Soundfield SPS200 Ambisonic Microphone

I’ll also cover Ambisonic recording in general on the main blog-posts, so this will stick to the main technical points about using the SPS200 in conjunction

When i first bought my SPS200 there were only 2 recorders on the market capable of internally decoding ‘A-Format’ Ambisonic surround as output by this mic, the AETA 4Minx and the Nagra 6

I had a 4Minx on loan in 2012 and was all ready to buy one as my location recorder of choice that did A-Format, when the opportunity came up to buy a used Nagra 6, the machine that i had discounted as too expensive for me to be able to afford, however much i desired to own ‘a Nagra’.

As it happens, there have since then been a couple more recorders that have either been brought out new with A-format decoding on-board, or have had it added in an update, so if i were buying my main recorder now, i wouldn’t need to opt for the Nagra 6 or 4Minx, and the latter is now out of production.

And as it also happens, though again this wasn’t actually a major consideration in the decision to purchase at the time, that the Zoom F8 i’ve bought can also decode-monitor A-Format, so i can in theory use the Soundfield mic with the Zoom F8 if i’m not being quite as critical about the quality as i would be with the Nagra.

At present the SPS200 has had to be sent all the way off to Australia, as, 3 owners on from it’s origin as a Calrec product, the Soundfield brand is now owned by Rode of more mass-market microphone fame, but they apparently are continuing to make and repair SOundfield mics under that name, with a new Rode-branded A-Format Ambisonic mic selling at about half what the SPS200 is still supposed to sell for. I’m hoping that after it returns, with capsules fully re-matched and in one piece after it’s long unaccompanied journey :-/ i can take it out with both the Nagra and the F8 to gather a lot of everyday ambiences and spot-FX in surround…

Before this, and now some time back, i finally managed to give the SPS200 a low (ish) cost and compact mount + windshield, by combining the basic Rycote pistol grip and lyre mount – which is sold for use with the ‘softie’ shield – with their ‘ball gag’, show in the first pic above.

The mount was in use straightaway, but the ballgag however is designed to ‘slide’ over the mic body, and the nearest-sized model of ball-gag to the SPS200 diameter was specified as having a 20mm diameter hole in the Rubber section that the actual shield goes around. And DAMN that’s some touch synthetic rubber comprising that mega-grommet !

It took me ages to ‘grind’ the inside out to a slightly larger diameter sufficient to let the ballgag slide along the SPS200 body ( diameter given as 21mm ) but not remove so much material that the mic could actually move against the grommet and change position within it without some force being applied

Not to mention that the reaming out of the hole needed to be even all round so that the mic head would still be centred within the space of the shield ball.