New York, NY (October 5, 2017)—Much has been said about emerging advances in immersive sound and 3D audio, but while consumers are starting to latch on to formats that use these technologies, much of the professional audio world—the individuals who will actually create and curate the aural materials to be experienced by the masses—still needs education to both appreciate what the formats can do, and, more importantly, learn how to create audio that makes the most of those emerging technological advances.
It’s in that spirit that Sennheiser has kicked off a free four-day event—Shape the Future of Audio—at Interface NYC in Manhattan, taking place through October 7. Teaming with music/tech education series The Digilogue to present master classes, performances and panels, the audio manufacturer intends to highlight its offerings while providing insights and education that visitors can apply going forward.
The event began Wednesday, October 4, with a VR/3D panel devoted to virtual reality and Sennheiser’s AMBEO 3D offerings. On-hand were the company’s own Sofia Brazzola, user experience manager, and Sebastian Chafe, strategic innovation manager, who had flown in from Zurich and San Francisco, respectively, to host the discussion.
Brazzola outlined different ways 3D audio is being applied, such as cinematic virtual reality, 3D live music recording, live sports broadcast, 3D audio listening, 3D gaming, 3D acoustic modeling and augmented reality. Much of the discussion centered on Sennheiser’s AMBEO VR Microphone, an ambisonics microphone based around four matched capsules in a tetrahedral arrangement in order to capture an immersive environment.
Also discussed was the upcoming AMBEO Smart Headset, expected in Q4, which has small microphones on both earbuds, allowing users to make binaural recordings on the go. That creation owes a fair amount of inspiration to Neumann’s 1970s Dummy Head microphone technology, albeit now utilizing the recordist’s own head. Nonetheless, another iteration of that 40-year-old technology was present in the form of the Neumann KU100 Binaural Dummy Head, which the company positioned as having been reimagined due to the use of modern processing technologies to enable new binaural mixing workflows and the ability to additionally enhance sound with spatially processed spot microphones.
Still, while having newly developed tools to create 3D audio is an intriguing proposition, all their users have differing levels of experience, technological background and, frankly, time and patience when it comes to learning how to apply those tools to the task at hand. With that in mind, Brazzolla and Chafe discussed AMBEO Recording Blueprints—specialized collections of best practices, tutorials, downloadable plug-ins to aid the mixing process, and case studies. The three current offerings are matched to different applications: AMBEO for loudspeakers, binaural and virtual reality. Intended to be quick guides to recording and mixing live music in these formats, the Blueprint series is available on Sennheiser’s website.
As the four-day Shape the Future of Audio event continues, Thursday’s panel will examine The Streaming Economy, serving up panelists from Spotify and Atlantic Records, among others. Meanwhile, Friday’s panel will explore music applications like Snapchat, Genius, Mixcloud and others. Throughout the multi-day event, various headphones, mics and more will be available for use, including the upcoming AMBEO Smart Headset.