Mid-Side (MS) Stereo – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Recording Techniques Glossary

What is Mid-Side (MS) Stereo?

Mid-Side (MS) Stereo is a recording technique used in audio engineering to capture a stereo image of a sound source. Unlike traditional stereo recording methods that use two separate microphones to capture the left and right channels, MS Stereo uses a single microphone with two capsules – one facing forward (the Mid capsule) and one facing sideways (the Side capsule). This allows for greater control over the stereo width and depth of the recorded sound.

How does Mid-Side (MS) Stereo work?

In MS Stereo recording, the Mid capsule captures the mono signal of the sound source, while the Side capsule captures the difference between the left and right channels. This Side signal is then decoded during mixing to create the stereo image. By adjusting the level of the Mid and Side signals independently, the engineer can control the width and depth of the stereo field, resulting in a more natural and immersive sound.

When should Mid-Side (MS) Stereo be used in recording?

MS Stereo is particularly useful in situations where precise stereo imaging is desired, such as recording acoustic instruments, vocals, or ambient sounds. It can also be used to enhance the spatial dimension of a mix, making it ideal for creating a sense of depth and realism in recordings.

What equipment is needed for Mid-Side (MS) Stereo recording?

To record in MS Stereo, you will need a microphone with two capsules – one for the Mid signal and one for the Side signal. Some microphones come with built-in MS capabilities, while others require an external decoder to convert the Side signal during mixing. Additionally, you will need a recording device or interface that supports MS Stereo recording.

What are the advantages of using Mid-Side (MS) Stereo?

One of the main advantages of MS Stereo recording is the ability to adjust the stereo width and depth of the sound during mixing. This flexibility allows for greater control over the spatial placement of instruments and vocals in the mix, resulting in a more balanced and natural sound. MS Stereo also offers improved mono compatibility, as the Mid signal can be used on its own to create a mono mix without phase cancellation issues.

How to set up and record using Mid-Side (MS) Stereo?

To set up for MS Stereo recording, position the microphone so that the Mid capsule is facing the sound source and the Side capsule is perpendicular to it. Adjust the levels of the Mid and Side signals on your recording device to achieve the desired stereo image. During mixing, use an MS decoder plugin to convert the Side signal and adjust the stereo width and depth as needed. Experiment with different settings to find the perfect balance for your recording.