording life, the larger the microphone, the more its size
and shape distorts the sound field.
anything large like a studio microphone on your head
will cause the very sound you want to record to become increasingly
obliterated by the microphone itself!
a great number of studio microphones used today have a cardioid
or directional response that intentionally distorts the microphones
acceptance of off axis sound.
may also greatly decrease the natural bass signals you normally
hear and feel, thus failing to record the full emotional impact
that's present in the live sound experience; a typical recorded
type sound is the result.
DSM microphones have no directional response being a true OMNI
type pressure mic and are also necessarily tiny; made
with multilayered acoustically neutral materials that are unique to
DSM advantage over studio microphones is their ability to record large
like drum kits, piano, large chorales, and pipe organs exactly the
way you'd hear them live; EXACTLY!!!
try doing that with any other set of microphones; regardless the
cost! Any recording engineer worth his salt will tell you
..... it's one of the most difficult things to do....that is...to
get a large instrument to sound really good in a recording.
photo illustrates a session where piano, drum kit, and
electric bass were recorded directly to two track stereo using
the DSM mics+LiteGUY HRTF baffle on a boom stand.
WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS EVERY TIME...........EASILY.
GOOD SOUNDING INSTRUMENT WILL SOUND GREAT.
SOUNDING INSTRUMENTS WILL SOUND FANTASTIC!
this way we'll finally relive by just listening........ no excuses
needed........ to really great recordings made with up-to-date techniques
that do justice to our musical talent and creativity, and our most
significant technical advances.
White states in Multitrack Mentality:
you need to make a perfectly good stereo recording is a decent
stereo recorder and a couple of microphones."
those microphones Sonic Studios stereo-surround DSM
the 'Other Mics vs. DSM' in the FAQ
section for more informative discussion about microphone
recording differences and techniques.