Forums > MaxMSP

[OT] immersive – surround vs. multichannel vs. quad

September 17, 2008 | 12:30 pm

hello folks!

i am working on a project that involves taking a room and creating an
immersive environment. the source material (nature recordings of birds and
insects) is mono. my question is, with the varying experiences of the
people on this list, what choices people have made in their installation
work when it comes to trying to make the listener feel as if they are really
there…in the environment. i am wondering if it is worth the money to:

1) invest in a surround system (especially given the sound i’m working with
is mono)…i.e. whether the results would be worth it (have people used 5.1
surround, and is it difficult to encode?)

2) invest in a multichannel interface (like a 2in/8out configuration), and
how to process this for spacial effect.

3) just use four speakers for output and process the mono source material
spacially (binaural).

it was suggested to me that using a 4 to 8 speaker circle and panning the
sound around the circle would create a neat effect, but i don’t really want
an effect, i want a sense of realism.

i also don’t know the status of the various max/msp patches i used to know
about in the past, whether they still are available and whether new patches
have appeared (i.e. spat, vbap, etc.).

i could also just make a number of versions of the same material, get 4 or
more digital players that loop, and play them through 4 or more separate
amplifier/speaker combinations, which would be the budget way to go.

i am basically questioning the immersive idea though…whether it is
possible to do it cheaply and quickly.

so as not to bother the list so much, people could e-mail me offlist.

as always, thanks for any help, comments, or suggestions!

best,
john

ps. i am updated to maxmsp 4.6.

http://www.johnhudak.net


September 17, 2008 | 2:43 pm

Hello,

Though I mostly do 2-track music today, I have worked in this field some time ago but be warned, my thinking of the problem is quite different to what you hear usually …

Doing what you want quickly and without spending too much is really possible. For example, you can buy a M-Audio Delta 44 (about 155 euros) audio interface and connect it to four cheap small powered speakers, this will work at home or for "chamber music".
You can also find some cheaper multichannel sound cards, like the ones used by the gamers. I have met a sound engineer that knows how to use such interface with Reaper for doing multichannel audio mixing sessions.
If you buy new speakers, the cheapest look like being the Behringer MS-16 (48 euros each) but I don’t know how they sound.

When it comes to positionning the speakers, there are some things to consider:

1. Some international standards exist for placing the speakers. When it comes to stereophony, only two of them are widely used: two speakers (2/0/0) and six speakers (3/2/1), this one often being called "5.1 surround". Respecting these standards help you playing back your music on common speaker systems … If you have 4 speakers, for example, you can place them like the L, R, LS and RS speakers of a 5.1 surround array, so your 4-track music will sound equally good on standard 6-speaker arrays.

2. During a performance or an installation, you are free to place the speakers where you want, as it’s part of the composition. In this case, there is no rule but then it’s often impossible to play back your music later on common systems if you don’t take some special precautions about it (like defining a downmix method when composing the track).

3. I personaly don’t like big circles of 6 speakers or more, for these reasons:

- everybody is just doing this, often without having any reflection about speaker position as a part of the composition
- I prefer to put at least one speaker in the centre of the circle (for example, you can take the "C" speaker of a 5.1 system and put it in the centre of the speaker circle), as it allows far more spatial effects than a single circle
- When you really have many speakers you can think of putting them at different heights too.

4. Even if there is a subwoofer, all other speakers should be broadband for better immersion.
But these tiny satellite / big sub systems have the advantage of being very compact.

5. In non standard setups, you can use speakers that are not all the same (and it helps findong more speakers).

6. There are a lot of spatialisation approaches (panning, ambisonics, Ircam, micro-time decorrellation, etc). Don’t hesitate to investigate several techniques.

Regards,
-j

PS – about "3) just use four speakers for output and process the mono source material spacially (binaural)."
Binaural processing is mostly good for headphones and it’s two-track anyway. "Transaural" processings transform a binaural recording to something you can play on speakers with a similar effect, but only at a very small sweet spot in the room …


September 17, 2008 | 2:58 pm


September 17, 2008 | 8:16 pm

Quote: johnhudak@gmail.com wrote on Wed, 17 September 2008 05:30
—————————————————-

> i am basically questioning the immersive idea though…whether it is
> possible to do it cheaply and quickly.
>

I’d have a look at ambisonics, like so:

http://www.icst.net/index.php?show=137

If you could set-up speakers at the corners of a cube (six channels), you can get a really nice result. Julien mentioned some cheap gear; borrowing gear is even cheaper.

You could also have a look at VBAP, search maxobjects.com.

I also agree with Julien that installations are an opportunity to create your own, site-specific speaker arrangement. The speakers don’t need to match, or even be "good" by audiophile standards.

mz


September 17, 2008 | 8:30 pm


September 18, 2008 | 1:23 am

Thanks everyone so far for the great information! After I posted this, I
realized that I might get my head chewed off for not doing a thorough search
through the archives; but after doing a search, I found that I didn’t get
the particular answers I wanted from the search.

