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27/04/2007

SoundField DSF-2 Digital Microphone System 'Surrounds' NAB

Explaining the benefits of their unique surround sound microphones to the broadcast community, SoundField exhibited at NAB for the first time.
Broadcasters in the US lagging behind in the challenge to producing 5.1-compatible audio for high-definition transmission, there’s a greater need than ever for a simple means of originating surround sound, one that does away with expensive multi-microphone arrays and complex recording techniques. UK company SoundField's solution, the DSF-2 system, allows users to generate digital audio in mono, stereo, and surround sound, simultaneously if required and all from a single microphone.
The technology that makes simultaneous recordings or broadcast possible in all these audio formats has been in existence for decades. 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 ‘SoundField 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 audio is recorded to a suitable multitrack 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 SoundField 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 in which all internal processing is performed digitally. The 1U-rack DSF-2 controller unit offers live decoding to stereo, stereo M/S, and four-channel SoundField 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 75Ω 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.
The first units were specified to generate simultaneous 5.1 and stereo ambience during international TV broadcasts from all 12 German stadiums during the 2006 World Cup; the stereo output from the DSF-2 was used for SD broadcast, while the B Format output was decoded to 5.1 surround for the HD transmission.
The results so impressed European satellite broadcaster Sky that they permanently installed DSF-2 systems at the most prestigious UK football stadiums to handle the 5.1 sound on their live HD coverage of UK Premiership matches.
Sky subsequently approved the DSF-2 as their standard microphone of choice on all of their HD Sports broadcasts.
For more details on the DSF-2 visit www.soundfield.com
(SP)
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