multi-channel wav support

I really love WaveLab, but it’s lack of support for opening and editing multi-channel (more than 2) wav files is disappointing.
This has been supported in other editors for several years, and Steinberg should make this a high priority, especially in a high-end product such as WaveLab 7.

You can import a multichannel file in the montage. But I guess you expect more.

it would be great if wavelab would support multichannel wav files. Other software manages it just fine, I was hoping that with WL7 being such a radical rewrite it would be included…but there was no demand :wink:
etc etc etc

I would like to re-iterate the desirability of this feature in WaveLab. It is not an issue of surround, but an issue of increasing use of this format in acquisition. The attraction is more convenient handling of ISO channel output from devices like the Nagra VI.

Likewise RME use this format of output for efficiency in use of recording resources - the current Global Record facility in DigiCheck and direct recording via USB from the new UFX interface are key examples. Currently this efficiency is compromised because of the need to run the resulting files through an external “splitting” program, to present Wavelab with a set of multiple files.

This feature was requested in WL6 times, and it was hoped that WL7 would have addressed it. The basic feature would appear to be the ability to ingest a Poly BWF (up to 8 channels?) and configure it in the montage as a set of mono/stereo files, to be then processed as at present. I would like to see a commitment that Poly BWF will be supported in the next revision after WL7.1.

Surely handling multiple streams of mono, stereo & now surround audio is getting well beyond any Editor and rapidly starting to become a full DAW in it’s own right at this point, albeit one without MIDI (hurrah for that, too, says I).

WaveLab does not need this - if you need this kind of stuff go grab Cubase or Nuendo!!

I respectfully disagree Neil… Shouldn’t an app claiming to make DVD-Audio discs as a feature be able to handle multichannel files, a staple of that format? I might agree if we lacked that option, and Steinberg wasn’t selling it as a feature. But they are so that’s kind of moot. Yesterday I tried dropping both interleaved and split multichannel files into the Montage, after the File editor failed to open them in sync. It was ugly and not great fun. I’m still not sure why “multichannel” montages exist, or at least how to use them (no help from the non-existent docs, and the help system doesn’t make things easy to find).

Furthermore, while Cubase, Nuendo, Logic and ProTools are all great multichannel editors, most aren’t very good at flexible deliveries (that’s really what I do as a mastering engineer: deliver multiple files formatted for various consumer playback media and targets). They might be able to handle the processing and tasks by various kludges, but lack useful features like meta-tagging, text/delivery documentation, clip/object based processing, autospacing, and advanced fade handling. Some are necessities, some nice-to-haves, but all common in mastering daws.

One of WL7’s unique and powerful features is it’s terrific file editor. It can open/munge any mono or interleaved stereo file you throw at it, even broken ones. It doesn’t require any voodoo or magic to add more channels to it’s existing interleave-reading capabilities. But every mastering engineer who delivers files for DVD or gets sources from video houses REQUIRES some tool to edit/munge/tag interleaved multichannel sources, even if we process elsewhere. These grunt-level tools are distinct from DAWs, but already part of WL7’s arsenal. All of this applies to analysis in spades - where is this functionality? Why is it missing?

Finally some of the competition already does this fairly well. soundBlade is actually pretty good at some multichannel work, as is Peak on mac (not sure about PC). So by most measures, WL7 does need to improve it’s flexibility.

What’s lacking across the board is smart handling and reading of multichannel files in even conventional formats. It would be an improvement to state what kind of multichannel files WL7 prefers. It would be sufficient for it to cover the basics: AIFF and WAV interleaved and split files (in the most-common/familiar .L/C/R and .1/2/3 configurations). And it would be ideal if we could accept most conventional formats and deliver to same, but I realize this might be something we get in a major revision down the line, 7.2 or later.

To me this looks more like an opportunity than a problem or bug. If WL7 handled interleaved multichannel files identically to stereo interleaved files it would have a real, compelling advantage over the competition. If nothing else it checks off a box/need when doing research on what to buy.

At any rate, in many modern mastering rooms multichannel has been around for quite awhile and shows no signs of going away as targets multiply. I see no functional benefits to using a multitrack DAW for mastering tasks, and they are incapable of doing many of the basic jobs that need doing. I understand that many here work in stereo-only world, delivering CDs and tracks for iTunes. At least a few of us have other unmet multichannel needs. Maybe Steinberg can win a few customers by addressing it, with the added sales and features benefiting all?

I was going to reply but Daved said it much better than I could have.

