5.1 surround mix

Once the stereo mix was done, it was time to finally take on the 5.1 mixes. After a bit of deliberation, I decided to mix Raven in 5.1 and not 7.1. This was for purely practical reasons. Anyone who knows me knows that I mix my projects using all of the speakers in the soundscape and not just a bit in the center and reverb in the rear. Since the final mixes were to be delivered in discrete 24/96 FLAC form, if I would’ve done a 7.1 mix, people who were listening to it over a 5.1 system would be missing the two side channels. For me, this was unacceptable … so a 5.1 mix it was!

My main speaker set are PMC AML2’s in 5.1 … They’re amazing speakers, however, for years I’ve been fighting what I thought was a lack of hi-end in the front speaker set. Turns out, it wasn’t a lack of highs … it was a lack of low-end that caused me to have to compensate by boosting the highs. Basically, I was fighting the wrong end (try to be aware of this possibility in your system … these sonic lies can really throw you off.

Soooooo … I knew that my buddy Elliot Scheiner has mix a lot of Grammy winning projects on the JBL 306p speakers (which happen to cost around $100 each these days). So I bought a pair and placed them on my mixing desk just under the PMCs. Mixing Haida (Raven) using the JBL’s was a breeze and seemed to fix the low-end cut problem (and thus the need to over compensate in the highs. This led me to insert the JBL’s into the 5.1 chain. At this point, a unique approach had to be taken … turns out that Steinberg offers up an easy solution.

This answer came in the form of a plug-in from Steinberg that lets you insert the plug-in into the monitor output chain to control the level and delay compensation that lets you time-align the speakers sets. I say set because Nuendo let me setup a 5.1 monitor bus for the upper speakers (as per normal), but also let’s me create a second 5.1 setup that inserts the JBL L/Rs instead of the PMC L/Rs. By time delaying the JBLs (that are 50cm closer than the PMCs, the mixstage came into clear focus and I was able to get a really good 5.1 balance mix.

Most of DMH’s music is now available with bonus 5.1 FLAC mixes on Bandcamp. These can be checked out at https://davidmileshuber.bandcamp.com/

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