SELF NOISE One of the key aspects of microphone performance is self-noise, and wildlife
ZOOM H3-VR £330/$350 www.zoom-na.com The newest of the three VRmics in this round-up, the ZoomH3-VR is by far the most affordable product, and it combines a recorder for goodmeasure. Once again there are four separate capsules in the same arrangement as the other two products here, and it’s possible to record in ambisonics, stereo binaural, or standard stereomodes. It comes in at a remarkable price point for a device with this level of sophistication, but there has to be some cutting of cloth, of course, and while the build quality of all three devices is good, the Sennheiser and the Røde are on a different level to the Zoom. That said, there is an awful lot packed into the H3-VR, including a dedicated Ambisonic mic, a separate recorder, complete with Micro SD card slot, and a computer for encoding fromAmbisonics A to Ambisonics B. All of the encoding and decoding is built in, making this an all-in-one solution for capturing full-sphere surround audio. The H3-VR can capture high quality 360-degree VR audio at up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution, and it’s also possible to record stereo binaural WAV files up to 24-bit/48kHz resolution, enhancing 2D productions with 3D audio. It’s also possible to capture standard stereo files if your recordings are intended to be played from speakers instead of headphones. Finally, you can download the ZoomAmbisonics Player software to convert your Ambisonics records to 5.1 surround sound, for standard video purposes. Positioning the H3-VR recorder is simple, thanks to its innovative Auto Mic Position and Level Detection technology. Nomatter which way the H3-VR is oriented, it calibrates itself
360-degree specialist filmmaker Eric Fassbender compared the performance of all three of the VR mics featured here, and considered the Røde SoundField NT-SF1 to be the clear winner. “These results, paired with the fact that the NT-SF1 is cheaper than Sennheiser’s Ambeo, makes it our personal weapon of choice for 360° nature sound recordings,” he says. “It’s not the quietest microphone out there – some ‘regular’ Sennheiser capsules are better, but onlymono/stereo – but certainly it’s the quietest, easiest-to-use, professional ambisonic microphone that I’ve come across. “The self-noise on the Zoom H3 is definitely not as low as on the NT- SF1 or the Ambeo, but it’s still a very good option for recording spatial audio, especially at its price point. It’s almost constantly in our bag, unlike the NT-SF1, which we only take if we’re likely to get to some really good recording locations.”
so that you always receive a true 360-degree sound field with proper up/down/left/right balance and imaging. Another use for this device is in connection with 360-degree audio for live streaming and video conferencing. You can also record 360-degree audio directly to your computer or stereo to your iOS device, so this is a true all-rounder, of use to a far wider audience than just filmmakers. Everything is controlled via a small backlit LED panel on the side of the device, and this is intuitive and easy to use. You need a pair of AA batteries to power it all, or power can be supplied via a USB connection. If you were to suspend it upside down over your central characters in a scene, it would give you a single mic source for an entire scene.
ABOVE The H3-VR’s four-capsule Ambisonic mic captures precise 360-degree VR audio recordings up to 24 bit/96 kHz
There’s a huge amount going on in the world of audio right now, and these three devices are at the cutting edge. The Ambeo was a bravemove by Sennheiser when it was first launched, and it ties inwith the company’s keen interest in 3D sound. It’s beautifully put together and has the capacity to do a great job. The Røde SoundField NT-SF1 is a great product and, for its price, is bringing state- of-the-art technology to the masses. It’s also backed up by an excellent software package. Meanwhile, the ZoomH3-VR is the surprise addition, a highly affordablemic that might just be the one to entice newcomers to the genre.
SPECIFICATIONS Set up: 4xmatched
unidirectional condensers Sample rate: Ambisonics – 44.1kHz, 48 kHz or 96 kHz / Stereo–44.1 kHz, 48 kHz or 96 kHz / Binural –44.1 kHz or 48 kHz Dimensions: 7 6x78x123mm/ 3.0x3.1x4.8ins Weight: 120g / 4.2ozs
PROMOVIEMAKERRATING: 8/10 Pros: Does a huge amount and is a recorder as well Cons: Build quality isn’t on a par with its two rivals
SPRING 2019 PRO MOVIEMAKER
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