X-Y Pair Stereo Microphone Techniques
X-Y (coincident) stereo miking consists of using two microphones that are placed right next to each other so that the diaphragms are as close together as possible without touching one another. X-Y stereo miking is the most common type of stereo microphone setup and the one that you’ll likely use if you do stereo miking.
The following illustration shows a basic X-Y setup. Notice how the mics in this figure are attached to a special mounting bracket. This bracket makes positioning the mics easy.
When you record using the X-Y technique, keep these points in mind:
The stereo image (the placement of the instruments in the sonic environment) isn’t as wide or realistic as it is in real life. The X-Y technique is easy to set up and results in a decent sound, so (as with all things in life) you have to deal with the compromise this ease creates.
No solution to this exists, so if a wide stereo image is important to you, consider using a different stereo technique, such as the spaced pair or perhaps a Jecklin disk.
Don’t use two mics when one is enough. After you get a pair of nice mics for X-Y miking, you’ll want to use them on everything. A stereo-mic approach to a classical guitar composition is nice, but honestly, recording the acoustic guitar in a rock ballad with five other instruments playing isn’t necessary and just makes life more complicated when you mix the song.
Keep some distance between the mics and the sound source. The X-Y technique has no benefit over a single mic if you place your mics within a couple of feet of the sound source.
You simply don’t have enough space for a stereo image to develop until you’re at least 6 feet from the instrument or group of instruments. In fact, you should be at least 10 feet from the sound source before using the X-Y stereo miking approach.