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Recording with 5.1 in mind

 

Bronze Member
Username: Sem

Post Number: 89
Registered: Mar-04
I just read this today on David Pack's (of the band Ambrosia) website:

"DP Collaborates on Song for New Alan Parsons 5:1 Project
3/1/2004

David has collaborated with long time close friend Alan Parsons on a song for Alan's upcoming 5:1 surround CD. The song is tentatively titled "U Can Run". Alan's new CD is absolutely stunning, and he has been aided by contributions from alternative artist P.J. Olsson, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Alan's son Jeremy, and other very special surprise guest stars. David quotes "It is going to set the standard for a true 5:1 experience for years to come--this CD is nothing short of amazing"."

It got me thinking.. just how much will new SACD's and DVD-A's produced expressly for 5.1 format differ from older cds that were originally written/engineered/produced for stereo. I understand that recording engineers have access to the 16, 24, etc track master tapes of the original stereo cd, and create a surround mix with that. However, stereo cds were recorded in multi-track knowing that the final product would be mixed down in into stereo.
Now, the recording engineer will be able to approach it knowing full well that the final product will be multi-track.
I guess in the hands of gifted engineers we can expect spactacular results. Also worth noting of course is the old saying, "you can't dress up a turd." You need to start with something of substance.

For anyone interested, Parsons' new cd, titled, "A Valid Point" is finished and has been delivered to the record company. I believe it will be in DVD-A format, its set for an August release. By the way, I've been fortunate enough to hear a few cuts, it will be quite a departure from his previous work. In an attempt to connect with a younger audience, Parsons is moving towards the Elecrtonica genre. In addition to working with the above artists, he also corroborated with Simon Posford of Shpongle. I can't wait!!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1134
Registered: Dec-03
Sem,
Some record labels had surround sound in mind for a long time, anticipating new formats, and kept multi-track masters. I think "Quadrophenia" by The Who is a reference to that. But it never took off. So they down-mixed to stereo for commercial release, both on LP and CD. But, now, it might start to happen. I suppose the question is whether they kept the original master tapes. I have some LPs from the 70s with "Quadrophonic: will also play in on stereo equipment", or something like that, on the sleeve. Yes, the engineers can now approach recording with a reasonable expectation that some customers will get to hear it in surround sound. That is bound to make a difference.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 336
Registered: Dec-03
good stuff their sem i'm going to have to pick that
up when it comes out.

thanks for the info.
 

New member
Username: Windhorse

Great Barrington, MA USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Sep-05
There's enough difference between a CD recorded specifically for surround sound and one re-mastered from previous stereo master that the Surrouond Music Awards has a separate category for "Made for Surround" awards, vs. re-issues.

It's an entirely differnet process recording with surround in mind - how you mike the instruments, how you mike the room, what "perspective" you will ultimately create in the surround mix (i.e. using the surroound field to place the listener on stage, in the audience, in the middle of the band, etc. Many surround recordings are unimaginative in their use of the surround field, simply "bleeding" a bit of ambience to the rear speakers. On the other hand, many engineers and artists become fascinatred with the possibilities and start moving things around your head "because they can".

At the risk of accusations of commercialism, I'd like to point out that my SACD won "Best Made for Surround Title" at last year's Surround Music Awards (beating the Rolling Stones' "Four Flicks" among others), while Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" won as a surround re-issue of a prior stereo release.

My CD "October" is a mixture of classical and jazz elements, using "orchestral" instruments (strings, French horn, clarinets, oboe, harp, bassoon, etc. mixed with saxophones, vibes, piano, bass, and light percussion. It's available by clicking through from larry@larrychernicoff.com, where you can also read about it on the "news" link.

Excuse the apparent plug; I encountered this discussion and thought I'd offer up an example of a CD that won a major award precisely because it was conceived as a surround recording, not a re-purposed stereo master.

 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3764
Registered: Dec-03
Good point, Larry, and thanks. I found the direct link to "October" http://www.larrychernicoff.com/october/october.html

Do not worry about the "plug". I think it is generous to offer a concrete example, and one you know uniquely well. There is certainly a lack of good reference material; we discuss surround sound too often in the abstract. I also wish we heard more on the subject from the point of view of musicians.
 

Silver Member
Username: Sem

New York USA

Post Number: 512
Registered: Mar-04
Thanks Larry very interesting, this does indeed lend support to what I've believed all along. I've listened to the "October" samples from your website and am impressed. I'd like to hear them in surround, so I've put your disc on my list. However, my list is getting longer all the time, so it will be a while, but I will pick it up eventually.

A quick note on the Parsons' disc, "A Valid Path." The official release of the surround version, (I believe its slated to be in dual-disc format, unfortuneately), has been pushed back once again, this time to early in 2006. However last month I had a chance to preview it in it's entirety. While I think David Pack's comments (above) may have stretched things a bit, several of the songs did make much more sense to me in surround. All in all, a real treat. It's also on my list.

 

New member
Username: Windhorse

Great Barrington, MA USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Sep-05
I also just finished producing another surround CD (to be released as a hybrid SACD) for a composer named Peter Primamore. We finished the surroound mixes a couple of weeks ago and it is STUNNING. A string quartet + woodwinds + harp + jazz guitar hero Chieli Minucci, and the powerful rock rhythm section of Tony Levin (bass) and Jerry Marotta (drums), both of Peter Gabriel fame.

We continued to push the envelope on "musical" use of the surround field, to create an optimal, exciting listener experience without gimmicks. How about sitting in the middle of the band?

Peter Primamore's "Grancia" CD will be released later this year. Look for it if you're SACD-capable.
 

Silver Member
Username: Sem

New York USA

Post Number: 514
Registered: Mar-04
"Peter Primamore's "Grancia" CD will be released later this year. Look for it if you're SACD-capable."

I am, and I will. Sounds very intriguing, thanks.
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