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Surround 2001

The Sights, ths Sounds, the Seminar By JD Mars
This year's NAB convention in Las Vegas was prefaced by a gathering of industry professionals with one concept in mind?Surround Sound. Sponsored by Surround Professional magazine, folks who attended this mini-conference were, as you might guess, surround professionals in one capacity or another and dedicated to the crusade for mo' channels.

Surround Professional magazine's founding editor is none other than Tomlinson Holman, who is the TH in THX. TH did not attend Surround 2001, rather, Bobby Owsinski headed up the affair, with contributing editor Rich Tozzoli and Steinberg Nuendo product manager Rob Hill discussing surround from the DAW perspective (see Surround Bios sidebar).

The Surround Sound Seminar?"Real-World Surround Mixing," as it was billed, sought to address the creative and technical challenges of this emerging audio format(s). Starting with a history of surround by Owsinski and progressing into a round-table discussion of sorts, the Surround Sound Seminar served to inform those who needed to know more, dispel some myths, clarify, and provided a platform to argue as many issues as possible in a seven-hour day (punctuated by an excellent lunch, provided by the venue, the Las Vegas Country Club). The following is some of what I gleaned from the seminar.

What It Is, i.e. Was.
Surround Sound began in the movie theatre, where the "phantom center" phenomenon of stereo speaker placement created problems for a group of listeners not lucky enough to get a seat in the middle of the stereo soundfield. Surprisingly, this had been addressed some 50 years ago with a 3-channel "curtain of sound" addition of a front center speaker, and later in the 50's with Fox Cinemascope's addition of a rear channel. The goal was a more realistic representation of the sound landscape. We, human beings, experience sound in a surround fashion.

Dolby Digital and DTS since 1992 have presented data compression schemes that make the delivery of multi-channel audio more feasible. That being the case, theater surround formats continue to evolve, with the word on the street (or at least in the country clubs) that THX has plans to go beyond even the 10.2 format, a theater format that adds two front speakers suspended above the audience, as well as stereo surrounds, side fills, and dual subs.


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Related Keywords:NAB convention, industry professionals, Surround Sound, Tomlinson Holman, THX, Bobby Owsinski, Steinberg Nuendo

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