5.1 Surround Mixing

If you’re a filmmaker or producer who is in need of a 5.1 surround mixing service, but is struggling to find one that provides professional quality at a low cost… we can help you to mix and sound design your production. Our studio is equipped with best-in-class audio equipment to give you the best quality imaginable. Here you can do a complete mix reducing cost before finish your movie on a Dolby dub stage.

Surround 5.1 Mixing

ONLINE SERVICE

Surround 5.1 mixing service for film, short movie, media content. You can do a full film, a trailer, or simply a sequence. Choose your online option: 5.1 Mixing Service, Sound Design Service (without mixing) or Sound Design+Surround Mixing.

We will create the perfect 5.1 sound design and audio Postproduction for your project using high-quality sound effects, recording Foley and recreating all the ideal ambiances.

Your movie will be ready for the “Printmaster”, thus avoiding a significant cost

  • Included 5.1 Master
  • Included Stereo Master
  • Accurate Mixing
  • Reinforcement of Sound Design
  • Broadcast Norm
  • Final tracks for the Printmaster
  • 10/25 Days Delivery
  • 1 Revision
Up to 25' 350€
Up to 60' 900€
  • Sound effects
  • Foley Recording
  • Creation of ambiances
  • Reinforcement of Sound Design
  • 5.1 Final tracks
  • Project File
  • 14/29 Days Delivery
  • 2 Revisions
Up to 25' 500€
Up to 60' 1000€
  • Sound effects + Foley
  • Creation of ambiances
  • Reinforcement of Sound Design
  • Stereo and 5.1 Final Master
  • Broadcast Norm
  • Final tracks for the Printmaster
  • 16/32 Days Delivery
  • 2 Revisions
Up to 25' 750€
Up to 60' 1500€

Surround 5.1 service

Available service for

Film
Short movie
Corporate
Spot
Promo
Ident
and others

High-End 5.1 Gear

CraneSong Monitor controller
Lipinski, Geithain Speakers
Avid Pro Tools HD System
Mastering grade ADDA
Class A and Tube processors

Powerestudio has worked for

NBC Universal
Disney
HBO
Netflix
Other brands and independent filmmakers

GOOD PRACTICES TO MAKE A CORRECT SURROUND MIX, TOOLS AND TIPS

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER MASTER YOUR MOVIE IN 5.1 MIX?

A lot of producers and filmmakers mix and master on stereo their creations, usually by the budget, deadlines and other factors. But what happens if your product one day gets 3.000.000 of followers, plays, and a great company wants to distribute your movie in Blue-Ray? Would you like to see your movie with a thin and small focus stereo mix in a cinema or theater? you will have to make a new mix and sound design to produce a surround master, and a new $ budget, and in some cases this is not possible because the original material was deleted or lost.

So consider if your creation could have the possibility to become a Big Seller Product. It is better to have a 5.1 and Stereo master from the beginning increasing the initial budget a little. 

BASIC GUIDELINES AS A STARTING POINT FOR CREATING A CORRECT 5.1 MIX:

  • Dialogues: 100% Center Monitor (sometimes 20% L/R)
  • Foley: 100% Front L/R (but usually panned to phantom center)
  • Impact and strong Effects: 100% Front L/R + 50% LFE
  • Backgrounds and Ambience: 50% Front L/R, 50% Sides/Rear
  • Music Stereo: 75% Front L/R, 25% Sides/Rear
  • Music by Stems: 50% Front L/R, 25% Sides, 25% Rear
Elements position in surround mix

CALIBRATING YOUR SPEAKERS CORRECTLY

Make sure your monitoring speakers are positioned, angled and calibrated correctly. Take into consideration this important step, or your surround mix will not translate well to other environments.

You have a guideline in this document from NARAS “Recommendations for Surround Sound Production”, which you can find here.
The plugin from Waves M360 Surround Manager will help you for achieving optimum placement, balance, and extension in the studio.

Calibrating the speakers simply means adjusting each speaker volume at the sweet spot, the speakers have the same Sound Pressure Level (SPL). Which SPL to calibrate to depends on the room size. Calibrate your monitors with the reference below. Detailed instructions to calibrate your speakers.

