Karla Youngs on Monday 13 October 2008 Tweet this!
As 5.1 surround sound finally enters the mainstream, with the ready availability of affordable consumer systems, the need for the ability to record audio in three dimensions has become pressing. Surround sound can lend an atmosphere to a recording where mere stereo (or, god forbid, mono) will struggle. However, surround recording has thus-far been an esoteric and technically (not to mention financially) challenging business.
In this highly specialised field, Soundfield microphones have become the de facto standard for recording music and sporting events in multiple (and simultaneous) surround and stereo formats. They are used by the BBC and many major broadcasters, and now a Soundfield microphone is almost within reach of the semi-pro recordist, with the release of the keenly anticipated ‘budget’ SPS200 in Sept 2008
Unlike the traditional Soundfield range, which are all accompanied by rackmounting matrix decoder units, the SPS200 uses the computer to derive its various output configurations (5.1, 7.1, M/S stereo etc) from its tetrahedral capsule array (pictured) within a host software DAW such as Pro-Tools.
A key benefit of the Soundfield range is their near-perfect mono/stereo compatibility, once the surround signals are ’folded’ down by the decoding process. This is one of the main reasons cited by the BBC for the replacement of sections of their necessarily complex microphone arrays at the Proms in 2008 with a single Soundfield and decoder, as their listeners use a wide range of mono, stereo and surround formats, all of whom need support. They also now incorporate a Soundfield into their mic array at the Centre Court at Wimbledon - one of their earliest proofing grounds for surround recording.
TASI team audio hope very much to get the chance to evaluate an SPS200 soon, and we will share our findings here !
Soundfield tetrahedral capsule