You are here

5.1 studio setup?

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

5.1 studio setup?

Postby Andybody » Wed May 01, 2019 10:50 am

Hey!
I'm currently a one man band for a feature film and will be doing all the dialog recording, sound, mixing and music. I know i have a extreme amount of work ahead of me.

The director asked me about the possibillities of having a 5.1 mix for the film. Therefore i have some questions.

I'm running a komplete audio 6 as my daily driver, but i do also have a MOTU 2408 MKIII soundcard. Is it possible to use this soundcard as a "surround splitter"? The soundcard even outlived the dinosaurs, so its a few years old, put it has 8 analog outputs, so in theory it should be working.. right? i have a dinosaur Mackie Bigknob with 3 monitor output.... if that would help......

Switching to the consumer SPL SMC ( https://spl.audio/studio/smc/?lang=en ) is not really an option right now since i had to get location audio gear for thousands of euros, so i really want to try to work with "what i have".

Also, i have been using my Behringer Truth's 2031A since 2003 (actually tried once switching to Genelec 8030 but found myself keep working with my behringers). Is it possible to get another 3 of the behringers to set up a proper surround in the studio?

I'm probably out for a stretch here, but any advice would be welcome! Please be gentle. This surround are is for me uncharted terrirory.
User avatar
Andybody
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:41 pm

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby Agharta » Wed May 01, 2019 12:34 pm

What software are you using and what formats do you want the 5.1 mix to be for?
Blu-ray, digital film distribution etc.
Agharta
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4130
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 12:00 am

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby The Elf » Wed May 01, 2019 3:42 pm

There's no reason you can't do this, given sufficient outputs and amps/speakers. I do a fair bit of 5.1 work here using a clutch of Tannoy speakers and a huge sub under my desk.

But do be sure to understand what you're getting into. 5.1 is not as simple as most people seem to think. There are ways to use those speakers that may seem a good idea at the time, but can trip you up later. Imagine your lead vocals exposed in the centre channel, for instance, and then imagine that vocalist paying you a visit to find out why people are using his dry vocals for sampling...

Especially, read up on sub-woofers, LFE and bass management. There's more to it than you may think!

I would strongly recommend a read of this document to get you started. Pay particular attention to the information on LFE:
http://www.aes.org/technical/documents/AESTD1001.pdf
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 15050
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby Andybody » Sat May 04, 2019 1:23 pm

Agharta: The idea is to mix the feature film in 5.1. Will most likelly do the final mixdown in Sony Vegas Pro!

The Elf:
in fact - i really do not know what i'm getting myself into! :D
I actually got that SPL - SMC 5.1 surround controller anyway. Did not seem to get it to work good enough with the Mackie BigKnob.

The SMC will arrive sometime next week from germany, and my sub
+ additional 3 monitors will get here tomorrow. I still have no idea how to set this up properly, but i guess it will be a few trial and errors.

Whats still the biggest mystery for me (coming from a purely mono/stereo world), is how does the DAW know which monitor is for example LS?
Lets say i do like this;
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 1/2 to L & R on the SMC.
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 3/4 to C & SUB on the SMC.
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 5/6 to LS & LR on the SMC.

How do i set up my software(windows/sony vegas?) to know what monitor is placed where? For example, if i were to watch a movie, how does VLC know where the audio is going?

Boy.. i'm in deep now, arent i?
User avatar
Andybody
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:41 pm

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat May 04, 2019 2:22 pm

There are standard channel allocation conventions and all multichannel-capable DAWs have at least one of the standard formats available... so you'll just need to read up on the 5.1 facilities available in your DAW and allocate the channels accordingly.

For TV work the standard (SMPTE/ITU) channel arrangement is:

Output 1 - Left front
Output 2 - Right Front
Output 3 - Centre Front
Output 4 - LFE
Output 5 - Left Surround
Output 6 - Right Surround

But for feature films it's more often:

Output 1 - Left front
Output 2 - Centre Front
Output 3 - Right Front
Output 4 - Left Surround
Output 5 - Right Surround
Output 6 - LFE

... but there are other variants...

Apart from jumping in the deep-end without any buoyancy aids or how hungry the sharks are... one of your biggest problems will be bass management, as the Elf eluded earlier. You appear to be working with compact monitors which means that you won't hear the deep bass on the 5 main channels.

The usual workaround is to invoke a bass-management processor to strip off the low end from the 5 main channels and send it instead to the sub-woofer along with the LFE signal.

Bass management is built-in to some 5.1 monitor controllers -- but not the SMC -- and is sometimes available in some DAWs. I don't know if yours has that capability...

Oh... and remember that the LFE channel is for LOW FREQUENCY EFFECTS. It's not supposed to be used all the time, and it doesn't carry the bass from everything all the time. It is intended for the very occasional moments when some extra low end oomph is required -- like when the volcano explodes, or the train crashes into the building. Not for every frickin' footstep and drum beat!!! :D

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28715
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby littybeats » Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:42 pm

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but uh, main left and main right are routed through your subwoofer, leaving outputs 4-6 for your center, LS, RS.

Right?



Andybody wrote:Agharta: The idea is to mix the feature film in 5.1. Will most likelly do the final mixdown in Sony Vegas Pro!

The Elf:
in fact - i really do not know what i'm getting myself into! :D
I actually got that SPL - SMC 5.1 surround controller anyway. Did not seem to get it to work good enough with the Mackie BigKnob.

The SMC will arrive sometime next week from germany, and my sub
+ additional 3 monitors will get here tomorrow. I still have no idea how to set this up properly, but i guess it will be a few trial and errors.

Whats still the biggest mystery for me (coming from a purely mono/stereo world), is how does the DAW know which monitor is for example LS?
Lets say i do like this;
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 1/2 to L & R on the SMC.
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 3/4 to C & SUB on the SMC.
From MOTU 2408MK3 CHANNEL 5/6 to LS & LR on the SMC.

How do i set up my software(windows/sony vegas?) to know what monitor is placed where? For example, if i were to watch a movie, how does VLC know where the audio is going?

Boy.. i'm in deep now, arent i?
littybeats
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:38 pm

Re: 5.1 studio setup?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:41 pm

littybeats wrote:So, correct me if I’m wrong, but uh, main left and main right are routed through your subwoofer, leaving outputs 4-6 for your center, LS, RS.

Right?

Wrong! Or at least, not quite right...

This all depends on the sophistication of the system's bass management, but in theory if any of the five main speakers have restricted bass extension the low end from all of those channels is routed into the subwoofer, along with the LFE channel.

Whats still the biggest mystery for me (coming from a purely mono/stereo world), is how does the DAW know which monitor is for example LS?

Simply because you nominate different buses to feed different speakers.

There are a couple of different conventions for film and TV, but the latter expects front left right on buses 1/2, centre on 3, lfe on 4, and rear left/right on 5/6. ... as per your plan

How do i set up my software(windows/sony vegas?) to know what monitor is placed where? For example, if i were to watch a movie, how does VLC know where the audio is going?

You go into the program preferences, channel allocation, and tell it what is on what channel.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 28715
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound