Jonathan's 5.1 Article

Discuss our reviews or just talk about any old album.

Have you ever had the opportunity to hear a recording mixed specifically for 5.1 audio?

Yes
10
30%
No
16
48%
Five-Point What?
7
21%
 
Total votes : 33

Jonathan's 5.1 Article

Postby bluejupetopher » Tue Dec 31, 2002 11:49 am

I tend to agree with Jonathan that 5.1 audio is an altogether new and wonderful way to experience a cappella. Although I haven't heard the Mad Hatters/Tangled up in Blue CD in its 5.1 format, I've had experience with mixing and producing a cappella in the 5.1 environment through college. One of my final projects in the spring term of 2001 was a 5.1 mix of a song called "Heaven's Highest Hill," one of the first songs Blue Jupiter ever recorded. I was inspired to try it after surveying many pop and rock albums in 5.1, and realizing that NO genre of music had more to gain from surround sound than a cappella. (If anyone has the tools to do it, listen to The Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" on the remastered 5.1 edition of "Hell Freezes Over," and you'll see what I mean.) Whereas many instrumental styles get muddy and confusing when mixed in surround sound, voices simply come alive.
Tragically (for me) due to a logistical error at my school, I'm pretty sure there is no existing copy of our "Heaven's Highest Hill" in 5.1. The school didn't allow students to take multitrack tapes from the building at the time.
Anyway... listen, record, produce, and promote vocal music in 5.1. You'll be glad you tried it.
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Postby seth » Tue Dec 31, 2002 3:54 pm

Does your poll include movies or just music?
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Movies or Just Music

Postby bluejupetopher » Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:08 am

Music only. Music mixed for musical effect in 5.1 is drastically different than music mixed into a movie that utilizes 5.1 audio.
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Postby erin » Sat Jan 18, 2003 10:02 am

York University's Wibijazz'n' is lucky enough to have a friend of the group who's a senior sound editor/a cappella fan at Sounddogs Studio, here in Toronto. He's just started re-mixing a couple of tracks from our latest album 'In The Pocket' in 5.1. Depending on the file size, we were thinking of putting them as downloads on our website - mostly 'cause I don't think it's so feasible to re-release just a coupla tracks. Can't wait to hear them - I'd love to hear the Hatters etc. album, and I'm really glad to hear other groups are exploring this option!! I think before we know it, DVD-A will be the accepted format!
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Postby Treymix » Mon Jan 20, 2003 6:29 pm

Erin wrote:Depending on the file size, we were thinking of putting them as downloads on our website - mostly 'cause I don't think it's so feasible to re-release just a coupla tracks.


The problem with this is that anyone without a DVD burner will be unable to listen to the tracks (unless they can also be read as stereo). Most computers don't support 6-channel sound (I have never seen one that does), so the effect would be lost as a download.

However, this does bring up the point that 5.1 is a great way to avoid piracy (at least until DVD burners become mainstream)...

Anyway - DVD-Audio disks are quite amazing. I've heard lots of things mixed for surround sound - from Queen's Night at the Opera to Tchaikowsky's 1812 Overture. The effect of the music surrounding you simply can't be beat.

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Postby jskaroff » Mon Jan 27, 2003 10:40 pm

>However, this does bring up the point that 5.1 is a great way to avoid >piracy (at least until DVD burners become mainstream)...

Except that any 5.1 recording could be quite simple reduced to a simple stereo recording by putting both left channels in the left, both right channels in the right, and splitting the other center channels. I'd imagine that a DVD drive capable of playing DVD-A discs would have stereo analog outs or spdif digital to create a simple pirated copy in 2 channel stereo.

And those who do pirate music (which I admit I do) wouldn't really care if it was only a stereo mix. Especially if you don't even have a 5.1 speaker setup. You still get the point...mostly.

Can anyone with a DVD-A or SuperAudio drive confirm or correct me on the hardware assumptions?

Josh.

