Ambisonic soundfield type Microphone

Posted on Jun 28, 2012

A three-dimensional surround sound Ambisonic recording can be captured using a tetrahedrally arranged quartet of cardioid pattern microphone capsules connected to some simple circuitry to convert the outputs to a standard B-format signal. B-format signals represent a 3D soundfield with four signals; X,Y and Z representing three orthogonal figure of eight patterns and an omnidirectional W reference signal. The commercially available product is very `high-end` in both quality and price. This article describes a lower quality but much cheaper version for experimentation. For more info, try a search for ambisonics; There is a good page at the university of York. UHJ in this instance is a stereo compatible phase matrixed method of cramming horizontal surround only B-format W, X and Y signals into 2 stereo channels. This can be decoded back into B-format W, X and Y for playback into a B-format to speaker feed decoder.

Ambisonic soundfield type Microphone
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The most basic requirement for the project is for some cheap, fair quality cardioid pattern microphone capsules which must be physically small in size. The first attempt at this microphone used 6mm diameter capsules made by Horn in China which I bought from Mouser in the USA under code #252-EM6050U-514. EMU6050U is the Horn part code. These were just too noisy even for a cheap microphone.The second attempt uses Panasonic WM-56A103. These are 9.5mm modules which have higher output and a much better S/N ratio. The performance is hardly professional but reaches a level which I think could have real practical uses. The Horn mics claim similar noise performance to the Panasonic mics and better low end frequency response. You only have to listen to hear that this simply isn't true. The circuitry overall runs from +/-9V battery supplies. The system will continue working normally right down to 6V rails with reduced headroom, so can be run from two 8.4V nickel rechargeable PP3 batteries, or can take 9V alkaline batteries down to almost full discharge. The mic bias voltage comes direct from the +BAT supply and this is filtered heavily with the 2K2 -100uF combination. Any noise on this bias supply will appear along with the microphone signal so it has to be quiet. As the batteries discharge there will be a gradual and slight gain reduction but I consider this to be preferable to running the mic bias and pre-amp stages from...

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