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Surround... do you care?
Old 22nd February 2003
  #1
Little Labs
 
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Surround... do you care?

I'm curious amongst you gear slutz out there. We did in the studio this last week a surround version of a new Meat Loaf record. Most of my friends (and most of my friends are engineers) when it comes to their home systems, especially if they have a concubine, can't even get two speakers to be set up for optimum performance. I love the idea of surround, and actually I could give a damn about surround movies, I like surround music. I have now a sacd surround player and am gearing up for the full on surround music experience. I think, I am in the minority. I remember Q sound which we were pretty heavily involved with at A&M studios in the late 80s early 90s. Bob Clearmountain did a Madonna mix of like a prayer in Q sound, it was amazing...in studio B. Unfortunately it wasn't much anywhere else. Q sound used two speakers and some nifty phase algorithms to create the surround effect. It could sound like ****e but in the right room and speaker placement it could be very cool. But to make a short story long, do you care about surround? Do you have a surround system at home? Do you buy surround music, or is it just for movies? let me know.
-Jonathan
Old 23rd February 2003
  #2
Gear nut
 

Yes, I care about surround. Home system is primarily video at this point--waiting for the DVD-A/SACD dust to settle before I upgrade my processor.

I'm tinkering with OCT recordings now and will be building a surround mixing/mastering room next year.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #3
There is only one
 
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i only have gotten to play around with surround mixing once at mw's joint. im sold. i gotta get a surround setup in my studio SOON.

on the home front, the wifey is all behind me setting up the speakers the best way possible. we love our movies, tv, and anything in surround.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #4
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I'ts awesome when done right, and when you can hear it from the mixers perspective.
i've had the opportunity to stop by Westlake on a few occasions when the Digi rep (Thomas Graham) does a PT for post demo. He's really active in the music for film side ofthe biz as a Pro Tools mixer (he comes from a music /player background) and brings in current films to demo with.
The first time I got to hear the elements for the film individually, and then together I was blown away. Looked like such a creative gig what with all the panning moves of effects and all (although I'm sure there's drudgery there as well)
as far as music only....I dunno. It's super cool to listen to but seems like when I see others home systems, very rarely are they set up with optimum listening enviorment in mind and surround stuff is a little wack. some of the demo's I've heard in stereo stores have kicked ass(I just wish they wouldn't put the f*&^% Steely Dan live show on every time) I just can't help thinking of the nitemare of "mixes translating" to these home systems that are set up all wacky. (Have a friend with a killer system and she had the rears in line with her ears 'cause the couch was up to the wall....it was all rear speakers and reverb tails...yuk. I'm pretty sure there's at least some ability to balance the system...but she hadn't done it)
My wife and I broke down and got a little sony "Dream System" for about 500 bucks a couple months ago.(Also came home with Lord of the Rings . ) this was directly inspired by the demo I sat through with thomas .....I'm sold , and even tough I know zip about it,we're planning the new studo CR with wiring in place for future surround work.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #5
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...

I like surround sound for movies, but not for just music.

I listen to rock music music mostly and I don't want spread all over. Also when I listen to music, I'm all over the place, not just sitting in one spot, so having it be in surround sound wouldn't be an advantage.

My $.02.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #6
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I'm going to set the surround soon. It is interesting for me as another dimension not only for mixing, but for whole process of musicmaking. But I expect it will be almost only for my pleasure not for 95% of my "fans". Most of people around here doesn't have good stereo... and surround? The only people I can think of are gamers with cheap 5.1 computer setups... ;-(

However there is still lack of gear dedicated to surround (mixers etc.). I mean affordable gear...
Old 23rd February 2003
  #7
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I bet 5.1/7.1 is kool for live recordings or classic! It's also great for movies!
But like Chaos said i don't like it on rock stuff!

When I listen to the Tool DVD I could not beleave the way the mix was done!

The stereo mix is mean, in your face and has balls. but the 5.1 had no balls at all, lack of directness and the sound was kind of weak.

I think the AE have to learn a lot to translate the rock sound into 5.1!
Old 23rd February 2003
  #8
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"The stereo mix is mean, in your face and has balls. but the 5.1 had no balls at all, lack of directness and the sound was kind of weak."

