Oh, oh … sad news on surround sound music mixes

The SMR Home Theatre web site has a fascinating, if in parts depressing, report on ‘Surround Professional 2002’. What was fascinating was an insight into the surround mixing philosophy of some highly regarded professionals. Here are a few excerpts from one of the pages:

When asked about using the center channel more for vocals, Scheiner recounted his first surround mix, where he had placed the vocals exclusively in the center channel. The singer, whom he wouldn’t name but said was ‘your typically insecure diva’, found out from her manager that it was possible to turn down the other channels and hear just her vocals. Scheiner said he ‘caught hell’ for his mix, adding ‘I’ll never do that again!’ The other panel members agreed completely. …None of them mixed with bass management in mind. When asked about the .1 LFE channel, Botnick said that his mixes were all basically 5.0, but that he ‘always put something, anything, into the sub channel so that the light goes on and people don’t complain that it’s not really 5.1.’ The others laughed in agreement, ‘Gotta light up all the lights!’ …

Sheiner also complained about all the questions regarding use of the center channel, ‘Why does everybody keep bringing that up?’ I explained that it allowed listeners all over the room to point to the same location for the vocalist. For a moment, I saw a light bulb go on over his head as he finally seemed to ‘get it’, but just as quickly dim. ‘Yeah, it makes sense, but I couldn’t do that.’

Depressing indeed.

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