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Thread: 11) Why "big stereo?"

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    Default 11) Why "big stereo?"

    Steven,

    One of the biggest questions I've always had concerning professional surround mixes is the differences in approach which exist among mixers. Listening to many of your mixes, it is clear to me that your approach favors the isolation of a vocal, and some light and pertinent instrumentation, in the center channel, allowing for greater differentiation in the soundfield, whether the track is one with with denser instrumentation or a sparer mix.

    As someone whose main hobby is to try to build surround mixes from stereo, it perplexes me when I hear a professional surround mix doesn't try to accomplish what you seem to be setting out to do but, rather, seems to just widen the soundfield without any real differentiation. I feel like those mixes (which include some recent biggies such as the Pink Floyd Guthrie mixes, all of the Rush mixes, and Bowie's "Station to Station," amongst others) completely miss the opportunity to provide the listener with any sort of new, or worthwhile, listening experience. Even when working from stereo, I can extract more actual separation and differentiation of instruments/vocals than these "from multitrack" mixes are offering.

    My question(s) is/are this: Why do some professional mixers prefer to work in this manner? What is your feeling on mixing in this manner?

    Thanks for taking the time to take some fan questions.

    DKA

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    Quad Goddess & Moderator Quad Linda's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why "big stereo?"

    My collecting predates stereo. In fact, I bought a few 78's when I was a wee tot. I've seen the advent of stereo, Quad, CD, and 5.1. Some early stereo and Quad mixes were gimmicky. Ping-pong and effects swirling around you abounded. Although some of that is fun for demonstration, it's annoying. Good, solid, "discrete" Quad mixes are the best I've ever heard.

    Why do so many engineers seem to have ignored this style of mixing? My gut says they've never experienced Quad. 5.1 is no different from Quad. The center was phantom in Quad and the .1 is simply bass or LFE. In reality, 5.1 IS Quad. It seems that we've taken a step backward and learned nothing from the Quad of the '70's. I'd love for Steve, or any engineers on QQ to explain the need to "reinvent the wheel."
    KWAD KITTY

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    Default Re: Why "big stereo?"

    I disagree, Linda. I don't feel if necessarily has to do anything with quad whatsoever and is more a failure of imagination and, yes, just plain "lazy."

    I've said this before, but my point of reference for surround sound has nothing to do with the quad era. If quad was already on the downturn by '74, well, that's the year I was born. I've never actually seen a quad system, a quad reel, or a quad LP. Sure, I've heard plenty of transfers thanks to the folks dedicated to doing so, but I did not hear my first quad transfer until well after I was into exploring surround.

    My surround "moment" happened in college while listening to Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral" in DPL on a friend's Bose system and suddenly being able to pick out the sound of a music box in a rear channel which is buried at the start of "Closer." I'd never heard that music box just by listening to the stereo at the time and became captivated by what was "hidden" in music. I began experimenting with DPL and different albums before then starting to listen to the actual surround that was out there. It became apparent to me that most surround looked backwards instead of forward musically, and that the indie rock and electronica I was into at the time would never actually be mixed for surround. I then found the work of one of the first upmixers out there, who went by the tag "Alone with Strangers" and was hooked by those possibilities. This is a journey now almost 20 years old.

    I've heard great modern professional mixes. I've heard lousy ones. I've heard great quad transfers. I've heard lousy ones. If anything, guys like Wilson show us that, in the right hands, that a modern mix and, hell, center channel can do wonders. The envelope should be pushed, and it should be pushed further. That's the problem to me - existence of quad or not, there is an absolute failure of imagination on the part of too many modern surround mixers.

    This is why I'm curious as to what Steven thinks on the matter. He is the only person out there who, to me, gets it right every time.

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    Default Re: Why "big stereo?"

    I think this has got to be one of the top questions to be asked, and I'd be very interested in hearing his opinions on this.

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    Default Re: Why "big stereo?"

    Aren't you barking up the wrong tree here?

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    Default Re: Why "big stereo?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ge Someone View Post
    Aren't you barking up the wrong tree here?
    How so?

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