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Author Topic: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?  (Read 12108 times)

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Offline ScoobieKW

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #75 on: December 14, 2014, 02:58:20 AM »
Thanks, I'll be interested in hearing about that.

I assume the focus of most professional surround recording of music done on-location with surround microphone arrays these days is orchestral recording of film scores by movie studios, at least here in the USA.  The situation may be somewhat different in Europe.


I'm convinced the greatest potential for growth of good surround playback will be via virtualized binaural playback using ordinary headphones, and perhaps secondarily in-car-surround-audio, rather than in-room multi-channel surround playback setups in people's homes.   If there is a future for surround recording of live-music of the type this web-forum focuses on, with wide distribution of those recordings as is done today with stereo recordings, I expect that is how most people will listen to and enjoy them.


My greatest challenge and focus at this point forward lies on the post-recording side of things.  Software tools are advancing and slowly falling into place.  I really like to find a way to mix my recordings to a single distributable format which works for fully discrete multichannel surround playback over speakers, virtualizes to binaural headphone playback, and which also folds down gracefully without artifacts for regular 2-channel stereo speaker or headphone playback.  In light of that, I've recently been reading a bit about the Auro-3-D format which is very interesting in that it purportedly can, among other things, losslessly encode effectively 16+bits of multichannel information into a two channel 24-bit stereo PCM file by using a few of the least significant bits to store something like checksum and metadata, allowing for either extraction of the original 6 channels of 16+bit information from the single 24-bit stereo PCM file by use of a decoder, or direct stereo playback of the file for a 2-channel fold down mix without any decoding.

The encoding and multichannel extraction is proprietary at this point is seems, but apparently has potential to become something of an open format.  In any case, the 2-channel WAV is always playable.  Interesting paper on the codec downloadable at this link-

http://www.auro-3d.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/Auro3D-Octopus-White-Paper-v2-7-20111117.pdf

Dolby Atmos is coming to home theater systems in the future.

Atmos is a method of defining a mix independent of speaker placement. Place your sources in 3D space (which may be modified over time). Give Atmos the details of your speaker setup, number of channels, placement, etc and it processes the mix custom to the room.

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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #76 on: December 15, 2014, 01:41:44 AM »
The technology behind object-based systems (as opposed to more traditional channel defined systems) like Atmos and DTX MDA is very cool, yet I don't see an object-based system being obviously advantageous in live-music recording.  It's value for constructing complex movie sound from a multitude of individual elements is easy to see, and I can imagine it being used for building surround music recording similarly from individual elements. It seems to me it's analogous to building a stereo mix from a multitrack, panning individual elements around, as opposed to recording with a stereo or surround microphone array with microphones assigned directly to playback channels.

For a more on Atmos, MDX, Auro-3D, etc., here are a number of videos from Mix Magazine's Imersive Sound Conference-http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/Mix-Magazine-Immersive-Sound-Conference

The DTS Headphone X surround visualization sounds potentially promising.  I haven't heard any demos of it yet.  However, I remain suspicious of any virtualizer which doesn't use individual measurements of the users own HRTFs. In my experience the only headphone surround visualization I've heard which worked incredibly well without artifacts (so utterly convincing it's spooky) is the Smyth Realizer- http://www.smyth-research.com/, capable of up to 8 channels placed anywhere, but that's a rather costly dedicated processing box which requires specific calibration for each listener using miniature microphones placed in one's ears to record personal HTRFs for all speaker locations to be reproduced and for correcting the headphone response itself. If anyone reading this ever gets a chance to have the personal calibration done and demo it, I recommend doing so highly. I haven't yet listened to Darin Fong's Out Of Your Head multichannel virtualization plugin, which purportedly uses speaker measurements taken with the Smyth Virtualizer but use generic HRTFs instead of being personalized to the listeners ears.  Demos files can be found here- https://fongaudio.com/demo/

I'll have to checkout that McCartney VR concert excerpt too.
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #77 on: December 21, 2014, 04:20:10 PM »
Dolby Atmos is coming to home theater systems in the future.

Atmos is a method of defining a mix independent of speaker placement. Place your sources in 3D space (which may be modified over time). Give Atmos the details of your speaker setup, number of channels, placement, etc and it processes the mix custom to the room.

