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Low Budget Surround Setup
Old 22nd October 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
Low Budget Surround Setup

I've been happily creating stereo mixed music and radio production for a few years now.
About a year ago, I was asked to help on the sound design and mix for a small short film. I agreed, and the Director and Producers were incredibly happy with the result.

Now I've been asked to mix the feature film version of the short film - in 5.1 surround. The Director wants at least a stereo mix, which I can easily do, but he would 'prefer' a 5.1 mix - something I'd like to at least attempt, if only for my own sake.

I have read through as much as I possibly can about room setup, best-case setups and tried to come up with a solution for my current room.

I'm sure many would say 'refer him to a professional with a proper room' but the pay is going to be barely enough for me to cover my new equipment expenses and have a bit left over, let alone hire a major audio facility (it's a low budget indie). I would love to hire out a proper stage, but money isn't quite there, and even if it was, there's not really any stages that I know of that you can hire out for your own use in my hometown.
I will be explaining to him that his mix certainly won't be Dolby certified, but the film is meant more for local theatres and small festivals, as far as I can tell.

This brings me to my question(s).

Currently I run Pro Tools 8 powered by an Mbox 2 on a relatively high-powered iMac. I also own Logic Pro 9, though I've only used it for some MIDI sequencing in the past.
I have ~$1500 to build my 'surround' setup, so Pro Tools HD is out of the question, as much as I'd love to splash out even on an Omni. Therefore, I imagine I'll have to mix on Logic (perhaps upgrade to X), as I don't even have the now discontinued CPTK. Logic is not my preferred option (by far), but it might be my best option.
I could potentially create Auxes for each speaker on PT, but it seems to be a very complicated way to work, compared to mixing in a system that is designed for surround. Is there any other way around this in PT?

I own a pair of Yamaha HSM50's. I've always mixed on Yamaha monitors, before I was working for myself I was mixing with NS10's at the radio studio I used to work at.

So, I need to purchase 3.1 extra speakers, and an audio interface with 6 outputs to begin this endeavour.
In terms of subwoofer, I've only ever worked with them in live mixing situations, where I would generally employ a crossover. Do I need a crossover for surround mixing? If not, how do I 'feed' the subwoofer?

Whilst I know it's good practice to use matched monitors, 3 HS50ms and an HS8s will run me up ~$1200, whereas I can get 3x JBL LSR2325P's and a JBL LSR 2310SP for ~$1000, if not a tad less. Is it worth spending the extra to get matching monitors? Will the JBLs be okay? Could I use HSM50s as my surround speakers, and a cheaper subwoofer (how about a home theatre subwoofer - is there really that much difference between a studio and home subwoofer?)?

Which brings me to audio interfaces. I know I need something with at least 6 line outs - I was looking at the MBox Pro, but soon found out that it only has balanced mic level outs.
I was looking at the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 - does anyone have any experience using this to control surround? It certainly has the outputs, and I like Focusrite gear; it looks like a mini (cheaper) PT Omni. I can get it for ~$600-700, which would require a re-think of my monitor purchase (perhaps using my current Home Theatre's subwoofer, as opposed to a studio woofer) to bring it into budget.

After that I'll need to pick up an SPL meter and calibrate properly (to around 79-80 rather than 85, considering a smaller room).

I know the budget is not huge, and that I can only hope to get in the ballpark without a proper room and equipment, but I'd still like to attempt this if I can - so any advice would be appreciated, especially in regards to equipment purchase.

Thanks!

PS: A friend of mine works in live mixing and owns a Behringer X32 that I may be able to borrow from him - I generally hate anything with the word Behringer splashed across it, but it would technically provide me with the correct amount of outputs, as well as mixing via faders. It's not my favourite option, but it's certainly an option I have available.
Old 22nd October 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
I've been happily creating stereo mixed music and radio production for a few years now.
About a year ago, I was asked to help on the sound design and mix for a small short film. I agreed, and the Director and Producers were incredibly happy with the result.

Now I've been asked to mix the feature film version of the short film - in 5.1 surround. The Director wants at least a stereo mix, which I can easily do, but he would 'prefer' a 5.1 mix - something I'd like to at least attempt, if only for my own sake.

I have read through as much as I possibly can about room setup, best-case setups and tried to come up with a solution for my current room.

I'm sure many would say 'refer him to a professional with a proper room' but the pay is going to be barely enough for me to cover my new equipment expenses and have a bit left over, let alone hire a major audio facility (it's a low budget indie). I would love to hire out a proper stage, but money isn't quite there, and even if it was, there's not really any stages that I know of that you can hire out for your own use in my hometown.
I will be explaining to him that his mix certainly won't be Dolby certified, but the film is meant more for local theatres and small festivals, as far as I can tell.

This brings me to my question(s).

Currently I run Pro Tools 8 powered by an Mbox 2 on a relatively high-powered iMac. I also own Logic Pro 9, though I've only used it for some MIDI sequencing in the past.
I have ~$1500 to build my 'surround' setup, so Pro Tools HD is out of the question, as much as I'd love to splash out even on an Omni. Therefore, I imagine I'll have to mix on Logic (perhaps upgrade to X), as I don't even have the now discontinued CPTK. Logic is not my preferred option (by far), but it might be my best option.
I could potentially create Auxes for each speaker on PT, but it seems to be a very complicated way to work, compared to mixing in a system that is designed for surround. Is there any other way around this in PT?

I own a pair of Yamaha HSM50's. I've always mixed on Yamaha monitors, before I was working for myself I was mixing with NS10's at the radio studio I used to work at.

