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How should 5.1 music be remixed?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Coleman, Sep 23, 2002.

  1. David Coleman

    David Coleman Supporting Actor

    Jan 5, 2000
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    I'm looking to get a DVD-A or SACD player in the future. I'm wondering what the consensus is of this community on what makes a proper 5.1 mix. I'd imagine that i'd like to see a mix where the main vocal or instrument is placed in the center, the accompaning musicians in the main's and the backing vocals, percussion, strings mixed between the surrounds with drums and bass mixed between the LFE and mains.

    I also believe there should have the original 2 channel mix included too!

    What are your opinions?
  2. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

    Aug 24, 2001
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    Politician type answer: depends
    I agree that if an album was originally released on CD or LP, it should have a stereo mix. Always.
    Most DVD-As are mixed so that most of the musical information is in the front and "ambience," crowd noise (if applicable), and some percussion or light instrumentation is in the back. This is what is often referred to as an "audience" mix because it's supposed to mimic what you'd hear at a concert.
    Two notable exceptions in the DVD-A world are the way Tacet and AIX do their discs.
    These recordings are made specifically for these discs. The mixes are very aggressive and experimental. Therefore, there is no stereo mix. However, I feel this is OK since the performance was never released as stereo (or at all) before, so you're not missing anything. Some of the mixes they come up with are pretty damn cool, with lots of instrument seperation. Sometimes, the mixes aren't so great- but that's part of the fun of listening to Tacet's DVD-As. They also feature different mixes for different pieces on the same disc!
    "Purists" probably don't like this sort of thing, but I'm glad someone out there is exploiting the full capabilities of multi-channel music. There are thousands of recordings of Bach's concertos or Schubert's "Trout"- people can buy those for stereo.
    AIX offers everything on a DVD-A buy putting information on both sides of the disc. One side has a DVD-A "audience" mix, a more traditional mix as described at the top of my post. The second side provides a "stage" mix in DTS, simulating the experience of having the musicians around you. Again, usually not favored by most audiophiles, but it's a fun option to play with. Stereo mixes are also included.
    With this arrangement, everybody is happy.
    On SACD, multi-channel mixes are almost always more traditional. A couple of Sony titles are exceptions to this, namely Alice In Chains Greatest Hits and Herbie Hancock Headhunters. I don't like them- not because they're different, but I just don't agree with the choices they made.
    In general, I feel that the more options there are, the better. Fortunately, the SACD standard calls for a stereo track on all titles and they have thus far been holding to that. So, even if you don't like the MC mix, you get a great sounding version of the album. Unfortunately, DVD-A doesn't have this standard. I would say more than half of the DVD-As I own do not have a stereo track (Tacet, the Barenboim Beethoven series, a couple of Bach discs, etc).
    NP: Thelonious Monk w/ Sonny Rollins

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