5.1 music mixing

I’ve finally completed my 5.1 monitoring set-up, so recently I have been thinking about and experimenting with surround music mixing. I’ve done experimental pieces before using quadraphonic set-ups, or diffusing stereo tracks live over many speakers. However, taking a piece of film score, and mixing this for the cinema standard of 5.1 is a different skill. I’ve noticed while watching films, that the music is most prominent from the front left and right channels, mostly avoiding the centre channel as this is mainly used for dialogue. Sometimes it sounds like the musics reverb is sent to the rear speakers, creating an ambiance, almost placing the listener into a concert hall. Sometimes however more creative use of surround channels is implemented by panning sections of the music to give the piece more movement, perhaps mimicking the action on the screen. I suppose a balance has to be found, as too much panning could lead to distracting music, perhaps clashing with the sound design, or taking the audiences attention away from the dialogue etc. This is what I’ve tried to implement in a current project I am working on. I have been experimenting with the 5.1 music mix before the sound design has been completed so I have to anticipate where sounds will be, and hence leaving ‘space’ for them. To conclude, I’m thoroughly enjoying being able to mix in surround sound, it opens up many new creative opportunities for movement in music. It’s also, however, quite daunting and knowing what to do with the extra speakers can be a challenge. There also doesn’t seem to be any right or wrong way of doing things, especially if the music is a stand alone multichannel piece!


About nickmaymusic

Composer, Sound Designer for film, videos games and any other form of media!

Posted on 06/12/2011, in Music Tech Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Peter Foster

    At least youre thinking! Thirsty as it sounds, you want to create a sound that reverberates in your mind…your hearing…psychoacoustics. Like creating from an soundtrack like BTO guitar from the right reaching out to the left over time and the left picking it up and when both sides of the brain are engaged…enter in drums…pushing both back out sending chills to the listener. Or using the drums to take the listener around the room and introducing different sounds at the point of hearing. It all is available for a person who is creative and open minded. I’m trying to get surround sound coming from tunes and it is like having your tooth pulled, maybe they dont realize people want the highest fidelity available ehancing lisening experiences and an itunes library is where most will have music stored so to enhance its output from stereo to surround is a great place to exercise mixing. Have fun.

  2. Some really interesting points there, thanks for commenting!

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