5.1 Surround Mixing questions (LFE)

Hi friends,

I’m attempting my first 5.1 surround mixes on a progressive rock project and it’s sounding amazing. I am using Cubase 7.5 and I have the Control Room enabled with Monitor 1 setup as a 5.1 output. I use the Yamaha N12 mixer which has 5.1 capability.

Here’s my question: On my N12 mixer I can see via it’s meters that the LFE or subwoofer channel is receiving signal. I can surely hear it as well. But in the Cubase Control Room mixer master meter, I cannot see anything routed to the LFE channel. No signal appears on that virtual meter either.

If I use the LFE control in the Surround Panner to add a signal to the channel, I can then see activity on the meter in the Control Room.

So… I assume Cubase automatically routes certain signals to the subwoofer and the LFE is another path to the subwoofer for certain tracks? Is this default behavior alterable? Is there a way to have more control over what is sent to the sub?

Thank you for helping out a newbie to the world of surround mixing.
----Jim

I don’t believe so. The LFE is a dedicated channel, and you route signals to it via the Surround Panner (or a child bus).

My guess would be that your monitoring confusion is due to the bass management set-up in the N12. (i.e.: your subwoofer being set up to accept both low frequencies allowed by a crossover AND LFE channel content)

JP

Thank you, JP. I believe you’re correct. I scanned through the N12 manual and found this handy dandy information:

http://jimalfredson.com/?attachment_id=469

So yes, the N12 is automatically filtering the low frequency information and shuttling it to the subwoofer. I assume this is how home 5.1 systems work as well?

Yes and it’s not necessarily a good thing but bass management is very much a part of home surround systems.

I can highly recommend reading Tomlinson Holman’s “Surround Sound: Up and running”.
It will answer a lot of questions and give food for thoughts working in surround.


Cheers
Fred

Yes. Most people have those small satellite speakers for their home theater mains, which of course depend on the subwoofer to handle the lower frequencies (in addition to any LFE).

Yup. And it’s unnerving at how different your mixes will sound on various home theater systems.

Thank you for the replies. I’ve been having a great time mixing this material for 5.1. I think progressive rock lends itself very well to surround treatment.

It is unnerving that control over the LFE is essentially stripped from the engineer but I guess the best thing to do is to fire things into the LFE channel sparingly and mix as if the user’s system will perform the bass management duties.

Most mixers don’t use the LFE for music, BTW. In theater it’s reserved for sub-sonic frequencies only (explosions, canons and the like) and when used in musical situation, it tends to be more problematic than beneficial. Sounds like you’re on the right track, though.

From my own studies, plus the recommendation of an experienced mastering engineer.


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