Audio Review: Sensaphonics 3D Active Ambient
Jun 3, 2009 12:00 PM, By Steve La Cerra
An in-ear monitor that provides a versatile solution to an old problem and adds a few tricks of its own.
Personal monitors are great, but unfortunately, they isolate the performer from the audience and other band members. This is due to the fact thatwhen properly implementedearpieces prevent the majority of ambient sound from reaching the ear. Sensaphonics offers a unique solution in its 3D Active Ambient in-ear monitor (IEM) system. Unlike any other personal monitors, each of the 3D’s custom-molded earpieces has a built-in miniature condenser microphone. Controls on the belt pack facilitate mixing an electronic input (such as that from a mixing console) with ambient sound from the mics.
I tested the 3DHW-1 system for hardwired applications, which includes the 3D-L belt-pack mixer and a single-driver earpiece. (Also available is the 3DAA version for interfacing with standard wireless IEM receivers.) Underneath the 3D-L’s door is a 9V battery compartment, two switches, and a rotary trimmer pot. One switch calibrates the pack for single- or dual-driver earpieces.
The 3D Active Ambient system from Sensaphonics can change your work life as a musician or as an engineer in a positive way. When performing, it’s possible to overcome the feeling of isolation, and when using the system in a sound-reinforcement application, I can mix with the system without second-guessing it. I don’t have ear fatigue at the end of the day, and I suspect I may even be sleeping a bit better on show nights as a result. I highly recommend the 3D Active Ambient IEM system to anyone who needs to turn down the volume of the world.
The tour manager and FOH mixer for Blue Öyster Cult, Steve La Cerra is also the sound-reinforcement editor for Mix magazine.
- Company: Sensaphonics
- Product: 3D Active Ambient
- Pros: Creates a natural blend of stage ambience and monitor feed in an earpiece-type listening environment.
- Cons: Requires custom ear-impression fitting, not included in price.
- Applications: Personal monitoring for stage performers; isolated mixing reference for house engineers in high-SPL situations.
- Price: $2,300 (3DHW-1, as tested); $2,800 (3DHW-2); $2,000 (3DAA-1); $2,500 (3DAA-2)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-16kHz
- Max SPL @ 500Hz: 124dB, single-driver earpiece; 130dB, dual-driver earpiece
- Limiter Type: Slow average responding, frequency selective, linked left-right; dual independent for monitor and ambient signals
- Battery Type: 9VDC Alkaline
- Battery Life: 6 hours (conservative)
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