       C        R       LS       RS     SUB    LFE

Movie Theatrical release

85dB  85dB  85dB  82dB  82dB  85dB  90dB

Movie DVD release 

85dB 85dB   85dB  85dB  85dB  85dB  90dB

Broadcast/TV

   78dB 78dB   78dB  78dB  78dB  78dB

Music( Stereo)  

   85dB           85dB                    85dB

Music ( 5.1)  

   85dB 85dB   85dB  85dB  85dB  85dB  90dB

(In a small studio you can lower to 79/76db SPL)

Usual levels depending on the release:

Theater/DVD          Broadcast           Web/Podcast/Mobile

Loudness

-20dB/-27LUFS  -14dB/-23LUFS (EU)        -6dB/-15LUFS

              -24LUFS (US)       

Other measurements and good practices:
Trailer loudness should not exceed 85 dB Leq(m)
Commercial loudness should not exceed 82 dB Leq(m)

 

 

MAKE STEREO SOURCES TO MONO TRACKS, WHEREVER POSSIBLE

Creating surround mixes with mono sources is a lot easier, and a lot more effective, than creating one from stereo sources. Consider reducing your beautifully recorded stereo piano down to a mono track before starting your surround mix. Alike for stereo keyboards, backing vocals, guitars, etc. Doing so will allow you to construct a more impressive surround field, with a lot less need for compression, EQ, or other types of processing. This is possible working with stems or splits, when you have finished music stereo tracks we can only use them as stereo in our surround mix.    

SURROUND MIXING NEEDS LESS COMPRESSION AND EQ

The new audio engineers when start surround mix work, discover that less compression and EQ is needed. Place elements in the mix on 6 speakers is way better than mix in 2 speakers. All flow easily. With six or more channels in the studio, the music and the rest of components has a lot more opportunity to breathe on its own, and this lets you not to force the mix.

The converse is true as well: If you overcompress in surround, the overall mix becomes bland or congested and difficult to listen to. You’ll find that the “glue” in surround mixes is a lot more subtle than it is when mixing in stereo.

SURROUND MIXING USING HEADPHONES

Nx Virtual Mix Room is a tool for mix your surround project on headphones, it will help you to place elements in the field. Nx Virtual Mix Room works as 7.1, 5.1 and 5.0 surround environments. You can use it as a second reference, apart of your surround monitors, or people out of the studio.

This video shows some of his processes for mixing stereo-recorded music for surround using Nx.

IN SURROUND MIX, USE MULTICHANNEL REVERBS

To create a sense of a better immersion in the room, use a reverb specifically designed for multi-channel applications.

The Waves IR360 Surround Convolution Reverb is a nice tool. It delivers the sampled sound of world-famous venues and includes over 100 impulse responses of spaces and devices, multi-channel convolution reverb with accurate control over early reflection and decay time.

Another good option is the H-Reverb, which lets you shape and adjust the decay envelope beyond the standard linear forms for gated, reverse and others thick reverb tails that don’t muddy up the mix. Other features include pre-delay BPM sync, resonant filter sweeps, and an EQ and dynamics module for compression, ducking and de-easing.

Same with delay effects, Slapper is a multi-tap surround delay with an intuitive interface, great console integration, and some atypical sound design possibility.

Though the results may not be quite as phase-coherent, you can use multiple stereo reverb to create real ambiance, insert 2 aux channels and pan channel 1 to L-R and channel 2 to mid sides or RearL-RearR. On back monitors, use a long reverb with 100 or 200 hundred milliseconds of pre-delay to create a natural decay and no collapse with front speakers. You can insert soft delay plugins to make different effects. Try and tweak.

5.1 MIX, NEVER SEND SIGNALS TO MULTIPLE SPEAKERS WITH SIMILAR LEVEL

One thing that will harm your surround mix is to send signals to multiple channels, especially neighboring channels such as the center, front L, and front R monitors, at the same level. Doing so will almost always result in some frequency components canceling out, resulting in comb filtering and a very evident “hole” in your mix, particularly as you move your head around.

If you’re going to send a signal to multiple channels, do it at different levels (75% and 25%) or delay the signals slightly – optimally somewhere between 12 and 48 milliseconds. The human brain registers this as natural reflections, just like in a real space, and comb filtering will be at least minimized, if not completely eliminated.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKER AND A PHANTOM CENTER IN STEREO SPEAKERS

The experience in stereo mixing has trained us that the way to get a signal to appear straight in front of us is to route it at the same level to the left and right channels, so this will create a phantom center image.

