How can I record music in a surround sound format

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Laced Senses, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. Laced Senses

    Laced Senses Member

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    Greetings fellow TGPers,

    I've been recording and composing songs and soundscapes using ProTools LE (v7.0) for the past couple years. Recently, I mixed a couple projects each onto two separate CDs for the purpose of listening in quasi-quadrophonic sound (i.e. two stereo mixed CDs played simultaneously). Naturally, this was inspired by The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka, which is a four CD album (all meant to be played simultaneously) released in 1997 before today's surround formats were available.

    This is all well and good. I love listening to my atmospheric, meditative sitar and guitar compositions in poor man's quadrophonic sound, but I'd like to take it to the next level.

    So I seek wisdom from the collective knowledge that is The Gear Page: How can I do this?

    Can I purchase software to mix in Dolby 5.1 surround? Blu-ray surround? Other? Must I go to a professional studio? How expensive would it be to print audio DVDs or Blu-ray discs? Should I contact Neil Young and ask him? :D

    I mostly create music for my own listening pleasure. Lately however, I started playing sitar out in public more, and people insist on purchasing my music. They are disappointed to find that I have none to sell. I'd rather not distribute my music via CDs. Two systems played in stereo do not always keep syncopation well. Most people don't have two stereo systems sitting in one way place. On top of that, the compact disc is a dying format anyway.

    Internet searches on the topic have not been fruitful. Any of your help will be met with great appreciation. I hate to deprive my few fans of the listening pleasure. :hiP
     
  2. Joseph Hanna

    Joseph Hanna Member

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    There's a whole bunch of questions all rolled up in your post. Perhaps we could knock things down 1 at a time.

    Pro Tools LE can not route for true 5.1. You have enough outputs on the 002/003 but the software has no 5.1 panning management.

    Most other native based DAW's do have 5.1 panning and routing capabilities. Your gonna have to delve into a new piece of software to get started.

    As far as burning 5.1 DVD's I believe Apple has a authoring/burning program but I haven't looked closely at it's specs. That said the mixing vs encoding is a separate process.
     
  3. kludge

    kludge The droid you're looking for

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    Steinberg Nuendo can be used for 5.1 surround. It's rather expensive, though - like $1800.
     
  4. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    Most daw platforms support it these days. Sonar, Cubase, Nuendo, Samplitude and a few others.

    You'll need to be able to monitor 6 channels to do it for 5.1, and you'll most likely need an encoder of some sort. Dolby, DTS, DVD-A...that sort of thing. There are stand alone apps and plugs that will do this. Bass managers are also a plus.

    If you've got specific questions, fire away. I wish more people were interested in the formats--they are truly awesome when done "right". It's really involved, but rewarding.
     
  5. Laced Senses

    Laced Senses Member

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    Thank you, Sherlock. That was my primary motivation for started this thread. :p
    I've heard of and read about all these workstations but I have never used any of them. What analog to digital converters are compatible with any/each/all of these? Can I use a Digi 003 with any of them? If not, then I have open ears for recommendations. Which versions of these workstations allow 5.1 mixing? Example: For Cubase, is it version VST32 5.1 and newer that are able to mix in surround? The Wiki site doesn't seem to specify clearly...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubase
    Excellent. Do you or others have recommendations on decoder applications, plug-ins, or bass managers?
    Beyond the above questions I asked, I'd like to know any recommendations for a new PC and sound card. My current PC handles Pro Tools LE just fine, but I think it would be prudent to upgrade to a better PC for better software. I'd like to spend somewhere in the $4K to $5K range on new equipment and software in the next few months in order to enable myself to do home based surround recordings.

    I thank all three of you for helping me get the ball rolling on these topics.

    :band:JAM
    :dude :dude :dude
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  6. Joseph Hanna

    Joseph Hanna Member

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    Really....I mean really????? So my help is offensive to you.

    Come on.

    Signed,
    Sherlock
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  7. Laced Senses

    Laced Senses Member

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    I take no offense. I respect the collective knowledge available here from you and others.

    I was just teasing you because I think I make it clear in opening post that I realize Pro Tools LE's limitation to 2 channel stereo mixing. That's why I'm currently making 'surround' music by mixing two separate (but similar) projects in stereo for the purpose playing them simultaneously on two separate CD players to create a quadrophonic mix of sorts. It works well, but I'd rather be able to put a surround mix onto one disc played on one system. I know that I can't mix 5.1 using LE, and that's why I ask in the opening post: 'Can I purchase software to mix in Dolby 5.1 surround? Blu-ray surround? Other?' I apologize if I didn't explain myself well. I'm not a technical expert as my only recording experience has been as a bedroom wanker fooling around on Pro Tools LE for a couple years making sitar perfumed meditation music, atmospheric acid rock, and psychedelic shoegaze. I enjoy the experience of experimenting. Some mixes sound like crap, but some mixes yield beautiful multi-layered soundscapes. So far, it has all been worth the time, effort, and money. I look forward to moving on the next step with software and hardware upgrades to permit real surround sound mixing.

    I hope my tone of writing is coming off as friendly rather than snarky. You can help answer my questions better by understanding that I'm not trying to mix in5.1 using ProTools LE.

    BTW...Does ProTools HD not have surround mixing capabilities? I looked on Digidesign's website, and the answer is not obvious.
     
  8. Joseph Hanna

    Joseph Hanna Member

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    Yes of course..no problem.

    You can of course do more than just a stereo mix in Pro Tools Le. You have at your disposal 8 outs which allows for all sorts of routing possibilities including mixing quad. Certainly you'll lack the bass management and any type of pan management (other than front/back and left/right) yet it still has some cool elements to it.