A lot of engineers said the same thing about stereo a few years ago

I have a surround set up in my living room for DVD watching. I'd like to hear music in sourround but for rock music it has to be front L/R and centre mostly IMNSHO. Everything else would sound strange to me at the moment; but who knows in a few years we'll pan the kick to the rear speakers to have it kick really hard
Old 23rd February 2003
  #9
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well, it seems funny to hear early stereo mixes with all those extensive panning... but now, everything at the center and stere is here for "width" parameter most of the time (at least music I'm listening to). I think you can use surround wildely or in a very conservative way. There is no reason the lost of the directness is the "surround's" fault.

I'm in to ambient music, so it is the dream...
Old 23rd February 2003
  #10
My music genre (alt rock / indie) rarely has budget for surround.

I am interested in surround for my living room or bedroom TV. But not for music.

I have seen some surround demonstrations, the pompousness of some of the self proclaimed 'experts' made me gag.... especial after hearing their ridiculous results...

Like the above posts I agree that the "punch" of surround might be too indistinct or unfocused for my and others tastes..

Also I feel at present surround is at odds with the "youth" market in which I work.


*************
Youth - often on the move

MP3 players / Internet download - stereo
Computer monitors - stereo
Discman's - stereo
MTV - stereo
Mini Disk - stereo
CD players - stereo
Music clubs (ok surround is possible here) - but mostly - stereo
*************
Grown ups - more homebound due to kids & work, rarely get to movie theaters so what do they do?

Treat them selves to a kickin' surround sound DVD set up with a giant screen.
*************

I dont feel the delivery methods for both MUSIC markets share much in common. Granted the technical strides forward ARE of interest, But honestly, I cant help thinking ANY split down the middle of the industry with 'adult music' being made in surround' and kids music in stereo, is a bad thing.

Re-releasing stuff on CD's was a well known 'new music killer' as labels deferred development of new talent for selling everyone their Pink Floyd albums a SECOND TIME - on CD. Now we are supposed to clap hands in glee while engineering dons churn out THE SURROUND VERSIONS.. or the SACD versions..

I dunno, in troubled times I favor unity over splits in the industry...

Perhaps I have more of a survival spirit than a pioneering one.....

I am ill at ease with the whole issue...

Old 23rd February 2003
  #11
There is only one
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by studjo
The stereo mix is mean, in your face and has balls. but the 5.1 had no balls at all, lack of directness and the sound was kind of weak.
are you kidding me? when i did a mix in surround, i was amazed at how much bigger, more enveloping, and direct the sound was... of course i was listening to a 5.1 ADAM S3-A setup but still. it made stereo sound weak and flat to me.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #12
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by cajonezzz
...I just can't help thinking of the nitemare of "mixes translating" to these home systems that are set up all wacky....
And THAT'S the rub.

Mixes not translating killed Quad 30 years ago and there's no reason to expect things will be any different today. Back then it was also easy to demonstrate that running any regular stereo recording thru a matrix decoder would frequently beat out actual surround mixes in real-world living rooms! You were hard pressed to make anybody pay extra for a surround version.

Movies are mixed so that anything requiring a critical balance comes up in mono center front. Scoring is LF and RF to keep it out of the way of the CF and the surrounds only get sound effects and reverb that could be 10dB. off in either direction and still sound good. We do this because translation between different theaters is only barely workable.

It's ironic that somebody is actually pitching me to do a surround mix at the moment. I'm enthusiastic that I can probably do a mix that will translate better than most but I still don't think surround is worth an individual risking any money on until some surround title appears that really starts selling consumer audio gear.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #13
There is only one
 
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consumer surround is being sold out the yin yang for quite sometime now... stereo is all but forgotten in stores now. EVERYTHING is 5.1, but all for movies. so the rub is really mixing music for a movie setup. its approach has to be similar to mixing for movies.
Old 23rd February 2003
  #14
Motown legend
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
... so the rub is really mixing music for a movie setup. its approach has to be similar to mixing for movies.
Exactly but for the most part that means mixing conventional stereo with ambiance in the rears which can be handily synthesized by most receivers. We used to do pre-mixes for features in stereo but monitored with a Dolby matrix surround decoder. This worked at least as well as renting the full Dolby rig!
Old 23rd February 2003
  #15
Re: ...

