UK-based live recording specialists and CD label Chorum Records, run by recording engineer and producer Steve Swinden, used the SoundField DSF-1 digital microphone system to record a recent choral concert at Hereford Cathedral in the West of England for release on CD. Featuring pupils of the prestigious Hereford Cathedral School in the chorus and orchestra, including the up-and-coming 15-year-old violin soloist Hannah Bethan-Roper on Ralph Vaughan-Williams' 'The Lark Ascending', the concert is the latest to be captured by the DSF-1 for CD release by Chorum, who have been using the DSF-1 for over a year. Prior to this, former choral singer Steve Swinden used SoundField mic systems for over a decade, and still deploys an SPS422B and a Mark V in addition to the DSF-1. "I never leave home without a SoundField," he explains, "and after I heard the DSF-1 digital system, I had to have one — the digital version is just so quiet."
The DSF-1 is SoundField's digital microphone system for music recording. Like all SoundField mics, the DSF-1 captures the acoustic environment around its multi-capsule microphone in three dimensions, outputting it in SoundField’s proprietary B-Format. Users can adjust the pickup pattern, orientation and sensitivity of the mic remotely from the front panel of the 1U processor, and the four-channel B-Format signals can be decoded in post-production into mono, stereo, 5.1 and further surround formats by using SoundField’s Surround Zone software.
The DSF-1 is now Chorum’s main overhead mic, and although he often adds spot mics for close-up detail on particular instrumentalists, Steve admits that he frequently only uses the output of his SoundField when he comes to mix recordings for release. "Very often, the signal from the SoundField turns out to be all that I need. And the fact that you only need to rig one microphone to capture the entire environment has saved me on more than one occasion, when multi-mic arrays just aren’t an option. I should also mention that the DSF-1 has a brilliant limiter. I’m a purist, but I leave the limiter switched in all the time — it’s that good!
"The bigger the space, the more the SoundField comes into its own; it gives a very good sense of the acoustic environment you're working in. For the same reason, it can give less good results in mediocre-sounding spaces, but because you can vary the pickup patterns, you can largely get around that. If the hall you're working in sounds bad, or is just too reverberant, you can just close the SoundField right down so that it has, say, the pickup pattern of a couple of crossed hypercardioids, and screen out a lot of the room acoustic. There's always a solution with the SoundField."