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Surround setup question Headphone Amps
Old 6th September 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Surround setup question

Im upgrading my system to surround, and currently use a central station (stereo monitor management hardware) to monitor through. In upgrading to surround , I want to try and stay within a pretty modest budget, so I was looking at the spl 5.1 monitor management system. The downside of this (and most other 5.1 management systems I know of) is that with the spl, I loose all of the headphone and talk-back outputs I so often use when doing stereo mixing and recording.

My question is: Is there some sort of y cable or signal splitter I could get, or any other way to split the signal so I would be able to use the LR speakers with the central station when wanting to monitor or record in stereo, and be able to use the same LR speakers as part of a 5.1 setup when wanting to mix/monitor in 5.1 (not at the same time of course)

The other problem this creates is the ability to manage outputs from my digidesign 192. Since the spl accepts only analog DSUB input, I would have to output into my central station via some kind of digital connection. There isnt a 1/2 dsub, half TRS snake I know of......right?

Thanks in advance.....
Old 7th September 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I think a patchbay would solve all your routing problems.

On another note, you should keep in mind that while the SPL has a lot of great bells and whistles and a ton of input options, it has no bass management, which, depending on your room layout and size and what you're actually mixing, can be problematic. I'm surprised it would include RCA inputs for hooking up consumer 5.1gear, since virtually all home theatre receivers include some form of bass management.

What's the general consensus on this? Isn't bass management a necessity for 5.1 mixing?
Old 7th September 2007
  #3
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Sunbreak Music's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post

What's the general consensus on this? Isn't bass management a necessity for 5.1 mixing?
Problem is there's not a real standard among the consumer electronics w/ regard to bass managment.

There are some software bass management options that will do the trick, but yes--it's something to make a pass through, because odds are the sub will be receiving the LFE plus info from L/R. You don't want any surprises ;-)
Old 8th September 2007
  #4
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The best deal I found for a modest 5.1 system was Blue Sky. Check their site, they make several levels of systems, but they are all very well thought out and well supported.

Philip Perkins
Old 8th September 2007
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunbreak Music View Post
Problem is there's not a real standard among the consumer electronics w/ regard to bass managment.

There are some software bass management options that will do the trick, but yes--it's something to make a pass through, because odds are the sub will be receiving the LFE plus info from L/R. You don't want any surprises ;-)
Just to add a little bit to this post about consumer systems and bass-management:

Any Dolby Digital and most DTS consumer receivers or pre-amps will include bass-management. Dolby actually requires this via their licensing agreement and they do have standards as to how they are implemented. THX has an additional set of standards and filter implementations, which are required in all THX Certified consumer receivers.

This means that nearly all consumer surround systems will be using bass-management. Consumer bass-management systems will not only direct the LFE, along with bass from the L&R speakers to the subwoofer, but also the bass from the center and surround channels. This means that a consumer system will be able to reproduce low bass information from all channels.

For more of our thoughts on this subject, here are a couple links to our website:

What is bass-management?

Blue Sky's Design Philosophy

I hope this helps...

Cheers!
Old 8th September 2007
  #6
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Which brings us back to the question: does it make sense to use a monitor controller without bass management when doing 5.1 mixes? To me, unless you're working on a professional dub stage, it does not. Which is why I'm so surprised that companies like SPL would be offering such units that are seemingly aimed at smaller studios where bass management would be more essential.
Old 8th September 2007
  #7
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Sunbreak Music's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
Which brings us back to the question: does it make sense to use a monitor controller without bass management when doing 5.1 mixes? To me, unless you're working on a professional dub stage, it does not. Which is why I'm so surprised that companies like SPL would be offering such units that are seemingly aimed at smaller studios where bass management would be more essential.

But you can accomplish the same thing w/ something like the bass manager in Waves 360. I know there are others--cycling '74 might have one.

To me, the question is, why do I need one in my monitor controller? I work specifically in 5.1 music, so there might be a few differences in the way we work. DVD-A, for example, where there is sometimes no bass management implemented, or implemented at various frequencies.

Am I missing something in your question, or do you not favor the software variety?

Hi Pascal,
Got a chance to chat w/ Chris Fichera in Tucson a few months ago--great presentation.

Cass
Old 8th September 2007
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunbreak Music View Post
But you can accomplish the same thing w/ something like the bass manager in Waves 360. I know there are others--cycling '74 might have one.

To me, the question is, why do I need one in my monitor controller? I work specifically in 5.1 music, so there might be a few differences in the way we work. DVD-A, for example, where there is sometimes no bass management implemented, or implemented at various frequencies.

