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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Ramirez » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:06 pm

The Elf wrote:...and please tell those of us who are still confused just how to use the thing! :headbang: :lol:

If I understand correctly, in a typical stereo music application, outside the VR/surround, the signal can be decoded as any number of mono/stereo mics in any coincident configuration, pointing in any direction.

Taking a familiar scenario of a singing guitarist, you could place the mic in a suitable position, take the signals and decode them as a mono cardioid (or hyper, or fig8 or whatever you want) spot mic pointing at the guitar. You could then take another copy of the signals and decode them as another cardioid (or whatever) mic pointing at the singer's mouth. As the signal originate from the same point in space, phase issues will be minimal - you couldn't really achieve that coincidence between guitar and vocal spot mic any other way (this does of course depend on finding an optimal single position for the mic)


You can apply this to any scenario - from a single NT-SF1 you could decode a main stereo array as well as any number of mono spot mics pointing in any direction.


That's my understanding anyway, and I have to say it is appealing, especially for the singing guitarist scenario. I may well have it all wrong, of course.


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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:50 pm

Ramirez wrote:That's my understanding anyway, and I have to say it is appealing, especially for the singing guitarist scenario. I may well have it all wrong, of course.

That's my understanding too, and it's appealing to me for recording choirs, sessions and the like where I can decode into, say, a stereo track for the ensemble and separate mono tracks focussed on soloists etc. The surround sound possibilities aren't of interest to me now but who knows what might come down the line once I have the capability.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:58 pm

Bear in mind that all these separately decoded and aimed soloist mics you're envisaging are inherently coincident with the main stereo pair. So while you can narrow the polar patterns of these 'soloist' mics to improve (slightly) the selectivity and reduce spill, they aren't physically any closer to the sources so the direct/reflected balance doesn't change as much and the focussing effect isn't quite the same as a more conventional accent or spot mic placed in close. It's a useful facility, certainly, but rather different to what you might be used to.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:48 am

OK, fair comment. You don't get anything for free. I'll bear it in mind. In the sort of context I'm thinking of I think t should still give me what I want as a way of emphasising, shall we say, an area containing a particular soloist that I can then use in the final mix. Anyway, we shall see.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:09 pm

The Korff wrote:Just FYI, I've been in touch with Zoom about getting the H3-VR in for review. Will report back when I hear more...

In the meantime here's a review from someone on Amazon called Mr C (nothing to do with me, I hasten to add) who sounds as if they know what they're talking about:

(3 stars) Don't expect miracles

On the face of it, this item was a dream - a combination of the ambisonic microphone, the recorder and the ability to produce output files in several formats. In reality it leaves quite a bit to be desired. (This shouldn't come as a surprise given the price point). I have several other Zoom products, and I've always found build quality to be excellent. Not so with this device unfortunately. Plastic feels cheap, controls are fiddly (as the device is a lot smaller than it looks on photos) and the overall feeling is that this has been produced a price - which I suppose, in fairness, it has.

I could live with all of this, but the audio quality was not what I had expected. My desired use was to produce 5.1 output to use with video. Fed the ambisonic A format file through Zoom's desktop software and sure enough, a 6 channel wav emerged. However, it was very poor quality in comparison to what I recorded at the same time using an on camera 4 channel microphone setup (this was built into an old Sony camera, not an external attachment). Output sounded very vague in terms of direction (which is bizarre given that this is an ambisonic device) and high frequency response was just plain dire.

I think if you were using this for recording a VR soundtrack it might be ok - if you're expecting good quality 5.1 from it as the end result, you'll be disappointed.

On the plus side, battery life was excellent - just using plain alkalines.

I think half the problem is that I am used to Zoom producing products which punch significantly over their weight - and this one, for once, just doesn't.....

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Dave B » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:34 pm

If that's right, then it's good news for Rode as it makes the NT-SF1 look like a real winner.

I'll be fascinated to see what a proper SOS review makes of the Zoom though, and whether any remedy is possible via firmware updates. Even if that's not possible (more than likely I'd imagine), it does still look interesting as a useful 'thing' to have in the arsenal...
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:20 pm

Hmmm... I wouldn't be buying one and flagged it earlier in the thread as a possible alternative at half the price - especially considering Zoom's recent track record for quality gear at sensible prices.

But maybe they've come to market too soon or over-economised in an attempt to slash the price to be super-competitive in this fast-developing market. They have a track-record - admittedly about ten years ago. The original Zoom H2 was supposed to be a 5.1 recorder, but there were lots of development issues and in the end it was less ambitious when it came to market. Zoom had got the issues sorted for the H2 Mk 2. The Mk1 was a competent recorder using its own mics but dreadful if you tried to connect external sources.

As already said, it'll be interesting to hear an objective verdict in the SoS review....
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Wonks » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:39 pm

Not a bad demo here of it married to 360° video of a jazz quartet playing. Click on the video to pan around the studio and gave the sound balance move around as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcniHWJWPF0

Whilst not drop-dead outstanding quality (not helped by YouTube streaming limitations), it does seem to give an adequate and balanced sound for this type of video application.
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:41 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:As already said, it'll be interesting to hear an objective verdict in the SoS review....

