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The Cautionary Tale of Cox McQueen: New Surround Music

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DJMantra

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Hi, I am absolutely new to the world of surround music (I joined the forum yesterday).

I am a music producer of many years standing and have worked on many different styles and genres over the decades. I recently posted an excerpt from a Proggy type concept album that I recently released entitled "The Cautionary Tale of Cox McQueen" written and sung by Sharam Gill on Facebook. One of the comments I received was would it be available in Quad? I thought about this and realized I pretty much had the equipment to attempt a surround mix. So two days later, after scratching my head, cobblsing together a monitor system from my studio equipment and buying a Centre speaker this morning, I have come up with a mix of the first single to released from the album in 5.1 surround!

I have no idea how it stacks up against surround releases and have no way of auditioning the results other than in my home grown system in my studio. I am using a pair of Dynaudio BM15A's as the front pair, a pair of Tannoy 635's as rear surround, a Mackie Sub-woofer and a Monitor Audi C150 Centre speaker. The Dynaudios and sub are active powered and I am using a Luxman L2 to power the Tannoys and an old JVC component amp to power the centre channel. The six discrete channels are fed from my Yamaha 02R96 which is in turn fed by my MOTU 2408 mk3 via ADATs from my PC running Cubase 10 Pro and Soundforge Pro 12.

I have tried as best I can to set the levels using an 80db pink noise signal and a measurement microphone at the listening position and have lifted the sub by 10db as per some reading I have done.

As I said, I have no idea as to whether this mix is any good but I was hoping that as many of you as possible would download it and give me your thoughts.

The original stereo mix of the album is available from www.sharamgill.com and I would be prepared to mix the whole album in surround if there is to be a market for it but first I need to know that I am on the right track.

The download link is: https://drive.google.com/open?id=13MWdMe-R-bgEo4Jz9rFF-3RkAJI4ZK_r

It is a sizeable 101mb 16bit wav encoded to 5.1. The file left me virus free (scanned with ESET).

Please tell me what you think and as to whether you believe I am wasting my time with this?

My personal email is: phil@beehouse.co.uk should anyone wish to enter into private correspondence.

Many thanks, Philip Lane, Beehouse Recording Studios
www.beehouse.co.uk

Just to be clear, I am a co-copyright holder in this original work.
 
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beerking

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A big hearty welcome to you DJMantra.
I havn't listened to your music yet but I will soon.
There are so many good people on this site who will point you in the right direction. And give you their unbiased, honest appraisal.
Don't be too alarmed if it may seem a bit direct at times, as folk will want to give you all the help they can.
Is there no one you know, who has their own surround music set up in a home environment? Who could then audition your work in a similar set up to the ones that most of us have.
Good luck.
 

privateuniverse

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HI DJMantra -

Welcome to QuadraphonicQuad!

I just gave your song a listen. I like it a lot! It's very nice.

As for the mix, a very good job, especially considering that it was your first attempt. I like the way that the vocal danced around the surround speakers. The subtle use of the keys in the surround field was nice. For me personally, I do like a few more unique, discrete elements happening in the rear speakers. Like perhaps maybe putting the sax in one of the rear speakers?

If you haven't done so already, check out some of the surround mixes by a few of the more celebrated surround sound producers. Elliot Scheiner is one of the kings of surround mixing. His 5.1 mixes for Steely Dan & Donald Fagen are highly regarded. Also Steven Wilson's mixes are very popular among the members of this forum. His surround mixes for Jethro Tull are definitely worth checking out. These might give you some ideas for approaching future mixes.

Although we are a niche community, having your music available in surround sound can certainly help to expand your audience. I had never heard of The Pineapple Thief or Riverside before, but their music was brought to my attention because it was available in a 5.1 mix. I am now a fan of both bands.
I look forward to hearing more from you. Please let us know if you decide to do a full surround sound release. I am sure that many here will be lining up with credit card in hand to make a purchase!
 

DJMantra

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T
A big hearty welcome to you DJMantra.
I havn't listened to your music yet but I will soon.
There are so many good people on this site who will point you in the right direction. And give you their unbiased, honest appraisal.
Don't be too alarmed if it may seem a bit direct at times, as folk will want to give you all the help they can.
Is there no one you know, who has their own surround music set up in a home environment? Who could then audition your work in a similar set up to the ones that most of us have.
Good luck.
Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, being in one of the sparsest populated areas in the UK I dont know anybody with a surround system that I can audition on. Apart from experiencing the 70's experiments on the BBC in quad using two stereo radio stations and having a rudimentary Soundblaster 5.1 system (which I still have somewhere) about 20 years ago all I have ever heard is at the occasional cinema trip. Ive always thought that music was best from 2 channels as we have two ears. Then, when I set this up yesterday and initially started by upmixing a stereo mix I realized that if you think of surround as a sort of enhanced 3d stereo then it starts to make sense. I don't mind any harsher comments as I want to learn how to do this properly so long as they are constructive but I'm encouraged so far!
 

