Why Boulder's Immersive Studios bought a five-channel microphone from Aerosmith

Boulder-based Immersive Studios has an impressive resume. Its owners, Steve Vidaic and Mike Yach, are both Grammy Award-winning producers. Vidaic is a musician himself, at one time touring with the Motet and now playing as a solo act.

Immersive has some of the best recording equipment in the area. They recently added to that collection, buying an unusual five-channel microphone from Aerosmith's touring arsenal. The studio is using the mic to produce a series of recordings called "'Round the Tree," featuring bands like Bar Brothers and Elephant Revival.

"We have this microphone -- a five-capsule mic. Essentially it's five microphone capsules on a tree that are spaced in exact surround listening proportions of a speaker system," says Vidaic. "It was made for capturing rooms, and before we got it, Aerosmith was using it for surround-sound recording. We wanted to use it in a closer proximity in the studio."

In using this new piece of equipment, Vidaic and the crew at Immersive are trying out new ways to record sound. Typically in a studio setting, microphones are specific to each instrument. Each microphone is on its own channel, and as a result, the producers are able to equalize the audio for each instrument.

"It's cool capturing them live in the room," Vidaic says of the 'Round the Tree series. "They can't hear what we're hearing. They are playing really close around each other."

In addition to its new recording technique, Immersive has started using DSD -- Direct-Stream Digital -- which is a completely uncompressed audio file. Since DSD files are so large, they require the SACD format, or Super Audio Compact Disc. An SACD can hold up to 8.5 gigabytes of storage, whereas your standard audio compact discs are limited to 700 megabytes.

"It's a high-resolution format that is very real and true," says Vidaic. "It captures and delivers in a real way. It's not compressed or degraded in any way. This whole high-res audio movement is on the rise, but even most getting sold is 96k or 192k if you are using pro tools. DSD blows it out of the water as far as resolution goes."

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