So I found that this museum that is going to sponsor the installation has a
bunch of 5.1 DVD players, so this makes it a little bit easier in choosing
what to use for playback. So I discovered that Final Cut Pro can actually
burn 5.1 DVDs, and the people I’m working with have a 5.1 DVD player as
well. So all I have to do is figure out how to make the sound spin around
the 5.1 space with a particular MaxMSP patch that I don’t know yet, and then
how to output the 5.1 audiofiles into separate tracks. Can MaxMSP do
multichannel recording? Maybe I could send the output to Soundflower and
then take it back into Ableton Live to record? Has anyone done this
before? The spinning sound around the speakers must almost be a cliche by
now.

It turns out that I have stereo recordings to work with as well as
mono…these are old cylinder recordings, so I can’t really go back and
re-record them, although that would be an interesting task.

Thank you all for the continued ideas!

Best,
John

http://www.johnhudak.net


September 18, 2008 | 5:31 am

Birds and insects huh?

Well, conceptually you could do worse than spatializing with some sort
of flocking algorithm. Search list for "Boids".

In answer to your second paragraph, you don’t really need any software
besides Max to do everything except burning the DVD. It’s just
learning how to do it. I don’t know what your time constraints are
like, but if you are asking things about Max’s capabilities for
multitrack recording I might suggest getting some programming
assistance if this thing is coming up quickly.

Making spatialization sound good is a multifaceted task and takes good
ears and deft programming to not sound lame. For a natural sound
things like air absorption and elegant reverberation can be key. The
multichannel backbone is the easy part.

bt

barry threw
Media Art and Technology

San Francisco, CA
Work: 857-544-3967
Email: bthrew (at) gmail (dot) com
Web: http://www.barrythrew.com

On Sep 17, 2008, at 6:23 PM, John Hudak wrote:

> Thanks everyone so far for the great information! After I posted
> this, I realized that I might get my head chewed off for not doing a
> thorough search through the archives; but after doing a search, I
> found that I didn’t get the particular answers I wanted from the
> search.
>
> So I found that this museum that is going to sponsor the
> installation has a bunch of 5.1 DVD players, so this makes it a
> little bit easier in choosing what to use for playback. So I
> discovered that Final Cut Pro can actually burn 5.1 DVDs, and the
> people I’m working with have a 5.1 DVD player as well. So all I
> have to do is figure out how to make the sound spin around the 5.1
> space with a particular MaxMSP patch that I don’t know yet, and then
> how to output the 5.1 audiofiles into separate tracks. Can MaxMSP
> do multichannel recording? Maybe I could send the output to
> Soundflower and then take it back into Ableton Live to record? Has
> anyone done this before? The spinning sound around the speakers
> must almost be a cliche by now.
>
> It turns out that I have stereo recordings to work with as well as
> mono…these are old cylinder recordings, so I can’t really go back
> and re-record them, although that would be an interesting task.
>
> Thank you all for the continued ideas!
>
> Best,
> John
>
>
> —
> http://www.johnhudak.net


September 18, 2008 | 6:48 am


September 18, 2008 | 12:26 pm


September 18, 2008 | 12:59 pm


September 18, 2008 | 1:02 pm

Hi,

why do you output the resulting sound via Soundflower to Live ?

You can record a multichannel file inside Max/Msp using QuickRecord
under the Extras Menu.

All the best


Alessandro Fogar

http://www.fogar.it

2008/9/18 John Hudak :
> Thank you Hans!
>
> And again, thanks to all of you who answered my questions!
>
> I came upon one solution, that may work for my particular situation:
>
> http://cnmat.berkeley.edu/library/max_msp_jitter_depot/
>
> panhandler~ does a perfect job of spinning the sound around 4 to 8 speakers,
> with adjustments for speed and direction.
>
> With Soundflower, I can route the speaker outputs through to Ableton Live,
> and record the result in separate channels. With the separate recordings, I
> can drop them into Soundtrack Pro/Final Cut Pro/Compressor; and, if the
> documentation is correct, burn a 5.1 DVD playable on most current DVD
> players. The only problem I have is monitoring the spinning around the
> speakers, as I don’t have a multichannel interface, nor a 5.1 speaker
> setup. I can listen to it after it is burned onto DVD through a DVD player
> that has 5.1, so I’ll have to do various tests to get it right. Also,
> panhandler~ doesn’t, of course, take into account the subwoofer in a 5.1
> setup, so I’m assuming I can just play the unaltered soundfile through the
> subwoofer whilst the other 5 speakers are spinning (i.e. output 5 channels
> to Ableton, and use the original file for the subwoofer channel). [note:
> cnmat also has an 8 track recorder module that may allow recording from the
> panhandler~ patch right into the 8 track recorder patch...if one doesn't
> have Ableton, that would be a great solution]
>
> Again, the friend I’m helping out wants the spinning effect, but I’m sure
> after he hears it, he will be convinced it is much too much of an "effect";
> but, who knows.
>
> From the cnmat website, there is a page for "third party externals," where
> one needs to follow the link to get the VBAP externals that are needed to
> run panhandler~
>
> panhandler~ could also work directly through a computer multichannel
> interface if it is available, and I’m sure it would work fine. Previously
> in this thread, a 4 channel M-Audio interface was recommended. Does anyone
> else have any recommendations for other interfaces? I’ve seen people using
> the MOTU interfaces, but have never used one myself. It used to be they
> were rather expensive, and probably are still quite expensive; so if someone
> knows of any affordable 6-8 channel interfaces, please let me know.
>
> Best,
> John
>
> P.S. I’ll have to check out the 4.6 examples folder…5-point-1-fun may
> prove to be just as handy.
>
> On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 2:48 AM, hans w. koch wrote:
>>
>> in max 4.6 there was a folder called "5-point-1-fun" in the examples
>> folder.
>> don´t know about max 5 (yet)
>>
>> h
>>
>> http://www.hans-w-koch.net
>>
>>
>
>
> –
> http://www.johnhudak.net
>
>
>


September 18, 2008 | 1:09 pm

a couple of thoughts…

1. sound cards:

Presonus make some good cards that are reasonably priced. my experience with m-audio drivers has generally been pretty bad, but YMMV. MOTU is probably better in terms of sound quality, but more expensive.

2. recording multi channel files:

this is easily done in msp using sfrecord~, although you could do this with buffer~ but it would eat lots of RAM. create an sfrecord~ with an argument to determine the number of channels you need, then you route all the outputs of your panning algorithm to the appropriate inlets. hit record and save as a multichannel wave / aiff file, bear in mind the limit is 16 channels (i think!). Then you can open the file directly in sound track pro and export via compressor for DVD (ac3 format)

this method avoids using soundflower / live which can cause latency problems.

hth,

j


September 18, 2008 | 1:11 pm

If you won’t go for an interactive installation, the question could be: why
do you want to use Max?
You mention Ableton Live, but it’s a stereo software. You can use it with
multi channel output, but there is no real 5.1 work possible (yet).
Maybe you could use Logic, Protools, Nuendo or other DAW + a good plugin for
spatialization?
If you want to use Max, some people will maybe suggest Ircam’s Spat:
spatialization, air absorption, reverb, and more.
Check the price and compare to more commercial software.
Jean-Francois.

> So I found that this museum that is going to sponsor the installation has a
> bunch of 5.1 DVD players, so this makes it a little bit easier in choosing
> what to use for playback. So I discovered that Final Cut Pro can actually
> burn 5.1 DVDs, and the people I’m working with have a 5.1 DVD player as
> well. So all I have to do is figure out how to make the sound spin around
> the 5.1 space with a particular MaxMSP patch that I don’t know yet, and then
> how to output the 5.1 audiofiles into separate tracks. Can MaxMSP do
> multichannel recording? Maybe I could send the output to Soundflower and
> then take it back into Ableton Live to record? Has anyone done this
> before? The spinning sound around the speakers must almost be a cliche by
> now.


September 18, 2008 | 1:14 pm


September 18, 2008 | 5:46 pm


September 18, 2008 | 8:26 pm

The only problem I have is monitoring the spinning around the
> speakers, as I don’t have a multichannel interface, nor a 5.1 speaker
> setup.

This is the cheapest 5.1 interface I know of:

http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/firewave

$19.99

I can’t vouch for the quality.

mz


September 18, 2008 | 9:22 pm

But its not a 5.1 setup right? Its just that the museum has dvd
players. you could probably do more than 6 channels, i would imagine
they have several pioneer players linked with a dave jones box.

bt

On Sep 18, 2008, at 1:26 PM, mzed wrote:

>
> The only problem I have is monitoring the spinning around the
>> speakers, as I don’t have a multichannel interface, nor a 5.1 speaker
>> setup.
>
>
> This is the cheapest 5.1 interface I know of:
>
> http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/firewave
>
> $19.99
>
> I can’t vouch for the quality.
>
> mz
>
>
> –
> || michael f. zbyszynski — molecular gastronimist
> || http://www.cnmat.berkeley.edu/
> || http://www.mikezed.com/
>
>
>

barry threw
Media Art and Technology

San Francisco, CA
Work: 857-544-3967
Email: bthrew (at) gmail (dot) com
Web: http://www.barrythrew.com


September 18, 2008 | 10:02 pm

I believe they have 5.1 setups. I wonder if one could treat the 5.1 griffin
box as if you were outputting 6 speakers…it might be fun to set up a small
circle of speakers and whirl the sound around them for fun…kind of like
sitting in the middle of a toy train set and having the train run around
you, or wreath-like setups.