Ambisonics does the same and it's open source, mature, and essentially free. In my opinion, Atmos is Dolby's attempt to keep their rather lucrative cinema franchise going with a surround product that's no better than Ambisonics, especially when Ambisonics is supplemented by other perceptual location enhancers like Harpex.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #78 on: December 23, 2014, 01:01:51 PM »
Outside of both systems 'decoupling' the mix from the playback speaker arrangement, the biggest difference between Atmos and Ambisonics is that Atmos is object based, so some things remain defined as individual elements which play back at specific times and in defined spatial locations all the way to the rendering device in the theater, rather than being a fully pre-cooked mix.  That's where much of the value exists in the new formats, for cinema applications at least.

Other than the techniques for recording, one of the aspects I find most interesting and applicable here is this 'decoupling' of recording and storage formats from playback formats.  I think that's where the most growth and adoption potential for surround sound lie in general, and more specifically for a wider application of surround sound for music reproduction.  Ambisonics has been capable of that from the beginning that’s the way it is almost always used. 

Perhaps ironically, the surround recording techniques I've discussed previously in the thread are mostly conceptually simple approaches with direct mapping from microphone channel to speaker playback channel.  That direct channel mapping is what presents the biggest problem with playback flexibility. Those techniques and the recordings made with them needn't always be constrained that way though, and that’s the direction forward to greater adoption.

In the commercial cinema world, which drives the surround sound market and where all serious technological developments are focused, Dolby now markets their zillion speaker Atmos system to theater owners, while Barco offers lower-cost 9 to 12 channel Auro theater options, and DTS offers their alternate take on commercial movie theater.  All those companies now talk about arriving at a defacto common open standard to simplify the creation, and distribution of  film content (or rather ‘digital theater’, as 'film' rapidly becomes an archaic term sort of like us referring to live music recording as 'taping').  They differentiate themselves by marketing their own production tools to creators, while understanding the value of producing output which will work more or less everywhere through any other company’s B-chain reproduction equipment, but also strongly market their own versions of that reproduction gear to differentiate themselves to theater owners.  The differences lie at the ends of the chain, the need for common ground lies in the middle. This is the direction things are rapidly moving in the cinema world, and is the reasonable and perhaps inevitable approach as surround sound playback solutions constantly evolve towards more and more complex arrangements at the front and back ends of the chain.

In contrast, the situation of the past 25 years or so has been one of final reproduction formats which are more or less standardized (5.1 / 7.1), but using different proprietary distribution formats specific to each company: Dolby digital, DTS, SDDS.  Now the reproduction formats have become different from each other, and it has become beneficial to these companies to provide movie studios and theaters with more of an open common storage and distribution format, while freeing themselves to develop creation and final playback tools where they can differentiate their products.  This is a business to business thing between companies such as Dolby, movie studios and theater owners and doesn't directly affect us as individuals but is a positive trend and the trickle-down from this dynamic has the potential to be very beneficial..

Ambisonics already works that way.  It exists in all three realms- recording/creation, storage/manipulation, and playback.  It is almost never used exclusively for all three, especially playback, at least outside of research institutes and places like science museums. There is no potential for growth of classic ambisonic playback through geometrically symmetrical playback arrays, although there is possibly some application of ambisonic techniques to improve non-ambisonic playback.  It can be used for storage, but is only used in the cinema world on the content creation side (recording), so its use as a widespread storage format is unlikely and also less flexible.  It is obviously used for recording via ambisonic microphones as well as other direct creation techniques, and in that case is often directly converted to some other form for storage/manipulation and final output (ie: directly from microphone A-format to a virtual 2-channel stereo output for instance through a SoundField microphone controller box or the Tetramic software)

Ambisonics might be best utilized as a simple and powerful manipulation tools for other formats, separate from its creation and reproduction aspects, where the techniques work for stereo manipulation as well as multichannel surround.  Ambisionics ‘decoupled’ the recording/creation stage from the storage/manipulation stage and the playback stage from the start, long before other surround formats which are only beginning to do so now.

Harpex exists in this world of ‘decoupled’ formats, as it is specific purpose is to convert and manipulate ambisonic (or other) input to form two-channel stereo or binaural headphone output.