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5.1...The New Stereo

Postby barden » Tue Feb 11, 2003 5:06 pm

Hi...I'm the friend of Wibi that Erin spoke of earlier and am now (finally!) getting down to re-tasking some of their tracks from "In The Pocket" into 5.1. (Yes, I hope to make "Rosanna" one of them).

I know that it will be a true pleasure to tackle this project as the original recordings are so good to begin with (thx to original recording engineer Dylan Bell).

Many years ago, towards the end of the 60's and in the early 70's there were very similar "experiments" into a crazy new thing called stereo and many artists/engineers/producers weren't quite sure what to do with "it" (stereo, that is). Listen to Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" ('68) with only one speaker turned on, and then the other (or only with one earphone in, and then the other) for a good example of these uncertainties.

We (audio professionals and listeners alike) are still trying to figure out what to do with music mixes in 5.1 right now in a very similar fashion.

A very basic question to be thought of: Where is the listener "supposed to be" in relation to the artist? In a stereo listening environment (one's living room, for example) we generally assume, psycho-acoustically, that the artist is in front of us, in other words, we are the "audience". In 5.1, there is an opportunity for more than that. As Jonathan points out, the listener can become almost "actively involved". We can still be the audience (most DVD releases of live concerts are mixed that way) where the artist sounds like they are in front of us, with some reverb bleed, "stadium echo" and audience sounds around us in the rear channels. But we can also be more intimately involved, perhaps in a situation where the members of the performing group are mixed to be situated around us, the listeners. We are sitting in the middle of a jam.

Pick up the DVD of one of the best "rock concert movies" ever - the Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense" directed by Jonathan Demme. The audio track options on that disc actually let you switch between 3 different types of 5.1 mixes (or is two, plus the 2-channel stereo...? Can't remember). Good demonstrative value, and a very entertaining performance as well.

Truly, a further complication comes when you start to think of marrying that 5.1 sound to picture (what I do in my "day job") - the issue of perspective is something altogether more challenging. I have yet to see and hear a music DVD-V that is mixed for proper perspective....but I don't know that I want to... Do you follow what I mean?

Anyway, this is (in an awfully geeky way) a very interesting and exciting time in multichannel sound. And boy, isn't the multi-voice a cappella idiom an ideally suited style for it?

All of that said, the MOST important thing to keep in mind is that it all starts with a great performance...if you don't have that, no multichannel mixing magic is going to mean squat!

I look forward to hearing (no pun intended) what the rest of this community thinks about multichannel sound. Perhaps a more familiar environment: What do you most recently remember hearing coming out of the surround speakers in your local movie theatre?

Best to you all.
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Re: 5.1...The New Stereo

Postby Treymix » Thu Jul 10, 2003 7:32 pm

barden wrote:A very basic question to be thought of: Where is the listener "supposed to be" in relation to the artist? In a stereo listening environment (one's living room, for example) we generally assume, psycho-acoustically, that the artist is in front of us, in other words, we are the "audience". In 5.1, there is an opportunity for more than that. As Jonathan points out, the listener can become almost "actively involved". We can still be the audience (most DVD releases of live concerts are mixed that way) where the artist sounds like they are in front of us, with some reverb bleed, "stadium echo" and audience sounds around us in the rear channels. But we can also be more intimately involved, perhaps in a situation where the members of the performing group are mixed to be situated around us, the listeners. We are sitting in the middle of a jam.

Truly, a further complication comes when you start to think of marrying that 5.1 sound to picture (what I do in my "day job") - the issue of perspective is something altogether more challenging. I have yet to see and hear a music DVD-V that is mixed for proper perspective....but I don't know that I want to... Do you follow what I mean?


As I learned how to mix (stereo) music, I was surprised by a lot of the standards that have developed with regard to mixing - notably, that guitars are usually panned to the sides, bass and solo are centered, and percussion usually fills the spectrum. I'd never noticed it before.

The logical way for me to remember this is to imagine that I'm hearing the song from the drummer's perspective, with the drums surrounding me as the set would, and the guitars somewhere in front of me to either side. The bass, with its low frequencies, sounds like it's directly in front of me anyway, and I'm probably watching the soloist, so he/she is centered.