Seriously…I proposed a number of things to my friend, and I don’t know
what his budget is, nor exactly what he wants, as he now says he wants to
move the sound around the space. I think I can use "Spat for that," but I’m
starting to wonder about whether he will be able to pull it off.
Personally, if I were going to have my sound coming out of 5.1 in a museum,
I’d like to hear exactly how it sounds while I’m moving things around, and
not after I burn the DVD…so he needs to either get an interface, or go to
a studio that has a 5.1 setup.

Best.
John

On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 5:22 PM, barry threw wrote:

> But its not a 5.1 setup right? Its just that the museum has dvd players.
> you could probably do more than 6 channels, i would imagine they have
> several pioneer players linked with a dave jones box.
>
> bt
>
>
>

http://www.johnhudak.net


September 19, 2008 | 8:52 pm

Quote: johnhudak@gmail.com wrote on Thu, 18 September 2008 15:02
—————————————————-

> I’d like to hear exactly how it sounds while I’m moving things around, and
> not after I burn the DVD…so he needs to either get an interface, or go to
> a studio that has a 5.1 setup.
>

It’s worse than you think. Surround sound uses a lossy encoding — AC-3. So, just hearing the five channels you plan to encode won’t be the same as hearing them after they’re encoded and decoded.

mz


September 24, 2008 | 7:41 am

John Hudak schrieb:
> i am working on a project that involves taking a room and creating an
> immersive environment. the source material (nature recordings of birds
> and insects) is mono.

Despite all the tech talk happened already, I’d recommend to think about
what you want to do with the sounds. If its single short sounds, I’d
place them into a sound environment. And that will be more immersive if
the source for each speaker is simmilar, but uncorrelated.
If you want to move sound, I’d recommend to forget all virtual sound
source technologies like vbap, spat, multiouts and alike, they only work
in studios (in the sweet spot), much worse in concert halls and not at
all in installations…
Birds and insects usually don’t move while sounding, or they move fast
and the sound is short. I’d simply choose an arbitrary pair of speakers
and pan fast between them while playing the sound. That would avoid the
impression of sound only spinning around.

> i could also just make a number of versions of the same material, get 4
> or more digital players that loop, and play them through 4 or more
> separate amplifier/speaker combinations, which would be the budget way
> to go.

If you don’t need the movement, that is not only the budget way, it is
very effective. It will work, and is easy to set up. You can even put
pans on stereo and connect the outputs to opposing speakers… The
background noise on the tracks must not be correlated, choose different
recordings or offset the tracks by several minutes…
A last word on 5.1, just forget about it, it won’t serve you for such a
project at all…

Stefan


Stefan Tiedje————x——-
–_____———–|————–
–(_|_ —-|—–|—–()——-
– _|_)—-|—–()————–
———-()——–www.ccmix.com



waj
September 24, 2008 | 8:30 am



kjg
September 24, 2008 | 12:58 pm

Quote: johnhudak@gmail.com wrote on Thu, 18 September 2008 14:26
—————————————————-
Does anyone
> else have any recommendations for other interfaces?

I’m really liking the RME FireFace 400 for my mobile needs. It’s half-rack space, so fits into a backpack easily, has rock-solid drivers, internal (hardware/dsp) very low latency mixing, and up to 8 analog outs. And compared to anything m-audio/motu-ish the converters are really a lot cleaner and tighter.

In the 800 euro price range, don’t know if that is reasonable to you?


September 24, 2008 | 1:50 pm


September 24, 2008 | 2:03 pm

On 24 sept. 08, at 14:58, Klaas-Jan Govaart wrote:

>
> Quote: johnhudak@gmail.com wrote on Thu, 18 September 2008 14:26
> —————————————————-
> Does anyone
>> else have any recommendations for other interfaces?
>
> I’m really liking the RME FireFace 400 for my mobile needs. It’s
> half-rack space, so fits into a backpack easily, has rock-solid
> drivers, internal (hardware/dsp) very low latency mixing, and up to
> 8 analog outs.

Just one comment – output 7-8 are on the phone output, so unbalanced.
Although I had some problems with their software on OSX (like multiple
display management…), I am very happy with the FF400!

But I’m also with my MOTU UltraLite (doesn’t sound as good, but is
cheaper). One advantage of the UltraLite is that you can change all
routing parameters directly via the knobs of the sound card, you don’t
need to plug it on a laptop and use a software.

p

_____________________________
Patrick Delges

Centre de Recherches et de Formation Musicales de Wallonie asbl

http://www.crfmw.be/max


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