Right now, Sound Forge opens multi-channel files, but it is not a multi-track editor (like REAPER), which is fine. I just want to then be able to mix the multi-channel/poly file to stereo - just like the montage at the moment. A couple of free-ware editors will also do this.

Multi-channel files can be imported into a montage at the moment. I had a 5-channel poly .wav file from a Nagra VI which wouldn’t import. Eventually, I was told by PG that it wouldn’t import because it was 5 channels, whereas the montage will only handle 6. I inferred that if I had recorded an additional empty channel, it would have been possible!

So basically all that is being requested is a more general ability to correctly interpret and ingest flexibly (appropriate mono and stereo configuration) into a montage any poly BWF file, up to an appropriate number of channels, and I suggest 8 as a starter (which is the maximum track count from the Nagra VI, owners of an SD788 may suggest a higher number ). After that, operation largely as at present.

Are there others out there who potentially find the poly BWF format a more convenient way of handling multi-channel acquisition?

I’m not sure it matters (BWF) - interleaved AIFFs seem to open just as well in my world (Logic, soundBlade, DVD Studio Pro etc). sB and PT split them up nicely, while Logic keeps them packed in a lane. I do like BWF’s rich tags and rational time references though, and wouldn’t mind seeing them as a “standard”. Lack of proper multichannel support locks WL7 out as a main axe over here… it’s mentally draining to hop around between daws for me and we do surround authoring (YMMV).

To make a multichannel WaveLab work well (for me, at least) would require a rather different approach to channel usage. The following would be ideal for my purposes:

Being able to edit files with an arbitrary number of channels (I mainly use three or four, but nine and sixteen, and other numbers, are also possibilities in the future) would be great, but even greater would be the ability to have a montage in which the clips refer to such multichannel files. A restriction that a single track could only hold clips with the same number of channels would be acceptable (like mono and stereo now).

Each track could then have specified routing from each channel to the input channels of the master section; the track plugin slots could have a different number of outputs from the clips in the track, and it is these outputs that would be routed. The master section plugins would be allowed to have a different number of outputs vs inputs (four inputs and twelve outputs would make perfect sense in my usage, for instance), with the outputs being metered.

The rigid list of assignments of channels for conventional surround that is built into the present version of WaveLab has no place in this scenario, and would need to be incorporated, if wanted, as an overlay on this scheme, instead of getting in its way.

This lot would enable me to record 4-channel ambisonic B-format files, and make a montage of them; also to have some mono and stereo files on other tracks with track plugins generating B-format outputs placing the mono or stereo signals in the soundfield. The master section would combine the B-format streams, and feed them to a master plugin that would generate speaker feeds - maybe six for a hexagon of speakers, eight for a cube, or twelve for a dodecahedron, for example. (Reaper can do this lot already; but it doesn’t have an editor.)


I’m trying to get my head around compositing in B-format, but this sounds a little in the research domain. (You don’t live near York, perchance?) This is not to say such a development is not interesting. It is clear that users are still defining their expectations of poly file handling.

I’m more keen to understand how often location sound which is increasingly able to be acquired and transported as a poly .wav (usually with mono and stereo components) can be placed directly into the montage environment, without having to split the poly into separate components which are then inserted individually into the montage.

It would be helpful to hear from anyone who works with a poly file-producing device, and possibly how it works with other platforms. And is the usefulness of the poly file format all it is cracked up to be?

No, not near York - Oxford (where Michael Gerzon lived, of course). I don’t do any composing, but a fair bit of live recording in B-format over the past seven years (first using a “native” horizontal B-format mic using AKG Blue Line capsules, then with the Core Sound TetraMic). I have got used to editing these three or four channel recordings in the Montage, but it’s a bit of a hack, and things like spectral editing to remove noises are not practical. Of course, if iZotope RX handled multi-channel files, I’d be happy anyway…


Hi PG,

How can we import a multichannel .wav file in the montage in WL 8.5? I just tried it using the “Import --> Insert Audio files” command and selecting a 4-channel .wav file, but I got the error: “This audio format is not recognized by WaveLab. The file can not be opened.”

(If I split the 4-channel file into 4 mono files using Sound Devices’ Wave Agent, WaveLab can read the mono tracks.)

Also, is there an update to multichannel .wav support? This is after all part of Microsoft’s .wav file format standard and some of us have been requesting it for years now. Shouldn’t this be a standard part of any professional wave editor?

I appreciate all your work on WL.

Kind regards,


Currently, only 5.1 files can be imported.

Thanks! Maybe I can easily convert my 4-channel to 5.1 files, then import to WL.