Old 07-10-2021, 01:55 AM   #1
timothys_monster
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Default What to use for a simple 5.1 headphone mix?

I am overwhelmed by the amount of software out there and about to do my first surround mix for a short film. The client wants it to be 5.1 and a stereo mixdown as well. What can you guys recommend for doing that with headphones only?
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Old 07-10-2021, 02:45 PM   #2
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Have you checked the new ReaSurround plugin?
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Old 07-10-2021, 03:45 PM   #3
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Yes, thanks! I think it would tick all the boxes regarding the mix itself (only thing missing would be a surround reverb). But I only have a pair of AKG K271 stereo headphones. So I was wondering if there is some good plugin or other software out there to emulate a 5.1 speaker monitoring.
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Old 07-10-2021, 06:18 PM   #4
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Then, maybe look at the IEM ambisonic plugins: you can have a monitoring track with a binaural decoder for monitoring on headphones, and a "speakers" track on which you can setup the 5.1 array with the AllRADecoder plugin.

You can find an AllRAD json configuration file for the 7.1 setup here: https://git.iem.at/audioplugins/IEMP...s/7point1.json
This file can be loaded in AllRAD to view and edit the speaker setup (you can remove the extra side speakers to make it 5.1, or create your own 5.1 from scratch).

Last edited by sguyader; 07-10-2021 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 07-12-2021, 08:25 AM   #5
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I would also recommend Blue Ripple O3A plugins.

https://www.blueripplesound.com/products/o3a-core
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Old 07-12-2021, 01:55 PM   #6
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So, this isn't "simple" per se, in that you need to buy some expensive plugins. But I typically mix in 5.1 while monitoring stereo by using the Nugen Halo plugins. All of my panning and routing stays 5.1 throughout. You can do this without a dedicated plugin though-

L to L at 0db
R to R at 0db
C to L at -3db
C to R at -3db
Ls to L at -3db
Rs to R at -3db
Lfe- mute

I'm pretty sure you could set up an instance of ReaSurroundPan with these parameters, and put it on your main bus before the Master.

Have found no success emulating 5.1 with headphones, unfortunately. On the plus side- for the majority of mixes I'm not sure you need it.
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Old 07-12-2021, 09:00 PM   #7
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I second the IEM and Blue Ripple recommendations and use both. Having said that, I have yet to find a Binaural encoder that works adequately with my ears and I've tried plenty of them. The best I've achieved with Binaural over headphones is better left / right externalisation but nothing really convincing front / back or up / down.
In fact, the only convincing Binaural recordings I've heard are the virtual barber shop and a few others created with the Neumann Binaural head (ku100 I think from memory).
In order for Binaural to be truly convincing, I'm suspecting I'd need to have a custom HRTF created for my ears and I don't have the funds for that.
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Old 07-13-2021, 01:25 AM   #8
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Thank you so much for the valuable input, everyone! I guess the culprit always is a proper head tracker to really "feel" the surround in your headphones. I am willing to get one if I can first make the surround plugins work and understand. So, step by step I guess...
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Old 07-13-2021, 02:12 AM   #9
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I was just testing Waves' NX head tracking system and although it is a rather small sweet spot I can work in, I was amazed by the ease-of-use together with ReaSurroundPan. Very straight forward workflow! If I was about to get a head tracker, what would you recommend? Thinking about TrackIR or a bluetooth device or even my phone strapped up on my head.. although that might just weigh too much over time.
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Old 07-16-2021, 08:46 PM   #10
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I'm of the opinion that a head tracker would be most effective if the HRTF was well matched to the listener first. I haven't bothered finding one because I've yet to find a convincing HRTF.
Waves NX coloured the sound too much for my liking and didn't provide a very convincing image despite many hours of testing and tweaking it's settings.
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Old 07-16-2021, 10:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothys_monster View Post
I was just testing Waves' NX head tracking system and although it is a rather small sweet spot I can work in, I was amazed by the ease-of-use together with ReaSurroundPan. Very straight forward workflow! If I was about to get a head tracker, what would you recommend? Thinking about TrackIR or a bluetooth device or even my phone strapped up on my head.. although that might just weigh too much over time.
I just ordered a headtracker from Supperware. I like that it is designed for this exact purpose and seems to use open standards and connect with just about everything I would use it with. I'll let you all know how I get on with it.
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Old 07-18-2021, 04:23 AM   #12
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There is no need to use ambisonics if you want to binauralize a 5.1 mix - at least not for a static rendering without head tracking. You can convolve the 6 channels with HRIRs or BRIRs (binaural room impulse responses). BRIRs will have a more coloured sound but (maybe) more effective externalisation.

