Immersive sound Sennheiser launched its Ambeo VRmic back in 2016; in some ways, the product was ahead of the curve, and it’s taken a while for the market to catch up. It carried a daunting price tag when first introduced, reflecting the fact that this was early adopter territory. Since then the price has become more affordable, while the mic has been joined by a set of binaural recording headphones, – these aren’t intended to be on the same level performance-wise as the mic, but are equally capable of delivering immersive three- dimensional audio. Immersive sound is what 3D audio is all about, and it differs from surround sound since it also offers height. Sennheiser expects this to be the future of audio technology, comparable with the evolution frommono to stereo. Røde arrived in the ambisonic microphone market in 2018, three-dimensional sound) two years previously. Similar in looks to the Sennheiser product, the price-point of sub-£1000/$1000 was eye-catching, andmade this technology immediately more attractive for those that might have been sitting on the fence. With Sennheiser’s product now around the £1400/$1295mark, it’s significantly cheaper. The new kid on the block, and one that carries an impressive £330/$350 price tag, is the Zoom microphone but a recorder, too. Launched at IBC last year, this product is intended to be a mobile solution for capturing VR audio on the fly. At this price point, it’s ambisonic sound for the masses and suddenly there’s no financial reason for not diving in. We’ve gathered all three of these products together to take a closer look at what they have to offer, and the tantalising thing – as we’ll see – is that it’s not just VR productions that could benefit from their qualities. Indeed, we just might be seeing the first step in a huge reinvention of the audiomarket as we know it, and filmmakers at any level, of any genre, will take their eyes off this sector at their peril. launching its SoundField by Røde brand following its acquisition of that company (a trailblazer in the world of H3-VR, a futuristic looking piece of kit that’s not just a
RØDE SOUNDFIELD NT-SF1 £969/$999 www.rode.com
Arriving after the Sennheiser, Røde turned heads with its pricing policy, making the SoundField NT-SF1 available for a sub-£1000/$1000 price. It boasts four separate capsules to record from all directions. Looking closer at the product, each TF-45C condenser capsule is machined to tolerances of less than 1 micron, to deliver a high- quality audio performance with exceptionally low noise. As with Sennheiser’s Ambeo, the NT- SF1 records the entire spherical sound field, whichmeans that at the postproduction stage all this information can be pulled together in whatever way the editor chooses. What’s impressive about the new VR audio horizon is that somuch information is gathered, every mix has the opportunity to be different: you can alter the mic directivity, position and rotation, you can create a full 7.1.4 surroundmix, or a fully head-tracked 360-soundscape for immersive video. Along with the newmicrophone, Røde has also created a new software interface to fine-tune the ambisonic recording. This means that in postproduction you’ll be able to control which direction of the NT- SF1 to focus on, so you can choose the polar pattern you want the mic to simulate. The free-to-download Røde SoundField plugin also enables directional shotgun simulation. If, for example, you were to place one of these mics at the centre of a live musical performance, as you’re editing the video you would be able to choose to focus the audio on a specific instrument or singer.
At IBC, Røde suggested it might be possible tomount the NT-SF1 in a conventional interview situation and effectively replace a full microphone set-up, with the ability to play around with the various elements to your heart’s content. If that’s the case, it makes the price point look evenmore reasonable. The SoundField plugin works with FCPX 10.4, whichmeans filmmakers should be able to start working with the Røde NT-SF1 without the need for a huge learning curve. In addition to the microphone and case, the kit comes with a furry wind cover, a blimp-style windshield, a shock mount and an XLR breakout cable.
BELOW At the heart of the NT-SF1 is the brand-new TF-45C true condenser capsule
SPECIFICATIONS Set up: 4x cardioid, in Ambisonics A-format arrangement Frequency response: 30Hz to 20 kHz Dimensions: 192.3x45.7x45.7 / 7.5x1.7x1.7ins Weight: 286g / 10.09oz
PROMOVIEMAKERRATING: 8/10 Pros: Excellent price point Cons: As with any VRmic, much of the effectiveness is down to postproduction expertise
SPRING 2019 PRO MOVIEMAKER
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