Gerzon Array (stereo mic technique)


Well-known member
It seems like a reasonable choice for distant recordings of large (wide and deep) sources when you also want to capture the room. Most of the times I'm using a stereo mic technique, the source isn't that deep and I don't really want all that much room in the the recording. Also, for overheads I can get pretty close to the source, so XY is well suited to it.

rob aylestone

Well-known member
I didn't know this was it's proper name, but I have learned a few things over the years about these techniques. The science and the technologically competent but slightly different approaches are all different, but there is a problem. They require very precise placement in acoustically near perfect environments. I very rarely have the chance to record in such spaces, and with a budget and scale where I as a recordist have power. The practical side of recording in acoustic spaces with a natural acoustic is always a compromise - a compromise the specialists and the broadcasters who can control and develop their techniques do not have to work in.

When I get to record choirs and orchestras, or smaller ensemblesI am presented so often with prescription. I cannot change how the ensemble is set out, yet I cannot change where is available for my microphones. Non-damaging slings and catenaries are still out for some venues, because I am low on a priority list. All my emails and phone calls seem to never get to the person who says 'no'. So - I am faced with modifying X/Y, my chosen format, or Blumlein if I am allowed to fly the mics in a specific place to ensure capture of all of the performing people. Experience tells you that too close means a hole in the middle, or a loss of the outer performers - getting both won't work, and even M/S can be struggling with certain placement. I look at the people and I look at the building and try to find the compromise between my ideal placement and the only practical one. My X/Y coincident pair might have to be less or more than 90 degrees, so do I rename it Gerzon or ORTF to be accurate, or is it simply a modified X/Y?

I also know that in an imperfect environment, the difference between these techniques is often irrelevant - and none are going to be right in my imperfect world. Many years back, when I'd got my first pair of figure-8 mics I was at a British famous studio, assisting a friend (doing, being honest, very little apart from watching everything going on) They had a flown pair of ribbons. The session was an orchestral one - music for a movie I think. Quite a big orchestra and the sound in the control room was very impressive. I could hear things that I didn't think were possible. The engineer went down to the studio and they dropped the frame in and added two outriggers. I think two SDC's - probably omnis. I'd love to say I could hear the difference - especially as frowns were now smiles at the desk.

This stuck in my head. They were unhappy and the outriggers solved their concerns. All I could hear was amazing clarity. Through the glass I could see things and hear them. I watched a percussionist swap what I now know were hard beaters for soft ones and you could hear it. I watched as a spot mic was put on a piccolo - and they blended it in in position and sound before the things was even played - then it was a tiny tweak. The studio was actually more dry than I expected - my first large recording space NOT a reflective reverberant space. It gave me loads of ideas, but in the places I record, the spaces I am positive, do not help these intricate techniques. I bet I could not hear Gerzon from X/Y unless something in the middle vanished!

Well-known member
Reading up on these techniques, that "missing middle" seems to be the bugaboo of many of these patterns, and even if it's not missing, the quality is dependent enough on the off-axis response of the mics that it would make me nervous not to have something stuck in the middle if I ever had a placement that had me pushing the angle out that far, especially with my lower end SDCs.