Surround Sound mp3s

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lsn110
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Surround Sound mp3s

Post by lsn110 » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:08 am

Not quite sure where this topic belongs, but here goes...

http://www.all4mp3.com/

It looks like they're trying to make a 5.1 system for mp3s. Discuss.

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joelpatterson
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Post by joelpatterson » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:04 am

Strikes me as kind of like installing surround speakers on your motorcyle.
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Post by chris harris » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:22 am

what's the point? mp3 is all about portability, right?

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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:38 am

We're already surrounded by MP3 on all sides.

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Post by PeterAuslan » Thu Jan 05, 2006 7:46 am

Splitting an already compressed signal into 6 channels seems like a bad idea.

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Post by eeldip » Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:43 am

it makes sense, if you head to radio shack a lot of the cheapy systems that they sell to average consumers are surround systems. i think this trend will continue.

and people increasingly are listening to mp3s. so this appears to make sense to me. i dont think 99% of people with $119 surround systems are gonna be able to hear a difference.

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Post by Rufer » Thu Jan 05, 2006 10:46 am

subatomic pieces wrote:what's the point? mp3 is all about portability, right?
I don't think mp3 is ALL about portability. I think it's about accessability too. I'll shuffle through my mp3's (rather AAC's) through my stereo more times than I'll shuffle through the compact disks they were ripped from.

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Post by lsn110 » Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:46 pm

I guess for me the fear is that this is the march of 5.1. I've only mixed in stereo, and I'm not really set up to do more than that without a major investment. This combination of 5.1 and Lowest Common Denominator (ie mp3) gets me wondering about the future of recording.

Am I going to be like those guys in the 60's that badmouthed stereo because they only wanted to mix in mono? Probably.

Truth is, I haven't experienced a great sounding 5.1 mix yet. I should probably pick up the Flaming Lips 5.1 stuff and then find a system to hear it on.

Hijacking my own thread,
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Post by Bill @ Irie Lab » Thu Jan 05, 2006 12:52 pm

I took some instrumental tracks I had mixed and couldn't figure out what to do with and tried a little experiment.

I made rear channels by treating the stereo mix with an impulse of a Masonic hall and delayed it 65 MSec. For the center channel I took a cool snare sample and BPM matched it to the tune. Presto 5 channels for ?Surround Mastering".

At one time a software maker (maybe even the guys in the link, I not in the studio right now to check) was giving away. The S/W accepted LF, C, RF, LR, and RR .wav files and encoded a surround file (MPEG4 ?).

Any hoo, they included s/w to decode which I ran through my pretty decent home theater system.

Result - [drum roll] - I was a video game composer!

Pretty cool for all that. Not 'you are there' but you are immersed in something.

I'll call 2.356 Dimensional Sound.

Enough Blab-blab.

Experiment, have fun, but I feel it?s further rather than closer to the sound of real music played in real spaces.

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Post by Professor » Thu Jan 05, 2006 1:29 pm

Surround doesn't have to sound 'like real music played in real spaces' that's almost like the guys who think recording engineers should be nothing more than documentarians and use nothing but neutral mics, neutral electronics and no processing. Surround can be anything just as stereo can be anything. Either medium can be recorded in a live performance venue, using nothing but a stationary microphone array, translated to the 2 or 6 speakers with no processing, or either medium can include overdubbed parts and solos and other sounds, creative use of processing and sweetening, and mixing to create an ear candy that is a work of art all it's own.

But there we go hijacking again.

There are two big issues I see with surround delivery over a compressed format. First is the fact that the encode/decode is a double-ended system, and as such means that you need a somewhat universal or ubiquitous decoder system available. That might come from a couple of comp-sci guys who write their own software and give it away free, but it's going to be hard to deliver to the masses. I mean, if their software takes 6 .wav files and encodes them into what is effectively 3 .mp3 files perhaps grouped into a single 'folder' type of file that can then be decoded back into 6.wav files on the other end, well sure that's kind of cool.
But whatever they are doing it runs into the second problem which is a need for an effective delivery format.
You can't listen to surround on your iPod, and iPod can't run the decoder software on board, and even if it could, it cant output 6-channels, and it can't decode their surround mp3, re-encode it to Dolby-Digital, and output that because it has neither the decoder, the encoder, nor the digital output.
OK, so I can pull the 6-channels apart and back into .wav files on my home computer, but then what? If you can't output 6-channels from your computer, then it's kinda useless. Certainly I can pull 6 .wav files into ProTools and output them to my console and through to the surround system, but the average home user can't do that. And if they have 6 mono .wav files they can't even utilize their on-board dolby setups for their DVD players, because those are designed to pull in a single DD or maybe DTS file, not 6 individual files.
Alright, so what about burning to a DVD? Well that's great if you have a DVD authoring suite that can import the .wav files and encode them to Dolby, or DTS, or maybe MLP (for heightened irony).

Personally though, I think that aiming towards a surround mp3 encoding is dumb for another reason. The whole point of mp3 in the first place was to move audio files through the narrow band-width pipe of modem downloads. In this new world of high-speed connections where I can download feature length movies in an hour or so, why not just move around full size .wav files? And for that matter, why not just encode into DTS format and send the DTS files over the 'net? Sure the download might be up in the range of several hundred Megs, up to perhaps a Gig, but so what? Modem users need not apply. Folks running on high-speed connections can pull down the files, burn directly to their DVD (or CD for DTS-CD encodes) and not have to worry about any decoding, encoding, or authoring because their DVD player or hi-fi receiver will handle that task.

