This week at the dBs Music HE centre in Bristol we welcomed Nova Distribution's Nathaniel Brown who brought along the new Zylia ZM1 for a series of experiments with the help of our intrigued tutors and students.
The ZM1 is a brand new mic design, which helped Zylia take home the ‘Companies to Watch’ award at Summer NAMM 2017. Able to capture 360 sounds, it can separate audio and then be mixed afterwards with potential applications that extend far beyond band recording demos.
Taking advantage of our live room in Studio 3, where only a few weeks previously we hosted Adrian Utley for our all synth performance of ‘In C’, we begin our experiments with the ZM1.
Attached via USB to Nate’s laptop, the interface maps out each sound source, which in this first instance is three voices. After recording a short conversation we take it in turns to listen back through the headphones. The recording is so clear that it takes a few seconds for our ears to register what’s playing back and what’s coming from within the room. Hearing the different vocals in the same space they were recorded is a cool experience, but one that needs to be explored.
Over the course of the afternoon, with the help of the technicians and students, the ZM1 is put through a series of trials against our Neumann KM183 omni. Ranging from solo drums, a rather creepy binaural vocal recording and guitar, bass and vocal performance, the headphones are passed around. Listening back in the control room, there are moments when the ZM1 inches ahead of the 183, much to the elation of Nate; the vocals in particular sounding really full and present.
As our experiments progress students trickle in and out to check out the Zylia in action, our Sound for Games and Apps students taking particular interest, and for good reason. Though it’s currently marketed as a high-fidelity and portable room recorder for musicians, the ambisonic applications make the ZM1 a much more exciting prospect for gaming, VR and 360 audio capture. The changing perception of video games has elevated the medium to contend with film and television, whilst the continued innovations in VR mean that immersive sound is in high demand.
We then head to our lecture theatre for some playback tests, unfolding the 19 capsule recordings into Reaper using the ZM1 pro plugins. Played through our dBs Music 5.1 Genelec surround system, the ZM1's surround and ambisonic capabilities are fully shown off, spawning more ideas and experiments. The jury’s still out on its full potential, but we’re eager to get the ZM1 back and see how far we can take it.
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