Am I missing something in your question, or do you not favor the software variety?
No, I have no problems with getting there in whatever way works, and since I have no experience with mixing for DVD-A (yet!), I'm not familiar with the different issues that might bring up.

But this is of course a post production forum, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that the great majority of people who frequent here are working in smaller studios, on less-than-blockbuster movies that are destined for DVD-only releases---movies that will play on consumer systems with built-in bass management. These smaller studios are the target market for medium-priced surround controllers, and with the general confusion that "surrounds" the functionality of bass management, I think the manufacturers should be very specific about whether these controllers do or don't include it so that buyers don't get taken unawares. Mixing in 5.1 for DVD while ignoring bass management could be disastrous.
Old 8th September 2007
  #9
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The general rule seems to be (as enunciated by Our Georgia in an earlier thread): if you are mixing for theatrical it is better to mix on full range speakers with a sub that only does real LFE work and no bass management. For home market, there is some concensus that using bass management is anywhere from ok to preferable, depending on individual preference, mix room size, experience, etc.. since many (but by no means all) home viewers will be listening to bass managed systems. If you mix on a bass managed system you should probably check your mix on a full range/non-bass managed system as well.

Philip Perkins
Old 8th September 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
The general rule seems to be (as enunciated by Our Georgia in an earlier thread): if you are mixing for theatrical it is better to mix on full range speakers with a sub that only does real LFE work and no bass management. For home market, there is some concensus that using bass management is anywhere from ok to preferable, depending on individual preference, mix room size, experience, etc.. since many (but by no means all) home viewers will be listening to bass managed systems. If you mix on a bass managed system you should probably check your mix on a full range/non-bass managed system as well.

Philip Perkins
Sounds logical. Bass management on controllers such as the Blue Sky unit can be defeated.
Old 8th September 2007
  #11
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Sunbreak Music's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
No, I have no problems with getting there in whatever way works, and since I have no experience with mixing for DVD-A (yet!), I'm not familiar with the different issues that might bring up.

But this is of course a post production forum, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that the great majority of people who frequent here are working in smaller studios, on less-than-blockbuster movies that are destined for DVD-only releases---movies that will play on consumer systems with built-in bass management. These smaller studios are the target market for medium-priced surround controllers, and with the general confusion that "surrounds" the functionality of bass management, I think the manufacturers should be very specific about whether these controllers do or don't include it so that buyers don't get taken unawares. Mixing in 5.1 for DVD while ignoring bass management could be disastrous.
Yes, agree on several points.

I just noticed you were a composer, so wasn't sure what format you were shooting for.

It just gets complicated w/ bass management in general. With receivers having selectable crossovers on many models from anywhere from 40hz to 120hz, along w/ the ablililty to "boost" the sub quite a few dbs, along w/ an uncalibrated system .....I'm sure you get what I mean at this point. heh


Now that I've hijacked the thread (sorry), I do use the SPL controller. The Dsub connection is a bit of a pain, but if you're looking for a custom cable, these guys Redco Audio haven't failed me yet. I'd check with them.
Old 9th September 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by seanmccoy View Post
What's the general consensus on this? Isn't bass management a necessity for 5.1 mixing?
Regarding mixing for surround and bassmanagment Dolby states to mix for feature release without bassmanagment as theaters do not apply bass-managment.

They also state to check every mix with bass management as almost every consumer setup applies some sort of bass management. This kind of bass management goes from just sending all the info from LCRLsRs to the LFE up to complex filtering and matrixing the LCRLsRs to the Lfe.

The best method is to have two sets of speakers. Your main system and a consumer setup to check your mixes.

I personally apply this method:
- Mixing for theatre release: no bass management
- Mixing for consumer (TV/Broadcast/DVD) With bass management.

If you do your mixes with proper attention to what's going to the LFE and your general low component in the mix applying bass management does not change a thing in the overall sound. That's my personal experience in this field.

Kind regards from Belgium

Pedro
Old 9th September 2007
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pedro_vde View Post
Regarding mixing for surround and bassmanagment Dolby states to mix for feature release without bassmanagment as theaters do not apply bass-managment.

They also state to check every mix with bass management as almost every consumer setup applies some sort of bass management. This kind of bass management goes from just sending all the info from LCRLsRs to the LFE up to complex filtering and matrixing the LCRLsRs to the Lfe.

The best method is to have two sets of speakers. Your main system and a consumer setup to check your mixes.

I personally apply this method:
- Mixing for theatre release: no bass management
- Mixing for consumer (TV/Broadcast/DVD) With bass management.

If you do your mixes with proper attention to what's going to the LFE and your general low component in the mix applying bass management does not change a thing in the overall sound. That's my personal experience in this field.

