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Recording dialogue stereo?

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reel2reelRecording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 28, 2007 at 8:27:21 pm

Hi,

Just wondering if anyone can offer an explanation of why it's best to record dialogue in mono as opposed to stereo? I've hunted high and low on the forum and can't find any reasons for why.

I'm guessing it's because you want to isolate the dialogue and keep it dead center?

Thanks a lot for any elightenment!

James


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MatteRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 28, 2007 at 10:38:50 pm

Two Words.

PHASE CANCELLATION.


Plus, the constant (apparent) SHIFTING of position of the voice on the "stereo sound-stage" as the talent's head moves slightly in position.


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reel2reelRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 28, 2007 at 11:32:49 pm

[Matte] "PHASE CANCELLATION."

Which means...???

I'm not an audio guy, otherwise I wouldn't have asked. ;O)


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MatteRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 29, 2007 at 12:09:31 am

PHASE CANCELLATION.

Suffice it to say that it is something which can be better avoided by recording dialogue in mono with a single mic per input.

http://www.audiocourses.com/article1664.html

A quick bit of info at the above site.
Although it shows an extreme (worst) case, there can be varying amounts of it in any stereo mic set-up.


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reel2reelRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 31, 2007 at 3:27:29 pm

Thanks a lot, Matte!


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MatteIgnore the Double-Post Gremlin
by on Oct 28, 2007 at 10:39:12 pm

Gremlin strikes again.

Don't feed him after midnight!


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Carroll11Re: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 31, 2007 at 5:49:25 am

James:

I am a 30 year, retired audio engineer.

Recording dialogue in stereo may sound like a cool idea, but unless the talent never moves an inch, the apparent "middle" of the sound image will move to the right and the left. Although this doesn't really violate any rules of recording, it's distracting to have the image of the main performer (or voice-over) moving around. But the real reason is that many times any recording, no matter what you want from it, will become mono for some reason. When it does, then you may have issues with apparent levels of the voice... seeming to fade in and out a bit. When it's exactly in both channels equally, it is rock steady in level, because it already is a mono portion of a stereo signal (if it has music with it). But if it's stereo and then becomes mono, then it can dissappear into the track, or worse... seemingly come and go as the performer moves around (as heard in mono). Part of this is phase shift, but mostly it's due to the "3db center rule" ... just an electrical thing that says that anything that is exactly in the center is 3db higher than if it were not... and when it moves off center, you risk having it go bye-bye in loudness for a second.

Listen to almost any pop music and you will hear that the underpinning instruments such as bass and kick drum are in the middle. It's for the same reason. The engineer doesn't want them to go up and down in level by themselves. it's kind of a promise that they will stay in the "sweet spot" of the core image. Lead vocals are often treated the same way for the same reasons.

In ads and documentaries, the dialogue is often backed up with stereo music, so it's "couched" in a track and important to remain at the same level. Recording it in mono will assure that. Recording in stereo risks that it won't stay the same. Add to that, sometimes compressors just don't know what to do with it, and will "pump" unevenly because of it. Then you will hear it move left and right disproportionately.

Now... after all that... try it anyway! Mono it and play with it. The real answer is to ignore all us tech guys and do what you like. Who knows, you might start a new pop trend!

Respectfully submitted,

LEE CARROLL - AES

PS: I retired 4 years ago. My last movie score was "The Usual Suspects" recorded at Studio West in San Diego. I'm on the crawl... somewhere... if you have good eyes.


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reel2reelRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 31, 2007 at 3:43:55 pm

Lee, thanks so much for that! I appreciate the excellent explanation. Although I've been familiar with the rule for a long time, it's nice to understand they 'why' of it.

I'm going to watch The Usual Suspects again just for the score and to see your name.

James


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Sean HopleyRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on May 11, 2016 at 6:02:56 pm

I know this is an old post but I was wondering if you'd have an answer. My audio is recorded with one microphone, with the right channel 20db lower than the left in case of peaking. When I import the audio into Premiere a change it from stereo to mono so that I can get each channel on their own audio layer so that I can easily adjust any peaks with keyframes. Clients are starting to complain that our audio is mono, but even if I didn't do that step it would be the same since it's only one microphone recording the same audio. Is there any way in post to make it seem like stereo? I don't think there is but my bosses want me to try to find a way. We sell to broadcast companies and now there are 2 that are starting to reject some of our movies.


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Ty FordRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on May 11, 2016 at 8:32:08 pm

Dear Sean,

Are they complaining about everything being in mono or just dialog?

dialog is usually in mono.

eft, ambi and music are in stereo.

I wouldn't mess with it.

If you MUST, drop the -20 track if the main track has no overs.

Duplicate the main track.

Using automation, place each person where you want them with panning.

In future, record each talent mic to a separate track and place the iso tracks where you want them.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader.

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Sean HopleyRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on May 11, 2016 at 8:34:25 pm

Thanks a lot, this really helps.


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Sean HopleyRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on May 11, 2016 at 8:40:58 pm

Thanks a lot, this really helps.


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Duke SwedenRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on May 16, 2016 at 1:52:39 am

You didn't have to thank him in stereo! ;-)


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Ty FordRe: Recording dialogue stereo?
by on Oct 31, 2007 at 3:57:09 pm

Keeping audio mono lets you pan it in post if necessary.

Stereo dialog locks you in to a specific perspective unless you record in M/S (mid/side) and choose your spread in post.

Also, in XY stereo, you're not really pointing the mic at the talent. So you get a lot more ambient sound.

If the talent is still and the camera moves (with the mic attached) the listener can get a bit seasick from the perspective shift.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. More at: http://home.comcast.net/~tyreeford/AudioBootcamp.html
or http://www.tyford.com


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