Here look at some of the equipment currently available to record audio in VR. We have looked at the best of 5.1, binaural and Ambisonic options we are currently aware of.
SCHOEPPS DOUBLE M/S
Mike Richie supplies a very useful review of the Schoepps Double M/S. These mics can record an ambient 5.0 surround and include surround mixing software.. He suggests size is a big issue and should be considered when thinking about production. The mics need to be able to fit in or around the camera setup without inhibiting the view. Often the nadir will be the most likely place to place the mics.
Audeze are developing an advanced mic capable of recording wide frequency response and dynamic range for ambisonic mics.
It can record audio to about 70 feet away and through Ambisonics, it also the user to re-position the audio objects in the 360 space after they are recorded. We are awaiting a unit to review (along with many others) but are looking forward to hearing if the mic matches its manufacturer’s claims. The unit is a little pricey at £1,999 so time will tell if justifies this price-tag.
PORTAMIC PROBased on the design of the PortaMic 5.1, Holophone’s PortaMic Pro offers professional quality audio and options with point-and-shoot usability-all in a compact size at an aggressive price point (the mic retails for $999). Using the company’s patented design, the PortaMic Pro allows users to simply capture, from a single point source, a discrete surround recording that provides listeners with a 3D immersive experience. With the PortaMic Pro, users have additional control of their recordings with an audio zoom button, similar to a camera’s zoom feature, that increases the forward bias of the mic’s pick-up pattern and decreases the rear channels, giving the user’s recording a more forward bias.
PortaMic microphones are equipped with Dolby Laboratories’ Dolby® Pro Logic II® encoder. This allows the mic’s six audio channels to be encoded down to two channels.
TETRAMIC & SOUNDFIELD SPS200
A soundfield microphone comprises four sub-cardioid or cardioid capsules arranged on the faces of a tetrahedron, and some means (hardware in previous microphones, and sometimes software) to generate mono, stereo, surround, or ambisonic B-format signals. The audio itself tends to be quite flat in the bass and the lower octave is more susceptible to wind, rumble and handling noise.
The TetraMic is sold for $999 and the SPS200 costs around $3,100. The true difference apart from size is that the Tetramic has four unbalanced electrets capsules and is unbalanced down the cables, whereas the SPS200 has true condenser capsules and is balanced from the ic. Both mics require a 4-channel preamp with phantom power. There is a software packaged called VVMic which takes the recorded A-format to the required B-format to create the soundfield.
3Dio FREE SPACE OMNI-BINAURAL (QUAD-BINAURAL) MIC
The Free Space Omni-Binaural microphone consists of 4 pairs of ears, each pointed at 90 degrees from the adjacent pair. This provides a single point, 4-position binaural perspective of any audio environment. The unit costs $2499 and comes with suitable silicone ears to mirror the sound a human ear would ‘collect’ within its shape. The separate tracks can be recorded via standard XLR cables. Through software, the ears are panned/blended together as the user turns.
3Dio also produce a standard 2-ear binaural mic which is more standard recording in stereo for left and right positions. In this format, the whole 180° to the right of the user would be on the right mic and mirrored against the left mic. This unit costs $1999
For recorders we would recommend the Zoom H6 for standard stereo style recordings, the Tascam DR680mkII for Ambisonic recordings which provides phantom power also for ambisonic mics. A separate mini PPac unit for the Tetramic can be used for power.