DJMantra

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HI DJMantra -

Welcome to QuadraphonicQuad!

I just gave your song a listen. I like it a lot! It's very nice.

As for the mix, a very good job, especially considering that it was your first attempt. I like the way that the vocal danced around the surround speakers. The subtle use of the keys in the surround field was nice. For me personally, I do like a few more unique, discrete elements happening in the rear speakers. Like perhaps maybe putting the sax in one of the rear speakers?

If you haven't done so already, check out some of the surround mixes by a few of the more celebrated surround sound producers. Elliot Scheiner is one of the kings of surround mixing. His 5.1 mixes for Steely Dan & Donald Fagen are highly regarded. Also Steven Wilson's mixes are very popular among the members of this forum. His surround mixes for Jethro Tull are definitely worth checking out. These might give you some ideas for approaching future mixes.

Although we are a niche community, having your music available in surround sound can certainly help to expand your audience. I had never heard of The Pineapple Thief or Riverside before, but their music was brought to my attention because it was available in a 5.1 mix. I am now a fan of both bands.
I look forward to hearing more from you. Please let us know if you decide to do a full surround sound release. I am sure that many here will be lining up with credit card in hand to make a purchase!
 

beerking

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T

Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, being in one of the sparsest populated areas in the UK I dont know anybody with a surround system that I can audition on. Apart from experiencing the 70's experiments on the BBC in quad using two stereo radio stations and having a rudimentary Soundblaster 5.1 system (which I still have somewhere) about 20 years ago all I have ever heard is at the occasional cinema trip. Ive always thought that music was best from 2 channels as we have two ears. Then, when I set this up yesterday and initially started by upmixing a stereo mix I realized that if you think of surround as a sort of enhanced 3d stereo then it starts to make sense. I don't mind any harsher comments as I want to learn how to do this properly so long as they are constructive but I'm encouraged so far!
In deepest Welsh Wales eh!!
Ooh you could start a riot here with the phrase '2 channels as we have two ears' :)
And 'enhanced 3D stereo' will raise a few eyebrows too.:)
I've now moved onto Dolby Atmos which is a whole new ball game in 360 degree surround music.
Anyway, I think in your situation by starting from scratch you will soon be able to pick up all the elements that experienced engineers have mastered.
Especially as you have access to your own studio.
There are folk here who have produced their own surround music (and very good it is to) and I'm sure, with a shout out, they will give you some hints and tips.
 

DJMantra

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wow, thank you for that, I'm glad you like it. I was a bit worried about how low the lfe channel looked in Soundforge but I suppose it is the low frequency "Effects" channel and as such, it doesnt exclusively contain all the low frequencies. I wondered whether I had set my sub up too loud and was overcompensating?
I shall certainly give some of your reference suggestions a spin.

I
 

skherbeck

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First of all, my 16 year old son and I both love the song. In terms of the mix, some things we both agreed on:
-drums/bass/low end should be a little more prominent
-keyboards in the rears could be a little louder/isolated completely in the rears
-we both really liked the moments where the vocals echoed in the rears (it sounded like the echo went LR, RF, RR... maybe you might try LR, RR, RF, so it rotates around the room?)
-the guitar could be a little louder (and maybe moved to a rear channel?)
-the sax could sound cool in a rear channel as well
-maybe have all the background vocals in the rear channels

We both tend to like a lot of discrete rear channel activity, but that doesn't necessarily represent the tastes of all surround fans. However you mix it, just make sure you take full advantage of the extra aural space those surround channels offer :)
 

DJMantra

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wow, thank you for that, I'm glad you like it. I was a bit worried about how low the lfe channel looked in Soundforge but I suppose it is the low frequency "Effects" channel and as such, it doesnt exclusively contain all the low frequencies. I wondered whether I had set my sub up too loud and was overcompensating?
I shall certainly give some of your reference suggestions a spin.

I
 

DJMantra

Active Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
51
Location
UK and Spain
I'm struggling to get to grips with a few issues here. Firstly, I don't really understand the layout of the forum. Someone kindly posted me some example mixes - Year of the Cat, Savoy Truffle etc. I found the link and downloaded them without any problems but now I can't see the post that contained the link so I don't know who to thank!
Secondly, when I load the tracks into Soundforge Pro I don't understand the track layout. They are FLac files as opposed to the wav file I uploaded of my own mix. This in itself doesn't pose a problem but I am confused as to the the track layout. The mix I produced was as per Cubase's configuration L, R, C, Lfe, SL, SR. This was correctly rendered by Cubase and plays back correctly on my setup in the studio. When I load the Flac tracks they appear to come out of different channels and Soundforge also seems to disable outputs 5 and 6 saying they are in use by another application - this is not the case as I don't have any other assignments other than my straight stereo feed which I have relegated to outputs 7 and 8 on my soundcard and mixing desk, these are then in turn routed to my front left and right speakers (my Dynaudio BM15A's) via a different Monitor switch which means I can use them either in the surround configuration or as a straight stereo pair.