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Post by vvv » Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:29 pm

Regarding being surrounded by MP3's:

So I like to drink, and I like to go to bars to do it.

Last year I went to a suburban Chicago dance-club; you know the kind, where the drinks are expensive and the women divorced.

Anyway, I got to talking with the owner, and he showed me their new cuppla-hoondo-thou sound-system; you know the kind, where the bins are huge and the midrange and tweeters flown.

And then he took me into the DJ booth where there were no Cd's, records, tapes...

All they had was a computer, and MP3's on a hard-drive.

I woke up the next day laughing about it, without one of those divorcees but with a hangover; you know the kind.
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Post by Bill @ Irie Lab » Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:51 pm

You caught me wearing my purist hat Jeremy, shucks!

My feeling in totality is that heartfelt and compelling are the ultimate measures to judge music.

Still, I'll go on record that a system that can't deliver that level of fidelity if realism is called for is flawed considering the power of the technology available to us.

But I also see music loving but non-technical people confused and being left behind and losing interest. The cause being these crazy claims and format wars of manufacters and uninformed media (used in in several senses) hype.

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Post by Professor » Thu Jan 05, 2006 3:20 pm

S'all good, Bill.

I kind of liked the view from the other direction where I was hoping to see surround sound as the last possible saviour for an ailing record industry. After all, there is precisely this problem that there is no effective "steal-ware" system for uploading & downloading materials in surround sound at any kind of high speed. If the industry would have dove into surround sound 5 years ago with an absolute reckless abandon, I think they could have successfully moved the consumers into a DVD culture instead of into a 'free download' culture. At least with some success. Instead there was arguing over formats, resistance to surround as a concept, and fears of 'high quality stereo' being available without adequate copy protection.
If they promoted surround more heavily as a more engaging music experience, you would have seen more surround in homes (though there's plenty there) a lot more surround in cars, and the one thing still lacking in the industry, a portable disc player with a Dolby decoder + HRTF mapper to deliver a surround experience on headphones.
Unfortunately there hasn't even really been a comfortable availability of the technology on the grass roots side to deliver a surround disc with better than maybe 50% playback compatability. I could burn DTS CDs, but they will only play in DVD players capable of CDR playback, or in CD players connected with a digital line to a DTS receiver. In a standard CD player, they do play as nothing but static. I could also burn a DVD-r disc, but then I have to expect that only about 50% of current players can play them. So for as much as I've wanted to promote surround, I can't do it without a reliable delivery format. (Obviously I'm talking about short-run discs, which is all I deal in around here - nothing replicated.)

At this point, I'm partially giving up, at least on the notion of encouraging the purchase of physical media through surround sound. Now I just want to be more of an advocate of surround at all. And I've got a cool idea going....
TC Electronic has an algorithm available for the System 6000 processor called "Engage" which is a 'binaural mapper'. I can send in 6 channels of audio, with basic presets and some adjustable parameters, and it uses an HRTF algorithm to produce a binaural simulation of the surround signal. Binaural, of course, means that it will translate onto headphones and not so much onto speakers, so 3 years ago when I bought the 6000 it seemed like kind of a useless algorithm since so few people seemed to listen to headphones.
And then came iPod. So now I'm going to do some experimentation, and I'm going to take some surround mixes including a few commercial tracks and send them through the mapper (which runs in real time, by the way) and pull them out to CD-tracks, and then drop them to mp3 files. Then I'll see how they translate onto headphones.
If everything goes well, I'm going to start employing the setup for a kind of 'virtual surround Pod-cast' or some of our live performances. I'll probably put up both a stereo mix, and a surround mix side-by-side to encourage people to listen and hear the differences between the two, and of course to accomodate the folks who might download but then listen on speakers.
Of course, if it translates reasonably well into speakers, then that just makes it all the more cool.
But by far the coolest thing is that it has the potential to be an effective 'single-ended' surround delivery format. It's still potentially limited to certain kinds of playback systems (headphones) but it wouldn't require a decoder at the point of delivery. If it is still reasonably convincing as a surround delivery over mp3, then that just makes it even better.

I'll post some goodies here once I get them going.

-Jeremy

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Post by Roman Sokal » Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:54 pm

imho it's really unecessary in the long run- but i suppose its a fun option to have just because its available kind of thing...
i still think screwing with phasing in a stereo field is fine enough. the other day i dusted off that roger waters record from 1992 which was done in that long forgotten q-sound thing...just interesting phase manipulation with only 2 speakers (l &r)...i was surprised how effective that was...like a phone ringing which sounded like it was coming from behind and such. i'd be happy to do a record just with that!

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Post by joel hamilton » Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:35 pm

Roman Sokal wrote:imho it's really unecessary in the long run- but i suppose its a fun option to have just because its available kind of thing...
i still think screwing with phasing in a stereo field is fine enough. the other day i dusted off that roger waters record from 1992 which was done in that long forgotten q-sound thing...just interesting phase manipulation with only 2 speakers (l &r)...i was surprised how effective that was...like a phone ringing which sounded like it was coming from behind and such. i'd be happy to do a record just with that!
I bought sting's "dream of the blue turtles" record just to hear Q-Sound.

All I could think was, "can I still like the police now after hearing this?"
;)

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