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DIY Binaural Head – Part 2

November 21, 2011

In part 1 of this we looked at the head itself and microphone mounts along with the painting of the assembly.

Now after a little head scratching and failed mountings I’ve arrived at a solution that not only mounts the head securely, but also offers some isolation from the stand or boom pole onto which it is attached.

The clamps I used were left over from a recent boiler installation – they are designed to screw into an outside wall and used to mount the plastic chimney outlet of a boiler. The clamps were instead screwed into the back of the dummy head and over these clamps were stretched some off-cuts from an old bicycle inner tube.

'Clamphead'

These are used to house the mounting rod and provide some handling isolation from the head-mounted microphones. The rod is a camera tripod mic mount and fits snugly in the rubber bands.

'Pole in Clamps'

The snug fit of the assembly enables the head to be positioned at a variety of angles. Due to the fiction created by the rubber bands the head will not slip down the pole on which it is mounted. this means that virtually any length pole can be used up to a diameter of around 20mm. With suitable length microphone leads, this means the head can be positioned in situations where a human might not otherwise be able to get access to. In this example the rod is screwed to a 3-piece camera mono-pod.

'Head and Pole'

Here is the head in action on one of the test recording locations – in this case on a motorway bridge! The microphones used in the head are currently cheap omnidirectional electret 48V phantom-powered capsules. Lets see how I get on with these in lots of different locations before upgrading to something a little more expensive and lower noise. Wind protection is provided by some modified Rycote Overcovers fixed back-to-back and slipped over the capsules – much cheaper than purpose designed mini mic windshields.

'Head In Action'

I’ll be doing some test recordings in the run up to Christmas, so stay tuned for some audio evidence…


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I’m in the process of designing a binauaral head with the aim of using it to capture sounds for some of the projects I work on, both commercial and personal. This might include ambience (winds, traffic hum, water, etc.) or even location dialogue. I know what you’re thinking – surely that’s just for playback on headphones? Well true, it’s at it’s best in that application. However I’m also experimenting with settings that will translate the location binaural recordings into effective audio sources for playing on normal loudspeaker systems. Binaural is already mono compatible though.

The head

So what happens first? Well I bought a polystyrene head off Ebay. I chose a man’s head because I couldn’t find a woman’s one that I liked and this example was suitably macho and ‘hi-tech’ – I think!

'Straight Outta Ebay'

Microphone mounts

I then fixed some large wood screws in each ‘ear’ of the head. These will be used to hold the microphones in position. I found the 5 x 70mm Screwfix ‘Goldscrews’ to be best for this purpose, with a sure-footed thread into the poly and enough diameter to spread the load in the relatively soft head material.

'Screwed'

The paint

I painted the head with some household paint that I had left over from decorating the cinema room. The Dulux ‘Potters Wheel’ matt emulsion gave a hi-tech [that word again!] look to the head.

'Paint Your Head'

The next time

That’s it for now. In Part 2 I’ll be painting it again (and maybe again), and I’ll be making the all-important ‘shock mount’. We will also look at the mics and various accessories that go with the head.

Stay tuned for Part 2…