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Engineer Greg Ladanyi explains why Surround is better (1 Viewer)

Ken Stuart

Second Unit
Jan 31, 2000

I found this quote from studio engineer Greg Ladanyi on why multi-channel mixes sound better (this is just what I hear when listening to the Yes - Fragile DVD-Audio, for example.):

"I'm trying to bring the songs closer to the listener," said Ladanyi. I think you can get closer to the production values through a 5.1 mix. You can hear atmospheres in 5.1 that get lost in stereo. You really have to work to make 60 tracks of music fit into just two. You might have to take some bottom out of some instruments, add a lot of compression, and EQ to make sure everything is in balance. When you disperse the same music over 5.1 speakers, the music has more space to be alive in. It's a tremendous difference."

"Right, and I've noticed bass definition gets a big boost in 5.1."

Ladanyi is on a roll: "Remember, guitars and keyboards' bass harmonics can cover up bass instruments. By separating those instruments in the surround mix, bass clarity goes way up. Sometimes I'll move instruments around in the 5.1 mix just until the bass gets more defined."

"Speaking of definition, what are your thoughts on mixing for the center speaker?"

"Imagine mixing Crosby, Stills & Nash and giving each one his own speaker—left, center, and right—so you can almost see each vocal in each speaker. Their harmony parts are more-easily heard. In stereo, you get a wash of blends."
The whole article is interesting:

Home Theater Magazine on DVD-Audio

PS Although only DVD-Audio is mentioned, the same should apply to multi-channel SACD vs. stereo SACD.


Senior HTF Member
Oct 31, 1997
I am not of the camp that prefers stereo to 5.1 or vice versa. I find it's usually a "case-by-case" basis. 5.1 done right, especially if the original track masters are viable, can sound fabulous. Everything Greg has said I've found to be true on several 5.1 mixes...and untrue on a few.

5.1, like everything, when done right can be a revelation!

Ken Stuart

Second Unit
Jan 31, 2000
Another interesting quote from the article:

SG: Why do you think some folks are put off by surround?

Mickey Hart: Here's what I think is going on: When music comes from behind, it trips the fight-or-flight mechanism in our brains. Until you get used to hearing sound that way, it can be unnerving.


Jagan Seshadri

Supporting Actor
Nov 5, 2001
I would love to mix some of my recordings in multichannel for the reasons that Ladanyi mentioned. Stereo "washes" or "blends" are nice to use, especially when the comprising tracks have little mistakes in them. The layering across two channels allows for sonic thickness and patterning.

Multichannel can sound naked if stark signals are send to each speaker. I would love to try treating each pair of adjacent speakers as a stereo pair:

Pair 1 : SL-FL
Pair 2 : FL-C
Pair 3 : C-FR
Pair 4 : FR-SR
(I would not mix to the subwoofer...leave that to bass management).

I think that this technique could sound rather nice, but I won't know unless I try it myself, and until I can get some affordable software to pull it off I'll never know.


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