I am aware that there are many different standards in surround channel configuration but now have a number of queries: Firstly is the configuration that I am using from Cubase (L, R, C, Lfe, SL, SR) a configuration that you are all using, secondly, what is the configuration that these Flac files are written in?

I also have other issues - I have a number of DVD/Blu Ray discs in surround sound - The Beatles Love Abum, The Newly released White album and the Endless River by Pink Floyd to name but a few. Up to date I have never attempted to play any of these as I am unsure as to how to go about it. My setup, as I say is 6 discrete channels fed to 5 speakers and a subwoofer as above. I do not have any decoding/encoding equipment nor am I employing a surround amp to feed the channels. I do have a Samsung Blu Ray player but it doesn't have discrete outs - only the following socketry (please see attached photograph 1) and I do have a Sony Surround Receiver with the socketry shown in photograph 2. I also have (somewhere) a Cambridge Audio DT3500 system from around 20 years ago if I can find the various parts that make up the system.

Picture 3 is my studio setup for anyone interested, although the Mackie's are currently in my Spainish studio. The Dynaudios in the soffit wall are awaiting some replacement drive units.

What I ideally want to achieve is a set up where; I can play back the Blu Ray discs I have in their correct channel format, I can play the Flac files that I have been sent and that any mixes I produce will be as universally acceptable to consumers as possible

I suppose this is one of the reasons that I haven't got involved in surround sound before - lack of knowledge.

I realize that there are a lot of issues in this post and it will probably drive you mad just trying to work out what I'm asking but any help with any of it would be most appreciated.
 

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beerking

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Hi,
I listened to the track today. Its a very nice piece of music. For a first foray into surround music it's not bad at all...imo. With the tweaks others have mentioned, it can be redone to really get the surround system humming.

As far as the equipment goes, can the Blu ray player be connected to your studio set up?

Also can you show the front of them for Model no etc.?

Many other questions I know but for me I would try to get a surround system going first, then you can really enjoy those discs you have.
 

DJMantra

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Hi,
I listened to the track today. Its a very nice piece of music. For a first foray into surround music it's not bad at all...imo. With the tweaks others have mentioned, it can be redone to really get the surround system humming.

As far as the equipment goes, can the Blu ray player be connected to your studio set up?

Also can you show the front of them for Model no etc.?

Many other questions I know but for me I would try to get a surround system going first, then you can really enjoy those discs you have.
Thanky you, I'm glad you like the track. The whole album is something that I am very proud of and is best heard as a whole as it is a "concept" with a story. I certainly intend on mixing it in its entirety in surround but first I need to get to grips with the basics and be in a position to at least correctly reference established "good" mixes as I have no experience of the format whatsoever. I have worked in stereo sound for pretty much all of my life but this is a completely new departure and something that now greatly appeals to me.

The Blu Ray is a Samsung BD-C5900 and the Receiver is a Sony STR -DE-495. I also have its bigger brother somewhere but I think it has a fault on the power amp circuit. I seem to remember hearing a relay rapidly clicking and no sound.

I have a whole array of audio sound cards - Two Motu 2408 (mk1 and Mk3) a Pulsar, an Emu 4040, A Yamaha UR22 but only the MOTU's have the requisite number of channels. It seems that I do not have a problem with authoring surround mixes as the resultant mixes work well in Soundforge and play back as I would expect. My main issue is being able to audition established material, either Flac files that have been sent to me or existing disc titles. I am wondering whether I need some some of decoder with discrete outputs so that I can feed them into my mixer and route them to the appropriate monitor channels or as to whether I already have such a device.

As I said, ~I also have a Cambrige Audio DT3500 system which I need to dig out. Te amplifier has all the appropriate outputs but I think thay are only powered outputst which would mean either using the rather poor speakers that came with it or investing in a surround set of passive monitors. It would be a shame to do this as I have an absolute mass of equipment and I am getting to the point of wanting to downsize rather than add to my problems. I plan to eventually move everything out to Spain and don't want to buy even more equipment and then have to pay to freight it at some point in the future.

