Wakefield, UK, April 2008: SoundField's DSF-3, the final link in a fully digital surround-capable SoundField microphone system, has successfully passed its first technical trials, providing digital 5.1 surround sound from a single DSF-2 microphone at the Premier League clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's home ground. The match, which was being transmitted in high definition by Sky Sports, marked the practical debut of SoundField's new DSF-3 system. Shortly after the match, Keith Lane, Operational Manager at Sky Sports, signed a sales order for six of the new units.
The DSF-2, SoundField's first fully digital microphone, was launched in 2006. Like all SoundField microphones, its multi-capsule head provides a multi-channel output signal in a proprietary format which may be simultaneously decoded with SoundField hardware or software into a variety of audio formats, including mono, stereo and 5.1 surround sound. However, before the advent of the DSF-3 processor, announced at last Autumn's AES show, the only way to obtain 5.1 surround from the DSF-2 for high-definition broadcast was to process its output using the SP451 decoder from SoundField‘s analogue range. Broadcasters like Sky Sports, who have now standardised on the DSF-2, were therefore obliged to convert the digital output from the DSF-2 into an analogue signal for decoding to 5.1 by the SP451, and then reconvert back to digital for final transmission. The digital DSF-3 obviates the need for this extra stage of digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital conversion, and ensures that the three-dimensional soundfield picked up by the DSF-2 microphone follows a completely digital signal path from the point of capture to the final HD broadcast.
Keith Lane comments: "We've been looking forward to the debut of the DSF-3 for some time, and it was a pleasure to welcome Ken Giles and Pieter Schillebeeckx of SoundField to Stamford Bridge to put the first unit to the test. We have had a DSF-2 permanently installed at Chelsea's ground for some time, and have been using it in conjunction with an SP451 processor in our OB vehicle. For the Chelsea-Liverpool game, we split the signal from the DSF-2, running it through the new DSF-3 and also via our usual SP451 unit. The idea was to use the DSF-3 feed for the HD broadcast of the match if everything went according to plan, but we had the option of using the feed through the SP451 if anything went wrong. The beauty of this setup was that it permitted us to compare the 5.1 feed coming out of the SP451 with the one coming from SoundField's new DSF-3 -- a perfect A/B test situation.
"As expected, the signal passing via the DSF-3 had a much lower noise floor, as it omitted the extra D-A and A-D conversion stage. We rigged everything up the previous day, and by the time of the match itself we were confident that the DSF-3 was working well enough to be used for the live transmission. Our intention is now to gradually purchase DSF-3 units for all of the OB vehicles we use with the DSF-2 -- we have already ordered the first six units -- and we will retain the SP451 processors in these vehicles as a redundancy measure. The DSF-3 offers even greater control over the output of the DSF-2, including the ability to digitally store mic setups for different venues, and we're confident it will be a valuable addition to Sky's systems."
"We're delighted that the DSF-3's technical trial at Chelsea went so well," comments SoundField's Managing Director Ken Giles. "Not only can we now offer our existing valued DSF-2 customers an improved, all-digital system for 5.1 audio capture, the DSF-3 also makes our digital microphone system more attractive to new customers."
For more information on using an all-digital DSF-2 and DSF-3 system to broadcast 5.1 surround sound in HD, contact SoundField on +44 (0)1924 201089, or see www.soundfield.com.