Zoom Announces H3-VR Handy Audio Recorder with Built-In Ambisonics Mic Array

September 17 2018, 00:05
Zoom is turning heads with the announcement of its latest handy recorder, the Zoom H3-VR, which not only records in Ambisonics format, but also offers binaural stereo, standard stereo, 5.1 surround support, and live streaming. What’s more, the recorder is self-contained and provides a fast and easy way to record 360-audio and monitor in real time. Whether used for film, music, or gaming production, the new VR recorder from Zoom goes beyond virtual reality (VR) applications.

In the past, capturing VR audio required a dedicated Ambisonics microphone, a separate recorder, and a computer for decoding the audio from raw Ambisonics A format to VR-ready Ambisonics B format. The new Zoom H3-VR features a full Ambisonics array with four microphone capsules with on-board Ambisonics A-to-B conversion, allowing for a simple and elegant solution, fast setup and easy processing. The recorder can even adjust the audio rotation of the Ambisonics playback for an unprecedented amount of control.

The full set of features built into the H3-VR support video, audio, VR and AR production in Ambisonics, binaural and stereo modes, with the possibility to record directly to SD memory card or stream via USB, and export to 5.1 surround via computer at up to 24-bit and 96 kHz resolution. There’s even a built-in slate function and a 3.5mm output jack to allow for direct binaural monitoring.

The H3-VR’s four-capsule microphone captures 360-degree audio recordings, precisely, with automatic mic position detection so users can place the array in any position. The binaural setting provides a hyper-realistic spatial recording that enhances 2D productions with 3D audio. And compared to procuring a very expensive binaural head, the H3-VR offers an incredible value proposition for binaural recordings.

The conical enclosure is lightweight (120g) and features a backlit LCD screen that automatically adjusts to the unit’s positioning. The two independent 3.5mm audio outputs with dedicated volume controls provide headphone monitoring and a line out to a camera, while the input volume gain easily adjusts the gains for all four mic capsules simultaneously. The precision internal clock is highly accurate, with 0.5 ppm discrepancy to reduce audio/visual drift and jitter. Onboard transport controls provide quick access to Home, Play/Pause, Forward, Reverse, and Menu buttons. 

The built-in limiter prevents clipping and distortion during dynamic moments, while the high-pass filter removes unwanted low-end frequencies and rumble. The onboard SD card slot accepts cards up to 512GB, allowing for the recorder to operate in stand-alone fashion. The H3-VR can be powered by two AA batteries for up to 24 hours. For longer recording time, the unit can be connected via USB into an AC adapter or host device.

The H3-VR can also function as a high-quality stereo microphone for live-streaming, video conferencing, and direct recording for any computer or iOS device. Should the user wish to control the recorder remotely, an optional Bluetooth adapter (BTA-1) allows the H3-VR Control application to access transport controls, set levels, and input metadata notes directly from the iOS device.

The companion Zoom Ambisonics Player software (Mac/Windows) takes the work out of post-production by easily converting the Ambisonics files to stereo, binaural, and 5.1 surround; allowing users to play, trim, re-orient, and export audio files in minutes. The H3-VR ships with a foam windscreen, dual mount adapter, and two AA batteries.
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