The What: Sennheiser has launched the AMBEO VR microphone, which is designed to record high-quality 3D audio for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content.
Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic
The What Else: The AMBEO VR Mic is an Ambisonics microphone that uses four carefully selected, matched capsules in a tetrahedral arrangement. It is fully balanced and powered by 4x48 volts phantom powering.
“The demand for compact microphones that capture spatial audio to match visual 3D experiences has increased enormously in the recent past. For the user to gain a truly immersive experience, however, it is imperative that the sound within VR is also 3D,” said Kai Lange, product manager, broadcast and media. “The AMBEO VR microphone has been designed specifically for VR/AR purposes and enables VR content producers to capture the natural, immersive environment, providing a realistic and immersive experience for the user.”
The handheld microphone comes complete with a split cable with four color-coded and labelled XLR connectors according to the capsule position, a Rycote suspension mount, and a foam windshield. Also included is the necessary encoding software that translates the A format file generated from the recording of the four microphone channels into a B format file W, X, Y, and Z. This format is recognised in the Ambisonics world, the W component being the omni and the X, Y, Z components being figure-of-eight capsules along three spatial axes.
“To ensure that the AMBEO VR Mic is ‘right on target’ with what the AR/VR community needs, the entire development process was accompanied by intensive field testing with VR content producers,” Lange said. “In fact, we have just concluded an extensive creators’ program with participants from across the international VR audio/video industry, who put the microphone through its paces.”
The Bottom Line: Up until now, VR productions had to record immersive audio with quite complicated microphone setups. The AMBEO VR mic puts everything into a compact and easy-to-use handheld form factor, making it well suited for any professional VR production. The microphone will become commercially available in November 2016.