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SoundField Introduces DSF-2 Digital Microphone System

SoundField Introduces DSF-2 Digital Microphone System


Previously showcased at IBC 2006, the DSF-2 produces mono, stereo and digital surround sound, simultaneously if required, all from a single microphone. The SoundField DSF-2 solves the issues broadcasters struggle with in meeting the challenges of producing 5.1-compatible audio for high-definition transmission with a simple microphone system, one that does away with expensive multi-microphone arrays and complex recording techniques.

All of SoundField's systems comprise one of their range of processors and one of their patented multi-capsule microphones. The processors produce a four-channel proprietary output format known as 'B-Format,' which can then be further decoded by SoundField hardware or software into mono, stereo, stereo M/S, or surround sound in formats such as 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 – or any future surround standard. The precise format of audio generated by the microphone can be determined live – and changed if required – by adjusting the output controls on the associated SoundField processing hardware or software. And if the four-channel B-Format audio is recorded to a suitable multi-track storage medium, the decoding can even take place 'after the event' in post-production, with the precise nature of the final audio format not being determined until then. The B-Format thus has tremendous potential as a 'future-proof' archive format, as it will allow post-production decoding of archive recordings to other surround sound formats if these replace 5.1 in the future.

The DSF-2 is the latest generation of SoundField technology, and the first to output its signals digitally. The 1U-rack DSF-2 controller unit offers live decoding to stereo, stereo M/S, and four-channel B-Format. The stereo signal may be output directly from the DSF-2 in the analogue or digital domain via rear-panel XLR and unbalanced 75? BNC connectors respectively, while the Stereo M/S and B-Format signals are available only as digital signals. From here, the B-Format signals may be decoded to a variety of surround formats by SoundField's existing SP451 hardware processor, or by the company's Surround Zone decoding software plug-in, now available for use with DAWs such as Digidesign Pro Tools, Steinberg Nuendo, and SADiE. Digital output is possible at 48, 96 and 192kHz for the best possible recording or broadcast quality.

In addition to allowing the user to determine the eventual output format of the recorded audio, the DSF-2 system offers the user very accurate control over the apparent orientation, angle and pickup pattern of the microphone without the need to physically move the mic. Changes are easily made from the front panel of the DSF-2 controller. Again, while this might sound impossible, it's all done quite simply by changing the way the multi-channel B-format signal is decoded. And all the user has to do is turn a couple of front-panel controls. Similarly, the apparent stereo width of the output audio is also precisely adjustable.

For recording convenience, the DSF-2 processor also offers a user-adjustable gain control, a fixed-threshold recording limiter, on-board four-channel LED metering, a built-in high-pass filter and a headphone jack for monitoring purposes.

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David Mellor