This method works when we mix in surround, but the difference is that you now have an unobtrusive center channel feeding a real monitor physically located between the front L and front R monitors.

So what’s the best way to pan center?

It depends.

One factor to bear in mind is that the center channel speaker in many home systems, particularly “home cinemas” ones, can be totally different from the other speakers due to space considerations and may even be voiced for speech rather than music. In such cases, the sound coming from a real center speaker exhibits a soft midrange bump as compared to a sound appearing from a phantom center, a phenomenon that can tend to make vocals rather harsh.

5.1 mix setup

There is as well a natural problem when we pan with a phantom center, in that it only works for listeners near the listening position; a viewer seated around the left monitor, for example, will hear the signal as coming from that monitor alone. So if that viewer moves around the theater, the signal appearing from the physical center channel will remain fixed, while the phantom center signal would shift, skewing the soundstage. For that reason, dialogues usually are placed in the center channel. Sometimes phantom center in used to create a different voicing effect, for example with a specific actor.

RECOMMENDED PLUGINS FOR SURROUND MIXING

Waves 360° Surround Tools
A special pack of plugins created to work with surround projects.

Waves LowAir
Enhances existing subharmonics. A nice plugin to create sub-bass effects, add deep and weight to voices or sound fx´s.

Valhalla Room
This plugin is a versatile and effective reverb with low consuming DSP.

Nugen Halo Upmix, Downmix
With Upmix and Downmix you can convert a 5.1 to stereo Master or vice verse, you can solo each individual speaker in your mix, A/B between the source, and adjust the LFE as needed.

UM225 / UM226
Turn stereo tracks into 5.0 and 5.1 surround. You can place stereo tracks at any place to create a better immersion in the room.

Audio Ease Indoor
A nice convolution reverb plugin to create a lot of effects on indoor places. A great tool to design 3D spaces in your movie.

Spanner
A great plugin to control all the pan´s in the mix with total control and automation. Another nice option is that you can convert 5.1 files in a stereo mix using the audio suite in Pro tools.

Auto-Align Post
This plugin is a tool to remove or minimize phase and delay problems. Is very usual when you receive material from a recording (5 or 6 microphones tracks) that contains delay or comb-filter phase issues.

SurCode for Dolby Pro Logic II
Minnetonka Audio is one of the best providers of Dolby and DTS encoder and decoder software. With SurCode for Dolby Pro Logic II, you can create an “LtRt” mix, as well called “Left total, Right total”.

The plugin creates a digital two-track file that encodes all the information needed for the Dolby decoder hardware or software on the user’s end to process the file which is played back on your home theater system in either full 5.1 surround sound or an “on-the-fly” stereo downmix, all at 1/3rd of the original file size. Once encoded, the sound is a perfect match to the original mix.

Waves DTS Neural™ Surround DownMix
This plugin processes 5.1 or 7.1 surround content into a 2-channel stereo mix, another quality plugin to convert your surround mixing to Stereo format.

SURROUND LOUDNESS METERS

Respect always SPL loudness Norm, or your movie will not sound good. These plugins will help you to measure the SPL and peaks of your mix with high precision, they are very important tools to care loudness and Norm.

Nugen VisLM

iZotope Insight

 TC Electronic LM2 

Pinguin Audio Multimeter Pro

In this video you´ll see more SPL meters

Contact to mix or sound design your film

We will provide you the best budget

SURROUND RELATED TERMS

  • DCP (Digital Cinema Package)
  • DX (Dialogues)
  • FX (Sound effects)
  • MX (Music)
  • LFE (Low frequency effects)
  • AC-3 (Dolby Audio Code 3)
  • Dolby SR (Spectral Recording)
  • M&E (Master with music and Sfx only, NO dialogues)
  • LU (Loudness Unit)
  • LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale), similar to LKFS (Loudness K-weighted Full Scale)
  • K-System was created for music loudness
  • A-weighting (relative volume perceived by the human ear)
  • Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)
  • ITU-EBU (European Broadcasting Union)
  • ITU-EBU (EU), ATSC (US) 5.1 and Broadcast Norm

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