Article Overview

SoundField Goes to Harvard

Harvard's New SoundField Mark V Microphone Broadens Horizons

Harvard University's Media Production Centre has added a SoundField Mark V B-Format microphone to its existing inventory, which already includes a SoundField SPS422B mic and an SP451 surround sound processor. The Mark V is being used to make stereo and surround-sound recordings for various departments at the university, including the music faculty.

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Anthony Di Bartolo, Manager of the university's Media Production Centre, provides audio, video and multimedia services across the university, and has himself long been a user of SoundField microphones for jazz and acoustic recording, including the older ST250 portable microphone system. "We already have an SPS422B and the SP451 surround processor here", he explains, "but we were looking for another mic or system that would enable us to record in surround. Of course, there are now various ways to do that, and we considered those, but it was the flexibility that the Mark V offers after recording that really did it for us, as well as its phase coherence and tonal neutrality."

Like all SoundField's microphone systems, the Mark V comprises a multi-capsule microphone which produces audio in a four-channel proprietary format. Known as SoundField B-Format, the four-channel signal may be decoded using SoundField hardware or software to produce audio in a variety of formats, from phase-coherent mono to multi-channel surround, via stereo and M&S. If the four-channel B-format signals are recorded, the processing and decoding may be carried out at a later date, allowing the audio output format to be determined long after the recording. The Mark V's hardware processor offers many options for processing B-Format signals captured with its associated microphone, including the ability to change the microphone's orientation and virtual pickup pattern after recording if required.

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"Much of the audio work we do at Harvard ends up in stereo," explains Anthony Di Bartolo, "but we do archive the four-channel B-Format signal for post-production flexibility later. We have used our older SPS422B and SP451 processor to create 5.1 surround soundscapes, and the Mark V offers us even more options, with the ability to move the mic after the recording, or change the pickup pattern in post. That's useful to us, as we don't always get a soundcheck, and we're often constrained by where we can place mics. With the Mark V's processing options, we can remedy some of those issues.

"Since purchasing the Mark V, we've used it to produce audio in 5.1 for an innovative surround sound concert here at Harvard, the Sound Space Experience. The Mark V was also used on some recent university choral sessions featuring a wonderful new Skinner organ, as well as the historic Skinner Op. 308 organ in downtown Boston. Both recordings are currently being prepared for release."

Havard University

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About SoundField

UK manufacturer SoundField specialises in digital and analogue surround and stereo microphone systems for the broadcast and recording industries. Based on a unique multi-capsule design, SoundField's systems allow users to capture and output audio in mono, phase-coherent stereo, 5.1 or any future surround format, using a single microphone and processor. Over recent years, the company's digital microphone systems have become the standard means of originating 5.1 audio for high-definition television transmission amongst many of the world’s leading broadcasters.

SoundField

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