Here’s a close look at Sennheiser’s new AMBEO VR microphone in all its glory as demonstrated at last week’s CES 2017 in Las Vegas. It’s the company’s first step into VR audio and it’s just received wide release for a cool $1700.

One of the most respected audio companies worldwide, Sennheiser is best known for its high-end headphones and microphones, which it’s been producing now for over 70 years. So when a company like Sennheiser launches a product for for the immersive media and VR space, people tend to take notice.

sennheiser-logoThe AMBEO VR Mic is the company’s first foray into 3D audio and is an effort by Sennheiser to make the recording device as transparent as possible – that is, present the user with a convincing reproduction of a 3D soundscape.

The device was actually unveiled at last year’s CES, but only became widely available last November, for the princely sum of $1700. For that you get the AMBEO VR Mic itself, a set of balanced XLR cables, Rycote suspension mount, Foam wind shield and access to the company’s proprietary A-B format encoder. It’s this last item which gives a peek at how Sennheiser’s VR audio ambitions are not ending at just the hardware. “For us, Ambeo is the umbrella … for different types of immersive audio configurations,” Sennheiser Co-CEO Dr. Andreas Sennheiser told Digital Trends at CES last year. “And that is from the recording side, to the processing side, to the playback side. There’s playback in 9.1, there’s playback over headphones, there’s recording with VR mics which capture the sound from the signal source, and there’s recordings which capture the sphere differently. Ambeo is a stream of different technologies and configurations which, in the end, should do nothing less than raise the hairs on your back.”

Below is a close up look at what $1700 buys you and you can check out the technical specification of the mic of after the gallery.

Sennheiser AMBEO VR Mic Specs

Dimensions 215 x 49/25 mm (L x D)
Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Max. sound pressure level 130 dB(A) for 1 kHz
Transducer principle Pre-polarized condenser microphone
Weight 400 g
Microphone connector DIN12M, use enclosed adapter cable to convert to 4x XLR3M Polarity: Pin1 (GND), Pin2 (+), Pin3 (-)
Pick-up pattern 4x cardioid, in A-format arrangement (1: front-left-up [FLU], 2: front-right-down [FRD], 3: back-left-down [BLD], 4: back-right-up [BRU])
Nominal impedance Approx. 200 O
Min. terminating impedance 1000 O
Equivalent noise level 18 dB-A as per IEC 61672-1 / 27 dB CCIR as per CCIR 468-3
Power supply 4x phantom powering (P48) as per IEC 61938 (48 ± 4 V), 7 mA each
Sensitivity 31 mV/Pa (-30 dBV)
Matrix reference Center of the capsule holder
Mixing to B-format W = FLU + FRD + BLD + BRU / X = FLU + FRD – BLD – BRU / Y = FLU – FRD + BLD – BRU / Z = FLU – FRD – BLD + BRU

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  • Super interesting business device, for people doing 3D videos / registrations of various kind in VR. Of course at that price, it’s not a consumer device…

  • Eric Lotze

    Why not just binaural Microphones that produce accurate truly 3D (binural) audio? Here is a source for one such device:

    • Eric Lotze

      Also I am in no way an expert, just an enthusiast.

    • Tom Todia

      Binaural capture is not “truly 3D’. In fact its not “3D” at all, its Binaural. Also, the imaging in a Binaural capture is already printed, where as Ambisonic audio is capable of outputting to nearly any format from mono to 13.1 and on while remaining coherent. Ambisonic capture can be manipulated in post or in a real time game engine.

      • Eric Lotze

        Interesting, thanks for the correction.

  • Dan

    Sounddesigners know this microphone is only a part of high quality ‘Positonal audio’ – the holy grail for Audio & VR. First, we’d like to see affordable products with more than the 4 axes this microphone uses, the so called HOA (Higher Order Ambisonics), where Sennheiser only uses POA (Plain Old Ambisonics).
    The godfather of the Ambisonic microphone, TSA recently got bought by Røde. I’d keep my eye on future products from that brand.
    And personally, I’d like to see portable recorders with POA & HOA monitoring & mixing, capable of using mono sources like radiomics in an Ambisonics matrix..

  • yag

    “Sennheiser is best known for its high-end headphones”
    And also for its low-end (but still decent) headphones.