Kind regards from Belgium

Pedro
Hello Pedro:

I just thought I would add a couple comments to your post, to make sure that people are not confused with regard to when to use bass-management and what it is.

1) Bass-management is a function of the monitoring system (the b-chain) and is not recorded, or "printed". Therefore, when bass is redirected from the main channels (LCR,LS & RS), it is not sent to the LFE (a channel), but to the subwoofer. The difference is important, because by suggesting you are sending bass to the LFE channel, you are implying that it is going to be part of the mix.

Below is a picture that illustrates the signal flow in a typical (conventional) bass-managed system, using our BMC.



2) Bass-management is used to extend the frequency response monitors or speakers, that aren't full-range on their own. If you are using a nearfield system, in a small room, you typically need to use bass-management. Follow the links for more information...

I hope this helps...

Cheers! heh
Old 9th September 2007
  #14
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kk@jamsync.com's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pascal Sijen View Post
2) Bass-management is used to extend the frequency response monitors or speakers, that aren't full-range on their own. If you are using a nearfield system, in a small room, you typically need to use bass-management. Follow the links for more information...

I hope this helps...

Cheers! heh
Hi Pascal,

Wow, over a decade and we're still discussing this! Right you are.

People need to be mixing on full-range *systems*. Mixing for theatrical release in a typical control room w/o bass management is ludicrous. Nearfields cannot begin to approach the kind of "air mix" you'll find in larger rooms. They're too directional and as you say, they really have no low bottom end. Put big honkin' speakers in the typical control room and you have the problem of room modes which cancel out any benefit (and you really cannot get rid of that unless you can separate the bottom end and MOVE it around via subs to get optimal positioning).

Plus, just defeating bass management and throwing on an X-curve in a small room is not a bright idea, either. Conversely, mixing with an X-curve in a big space is not the optimal way to mix for home theater (something I've been reminding people for years and years). In fact, there was a pretty funny thread years ago with me saying "no, you shouldn't mix with an x-curve in a small room" and people flaming me until Tom Holman himself posted and *agreed* with me. Looking back, it should have been obvious...

That said, with a full-range system and good calibration and a bit of experience, it's possible to mix for theatrical release. Considering some of the wildly varying mixes we hear in the theaters these days, apparently dub stages are not the perfect answer, either. We'd love to think that theatrical playback is perfect, but it isn't.

The other day I walked out of a movie because the right channel was out. My children didn't notice and were ticked off at me until I went to the manager and asked to be allowed to see the same movie in an adjacent theater fifteen minutes later. THEN they noticed the difference! No one else left. They couldn't hear the difference. I couldn't stand to sit there and see bombs going off in the right of the screen, but hearing their echo on the left!

If anyone is really serious about this, they should investigate the SMPTE recommended practices papers. They *changed* slightly as Dolby incorporated Holman's corrections. It's an interesting history, but most of it is documented only in back-and-forth forum chatter and email among Bob Katz, Holman, and me as well as a few wonderful conversations I had with the much-missed John Eargle.

Oh, well.

KK
Old 9th September 2007
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Hi Pascal,

Wow, over a decade and we're still discussing this!
Old 10th September 2007
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
That said, with a full-range system and good calibration and a bit of experience, it's possible to mix for theatrical release. Considering some of the wildly varying mixes we hear in the theaters these days, apparently dub stages are not the perfect answer, either. We'd love to think that theatrical playback is perfect, but it isn't.

The other day I walked out of a movie because the right channel was out. My children didn't notice and were ticked off at me until I went to the manager and asked to be allowed to see the same movie in an adjacent theater fifteen minutes later. THEN they noticed the difference! No one else left. They couldn't hear the difference. I couldn't stand to sit there and see bombs going off in the right of the screen, but hearing their echo on the left!
Indeed, after the release of the second-previous James Bond movie the largest theatre owner over here in Belgium had a major problem. In at least 6 to 8 of there large theatres scattered over there 22 cinema complexes they have showed movies for at least 14 day's with completely burned-out tweeters in the center channel. The amplifiers they installed where not exactly matched to the system, so to speak they are to weak, and the result was pure DC when James or any bad-guy shot a rocket... I was there measuring the rooms and the outputs of the amps and I could not believe what I saw... people where looking at least 14 days to a movie with no high component and that without complaining...

It's indeed a fact that in what I've stated earlier I started from the point that our main-system is full range. The bass management that I apply is on a consumer system or to check what happens with my mix... and if I do well on our main system it does not change a thing, what's obvious... If I mess around in the low end the check on the main system with the bass management on shows directly an overdose and that's a signal for me to go correcting in the low end.

Kind regards from Belgium

Pedro
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