Audio-Technica Readies Its Entry Into the Immersive-Microphone Market

Dorna Sports confirms A-T 8.0 Microphone Concept as a core component of MotoGP Immersive Audio Remote Production initiative

The slim but increasingly important pro-audio sector of immersive microphones is about to get one bigger. Audio-Technica’s prototype 8.0 Microphone Concept, which has been in a testing phase with the MotoGP Grand Prix motorcycle racing World Championship series, will be commercially available in Q2 2022, SVG has learned. That follows nearly three seasons of extensive prototype testing by MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna Sports S.L. at its remote production suite in Barcelona, Spain, after which Dorna Sports announced in December it would make the microphone a core audio component of its future program broadcasting.

Audio-Technica 8.0 Microphone Concept prototype in use at MotoGP Jerez, Spain 2019

No model number or pricing have been announced yet, according to Gary Dixon, Audio-Technica USA’s product manager, who confirmed the Q2 2022 release window.

Dorna Sports’ remote production suite, which is planned to be phased in through the 2024 season, will include a custom-built 7.1.4 / 5.1.4 audio control room dedicated to mix immersive audio received from the track in real time. Audio-Technica 8.0 microphones are to be located at the podium, parc fermé, pit lane and key positions around the racetrack.

“The ongoing design and technical feedback that we have received from the Dorna Sports audio team, who started out with just a 3D-printed prototype, has been both invaluable and instrumental to our fast development of the 8.0 Concept,” says Rodrigo Thomaz, Audio-Technica project manager for MotoGP, adding that they also supplied over 20 units to the host broadcaster responsible for delivering “the summer fortnight of sports around the globe in immersive audio from Japan earlier this year. As audiences expect and demand a more encompassing audio experience in their listening environments, the need for real-time live immersive mixing is only going to increase. Audio-Technica is well placed to deliver the tools required at the beginning of that immersive signal chain.”

According to an A-T statement, while the audio control room will remain static, audio acquisition at the track needs to capture the complex dynamic audio content of the premier global motorcycling event while also being practical in terms of setup and breakdown, given that there can be over twenty GPs around the world each season. Audio-Technica’s 8.0 Microphone Concept is designed to be lightweight and small enough not just for discreet placement in a field of play, but each of its eight 12-mm elements can be removed from the core mount and packed away quickly in a compact case, making for fast deployment by a single operator. It offers a “practical and uncomplicated solution without the additional algorithms and decoding required in alternative immersive-audio-capture applications,” says an A-T press release on the MotoGP applications.

“Immersive audio is the next step in audio and there are a lot of different formats out there competing for everyone’s ear,” Dixon says. “We’re trying to make something format-agnostic, that’s compatible across the board.”

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