O.M.N.I.V.E.R.S.E.: (Orbital Microphonic Navigational Imaging Via Ecotonic Radial Stereo Eccentricity)

-liner notes from Gordon Monahan's CD, THIS PIANO THING

The aural image of, for instance, the human voice can be intimately achieved with a microphone placed within touching distance of the lips. Other instruments require a backing off to hear the entire picture. The large acoustic footprint of the piano normally necessitates a microphonic positioning of a distance of several feet, at a point where the whole machine can be seen, or, alternatively, the closer they are placed, the more microphones that are needed. The more distant perspective is cohesive and usually inclusive of a lot of room reverberation. Intimacy is lost by the time the recorded sound reaches the listener, at least two rooms away. A multiple spread of close microphones will decrease the distance, but increase the complexity of finding a tonal balance. Particular pitch regions emphasized by one microphone will be reduced or cancelled by another microphone. If the music is various and tonally active, no fixed, close perspective is ideal.

The O.M.N.I.V.E.R.S.E. perspective incorporates a physically and virtually moving microphone within a grid of several fixed, mid-distant stereo microphones. The fixed microphones captured the gestalt resonance of the instrument from several points including the pianist's perspective (which is perhaps the ideal position for tonal balance and clarity). Relative to this cubist array, a 4-point sound field microphone capable of electronic zooms and the active, continuous alteration of the shape of its hearing on any axis, was placed on a hand-held boom so it could track to any close-up position within the piano. Great care was taken to always angle and track towards a sound, often while decreasing the stereo spread of the moving microphone, in a way which would avoid panning across the stereo field established by the fixed-position microphones. The moving microphone never stopped, and was at times tracking a quarter of an inch above a vibrating string.

(examples of the O.M.N.I.V.E.R.S.E. technique can be heard on:
-Gordon Monahan's THIS PIANO THING (CD: Swerve Editions GM 004)
-Christopher Butterfield's KURT SCHWITTERS (CD)).