I made a little 5.1 binaural example using the BBC listening room BRIRs (CC-BY-SA-4.0 License):

https://stash.reaper.fm/v/42451/Binaural51-demo.zip

I'm not sure if there is a simpler way to do the routing in the project. I wanted to put all the ReaVerbs on one track but couldn't figure it out.
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Old 07-18-2021, 09:55 AM   #13
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You really need to have an Audio devise that has 6 outs. Put those outs on a 5.1 audio system and then finish your project.

You cannot really get good 5.1 results from headphones.


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Old 08-02-2021, 05:02 AM   #14
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Hey everyone, I just wanted to give a little update.

I am trying out two different head trackers at the moment. At first, Waves' NX arrived and I like the ease-of-use for a simple 5.1 mix very much. I only need it on my master track and an instance of ReaSurroundPan on each track and I am done! Although even with both, bluetooth and camera on, it keeps dropping out every now and then.

Supperware's headtracker is much more reliable even with big head movements. I guess it also has to do with it being connected via USB instead of bluetooth.

Since Supperware "only" supports Ambisonics and not Waves' NX, I went with the IEM plugin suite and am using the headtracker via OSC and the Scene Rotator plugin which works like a charm.

I went for 3rd order Ambisonics (16 channels per track) to create the mix and then still need to find a good way to convert the final mix into stereo or 5.1 reliably.

So far I have been using Rode's SoundField for conversion to 5.1 and BlueRippleSound's free Stereo Decoder. I am very happy with the stereo output but not so much with the 5.1 and it is hard to judge anyway since I have no hardware setup to test yet. Also, SoundField only supports 8 input channels, so I need to convert it to 2nd order before mixdown. Or should I use 1st order, since 2nd order would actually be 9 channels and not 8, am I right?

EDIT: I just saw that Blue Ripple comes with a simple 5.1 decoder, too and it has 16 inputs, so that one does sound a bit better as far as I can tell. I still need to hear it on a proper setup, obviously.

A lot of confusion still, but getting there and having a head tracker makes this new way of mixing very enjoyable!

Oh, and does anyone know where I can get Ambisonic room tones???

Last edited by timothys_monster; 08-02-2021 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 08-02-2021, 04:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothys_monster View Post

Supperware's headtracker is much more reliable even with big head movements. I guess it also has to do with it being connected via USB instead of bluetooth.

Since Supperware "only" supports Ambisonics and not Waves' NX, I went with the IEM plugin suite and am using the headtracker via OSC and the Scene Rotator plugin which works like a charm.
Thanks for the update. I also just picked up the Supperware headtracker and am finding it very accurate and useful. I am suspicious we might be able to get it working with one of the JS 5.1 (and greater) rotators. I'll let you know how I get on with that as it will be nice when working with channel based panning.
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Old 08-04-2021, 01:13 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothys_monster View Post


EDIT: I just saw that Blue Ripple comes with a simple 5.1 decoder, too and it has 16 inputs, so that one does sound a bit better as far as I can tell. I still need to hear it on a proper setup, obviously.

A lot of confusion still, but getting there and having a head tracker makes this new way of mixing very enjoyable!
The Blue Ripple decoders are the best I've used and are my go-to decoders. I was so impressed that I purchased their full decoder and upmixer bundles a while back and have been using them for a few years now.
I really like the IEM stuff too but the Blue Ripple decoders sound better to me by a fair margain. The rest of the IEM suite is just as good quality wise as Blue Ripple though from my experience.
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timothys_monster View Post

Oh, and does anyone know where I can get Ambisonic room tones???
You have a lot of choice

https://www.boomlibrary.com/sound-ef...-tones-europe/ 2x40 (just pad to 51)
https://shop.prosoundeffects.com/pro...opean-capitals 51, unknown order
https://freesound.org/search/?q=room...advanced=0&g=1 usually SMPTE 51 , but also CCAT
https://www.asoundeffect.com/sound-l...-2-o2a-stereo/ 2oA Ambix
https://shop.prosoundeffects.com/pro...ffects-library 1oA , probably fuma??
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