Outside of the cinema, binaural reproduction over headphones is the most likely way for a majority of people to be able to enjoy surround content these days, regardless of whether the content was originally constructed from objects flown around by a mixer on a dub-stage, or recorded with microphones binaurally, ambisonicly or some other way.  Yet that same content should be expected to also work in the car, out of the TV, over a traditional stereo system, in the home-theaters of the few that have them, in the big-ticket Atmos or Barco or DTS theaters downtown, or wherever.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 01:08:03 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Len Moskowitz (Core Sound)

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #79 on: December 23, 2014, 01:17:50 PM »
> Harpex exists in this world of ‘decoupled’ formats, as it is specific purpose is to convert and manipulate ambisonic (or other) input to form two-channel stereo or binaural headphone output

It does much more than that and is not limited to two-channel formats.

It does active filtering, and to my ear, it tracks objects based on their frequency features.

See harpex.net for more details
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #80 on: December 23, 2014, 04:44:16 PM »
Right, thanks for posting the link, and perhaps I should have phrased that a bit differently. I realize Harpex is capable of a multitude of output formats.  I haven't used it myself yet, but it is cool stuff.  However, regardless of it's methodology and quality, it converts the input to a different output format.  In doing that it is an excellent example of 'decoupling' the recording format from the playback format.  The only exception I can think of would be when Harpex is set to output a 1st order ambisonic B-format file, from a B-format input, in which case it is acting as a form of processing, but isn't translating between different formats.

That 'decoupling' of recording and playback is not just something I think is interesting and useful, but is in my opinion vitally important for the advancement of surround sound if it to become more relevant, easier to use and more widely adopted.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 04:45:59 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #81 on: November 19, 2015, 08:24:05 PM »
I've been scheming for years about building a portable surround playback system which I can load into a car and take to a friends back yard, or a remote campsite back in the woods, maybe at a music festival where I'm recording.  Good enough to give people a first hand experience of what this is all about in person, outside of my own home.  A live-music surround road show of sorts; a first go at a portable musical teleportation time-machine playback system. 

The trick is making it good enough, yet portable enough, and not too much of a pain to setup and break down.

I getting closer, recently receiving a Coleman brand hexagonal pop up canopy - basically similar a standard 10' square pop-up canopy, but with six legs instead of four.  I plan to run speaker wiring though the collapsible frame, and install quick mounting points so I can pop-it-open, attach small outdoor patio speakers to each leg, and plug the wiring loom into a Panasonic class-D home theater receiver with 6-channel analog inputs, fed from the 6-channel analog output of a DR-680, and powered either by a long orange AC extension cord or an inverter and deep-cycle battery.   The hexagonal pop-up canopy will the speaker arrangement correct and easily repeatable, make the speaker wiring manageable, and will can provide some shelter - An immersive sound pagoda.

Any suggestions on appropriate small outdoor speakers?  They need to be weather-resistant, and relatively small and light as I'll need to pack 6 of them.  Thinking these may work, price is reasonable, but know nothing of the company- http://www.outdoorspeakerdepot.com/aphifioupapa.html

It may make sense to use very small speakers, and forget trying to get any bass extension from them, and just plan on filling the bottom with a subwoofer or two crossed high enough.  May need the subs anyway.  I'm thinking the tiny "bending-mode-radiator" Cambridge Audio Minx speakers could work quite nicely- very small, and they reportedly sound very good, but are way too costly and have a paper diaphragm.   An old Cambridge portable 2-channel sub/satellite system (ran off 12VDC, speakers and amp stowed inside the suitcase sub) which a friend brought to our campsite to review to my recordings made during a festival was part inspiration for this.

Maybe a plastic housed car sub for weather resistance, perhaps something like the Infinity Basslink?- http://www.harmanaudio.com/refurbished-speakers/BASSLINK+REFURB.html

Or maybe I'll need to build my own sub(s), perhaps housed in a hard-plastic Pelican-Case like briefcase or something similar.  Ideally the speakers could store inside them, say three or four suitcases total- one or two as subs, one for storing the HT amp and inverter, possibly a fourth for storing the remaining speakers.  Obviously this wouldn't be super compact, but three or four suitcases and the folded canopy in it's zippered bag would fit in the back seat of a car.

Thinking out loud here, and open to ideas and suggestions.

