Early in 2016, audio specialist Sennheiser unveiled a strategic focus on 3D immersive audio, a groundbreaking technology that promises the ultimate in audio capture and reproduction. “3D audio is the new frontier of excellence, set to transform the listening experience for users across a broad range of applications, from virtual reality gaming to audio recording and broadcasting,” announced co-CEOs Daniel Sennheiser and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, speaking at CES 2016. “We have been active in this area for some time with 9.1 mixing and recording and the audio design for high-profile exhibitions. We are now increasing our efforts considerably to introduce this amazing sound quality into new products and applications, enabling users to experience and shape the future of audio.” Sennheiser’s 3D immersive audio products and activities will bear the new AMBEO trademark.
3D immersive audio is increasingly becoming a format of choice in professional recording, mixing and listening. The composer, producer, and musician Simon Franglen, well known for his work on the films Titanic, Avatar, and most recently Spectre, commented: “Every time I do an immersive mix, I notice how much more clearly I can hear what’s going on within a track. The extra playback area allows individual voices and instruments room to breathe in a way that the flat plane of a stereo mix can never hope to accomplish. 3D audio gives a completely new experience to the listener. Not only are they inside the music, but they get the opportunity to really hear the detail and the arrangement that the musicians, arrangers and producers put into the recordings. Even as a professional, I have listened to tracks that I have thought I knew intimately to discover so much more than the stereo or mono mix was able to give me. Once you hear this, music changes forever.”
AMBEO 3D Audio Recording and Listening Experience
Sennheiser has been doing original 9.1 recordings since 2010, and has promoted this immersive format ever since at numerous audio congresses, workshops and tradeshows around the globe. In the course of this work, a tonmeister-quality upmix algorithm was developed to turn legacy stereo material into stunning 9.1 music. A key highlight in Sennheiser’s work with the 3D audio format includes the design of two immersive audio installations for the internationally successful “David Bowie is” exhibition, curated by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Their upcoming “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970” exhibition, which will open its doors to the public in September 2016, will include two new AMBEO 3D audio installations that will fully immerse visitors in the music and spirit of that era.
VR Gaming / AR applications
A central field for AMBEO will be virtual-reality gaming, for which Sennheiser will be providing 3D audio libraries that ensure that the sounds in a given game are easily localizable and transport the listener to an imaginary yet utterly realistic soundscape. The transition between real-life sounds and virtual audio sources for augmented-reality applications will be incredibly smooth.
Virtual reality mic
Another part of the AMBEO 3D audio world is the Sennheiser virtual-reality microphone, which will capture high-quality audio in three dimensions and is going to be a staple tool in any live action VR production. The compact microphone has been designed with VR content producers, including VR production company Visualise, whose content will be featured. Following the Sennheiser creators’ program – which currently has dozens of users from various VR production fields testing the microphone – and a subsequent fine-tuning phase, the AMBEO VR mic will launch in Q4 2016.
A look into the future: Further down the road, AMBEO will also comprise a Venue Modeling software which will allow DJs to experience their sets in advance by replicating the sound characteristics of the venue in which they will be performing. Unlike other reverb tools and plug-ins, this VST plug-in will let ambitious DJs, PA artists and EM producers experience their audio tracks as if present in the location they desire for the performance – a milestone in virtual room acoustics replication. The current demo version features the room characteristics of Mighty in San Francisco, the Rex Club in Paris, and Berghain in Berlin. The audio can be tailored to any desired room atmosphere, and a growing venue database connected to the plug-in will offer DJs an ideal source to prepare for their show. The VST plug-in will become available in 2018.
Shaping the future of audio and creating unique sound experiences for customers – this aim unites Sennheiser employees and partners worldwide. Founded in 1945, Sennheiser is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of headphones, microphones and wireless transmission systems. With 21 sales subsidiaries and long-established trading partners, the company is active in more than 50 countries and operates its own production facilities in Germany, Ireland, Romania and the USA. Since 2013, Sennheiser has been managed by Daniel Sennheiser and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, the third generation of the family to run the company. In 2017, the Sennheiser Group generated turnover totaling €667.7 million.