Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dual Mixing

I just came back from Paris with two live concerts I tracked using a surround setup: A Blumlein main microphone (2 custom built microphones by United Minorities), a dedicated omnidirectional center (Earthworks QTC-1 / QTC-40) and two ambient spots (DPA 4060) mounted on the walls on the left and right side of the stage.

[Add-on: have a listen]

The concerts, part of the 9th iteration of the festival Oboe, featured a fortepiano and an oboe on the first and a trio consisting of oboe, oboe d'amour and bassoon on the second evening. My goal was the uncompromised creation of both a stereophonic and a 5.1-mix.

In creating the realtime-bounces I used a technique I came upon when starting with surround-work and which I now termed "dual mixing". In effect I create two setups in parallel, one for stereo and one for 5.1, continuously comparing one to the other, matching density and detail for the two configurations.

One of the very interesting observations is that this approach is beneficial to both mixes. Auditioning the pure Blumlein-image, slightly enhanced by an addition of the uncorrelated ambient signals to both channels, which can be used to rebalance the sound stage, sometimes gives a more defined impression than the surround-mix. The 5.1-rendition on the other hand has greater density and conveys significantly more of the presence of the recording space than the stereophonic mix.

In the case of these recordings from the auditorium of the Schola Cantorum I increased the density of the 2.0-mix by adding some (-21 dBFS) parallel compression on the sum. The 5.1-mix holds it's own due to the added sound pressure the C- and surround-speakers provide. With this repertoire the significance of the subwoofer is not very great, but it's usage does stabilize the foundation.

Using Metric Halo's 2d-mixer I am able to intuitively and flexibly configure both paths, switch easily between both renditions, and bounce both mixes in parallel, saving a lot of time in the realtime-process. I just tweaked the mixer established for the 1st of the two concerts in five minutes to accomodate the 2nd recording.

My motto: get a grip on all the technical aspects to be able to just sit back and enjoy the music :-)

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