If you have any ideas I would appreciate hearing them.
 

beerking

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I've just researched the Cambridge system and the following applies:

This was from a review dated 23/12/2000

As a surround sound solution with support for Dolby Digital, the DTT 3500 remains a freestanding solution to the extent that its connectivity is compared more to that of a small home receiver. Creative describes the system as "a powerful Dolby Digital home theatre speaker solution for use with either a Sony PlayStation 2 console, set-top DVD player, or a PC," going so far as to de-emphasize the nature of the system as a computer audio system. This same sort of philosophy seems to build into the design decisions for the product, as it works fairly independently of the computer system, as opposed to some of the other surround sound solutions that have actually shifted more of their tasks to the computer.

Probably worth powering it up and checking it still works..and then see if the Samsung player can work with it.( although there maybe compatibility issues)

Unfortunately my knowledge is not fully up to speed with your audio cards configuration and how to utilise them.

I can sense the eagerness to get to grips with our passion and I hope others will soon chime in with their greater expertise.
 

DJMantra

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I've just researched the Cambridge system and the following applies:

This was from a review dated 23/12/2000

As a surround sound solution with support for Dolby Digital, the DTT 3500 remains a freestanding solution to the extent that its connectivity is compared more to that of a small home receiver. Creative describes the system as "a powerful Dolby Digital home theatre speaker solution for use with either a Sony PlayStation 2 console, set-top DVD player, or a PC," going so far as to de-emphasize the nature of the system as a computer audio system. This same sort of philosophy seems to build into the design decisions for the product, as it works fairly independently of the computer system, as opposed to some of the other surround sound solutions that have actually shifted more of their tasks to the computer.

Probably worth powering it up and checking it still works..and then see if the Samsung player can work with it.( although there maybe compatibility issues)

Unfortunately my knowledge is not fully up to speed with your audio cards configuration and how to utilise them.

I can sense the eagerness to get to grips with our passion and I hope others will soon chime in with their greater expertise.
Thank you, I just need to find it! MY recording studio is in an old Victorian Workhouse and I have the equivalent of a three bedroomed house full of equipment stored in a haphazard way. I found the sub yesterday and I know there is a box with the five speakers in and another with the amp and power supply. It's absolutely freezing upstairs but I am going to have to make the effort. I am back in the UK at the moment as my father is ill but whilst I am here I intend on trying to rationalize this lifetime's collection. It also the contents of our six bedroom farmhouse which we emptied out and rented as we now split our time between Wales and Spain. I do need to sort it so I can ship what I want out to Spain once we buy a suitable house with room for guest accommodation and a recording studio. I have big plans out there! I also want to set up a film studio and reasonable sound stage for my other passion. I have made a number of films and pop videos, some of which you can see on the "Noochoon" channel on Youtube but I have never got into multichannel sound to accompany them. This neatly ties the two areas together and may mean that I Up-Mix some of the film and video soundtracks as well at some point in the future.

I will get back to you once I have completed my quest - Level one - negotiate my way up the staircae of Doom!
 

DJMantra

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Sorry to hear about your father, I hope he gets better real soon.

You certainly have a lot going on at the moment, to put it mildly!!
Yes, and to add to it, my wife has now found out she needs a surgical procedure in Spain in Mid December so I shall have to shoot back to be with her for that. Oh well, at least it's all keeping me busy and allowing me to switch off a little.
I just found the DTT3500 amp and ower supply. I have the sub, just need to find the five surround speakers now. I will look for its user manual next and try to sus it out.
 

DJMantra

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Hi all, again. I'm posting a link to another surround mix experiment and would be very keen to hear what people think of this as it all adds to my knowledge to hopefully make better mixes.
This time, the track is one of my own from a project called "Fluance". The aim of the project is to write and produce music that I think Pink Floyd should have written. I have around two album's worth of material written and am presently in the process of recording and producing the tracks. I am fortunate enough to have the "ears" of a number of famous Prog Rock exponents who have kindly offered to make contributions to the recordings although I won't be announcing any names until they have actually recorded parts. Some of it involves travelling the globe, so it is not an overnight project.

The track I'm uploading is called "It Doesn't Matter" and is one of the more commercial titles on offer. This version is my original demo on which I play and sing everything apart from the drums which my "go to" frummer Jonny Welburn kindly played for me. He also drums in a pop/funk project I run with my wife, Jane called "Hookstick", for anyone interested, just look Hookstick up on Spotify - I plan also to mix some of these titles in surround once I feel I have the necessary skills.

We hope to be touring Northern Europe with one or both of these projects next year.

Anyway, here is the link to It Doesn't Matter, I hope you enjoy it but any constructive feedback would be most welcome.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=19twwsnW3d3FWRSf0J-RhAVgP6tgaeRy_

Phil
It is a 16bit 5.1 wav file at 44.1khz and I own the exclusive copyright in the song and lyrics and recording.
 
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