Quote:
Originally posted by CHAOS
I like surround sound for movies, but not for just music.

I listen to rock music music mostly and I don't want spread all over. Also when I listen to music, I'm all over the place, not just sitting in one spot, so having it be in surround sound wouldn't be an advantage.

My $.02.
The live rock stuff in surround works better than the 2 channel stuff.

I thought the live Nine Inch Nails DVD sounded amazing!!!

Also the sountrack to Spiderman(Joey Moi and Nickleback) came across really well.

I think you hear the benefit in the bass. 96K makes the bass more defined.

I think a lot of 2 channel rock stuff sucks anyway(soundwise).heh

On a side note, how is it the Incubus album gets nominated for an engineering Grammy(non classical)?

I know the songs were cool, but the sound left a lot to be desired.
Old 24th February 2003
  #16
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Re: Surround... do you care?

Quote:
Originally posted by littlelabs
I'm curious amongst you gear slutz out there. We did in the studio this last week a surround version of a new Meat Loaf record. Most of my friends (and most of my friends are engineers) when it comes to their home systems, especially if they have a concubine, can't even get two speakers to be set up for optimum performance. I love the idea of surround, and actually I could give a damn about surround movies, I like surround music. I have now a sacd surround player and am gearing up for the full on surround music experience. ...

But to make a short story long, do you care about surround? Do you have a surround system at home? Do you buy surround music, or is it just for movies? let me know.
-Jonathan
I think it comes down to, as Julian pointed out, how the consumer uses the end product. How many consumers out in the real world will sit between a set of speakers and actually listen to a song, let alone an entire record? I mean currently, in STEREO. Popular music in general is used as a background thing, and I think the things that make people buy records are not so much dependent upon the technical quality of the record as much as how they relate to and respond to the music. The music coming out of their little radios at work, their car, boom box, headphones, etc...

For me, the only place I see surround really working is with films, because they force your attention to the screen, fixing you in one location. [Or let me re-phrase that -- call it a multi-media experience.] It can be a powerful experience to watch a film that way, and it makes one realize how important sound is to a film. But the audio track is the combination of music, F/X , and dialog, not just music for the sake of music.

And unfortunately, we now have remixes of 'classic records' in surround. I for one could care less if Freddie Mercury's voice is coming from behind me, in front of me, swirling around me, or flying over my head. If a record is a document of a time, place, and era, what is the point of re-mixing that artistic statement?

The only way i can see this happening is if new works are created to take advantage of the medium. But I think it forces you directly into a mulit-media thing, because the only way to hear it is to sit in the right spot. The only way to get someone to sit for a period of time is to have some type of visual stimulation, which will eventually bring us to an updated version of MTV...

I need to stop now.

John
Old 24th February 2003
  #17
There is only one
 
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i gotta sit still for the length of my drive in my car... with 2 speakers in front, 2 speakers in rear... and a SUB! its actaully the ONLY place i listen to music. and it would work perfectly for a surround environment.
Old 24th February 2003
  #18
Gear nut
 

There are several industry players who believe mobile audio will be what makes multichannel music playback systems hit critical mass.
Old 24th February 2003
  #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
i gotta sit still for the length of my drive in my car... with 2 speakers in front, 2 speakers in rear... and a SUB! its actaully the ONLY place i listen to music. and it would work perfectly for a surround environment.
How could it work perfectly if the driver is on the left and not in the center? Even in stereo, a car is not an optimal listening environment because you are not in the center, let alone the other factors such as the environmental noise and rumble. Yes, you have a fixed installation, but unless you move the steering wheel to the center of the car, or at least centered from left to right, the driver is always sitting off to the left. If you optimize for the driver only, then what happens in all the other listening positions in the car? Besides, aren't you supposed to be DRIVING as your main goal here?...

-John
Old 24th February 2003
  #20
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

who gives a crap about the other positions in the car? its my car... im the one driving. dont you know driver rules?

and music helps me drive... faster.
Old 24th February 2003
  #21
Motown legend
 
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Re: Re: Surround... do you care?