With surround sound, though, you need something going on behind you. Maybe a good perspective for it is from the middle of the stage - the drums are behind you, the guitars on either side of you, the bass (as it is mainly in the sub) probably behind you, and the solo in the enter channel.

That's obviously a very simplistic viewpoint, with a whole bunch of problems I can already imagine. But I'd like to hear how that would sound anyway. It would certainly be exciting to feel the band all around you, rather than just in front.

The biggest problem I can imagine with DVD Audio becoming mainstream is recording issues: right now, it's relatively easy to record an area drum track with two mics for stereo. Would you need five to accomplish the same effect in surround?

Luckily, that's not a problem in a cappella (except when gabe mann records andrew chaikin). Since most high-tech groups separate the percussion into tracks and/or samples anyway, no extra mics are necessary. If you want the bass drum to be right in front of you, and the snare right behind you, you can just put them there with no ghosts from area mics. And with five (sometimes more) people in the place of a guitar, you can both fill a lot more of the spectrum than you could in rock and give each voice its own space without running out of room in the stereo spectrum - a very easy task in a cappella. I think surround will turn out to be clearer and fuller than stereo. Too bad we'll have to wait a while before it becomes mainstream.
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Re: Movies or Just Music

Postby hpdog259962 » Thu Jul 24, 2003 6:52 am

bluejupetopher wrote:Music only. Music mixed for musical effect in 5.1 is drastically different than music mixed into a movie that utilizes 5.1 audio.


I think same.
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Postby Neil » Thu Jul 24, 2003 8:39 am

That's not even an opinion. C'mon, man... give us a little more?
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Postby sparkleytone » Fri Dec 05, 2003 4:51 pm

Hmmm. This is something that I am quite weary of. I am not convinced that this is necessary for 90% of all music. The day I listen to a Beethoven symphony in 5.1 sound is the day that I scream bloody murder for hours on end. 5.1 sound in music, in my opinion, should be reserved for performers that implement its features in its live sound. After all, thats really what it is all about to me; putting down on a recorded medium a record of what you or your group performs.
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Postby seth » Fri Dec 05, 2003 6:46 pm

You're weary of it, but you resurrected a conversation from five months ago? Hmm..

Anyway, as has been discussed many times here, some people think that a recording should only attempt to preserve live performances, while other people think that recorded music is an art in its own right, related to live performance, but different, and is a valid form of expression for musicians (and engineers, etc).

That's clearly open to debate (as evidenced by the endless debates), but you might want to start a new thread.
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Postby ericskalinder » Fri Dec 05, 2003 7:01 pm

Mr. Sparkley wrote:I am not convinced that this is necessary for 90% of all music.


Of course it's not necessary. Neither is stereo. Or using two or more mics on a full drum kit. There is a whole host of factors that are never necessary for recording and playback. But surely that's no argument that current standard should remain the status quo. I'd be tickled to have the opportunity to sit in the viola section while listening to a Beethoven symphony. (Symphony Center, the renovated home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, offers seating behind the orchestra. It really is a different but equally exciting way to experience some of the most talented musicians in the world.)

Mr. Sparkley wrote:After all, thats really what it is all about to me; putting down on a recorded medium a record of what you or your group performs.


No one really puts down (or has for quite some time now) on a recorded medium that which they perform on stage. Even on a live album, the truly "live" nature is most often an illusion or con. But perhaps you intended to include studio performances as part of that statement...I dunno.

Mr. Barden wrote:And boy, isn't the multi-voice a cappella idiom an ideally suited style for [multi-channel]?


I've heard this and similar statements before and I don't get it. Why is a cappella any better suited for multi-channel than any other type of music?

Mr. Blue wrote:Whereas many instrumental styles get muddy and confusing when mixed in surround sound, voices simply come alive.


Interesting! I've enjoyed the 5.1 I've heard. It's a bit disorienting at first after decades of stereo listening, but I didn't find voices to come alive any more than other instruments. For me, everything came alive. And the wonderment has only just begun...

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