Dummy Head Microphone vs. SASS Microphone

This time I’ve decided to compare two binaural microphone rigs that take advantage of the mechanics of human hearing. The recordings feature the Common Cranes as they take off into flight over Milicz Ponds at sunrise. The Milicz Ponds are a main stopping point for Common Cranes in Poland during their migration from north to south in late autumn and from south to north from mid winter. Having rested overnight, the birds fly off in groups, with hundreds, sometimes thousands of individuals calling out. Their morning flight is usually to surrounding fields where they search for food, before continuing their migration.

Common Cranes were recorded with use of two different binaural microphone setups during two following early mornings in October of 2022:
1. quasi-binaural recording with DIY wooden SASS with two AT4022 mics based on Rob Danielson’s plans (Mixpre-3 II as a recorder)  — click to listen —
2. binaural recording with DIY dummy head with two pressure-type omni mics (DPA4060) fitted into the ear molds (Zoom F6 as a recorder) — click to listen —
Usually I prefer to record nature with SASS microphone setup – I like wide stereo image it produces, great clarity of distant sounds and natural tonal balance.
On the other hand, artificial head binaural recordings tend to be more problematic for me. Dummy head microphone has natural tendency to color the sound towards high frequencies. What happens is that the sound wave is recorded in a spot (the capsule spot) that, due to the boundary shape of the pinna, adds to the original frequency content an extra frequency shaping, not unlike an EQ filter. This added shaping is the frequency response of the pinna at the capsule’s location. What’s often required with binaural recordings is a reverse EQ filter applied to the recorded sound in the mixing phase, to undo the fact that when you listen to the recording, there is another EQ filter applied, which is your own ears. I’ve decided not to touch EQ on any of these recordings for comparison purposes .
Summarizing, with the loud clangor of fast moving cranes and the low volume of background ambience, the recording with dummy head shines in my opinion. It gives me stronger feeling of “being there” compared to SASS. Moreover, the cranes calls are much more pronounced in this setup. The DPA 4060s still have the major disadvantage of small lavalier microphones – a high self noise of 23dBA. For recordings of quiet nature ambience, larger omni pencil mics (like AT4022) are much better suited.
I’m curious which recording technique in your opinion did better job with this kind of soundscape 🙂 


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