So, I need to purchase 3.1 extra speakers, and an audio interface with 6 outputs to begin this endeavour.
In terms of subwoofer, I've only ever worked with them in live mixing situations, where I would generally employ a crossover. Do I need a crossover for surround mixing? If not, how do I 'feed' the subwoofer?

Whilst I know it's good practice to use matched monitors, 3 HS50ms and an HS8s will run me up ~$1200, whereas I can get 3x JBL LSR2325P's and a JBL LSR 2310SP for ~$1000, if not a tad less. Is it worth spending the extra to get matching monitors? Will the JBLs be okay? Could I use HSM50s as my surround speakers, and a cheaper subwoofer (how about a home theatre subwoofer - is there really that much difference between a studio and home subwoofer?)?

Which brings me to audio interfaces. I know I need something with at least 6 line outs - I was looking at the MBox Pro, but soon found out that it only has balanced mic level outs.
I was looking at the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 - does anyone have any experience using this to control surround? It certainly has the outputs, and I like Focusrite gear; it looks like a mini (cheaper) PT Omni. I can get it for ~$600-700, which would require a re-think of my monitor purchase (perhaps using my current Home Theatre's subwoofer, as opposed to a studio woofer) to bring it into budget.

After that I'll need to pick up an SPL meter and calibrate properly (to around 79-80 rather than 85, considering a smaller room).

I know the budget is not huge, and that I can only hope to get in the ballpark without a proper room and equipment, but I'd still like to attempt this if I can - so any advice would be appreciated, especially in regards to equipment purchase.

Thanks!

PS: A friend of mine works in live mixing and owns a Behringer X32 that I may be able to borrow from him - I generally hate anything with the word Behringer splashed across it, but it would technically provide me with the correct amount of outputs, as well as mixing via faders. It's not my favourite option, but it's certainly an option I have available.
Pretty much all of your questions have been discussed and answered in previous threads, as these questions are very often asked here. Have you done a search?

philp
Old 22nd October 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
Pretty much all of your questions have been discussed and answered in previous threads, as these questions are very often asked here. Have you done a search?

philp
Don't worry about feeding the sub. In a home listening environment, the sub is fed by the bass management system (remember the setup for your receiver where you tell it the size of your speakers?). In a modern commercial theater, all speakers are full range. The sub (more properly, the Low Frequency Energy) channel is strictly for special effects. Do not put the low frequency part of your signal there.

It's good to have a sub for monitoring, but don't worry about doing anything special with it--especially for your first productions.
Old 22nd October 2013
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
Now I've been asked to mix the feature film version of the short film - in 5.1 surround. The Director wants at least a stereo mix, which I can easily do, but he would 'prefer' a 5.1 mix - something I'd like to at least attempt, if only for my own sake.
I get it, but they should pay extra for it, in my opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
In terms of subwoofer, I've only ever worked with them in live mixing situations, where I would generally employ a crossover. Do I need a crossover for surround mixing? If not, how do I 'feed' the subwoofer?
Crossovers for subs in surround are used for bass management. If your fronts and surrounds are capable of reproducing as low as necessary you wouldn't do bass management. Your sub in that case would be fed from the .1 channel, the LFE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
Whilst I know it's good practice to use matched monitors, 3 HS50ms and an HS8s will run me up ~$1200, whereas I can get 3x JBL LSR2325P's and a JBL LSR 2310SP for ~$1000, if not a tad less. Is it worth spending the extra to get matching monitors? Will the JBLs be okay? Could I use HSM50s as my surround speakers, and a cheaper subwoofer (how about a home theatre subwoofer - is there really that much difference between a studio and home subwoofer?)?
I would think you'd be better off matching the speakers. With a different tonal balance between them it's a fair bet your mix will be differently balanced once you play it back on a system where the speakers are all matched.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
I know the budget is not huge, and that I can only hope to get in the ballpark without a proper room and equipment, but I'd still like to attempt this if I can - so any advice would be appreciated, especially in regards to equipment purchase.

Thanks!
I think you should look closer at other options of renting a different studio. Perhaps you can barter to bring the cost down. Or pass the extra cost back to your client. Also consider if it's likely to be good enough to warrant the effort, seeing that you'll be spending time and money on it and it'll have your name on it. Will people return to you for more surround work is the question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
PS: A friend of mine works in live mixing and owns a Behringer X32 that I may be able to borrow from him - I generally hate anything with the word Behringer splashed across it, but it would technically provide me with the correct amount of outputs, as well as mixing via faders. It's not my favourite option, but it's certainly an option I have available.
Use it for the outputs (for free) and then mix in the box. Spend the extra money on matching speakers and a sub.
Old 24th October 2013
  #5
Gear Nut
 
t_young's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post

I could potentially create Auxes for each speaker on PT, but it seems to be a very complicated way to work, compared to mixing in a system that is designed for surround. Is there any other way around this in PT?
Trust me... That's a headache you don't want to take on. Learning to mix surround after switching from stereo is a big enough challenge on it's own, even if you walk into a room that's already set up well and calibrated.
Old 29th October 2013
  #6
If you still looking for a low budget surround setup you can try the System 4 THX from Teufel:

System 4 THX - Teufel Audio

It's more a consumer set, but with a thx certificate. You'll need an av receiver for this. You can test this set for 8 weeks.

I own a Genelec 8020 BPM surround setup with Genelec 7050 BPM subwoofer:

Blog | Surround sound effects and surround sound librariesSurround sound effects and surround sound libraries

Cheers
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