Amsterdam, The Netherlands (September 23, 2013)—Sennheiser has introduced its new Esfera surround microphone system, which provides 5.1 surround sound from just two channels.
The system consists of a high-quality stereo microphone, designed with Sennheiser’s RF condenser technology, and a 19-inch rack-mount processing unit that converts the stereo signal into a complete 5.1 signal—anywhere in the production workflow, whether in real time or during post production. The system will be available in March 2014.
Two radio-frequency condenser microphones are at the heart of Esfera’s SPM 8000 stereo microphone. According to Sennheiser, the fully balanced microphones feature an extremely low inherent self-noise and offer very low distortion figures.
“Of course, the microphone unit can also be used on its own wherever a high-quality stereo microphone is required,” explains Kai Lange, product manager for wired microphones at Sennheiser. The SPM 8000 is supplied with a windshield basket and hairy cover, a suspension/pistol grip and a stereo cable (XLR-5 to 2 x XLR-3).
The Esfera processing unit uses a special algorithm to generate a full 5.1 surround signal with sampling rates of up to 96 kHz from the microphones‘ stereo signal. An integrated compressor ensures a broadcast-friendly signal.
The design of the processing unit is laid out with four directly selectable presets. If needed, presets can be modified via an Ethernet interface. The processor software enables the user to adjust gain of the individual channels, modify the front and surround focus, determine the surround delay, adjust several filters with their cut-off frequencies and set the compression, the limiter and the treble boost.
The input side of the SBP 8000 is fitted with two analogue XLR-3 sockets with P48 phantom powering and two digital inputs for an AES3 signal. On the output side, the unit has six digital outputs (left, right, center, LFE, surround left, surround right) for three AES3 signals.