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IBC2013: Sennheiser unveils Esfera surround microphone system

Erica Basnicki 16 September 2013
IBC2013: Sennheiser unveils Esfera surround microphone system

Sennheiser has unveiled its Esfera surround microphone system, which provides 5.1 surround sound from just two channels, at IBC2013 in Amsterdam. Although Esfera won’t be available until March 2014, Sennheiser is previewing the technology for the benefit of sport broadcasters who may want to take advantage of its new system once it becomes available.

Esfera provides 5.1 surround sound from just two channels, using a high-quality stereo microphone 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.   “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.”   In fixed installations, the Esfera microphone is positioned alongside the field or underneath the stadium roof. Its audio signal is fed into the stadium’s network via two standard microphone cables, then converted into an AES3 signal and routed to the OB van, where the host broadcaster has a choice of two options.   The two audio channels can be converted into a 5.1 signal onsite – with the settings defined by the A1 of the host broadcaster – and transmitted to the local broadcasters. Or, alternatively, the stereo audio signal is directly transmitted to the local broadcasters who do the conversion into 5.1 with their own preferred settings.   Esfera is also the first system that allows the recording of 5.1 surround sound from a wireless camera. As the system only requires two channels, the audio can be transmitted together with the image and later be converted into 5.1, for example in the OB van.  

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