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Topic: Mixing in 5.1 surround

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  1. #1

    Mixing in 5.1 surround

    Revisiting a previous thread where I asked about mixing GPO for film. My "client" is asking me if I could do 5.1.

    Even though I would love to say yes, and run out to buy 6 monitors, I think rather not. It took me a long time to learn the art of mixing in stereo and I don't know if anybody can just pick up 5.1 mixing in a couple of weeks.

    Well, the question is if anybody here has any experience in 5.1 mixing and tell us how easy or difficult it is. Gary, I'm sure you have been there and got all the T-Shirts to show for it.

    On the other hand, should I as composer even be corncerned about it? Many pro score composers don't even bother about mixing themselves and get pro studios to do the arty bits at a huge fee off course.

  2. #2

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    That is a good question. I have Final Cut Pro, and it doesn't do it. I don't know what is needed to do it, but I have a feeling it is still pretty costly.
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  3. #3

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    it's all standard in dp

    dpDan

  4. #4

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    This is a coincidence because I just received my copy of the April issue of EM. On p16, Matthew Clark wrote a letter to the editor entitled "Surrounded at Home" requesting that EM do some surround production articles.

    The editor, Steve O, replied that EM published a series of articles on surround several years ago, but that EM is planning to do so again in the near future.

    I realize that this tidbit doesn't answer your question exactly (or even slightly! ), but if you want some background info about surround and how easy/hard/profitable it would be, there is a lot of info on the web and other forums. About a year ago, I was in every forum I could find asking questions about it.

    David

  5. #5

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    Yeah I saw many web sites talking about the more tech side of it. I use Sonar 4PE that has full surround capabilities plus Primiere Pro with the encoder. So I can find info about how to set me up with monitors and everything, but where do I start once I have all the gear and software?

    Where does the violins go for example? I read on some forums that they use eq and reverb to place instruments in the surround spectrum. Now the obvious thing is that I can try it and see how easy that kind of thing is - but puttng the investment of a few thousand dollars or so on the table just to try it out is a bit of an ask.

    Hey, I'm not much of a risktaker I guess. If a world out there is unknown and dark, I'll first need a map and a torch.

  6. #6
    Power Profile User lukpcn's Avatar
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    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    A friend of mine said that:
    "If You want to mix orchestra in 5.1 ten mix FL C LR normally and add a HALL reverb on the SL and SR channels and do not use LFE, but he said to me too that in the world of 5.1 mixing there are no rules.... it just have to sound natural as like You were listening to a concert at a concert Hall or have to sound unique if You mix 5.1 to a game or film or something different"....

    just my two cents

  7. #7

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    Although this guide from Dolby isn't as prescriptive as you're looking for, there's some good advice about placement:

    http://www.transtec.nl/downloads/Pro...5.1_mixing.pdf

  8. #8

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    I've just started to dabble with that and I've got to say, it's really cool! I might end up doing a 5.1 version of my new kids' music album, because there's a lot of things on there that could benefit from that kind of soundscape.

    Sonar 4PE has full surround mixing support, and it's pretty easy to get the hang of how to use it. I did need to buy an additional soundcard that had six discrete outputs (actually, just 3 stereo outputs but it splits everything right) and then I hooked up various extra speakers that I had. This is surround mixing on the cheap, to be sure (the Turtle Beach soundcard was $20 and the speakers are all your basic computer speakers, but for my main L and R stereo pair), but it works well enough for my purposes to experiment with, at least.

    The thing is, in order to have a surround mix end up in a format that anyone else can hear, it can get tricky. Sonar comes with a trial version of Discwelder that can burn 5.1 mixes as a DVD-Audio disc, but many players cannot play them. And typically the right encoders to get surround onto a regular DVD are very expensive. Minnetonka makes something called Surcode CD DTS for about $100 that supposedly can output a surround mix onto a CDR(!) that will play in a DVD player. And Vegas Video 5 has a surround encoder, as do other of the higher end prosumer video editing programs. I use the lower end Vegas Home Studio video program and like that a lot, so the odds are that I'll upgrade to VV5 for my surround encoding needs.

    As far as how to mix, where to put things, etc. I have no real idea other than to model after existing examples and/or to use the adage "if it sounds good, it's good".
    www.EricHermanMusic.com
    - Cool Tunes for Kids -

  9. #9

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    Thanks for that link.

    As lukpcn and also number of the commentaries, including the dolby document suggest, 5.1 can be used very effectively to create the ambience of an actual concert hall. The first question that comes up in my mind is - are the standard reverb plugins available (eg Lexicon included in Sonar) good enough for that with the standard presets, or would I have to tweak until I'm blue? On the other hand, if it was that easy, why would the surround mixing studios charge such an arm and a leg to insert that plugin?

  10. #10

    Re: Mixing in 5.1 surround

    Quote Originally Posted by lukpcn
    A friend of mine said that:
    "If You want to mix orchestra in 5.1 ten mix FL C LR normally and add a HALL reverb on the SL and SR channels and do not use LFE, but he said to me too that in the world of 5.1 mixing there are no rules.... it just have to sound natural as like You were listening to a concert at a concert Hall or have to sound unique if You mix 5.1 to a game or film or something different"....

    just my two cents
    I've read similar opinions. Leave the center channel for dialogue. Leave the LFE channel for effects. Put most of the music on front left and right. Use the surround channels for ambience.

    If you're using GigaPulse, you can set up the stage mics for left and right and the far mics for the surround channels. With EWQLSO Platinum you could probably do a similar mix using different mics for different speakers. That would give an integrated sound while leveraging your two channel skills.

    BTW, a couple of years ago at CES I heard a many, many, many channel recording of a string ensemble. The whole thing was recorded using 1-bit techniques (similar to SACD, but at a much higher data rate per speaker).

    The sound was amazing. You could hear the rosin making nice, natural sawtooth waves from each instrument.

    Unfortunately, the recording had the instruments coming at us directly from the speakers that were placed all around us. The expereince was terrible! It was like being in the middle of an interrogation room under hot lights with angry cellists ready to use their bows in anger!

    I've been a believer in a simple stereo mix with ambience ever since that day. The exception would be for source music. Locate the music from an on-screen source wherever it would be if the audience were in the position of the camera.

    So, what kind of monitors are you going to buy?

    -JF

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