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SoundField Announces New Digital Surround Products

All SoundField microphone systems consist of a single multi-capsule microphone head and a hardware or software decoder unit which converts the microphone signal into a four-channel, phase-coherent signal. Known as the SoundField B-format, this signal is what really sets SoundField mics apart from other surround-capable systems. With the right proprietary decoder, SoundField B-format signals may be further decoded into any existing mono or multi-channel sound format, including stereo, M&S, and 5.1, simultaneously if required, and with perfect phase coherence. During this decoding process, which can take place long after the original event if the four-channel B-format signal is recorded to a multi-channel storage device, the audio may be post-processed to create the effect of the microphone being rotated, moved, inverted or having its pickup pattern changed, all without physically handling the mic and merely by turning controls on the decoder. Although SoundField have offered B-format decoders with this degree of flexibility for some years, the DSF-3 is the first such all-digital unit, making it the perfect companion for the DSF-2 or the new DSF-1 digital microphone systems.

A 1U, 19-inch rack hardware processor with an all-digital signal path, the DSF-3 allows decoding of SoundField microphone or B-format signals to digital 5.1 surround or stereo audio (or both simultaneously) at any sample rate. Five-segment LED displays on the left side of the front panel act as input level meters, and each 5.1 channel's output level control has separate green 'signal present' and red Clip LEDs for further peace of mind. Controls on the front panel of the DSF-3 allow a degree of freedom to alter the audio being decoded that only a SoundField system can offer: there are separate output level controls for each of the six channels in the 5.1 signal (Left, Centre, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround and the LFE sub-bass channel), and further rotary switches and buttons allow users to alter the virtual pickup pattern and orientation of the microphone without physically handling it. The perceived front and rear width of the 5.1 pickup pattern may be continuously altered with two more rotary controls, and a Focus control allows the user to vary the localisation characteristics of the 3D soundfield. The entire 5.1 soundfield can even be rotated through 360 degrees by means of a rotary encoder with a live front-panel readout in degrees. This last control also affects the independent stereo soundfield, for which separate front-panel controls are offered to adjust the stereo polar patterns and perceived stereo width.

Separate rear-panel outputs are provided for broadcasters for each of the five main channels and the sub-bass channel in AES3 format on 75Ω BNC connectors, and the B-format inputs to the decoder are on the same connectors. An additional rear-panel BNC provides the separate Left/Right Stereo output, which can also be used for Mid & Side signals. The six surround channels and the independent stereo channels are simultaneously sent out via a single digital ADAT lightpipe connector for those users with compatible equipment. Word clock inputs and outputs, and a USB port for software upgrades complete the rear panel. The release of the DSF-3 completes an all-digital SoundField surround sound production chain, and, together with a DSF-2 microphone, provides a simple means of creating surround sound from a single microphone for broadcast.

[Download preliminary data sheet - PDF 503 KB]

The DFS-1 system, which comprises a SoundField microphone and hardware digital control unit, benefits from much of the techniques employed in the established DSF-2 system, but with various changes to reshape it for the performance broadcast and recording markets. Thus the output signals are all 110Ω AES-EBU on XLRs, the digital format more common in the recording and concert broadcast markets, instead of the DSF-2's BNC connectors. In addition to standard 48/96/192kHz sample rates, the DSF-1 can also handle audio at the CD mastering standard of 44.1kHz, as well as 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz. Both word clock input and output are provided as standard.

The DSF-1 also offers all of the features of the established DSF-2, including the ability to change the pickup pattern, output the results in mono, stereo, Mid & Side or surround sound, and to rotate and invert the mic without physically handling it. The DSF-1 is perfect for capturing performances by artists of international standing in world-class concert venues, whether for broadcast or release on disc.

[Download preliminary data sheet - PDF 662 KB]

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