360 Audio is The New Black: The Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic, by Scott Simmie

Ambisonic microphone from Sennheiser

Of course, you’ve heard about 360 cameras by now – capable of capturing video or stills of the entire scene. It’s been emerging over the past couple of years, and really feels as if the market is ready to explode. But if you truly want to a 360/VR experience with your goggles, the visuals are only part of an important equation: You need 360 audio in order to complete the experience.

Here at the NABShow, The Digital Circuit spent some time Monday poking around the world of Ambisonic audio.

Now you might think, given that 360 video is a recent phenomenon, that this whole idea of ambisonic (kind of a mashup of ambient and sonic) audio must also be a relatively new deal. That would be incorrect.

The reality is that this concept (and even the word) has been around since the analogue days. Wikipedia describes it as a “full sphere surround-sound technique: In addition to the horizontal plane, it covers sound sources above and below the listener.”

“Ambisonics was developed in the UK in the 1970s under the auspices of the British National Research Development Corporation,” continues the entry.

Though it was cool at the time, it never really took off. Some audiophiles loved it and there were niche recordings, but it just wasn’t a mainstream hit.

That was then. Enter digital, home theatre, 5.1, 7.1, 9.1-channel audio and the interest in what has popularly become known as “surround sound” enjoyed an obvious resurgence. But true ambisonic audio is different from these discrete channels, because the sound source can move just as you move in a virtual space.

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