Perhaps someone can explain the difference between Mid-Side stereo miking technique and X-Y stereo miking technique and explain which technique is actually a more accurate reproduction of the original listening experience of a live musical performance.


1 Answer 1


Both XY and Mid-Side recording use two mono signals to create a stereo image, but they do this is totally different ways.

XY is probably the more common method. It requires two matching microphones. They are set up somewhat like our ears; that is side-by-side, pointing in towards each other. In mixing, the two channels are usually panned left and right respectively to create the stereo image.

enter image description here

Mid-Sides recording requires some more specialized equipment. The Mid (middle) signal is created with a single mic pointed directly at the sound source. The Sides signal REQUIRES a figure-8 microphone. This mic is pointed at a 90-degree angle to the Mid mic. Because the figure-8 mic picks up sound from both sides, it captures sound from left and right of the sound source, but combines them into a mono signal.

enter image description here

In order to get the correct stereo image, the two mono signals need to be processed (called decoding or matrixing). Basically, in a DAW, you make a copy of the Sides signal, pan the copies left and right, and reverse the phase on ONE of the channels. Then, when you add the Mid signal (in mono), the stereo image will be revealed.

Here is some detailed instructions on Mid-Side recording: https://www.uaudio.com/blog/mid-side-mic-recording/!!

Source for both images: https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/7-stereo-miking-techniques-you-should-try/

  • Succinct. I intrinsically understand the two, but always have difficulty explaining it to other people.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:06
  • 1
    @ Peter- This is a very good answer to this question and I, like Tetsujin have always had trouble explaining it to others. You communicate well. The link was also very good. I personally feel that M/S also adds a third dimension, depth, to the stereo field, which seems rather flat when I listen to X-Y stereo, but that may just be my own opinion. Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:39

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