Quote:
Originally posted by paterno
...The only way i can see this happening is if new works are created to take advantage of the medium. But I think it forces you directly into a mulit-media thing, because the only way to hear it is to sit in the right spot. ...
I agree this is the only way it can happen and, by the way, it's precisely how stereo happened during the late '50s. The problem is that once again everybody is trying to jump-start it with "re-purposed" titles and that can't possibly work because virtually all successful records were made for a particular purpose and audience.
Old 25th February 2003
  #22
There is only one
 
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i liked pet sounds in stereo over mono.
Old 26th February 2003
  #23
urumita
 
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How many yokels are saving for a new multimedia surround system because it's way cooler than anyone dreamed quad could ever be and there are thousands of titles available for it now, already?
In quad I could only listen to Billy Cobhams Spectrums befeore my record shop stopped selling quad disks.
There should be a thread on BluRay. massive storage.
Old 27th February 2003
  #24
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Re: Surround... do you care?

Quote:
Originally posted by littlelabs
But to make a short story long, do you care about surround?let me know.
-Jonathan
No.
Old 27th February 2003
  #25
Old 27th February 2003
  #26
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matucha's Avatar
yes
Old 27th February 2003
  #27
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Noah's Avatar
 

I'm going to jump in here with a few reactions to the surround stuff that I have heard in the last year.

1: It tends not to be compressed to death like most current CD's. I think part of the reason that people are buying 5.1 systems is because the dynamics are so dang cool. (See point 2...) You can get a whisper over here, and a big thump over there. (we are talking movies here) It is interesting and engaging. I wonder what Hendrix would have done with surround? Talk about trippy...

2: Most current surround stuff is way over done. I think what we are hearing now will date it's self in a couple of years when we make the surround effect less effecty...Now I listen to stuff and wonder what were they thinking. (But it can still be cool)

I do agree that user setup is generally lacking. My bedroom surround system is less than perfectly set up.

I will also take the time to introduce myself. My name is Noah Dater, and I work at Wave Mechanics.(the UltraTools guys/girls) I have been reading the board for quite some time now, but I thought I would chime in on this one.

Noah
Old 27th February 2003
  #28
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I guess it is all preference, but for me, the best shot at surround for audio taking off is in the Live performance category ( not at a venue, I mean live records) I am super into Live DVD's of bands and events, but since I am not a player for real, I watch musicians, I am not in the band, and I mix from that perspective. I don't want to hear the keyboards behind me, I want to hear an acoustic space, if anything.

As for surround in cars, the biggst problem I see is that Not one car audio system I have had, or seen for that matter, has four of the same loudspeakers, and most cars do not have a sub.. so retrofitting a car for surround is more hassle than it would seem, IMHO. Detroit is apparently going to be incorperating DVD-A in the next year though, lets see what happens. ( XM and surround would be cool......)
Old 27th February 2003
  #29
urumita
 
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To "dream" about what Hendrix would have done with surround, and try to find the evidence of what Zappa did with it would be an interesting piece of fantasy.
Still when I go to do acoustic consultation in rich folks homes, there's always the question, "and what about surround?".
We're still missing the point. BluRay is on the horizon, will it be retrocompatible with all the formats that exist now?
Surround is here!!! We work with it it, suggest it, deny it. Enough. Get with it or get off. What's the big deal, more work for recordists. Do a 5.1 mix and mix it into a 2mix or do a 2 mix and spread the ambience to the back, or make your own plan. Who cares? It's here!
What will BluRay bring? That's the question. Whether tis nobler to respect all now used outdated formats than to succomb to the undenied passion of starting all anew? hoodafukknows?
Old 28th February 2003
  #30
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Why is it that the current "5.1 engineers" all seem to be engineers who did really, really cool stuff in the 70's, but haven't done anything innovative in decades? I'm, of course, talking about the music side of 5.1. It seems to me that the only real innovation in 5.1 is taking place in the film side of things. (The movie, THE MATRIX comes to mind)

Outside of the studio, how do you listen to music? I listen to it while cleaning my pad, at a club, while on hold for banjomart, and in my truck mostly. Hardly ever in a "sweet spot".

Also, does anyone else feel that even 5.1 mix they've heard just sounds like music from all directions? At low volumes, it should sound like you are surrounded in audio, not blasted from every direction. Not simply reverbs to the back, or a 3 ms delay between speakers for "space". And I still don't think everyone at home is set up to any remote type of "standard". I just don't feel that 5.1 really has it together, at least, not yet.
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