Sonic Presence SP15C and SP15 PRO

On this binaural microphone overview, skilled sound designer/audio put up professional Frank Verderosa evaluates the Sonic Presence SP15C and SP15PRO.

The Sonic Presence SP15C makes binaural recording for spatial audio straightforward.

As a business audio mixer, I’ve instructed to my shoppers for years that they benefit from the world of more and more headphone-consumed content material. Buzzwords like “spatial audio” and “3D sound” have lastly gained traction, and the demand for audio that surrounds us in our headphones is up dramatically! Corporations like Dolby with Atmos, and Apple’s personal Spatial Audio, are main the cost on manufacturing and playback, however what about recording?

As an audio engineering scholar within the late 80s, I vividly bear in mind sitting at an AES sales space listening to the Dimension Holophonics sound results library demo. It was a sequence of ambisonic sound impact recordings that blew my thoughts. Overlook about left and proper. Now we’re experiencing entrance, again, up and down (does anybody studying this bear in mind the outdated paper bag over the pinnacle or haircut trick?).

I’ve craved the power to document my very own binaural sound results on the go. The high-end dummy head mics can get a bit expensive – and cumbersome.

Two Takes on Binaural Mics

The Sonic Presence SP15C connects to any USB C machine.

That’s the place the Sonic Presence is available in, with two fashions of binaural microphone: the SP15 Professional and the SP15C. The one distinction between the 2 fashions is how they join. The SP15 Professional is XLR, whereas the SP15C is a USB C connection for cellular units on the go. Which one is for you is dependent upon what and the way you’re capturing audio.

In easy phrases, it’s a microphone disguised as headphones that make YOU the dummy head. (Hey… wait a minute!!)  You get a pair of mics mounted on ear hooks that relaxation simply outdoors your ear canal. The SP15C comes able to plug into any USB C machine (iPad Professional, Android telephones/tablets, and computer systems). A easy USB-to-lightning adapter will get you into your iPhone or older iPads. The Professional model is prepared to hook up with any mixer or interface with not less than two obtainable XLR inputs.

The subsequent step? Nothing. Simply hit “document.”

In Use

After I was despatched these mics to overview, I had the great fortune of getting an enormous thunder and lightning storm roll by. I sat on my entrance porch and again deck for a very long time ready for simply the appropriate thunder claps- and I obtained a lot!

I merely recorded the Sonic Presence mics into my iPhone 11’s video recorder. Subsequent, I went again inside and gave it a pay attention on my AirPod Professionals. I used to be floored. Not as a result of I used to be listening to this immersive storm expertise, the place the wealthy bass of the rolling thunder echoed within the distance- however as a result of I may shut my eyes and SEE the drainpipe that I used to be listening to. Simply to my left, the rain flowed by the gutters making a metallic trickle sound that I may actually level to within the audio discipline. When vehicles drove by on the flooded streets, I may visualize the pass-by, similar to in these outdated Dimension Holophonic recordings.

SP15C and Professional vs Iphone 11 Mic from Frank Verderosa on Vimeo.

I now carry the SP15C with me in every single place, as a result of as a sound designer I by no means know what fascinating audio I’m going to wish to seize. On a commuter prepare into NYC, I let the audio roll into my iPhone’s Voice Memo app because the conductor got here by clicking her ticket puncher from seat to seat. On playback, I may localize each click on— and when the PA announcer performed again over my headphones, I needed to take them out to see if it was a reside announcement or a recorded one!

Popping out of lockdown, a brand new constructing was going up throughout the road from the studio I work for. I made a decision at some point to cease and document it – first with the built-in mics in my iPhone 11, after which with the SP15C. It’s a evening and day distinction. At one level, a few staff began talking simply to my proper, and I at all times do a double tackle playback. The readability of the audio and the vary picked up is unimaginable! I took the mics with me on a household journey to Philladelphia, and captured some atmosphere as we walked across the metropolis. At one level a automobile slowly rolled by with its subwoofers rumbling the bottom. That every one obtained picked up extraordinarily properly.

I needed to see how properly they deal with actually heavy SPLs, so I took them to see a band at The Palladium Instances Sq.. As soon as once more I in contrast simply my telephone to the SP15C. The SP15C by no means distorted and had no downside capturing the bottom lows and the brightest highs. On playback, I can localize the individuals behind me speaking and cheering!

Worth Proposition

I didn’t count on this degree of high quality from the SP15C for $149! (The SP15 Professional retails for $249.) They fold up like every pair of headphones into their very own little pouch, making them vital merchandise on my travels. I’m shortly and simply amassing my very own ambient sound results library.

The XLR-equipped Professional model in a discipline recorder and/or video seize setup.

One of many issues I at all times battle with when pulling sound results is discovering a seaside scene that jogs my memory of once I really go to the seaside! Drawback solved. I sat in a chair on the Jersey Shore and recorded my very own beds of sound results. Sporadic seagulls with crashing and rolling waves towards the jetties – recorded in a manner that places you within the house. And all I wanted to go along with the mics was my telephone.

You possibly can plug these into any recorder that works for you. I’ve had no downside with video on my iPhone and even simply Apple’s Voice Memos app. Take into account that when utilizing these apps, some don’t have any achieve management. I haven’t discovered this to be an issue, since I can get the audio into Professional Instruments and set it the place I would like it. There isn’t a knob to regulate achieve on the SP15C mic itself, so it’s worthwhile to depend on your machine through the use of an app that permits you to management the achieve. In any other case, I’d go for the SP15 Professional, so you’ve gotten all of the achieve management you want. Simply watch out to completely match the 2 enter ranges!

The SP15 Professionals might be very helpful for all kinds of location recording purposes, the place maybe the actors or voices are mic’d individually at a distance away when you seize precise location atmosphere on the identical time.

To Be Essential

Spatial audio to go.

One factor to be aware of is wind. I had recorded a pleasant stroll from the studio to Penn Station in NYC… however once I got here off the aspect road onto seventh Avenue, the wind was gusting fairly closely. Playback was riddled with wind rumble. I feel an ideal add-on from Sonic Presence could be a pair of tiny wind screens to place over the mics, like those you see for lavs and different location mics. (Editor’s notice: Sonic Presence recommends the Windtech 8801.)

One other factor to be careful for — because you’re the dummy head right here — is your place. Should you’re recording a pal’s band at a membership, and also you flip your head to speak to somebody, the entire perspective shifts (clearly). So it’s worthwhile to maintain regular in these moments. I discover that whereas strolling by the forest or the town accumulating atmosphere, these delicate shifts and head turns lend a little bit of realism to the scene as individuals, vehicles, and so on, pan round my head.

In Conclusion

Past these minor considerations, I can’t say sufficient good issues concerning the Sonic Presence microphones as a easy and sensible solution to seize hassle-free immersive audio for podcasting, radio manufacturing, location audio — you identify it. These will at all times be in my bag on the go!

— Frank Verderosa is a mixer, sound designer and composer. He’s a Senior Mixer at Digital Arts in New York Metropolis. Go to him at


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