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Surround Sound Research
Old 17th March 2011
Gear Maniac
Fred Pearson's Avatar

Surround Sound Research

Hello slutz,

I'm currently researching importance of surround sound by conducting a survey.

I have already posted this in the 'Post Production' section of Gearslutz, but it would be great to get the opinions of people who may be in the industry but not directly related to film (musicians, music engineers etc.).

The survey literally takes less than a minute (7 questions) and if you complete it, you get entered into a draw for a £5 (or whatever currency you use) voucher, so it's not all bad?

The survey can be found here: Surround Sound Survey

I'd also love to start a discussion in this thread about what your opinions are on surround sound in general - useful? vital? gimmick?

Any input would be fantastic!


Fred Pearson
Old 17th March 2011
Gear Guru

I attended a workshop that had a demonstration of surround recording with Rich Tozzoli and was totally blown away.

That was several years ago, yet to this day, I still do not own a surround system even for playback.

As great as it is to listen to, there doesn't seem to be any 'pressure' to "go surround". Even for me as a consumer.

I have had mastering engineers nudge me about surround, but no nudges coming from the clients.

I have thought quite a lot about it as a 'next step' and I don't think it would take much to push me - one offer of a gig or a couple of inquiries - and then I would dive in. But the whole issue of surround seems to be limp, inert. I have no idea why, because as I said, I think it can sound amazing.
Old 17th March 2011
Lives for gear

In the survey for how much you would spend on a surround system for your home.. it wasn't in dollars so I had no idea what the numbers represent.. so that might be something to look at.

I bought a surround system.. gosh, must have been 5 years ago.. I only just recently set it up for watch movies.. I bought it with the intent of using it in my studio.

Surround.. to me.. is just awesome. I'm an artist.. and I put on the engineer cap.. as.. well basically I feel like I'm painting with sound.. recorded music.. its like the canvas.. and working with surround sound is like.. I can literally put you in the middle of my painting.. and to me that's just unbelievably awesome.

Also.. well I don't know if this is statistically true or not.. but you know.. there's certain standards.. like THX.. so that you figure it ought to sound more consistent.. from system to system.. then regular music.. and.. I would imagine.. more people probably have there surround sound set ups set up right.. for listening.. in comparison with stereo.. I mean I don't think most people are even aware that there is such a thing as "correct speaker placement" when it comes to stereo.

I say all this and to date I've done very little surround work. The problem is really work flow.. I know that if I do a surround sound project.. very few people are going to be able to hear it... where as everyone can hear the stereo..

Because I create work where its like.. well like Eno using the studio as an instrument.. it's like my brush strokes.. as I'm interacting with my sonic painting.. in the process of painting it.. I mean the way you make choices based off what you're hearing.... and I'm doing the painting in surround.. I can't easily translate that to stereo.. or vice versa... because they sound different... err, I'm having a hard time articulating..

The other issue is... just having the right tools for surround. I don't know if I'm the only one who feels this way.. but I use Digital Performer and I really don't like it's approach to surround.. at all..

Years ago I used Cubase.. and Cubase was great.. Also I use Reason, Record, Ableton.. which... are mixed bags in.. well you gotta rewire them into surround space if you want to use them in a surround project.. which is a little hack-e.. and not being able to work with surround clips in Live is a real issue.. I don't know if there's a solution I should be trying to work out but it's always been an issue for me.

In DP there's the issue of.. suddenly only some of my plugs work for surround.. though more of my plugs are surround plugs then it'll let me load up.. but I really have very very few plugs that'll work in surround..

I'm thinking of playing with Reaper to see if that might offer a better solution for me.

I have one of those portable zoom records that will do surround.. I've played with it a bit.. but again.. it seems like if you want to do surround recording.. in a more serious way.. it's just going to cost a lot more... and it just isn't a high enough priority for me to make the investment.

A while ago there was that.. MP3 thing that was supposed to support surround.. and I think that actually works in windows media player.. I'm on a Mac so what do I know about PC's!!! but.. if there was a distribution method.. that had good market penetration.. for surround.. where if the end consumer didn't have surround capabilities.. it would play the stereo version.. I'd probably do more of it.

Another thing.. I don't know if this actually counts as surround.. but I've been thinking about doing a music project that was designed for a space.. probably a gallery space.. where there would be speakers all over the place.. and the sound's would kinda like.. move through the space as people moved through it.. and obviously there's some interesting challenges to how to get that to work but..
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