Sennheiser launches surround microphone system

Sennheiser has introduced its new Esfera surround microphone system.

Esfera provides 5.1 surround sound from just two channels, simplifying surround microphone installations.

It features a high-quality stereo mic, designed with Sennheiser’s RF condenser technology, and a 19“ 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 compact size of the mic unit and the versatile connectivity of the processing unit ensure that the system can be integrated easily into existing workflows.

In fixed installations, the mic can be positioned alongside the field or underneath the stadium roof, for example. The signal is fed into the stadium’s network through two standard mic cables, then converted into an AES3 signal and routed to the OB van. The audio channels can either be converted into a 5.1 signal onsite – with the settings defined by the A1 of the host broadcaster – and transmitted to local broadcasters; or the stereo audio signal is directly transmitted to the broadcasters who can then convert into 5.1 using their own preferred settings.

Esfera’s SPM 8000 stereo microphone provides "natural, detailed sound, transparency, high resistance to adverse climatic conditions and ruggedness," the firm says. The mics feature low inherent self-noise, offer very little distortion and are inherently fully floating and balanced.

The Esfera processing unit utilises a unique algorithm to generate a full 5.1 surround signal with sampling rates of up to 96 kHz from the microphones‘ stereo signal. The integrated compressor ensures a broadcast-friendly signal, while the unit also has four directly selectable presets, modifiable via an Ethernet interface. The processor software lets the user adjust the gain of the individual channels, alter the front and surround focus, determine the surround delay, adjust filters with their cut-off frequencies and set the compression, limiter and treble boost.

"Esfera is the ideal surround microphone for any broadcast format that requires 5.1 HD audio in a fast and uncomplicated way," said Kai Lange, product manager for wired microphones at Sennheiser. "Sports broadcasts in particular will benefit from Esfera. These broadcasts are almost entirely produced in 5.1 and will profit from the quick microphone installation, the user-friendliness of the processing unit and the freedom in workflow design that the system offers."

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