GEAR HEAD-TO-HEADVRMIC TEST
SENNHEISER AMBEO VR MIC £1400/$1295 en-uk.sennheiser.com
SPECIFICATIONS Set up: 4x cardioid, in Ambisonics A-format arrangement Frequency response: 20Hz to 20 kHz Dimensions: 215 x 49/25mm/ 8.5 x 1.9/1ins Weight: 400g / 14.1ozs
arriving from all directions at a single point in space – the point where the microphone will be placed. For this reason, it’s best to put the mic close to the VR camera position, since this is the point where the visuals will be based, and it creates a connection with the sound. Accordingly, you need to align the ‘Front’ marking on the Ambeo mic with the intended front of the camera you’re using. Much of what the Sennheiser microphone offers can be established by simply studying its layout – a combination of four KE 14 capsules, set in a tetrahedral arrangement, the mic can pick up audio in a spherical manner. The capsules of the Sennheiser Ambeo mic deliver A-format: a raw, four-channel output that is then converted into a new set of four channels, the Ambisonics B-format. This is done by the specifically designed Sennheiser Ambeo A-B format converter plugin, available as a free download. In technical jargon, the B-format is a W, X, Y, Z representation of the sound field around the microphone, in which W is the sum of all four capsules, while X, Y and Z are three virtual bi-directional microphone patterns representing front/back, left/right and up/down. It might sound complicated, but in real terms what this means is that any direction from the microphone can be accessed by the listener during playback.
The Sennheiser mic is also a highly attractive piece of kit, finished in brass and with a futuristic appearance. It’s very self-contained, which makes it easy to use – it’s down to the filmmaker to set it up where it will be most effective and then let it get on with the job. That you’re dealing with four mics rather than one is reinforced by the fact you connect the mic to your recorder via a convoluted cable, which culminates in four separate XLR 3-pin plugs, but it all seems to work well enough. PROMOVIEMAKERRATING: 7.5/10 Beautifully made and oozing quality, this is a mic that can do a fantastic job for anyone interested in capturing three-dimensional sound. This is still quite a small market, but it’s one that’s growing dramatically. Pros: Works with any VR camera and it’s an all-in-one solution that’s easy to set up Cons: The Ambeo needs its RF shield to operate, and without it you risk a hum on the audio track
Though its functionality is cutting edge, the technology the Sennheiser mic is based on was developed by the British National Research Development Council in the 1970s. Ambisonics does not have outputs corresponding to speakers, but consists of a speaker-independent representation of the sound field, called B-format. This allows the orientation of the microphone to be virtually rotated in all directions and to position sound sources independent of speaker positions. This technology relies on spherically capturing the sound
BELOW The Ambeo VR mic boasts four matched KE 14 cardioid capsules in a tetrahedral arrangement
VR AND 360-DEGREE WORKFLOW Sennheiser and its partner Dear Reality have just showcased a full scene-based end-to-end workflow for VR and 360-degree video productions at the NAMM Show in Anaheim. Recording solutions on display centred on the Sennheiser Ambisonic mic, the Ambeo Smart headset for easy binaural content production, and Neumann’s iconic KU 100 binaural head which resembles a human head and enables the sound to be captured from the position of the ears. Also in the mix is Dear’s Spatial Connect mixing software, which enables engineers and creators to mix spatial audio for 360-degree videos in a VR environment.
PRO MOVIEMAKER SPRING 2019
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