Indeed. I put this up mainly to ensure I didn't rush out and buy one in an excess of enthusiasm in advance of the review.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:20 pm

Darn, 360 degree not supported on ipad. (And apple removed the symbol for degree from the keyboard cripes, and the cents symbol)
Back on track here - I’ve played with 360 video and audio and am not as enthusiastic about it. In essence as the viewer scrolls they would be messing with the engineer’s idea of a good mix. My original fantasy for 360 was that the viewer could move to different positions in the space and it would mimic real space, rather than be at the centre of an event that revolves around them and unbalances a mix.

That being said the concept of ambisonic recordings used in stereo applications has much appeal. Many years ago we recorded our quartet with the original brit-made ambisonics mic (sorry, seniors moment here, forgot the name). The recording was live off the floor, no multi tracking. The instruments were all similar but there was one guy who always played much louder than the others. Twisting one of the controls "tilted" the mic away from him so we now sounded well balanced.
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:24 pm

Calrec - that’s the name of it. And it’s still working today.
I am looking forward to more info on the Rode.
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:20 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:Calrec - that’s the name of it. And it’s still working today.

They were built to last, but if it's badged as a Calrec mic it is positively antique now!

The first Calrec Soundfield mics came out in the mid 1970s -- so the Original Mk1/2/3 and I think the MkIV units were all branded as Calrecs.

But when AMS bought the company the branding changed to AMS Calrec, and I've seen that marking on the MkV, ST250 portable and SPS422 models.

Ken Giles bought the IP from AMS in 1993 and re-launched the company as SoundField, so the branding changed again on those models. The SPS422 also became the SPS422B (with B-format outputs), and the ST250 was replaced with the ST350 portable.

Then DSF1/2 digital models appeared, and the ST450 mk1 replaced the ST350 (and was later upgraded to the Mk2), and the SPS200 A-format mic was also introduced.

Rode took the company over in 2017, and the branding for those existing models is now SoundField by Rode...

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:45 am

Browsed some user reviews of the Zoom 'space-capsule' last night.

Some, clearly written by people who know their sound stuff, like the concept and parts of the execution, but bewail audio quality. Comparisons to very cheap Chinese SDCs were made... :thumbdown:

So let's see what the upcoming SoS review makes of it...
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:41 pm

Looking forward to it. We're getting used to Zoom punching above their weight but the gap between the NT-SF1 (at nearly £1000 regarded as a bit of a bargain) and the H3 VR (at £330 costing much less but apparently doing much more) is so large it pushes credulity a bit. Roll on the review.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:37 pm

I believe there's one coming to me, but it hasn't arrived yet.

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:06 pm

Where does the Zylia 360 thing fit in all this?
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:19 am

Similar concept as an ambisonic mic but it's much more elaborate as it uses 3rd order ambisonics rather than first order, giving it better directional discrimination and post-production possibilities (in theory, at least).

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Re: NT-SF1

Postby blinddrew » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:45 am

Thanks Hugh.

::: goes off to read up on 3rd order ambisonics :::

;)
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Feb 02, 2019 9:09 am

Looking at their website I think the Zylia is yet another tweak on the ambisonics idea. Unless I misread (always possible) it doesn't have onboard recording. It's actually a USB mic intended for connection to a laptop where a big wodge of software does all the work. I'm still wading through this but it looks as if the software does a great deal more than the equivalent converters right up to replacing your DAW.

- Multi-track record your whole band with one-mic-only!
- Separate individual instrument tracks from your recordings.
- Easily mix your tracks in ZYLIA Studio or export to DAW.

That's the cheap version. The more expensive version also does this:

- Capture immersive 3D audio (360/VR/AR) with high definition quality (3rd order Ambisonics).
- Use 'Virtual Microphones' to get ultimate control over the recorded sound-field.
- Use ready presets for surround or ambient recordings, 5.1, 7.1, 5.1.4 up to 22.2.​

So the view has just got a little more complicated. In some ways their proposition is very interesting to me since they focus on extracting tracks corresponding to notional or virtual mics which is something I'd very much like to do. On the other, do I really want to replace my whole workflow with their software especially when I've gone to some effort to avoid depending on a laptop for live recording?

Hey ho. Hold on for the reviews, my boy ...

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PS Just noticed the DAW is required to be Reaper or Ardor. No idea why this should be and it seems a remarkably arbitrary restriction but if I can't use it with Logic then the whole concept is dead in the water and floating downstream towards the weir.
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Re: NT-SF1

Postby blinddrew » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:08 am

Well if you will insist on tying yourself to these proprietary platforms... ;)

That is a strange restriction though.

For me, one of the fundamental benefits if the ambisonics idea is that it is output-independent. Once you've captured your source and converted it into a B format signal you should be able to do what you want with it.
To then impose another set of restrictions seems a bit of a backward step.
Ho hum.
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