    Pro Tools HD of course is 5.1 capable.

    5.1 protocols (Dolby and others) are encoding and decoding algorithms. Those protocols have little or no bearing at the mix stage. Finally (at least here in Hollywood) there are any number of mastering houses that can convert your stereo mix into a 5.1 mix. Obviously you lose some control over the mix and you don't get the pleasure of mixing in 5.1 yourself but still an option.
     
  9. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    Maybe this is obvious to you, but you can record with 7 different microphones and record 7 different tracks into any multi-track recording software. Mix to your pleasure and output to a true 7.1 receiver and there you go. Both my sound card (M-Audio Delta 1010) and my receiver (marantz xx?) are setup for true 7.1 input and output, so I know it is not that un-common.

    Oh, the reason I say 7 mics/tracks is because I guess you might extract the sub-track from the other recordings (to an eigth track), or I guess you could record as a separate track too. I'm no expert at this, but I don't see why anyone couldn't do it.
     
  10. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    Let me see here...

    I'm not a protools guy, so that's gonna' limit me somewhat w/ your specific setup. Since the platforms mentioned aren't usually bundled w/ hardware configurations, basically any soundcard (with multiple outs) or D/A will work.

    I think all of the latest versions of DAW platforms (even going back a couple) support multichannel, but you can expect to have to pick up the encoders separately--although I think the Acid and Vegas apps from Sony include a Dolby one.

    I suppose my recommendation for hardware would be a Lynx AES16 and Aurora 8 converters--it's what I use for surround stuff. You'd also need a monitor controller--there are some from SPL, Coleman, Dangerous, Crane Song and a couple others...prices vary, but all acceptable for what you want to do.

    Check out "Surcode" for some study on encoders--the company is Minnetonka (sp?), and they've got a little of everything. You can even encode a surround CD in 5.1 format for playing on home theater systems--it doesn't have to be a DVD.

    Joseph is right--most of us do "upmixing" for converting stereo to multichannel. While the results are better than you might think, it's not the same as a discrete mix, and not recommended for music unless you can't remix from stems or tracks.

    The waves 360 bundle comes w/ basic surround tools, and does include a bass manager. There's also an AES paper on surround mixing floating around out there--it's a good read and will explain basic room setup w/ some "best practices" for surround spatialization and such. If the Wizoo W5 reverb is still available, it's a great plug. I mainly use hardware processors, so I'm not up on all the plugs available.

    Hope that helps some.
     
  11. Joseph Hanna

    Joseph Hanna Member

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    But if I wanted my guitar solo to go front left front and slowly pan to right rear and another guitar panning right rear to left rear how would that be accomplished?
     
  12. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    This sounds like something you might do with simply a stereo recording. Fill the surround tracks with those same tracks then work the pans and faders on the different tracks to get what you desire (software will do this too).
     
  13. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    That's very different from surround panning. There are lots of different ways to pan tracks in a surround field--mono, stereo, collapsed stereo, several varieties of xy patterns, etc.

    For intance, you can take a mono signal and have it move completely around you through the entire field, and all points in between. I don't see how you can realistically do that just by having 5 mono tracks that are designed to move right to left.

    Am I misunderstanding something?
     
  14. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    You surely know better than I, but if you keep in mind that these tracks are intended to play through speakers that are arranged to provide a "field" of sound around you, you can see how faders (and panning for stereo tracks) can make even a mono track swirl around you if you like, or go from one diagonal to the other, or front to back, etc......
     
  15. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    I think I know what you're saying--for the example of a mono signal moving around the field you'd need to have as many instances of that track as places you want to position it. Then you just drop the fader of one as you bring up another.

    That's waaaaayyyyy too much work, lol.
     
  16. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    I agree that it would be a lot of work and I would prefer software that can give me surround mixing. I know my SONAR can do it (although I haven't had the interest to exercise it) so I would assume there are many products out there that can also do it.:)
     
  17. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    I used Sonar some years ago--the implementation was okay (version 4, I think). It's worth playing with, esp since you're set up for it.
     
  18. hobbes1

    hobbes1 Member

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  19. seriousfun

    seriousfun Member

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    Yes, PT HD has full surround mixing capabilities.

    As with 2.0 stereo, 5.1 mixing doesn't just use hard assignments of a track to a channel (although very old-school stereo mixers had L C R assignment switches, not panpots, in some cases). Surround mixing software - I use SONAR and Samplitude at home and PT HD on occasion - will have an easy way to position a sound anywhere in the 360 degree field, and it will have an easy way to dynamically pan a sound. You will be able to add effects per-track or -bus, in mono, 2.0 stereo, or surround. You will be able to appropriately mix low frequency sounds the the LFE channel, but I recommend that you never, ever, do this in a music mix.

    After mixing, you would bounce the mix to six tracks (or one multichannel .WAV). From these tracks, you could encode it to your chosen distribution format.

    Dolby 5.1, Blu Ray...there are many surround distribution formats. Some (Dolby Digital, DTS, Windows Media, Quicktime) can be lossy or lossless (there's even a 5.1 surround MP3 encoder). None of these have anything directly to do with your first task: mixing in 5.1.

    You will of course need an audio interface with at least six outputs. An M-Audio interface could give you this and the ability to use M-Powered Pro Tools, since you are familiar with PT, but not when you are mixing in surround. You can use any of the other software programs with the M-Audio interface, too - record in PT if you want, then transfer the bounced tracks into the other software for mixing in 5.1.
     

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