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    Roland CS-10EM Binaural Headphones/Microphones


    Greetings. Happy new year, and all that jazz.

    I will be posting some samples soon, and possibly a more lengthy review, but this can be considered my initial look at the Roland CS-10EM Binaural microphone/headphone package.

    Purchased them last week at the local music store. Price was $115.00 CAN$. Had seen them advertised online in the past but this was the first time I had witnessed them available locally. (Using up some of my Birthday/Chistmas money helped me to make an easy decision)

    Now, let me say I am a big fan of Binaural, and true stereo recording in geneal. My partners and I run a music studio, so I am famailiar with high-end recording techniques (close mic'ing multitrack, etc), but for my money, good stereo mic'ing and binaural in particular are the truest methods of recording sound. About the only downside of Binaural recording is the fact that headphone playback is highly recommended. On speakers it sounds totally fine, but only headphone playback will approach the full binaural experience proper. It can relatively easily be a near magical experience with the listener being transported within space and time.

    A basic rundown, for those who havent researched these units:
    -2 1/8th-inch stereo connectors. One for headphone input and other for microphone output
    -Omni pattern which is required for a truly binaural experience
    -Uses Plug-in power from the record (Anything from 2V - 10V)
    -Advertised Freq range on the microphones are the typical 20-20K; S/N "Greater than 60db" (Untested by myself at this point; I do already suspect they are noisier than studio microhpones, but so far has not been an extreme condition at all)
    -Multiple sizes of rubber tips for the in-ear monitors (These are relatively standard push on rubber tips which are identical to those coming with Blackberries, iphones and other wireless devices; not proprietary units which is nice)
    -Generous chord length allows various routing of cables around ears and through clothing or possibly even out to a kit bag, knapsack, etc.
    -Angled in-ear pieces for additional comfort, fit and external noise reduction. (These are meant to be tight-fitting)
    -Soft cloth bag for storing the unit

    General impressions:

    I have only completed a handful of initial tests (To be posted soon), but I can say that the unit is easy to use and is pretty well balanced overall.

    The sensitivity of the mics is a little unknown at this time, and monitoring while recording is obviously a little bit touchy due to the possibility of feedback if monitoring too loudly. Mind you, one can also just not monitor while recording, but it is ocassionally useful to do so. When the levels were set correctly, there was no feedback artifacts in the recording itself, and none during recording either, but given the design it would be easy to go too far.

    Used with my Zoom H2, I had to play around with the sensivity switch and the fine level control to get a clean signal, but that is not a unique situation. I suspect much of the noise I was hearing initially was pretty much due to the Zooms own self-noise than it was anything to do with the Microphones themselves. They would appear to be highly wind sensitive (not surprisingly), but that can be overcome and is already the case with many outdoor recording scenarios.

    Being so close to the head, internal noises need to be kept to a minimum. Chewing something for instance is VERY audible. It might work well to actually capture some of those in-head sounds. Heavy breathing also would need to be avoided. Speaking however with them on sounds excellent, and is in fact very reminicient of the real thing (and surprisingly is not too loud, but sounds very natural overall)

    A few Conclusions:
    These are not high-end coresound, neumann HRTF head or what have you. They are standard quality (non-boutique equipment). However, they are fully useable and indeed quite good sounding microphones. Wind noise is an issue.

    As far as headphone monitoring goes, I dont intend to ever use them for any high quality playback per se, since I have much nicer dedicated headphones, but in the field I have no issues with using them for casual or sample playback situations.

    All-in-all, I consider the value and quality to be adequate for continuous general recording, and will indeed be an important part of my future submissions to freesound. The ease of use and consistent results would appear to be ideal for freesounders on a budget. If you have the money for really expensive capsules and/or an HRTF array, then go for it, but these can achieve results that are both realistic and simple to use.

    Please let me know in the forums if you have similar or differing opinions of the product. And/or whether there are techniques you have found useful in their application.

    Thanks for your time.

    Lonemonk

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    Greetings & happy new year etc back to you. Your post is very timely since I was reading about these mics yesterday and thinking of starting a thread here on them.

    I've been a fan of binaural for a while too and made some ropey DIY ones in the past. As an aside, I stumbled on a nice blog of mostly binaural recordings from Russia. I must spend some time going through old recordings and uploading a few here (not sure I've even got any good binaural ones despite being interested and playing around a bit)...

    For testing purposes, it seems like it would be worth doing some recordings with some of your quieter studio gear rather than the H2 if that's not too much hassle. I suppose you might not have anything else with the right sort of plug-in power etc.

    I read a comment from someone here that the first thing they would do with these would be to replace the electret mic elements; I wonder if anyone else has any comments on that.

    I imagine that these are pretty similar sound quality wise to the Sound Professionals SP-TFB-2 which a few people on here use. Does anyone have any opinions on how they do compare? Or better yet direct experience of both? The obvious major advantage these Rolands have (apart from integrated monitors) to those outside the US is that they are more widely distributed and the shipping isn't going to be too expensive.

    If I do splash out on a pair of these, I might use them as the headphones I carry around with my recorder; comments I've read on their performance as headphones have mostly been negative though, so maybe not.

    edit I meant to add a link to http://www.gearwire.com/roland-cS10em-review.html which is a pretty positive review, although it's not clear how heavily they tested.

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    Some more discussion of these mics is going on in some of the comments on http://www.oontz.ru/2010/08/28/water-pump/

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    Just a quick question. How they compare to Soundman OKM II classic studio?

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    Just a quick question. How they compare to Soundman OKM II classic studio?

    This might be of interest

    http://soundcloud.com/urlme/cs10em-binaural-fireplace

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