I can even imagine eventually doubling the speaker count to twelve for direct ambisonic playback with height- two speakers on each leg, forming an upper and lower hexagonal ring, with one at ground level, the other up at top canopy top level.  I have Tetramic recordings to feed it!
« Last Edit: November 19, 2015, 08:27:21 PM by Gutbucket »
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Offline cybergaloot

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #82 on: November 20, 2015, 09:59:54 AM »
Hmmm ... I grabbed two sets of Cambridge Audio computer speakers with subs that were being thrown out at work. They have just been stored away but may have to drag them out an give them a try. The L-R speakers are cubes very similar to the ones you talked about.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #83 on: November 20, 2015, 10:25:15 AM »
Lee,
kindms gave me an older set like these newer models many years ago and they worked great until the electronics gave out.
https://www.cambridgeaudio.com/products/speakers/minx-min-12-22
 
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #84 on: November 20, 2015, 11:31:08 AM »
^ Those are the ones.  Haven't actually heard them myself.  You liked them?  Decent enough output level despite there size? 

If I can scrounge up six of those used at a decent price I'm thinking they may be ideal.  Certainly perfect size-wise.  However the cheapest I can find them new is $120 each ($199 list) and I need something at about half that cost, which is probably more in line with what these should cost new anyway.  The sub(s) needs to take over below about 120 to 150Hz with these.

The old portable CA sub/satellite system that friend brought along a few times used small traditional 2-way sats, somewhat bigger than these.  Sounded decent, and played loud enough with the sub.  The little sub was the weakest link there.

I'll be curious what you think of those CA computer speakers once you give them a listen, Walter, and if they are the Minx BMR style flat radiators or traditional two ways with a cone and dome tweeter.
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Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #85 on: November 20, 2015, 11:50:35 AM »
^^^
I did like the ones I had, but I feel they were more like the ones cybergaloot is speaking of, as they were the very old style white cubes with subwoofer. There were 4 cubes with one sub in that package.
I agree that the cost you mention seems too high. should be able to find some CA surrounds for less.
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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #86 on: November 20, 2015, 12:05:48 PM »
The ones I have are old, at least ten years but the brand name rang a bell and I liked the little white cubes so I saved them from the dumpster. It's amazing what a university throws out sometimes. I'm in the midst of reworking my home audio workstation and can give these an A/B test easily enough once I get my new Mackie Big Knob monitor control wired in. It's looking to be a long Thanksgiving weekend project.
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Offline boltman

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #87 on: November 20, 2015, 02:48:50 PM »
Why not Optimus 7 Pro AV?  Cheap, tank build, modifiable, plentiful.

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #88 on: November 20, 2015, 04:53:15 PM »
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into these too.
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Offline cosmickc

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Re: Why Aren't Tapers Recording for Surround Sound?
« Reply #89 on: January 15, 2016, 04:24:43 PM »
I didn't read every post here so excuse me if this was already mentioned.  I've been live recording for 20+ years and I always thought the holy grail of live taping would be surround sound and high bit rate recordings?  When SACD and DVD-Audio hit the market I ran right out and got a player and some discs.  That was like 15 years ago?  Now the format is dead or almost dead.  I figured that artists  and the industry would totally embrace multi-channel sound?  I was wrong.  Everything went the other direction, lossy MP3.  I get a chuckle out of remembering how I predicted that MP3 would fail.  Boy I was wrong.  So was the industry.  The idea that overly compressed shitty sounding audio would dominate the industry didn't make any sense to me.  DVD blew VHS away.  I thought for sure high resolution, multi-channel audio would replace conventional stereo?  We all know how that has turned out.  As far as concert recording goes?  It's interesting.  It's more interesting when someone, in post, mixes a microphone recording with a soundboard and that gets mixed to multi-channel DVD-audio disc.  I remember fooling around with that.  In the end it just ends up being too much work for a slightly more interesting recording.  I personally feel that 5.1 or 7.2 is much better suited to movies and some concert movies.

As far as high bit rate recordings go?  I've done a few.  My hearing has been tested.  I've got better than average hearing.  I'm completely unimpressed with it.  I went back to 44/16.  It's just not worth the extra large file size for a live microphone recording of a loud rock concert.  However!  I do feel that both multi-channel and high bit rate are important tools in the studio and I could definitely see doing multi-channel surround of a live classical concert where the audience is dead silent except between songs.  That would probably sound amazing.

One last thing.  I'm sure many of us have 5.1 or 7.2 surround sound receiver/amplifiers?  If I playback a 2 track stereo recording that I've made?  I can play it back in 5.1 or 7.2 using different surround fields.  That's fun to mess around with every so often.

 

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