A lot of conference room telephony gear has built-in beamforming microphones. They use an array of microphones and then process the recorded audio, incorporating the phase to isolate sound from one particular direction at a time. Since there is an array of microphones, this direction is effectively steerable in software.
I am curious how well this works in practice, and is it a technique being used to record a group? One scenario I envision this being useful for is making easy recordings of groups.
Suppose I need to record a small choir of 12 people, standing in a single arc. I could set up my small microphone array in the middle and record on a portable recorder. Later on when editing the recording, I might find that choir member #9 always sings out of tune, and it might be desirable to lower his level in the mix a bit. If I recorded with just a stereo pair, this would be a difficult problem. If with my beamforming microphone array, I could extract a single channel for the general direction each performer was standing in, then I could mix in a traditional way and adjust performers individually, all without mic-ing them up individually in the first place.
Is this scenario practical today? Is there hardware and software for doing this today? The only equipment I've seen that does beamforming is for telephony, so I am wondering if there is a quality limitation with the beamforming algorithms.