One of my constant searches/google alerts for years has been for an affordable binaural dummy head rig, not because I had an urgent need, more out of interest & a desire to experiment with the medium (without having to spend US$8k on a Neumann rig).
Then a month or so ago I received a random phone call from a young woman who is planning a project which in terms of audio will be totally binaural. As she outlined the project I became more & more interested in the concept behind it – I can’t go into details about the project yet, as it is still deep in development, but as my motivation for experimenting with binaural recording grew, the universe eventually responded & now I am the owner of this vintage Sennheiser dummy head:
(photo by previous owner, thanks Dan in Melbourne)
First released in 1974 the original Sennhesier model MKE2002 came with a pair of omni mics and required the wearer to have a mullet for proper use. But times have changed, mullets come and mullets go, and while I bought the dummy without its original mics, I already had a plan in mind to use my DPA4060s instead. The original mics had a 9V power supply… that chin attachment is quite strange, which might account for the strange look on the face of mr mullet. The manual for the Sennhesier MKE2002 is here
But as always the proof is in the results, so before I go making any great pronouncements I will do some tests & see how well it images binaural sound with the DPA4060s. Here are two demos from the original model, hopefully it goes without saying but these require headphone listening for full effect.
I posted some photos to FB and asked for comments on peoples experiences with playing back binaural sounds on normal speakers and a few helpful people provided valuable insights, so I hope they don’t mind me quoting them here… (Please feel free comment if you have experience with binaural recording, first post is moderated so there will be a delay before it appears)
Joseph Fraioli: I find that speaker playback imaging varies depending on which mic system you use. The Neumann imaging sounds great on speaker playback, though with the dpa 4060 setup on headphones it’s amazing, while there’s a bit of a whole in the center on speakers.
Sebastian-Thies Hinrichsen: The Neumann KU8i is built for being mono and speaker compatible. It also has more “mids” than the newer, more neutral sounding KU100 (I tested it in January for my online magazine FieldRecording.de)
Thanks Joseph & Sebastien!
One test I have in mind is to set it up in my garden & then slowly walk around it in 360 degrees, while making pretend insect sounds with a shaker. The dummy head has a mic stand mounting socket on the base (ewwww, where the spine would be?) so once I am confident with the mic placement & trust the mics are secure I am keen to try it on a boom too – literally putting my head & ears into places that are not necessarily safe or feasible for them to be.
Let the experimenting begin!