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 Forum index » How-tos » Surround and Sound Reinforcement
Quad and 5.1 in Large Venues
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Tortuga



Joined: Jan 29, 2010
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Location: Olympia, WA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:56 pm    Post subject: Quad and 5.1 in Large Venues
Subject description: Considerations for Quad and 5.1 Surround in a large performance venue.
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Hi,

I'm a noob here, media student studying at Evergreen State College.

I am curious how one translates a mix from the studio to a larger venue. What are the considerations one must take into account to make a quad or 5.1 mix work in a concert hall, a club, a warehouse?

Our Hybrid Music class is preparing for a concert of quad and 5.1 mixes. I remember last year that some mixes didn't seem to translate well in our experimental theatre so I'm wondering how it will be this year.

The concert last year was set up in our experimental theater with the left, right, left surround and right surround speakers set up above the listeners on the cat walk, the center channel floated above the stage about level with the four speakers on the cat walk. The LFE was set under the audience.

Will this type of setup be a problem again?
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Sam_Zen



Joined: Mar 08, 2008
Posts: 251
Location: NL

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Don't listen to me, because I'm probably the only one on the planet, but I would say :
Forget about the whole surround idea.
This horizontal expansion of stereo is just one step too quick.

Just use the stage to set up the speakers vertically, so all still in front of the audience.
This diminishes the problem as with the horizontal position of the 'Rear' set, where some of the audience are closer to than others.
So 'Left' will be 'Down Left', 'Right' will be 'Down Right', 'Rear Left' will be 'Up Left' and 'Rear Right' will be 'Up Right'.

To me this is sufficient for a good 2-dimensional representation, but if the silly 5.1 model should be used,
than the LFE could be in the center on the floor of the stage, and the Center channel in the middle of the top of the stage.
This situation is also much easier to mix with the right balance during the concert.

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kkissinger



Joined: Mar 28, 2006
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Location: Kansas City, Mo USA
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:22 am    Post subject: 5.1 sound Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, I wouldn't say 5.1 is any "sillier" than other arrangements.

I work with 5.1 for live sets that have been well-received by the listeners.

However, one must work within the limitations of the system. With mixing that takes the limitations into account, you can get nice effects that can be enjoyed by audience members regardless of where they are seated. Of course, not everyone will be perfectly centered.

A simple and effective approach to surround sound is to use a surround-reverb plugin that allows you to adjust the timing according to the distances between the speakers. Each sound (unless it is dry) will contain the primary sound and the reflected sound. It is important that, regardless of where listeners are seated that they hear the primary sound ahead of the reflected sound. An easy way to accomplish this is to add an initial delay ahead of the reverberated tone.

Also, it is most successful to use monoraul sounds that are hard-panned to single speakers EXCEPT for reverbs and pads. Why? Because if a sound is panned to multiple speakers (say left and right) listeners on the left will identify the left speaker as the primary source and listeners on the right will identify the right.

You will likely NOT mix for a live performance the same way that you would mix for a recording that may be heard in a small room under more ideal conditions.

The main limitation of surround sound is that the sound comes from around the listener and it is very hard to place a sound in the middle of the listener's head, so to speak. The sound will tend to be a little distant and that's just the way it is.

The center speaker in 5.1 is there to localize the sound to the movie screen or the stage. When I play from the stage, the center speaker plays the dry material (the reverbs sound in the other speakers -- of course, delayed from the primary). Thus, no matter where someone is seated they can localize my position in the room.

The main issue with surround sound is that it is difficult to bring a sound any closer to the listener than the speaker position. With delays and reverbs, you can place the sound FARTHER from the speakers however to bring a sound CLOSE to the listener is tough. (Of course, this would be an issue with stereo sound, too.)

Hope this gives you some ideas.

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