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Subwoofers and 5.1 Mixing

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Chris Conlee
Subwoofers and 5.1 Mixing
on Nov 13, 2010 at 5:26:33 pm

Hello All,

I'm definitely a newbie with pro audio, so please go easy. I am, however, a professional motion picture editor, so I'm not completely in the woods.

I've just purchased Nuendo 5.x and I'm interested in teaching myself mixing to picture: it's something I've been interested in for a long time, so I figured there's no time like the present. So here goes...

I'm Mac based, and as part of the exercise I've purchased an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra USB audio interface with six discreet analog outputs and I have 5 M-Audio BX5a active monitors.

I'm reading all the info I can find regarding monitor placement, etc., and plan on using a SPL meter to properly calibrate my monitors. That part of this all makes sense. However, when I consider adding a subwoofer, my understanding goes out the window -- the M-Audio SBX10 takes a feed from the front left and right channels and strips the bass, correct? But how does one use this in a 5.1 mixing environment? Shouldn't there be a discreet subwoofer, with it's own single channel input?

I'm reading about bass management at the DAW, and my understanding would be that a discreet subwoofer would receive the lower frequencies from ALL channels during the mix, in addition to the LFE.

Can somebody point me to a suitable single channel subwoofer that would be a reasonable match to my admittedly small-ish mix monitors? Or am I thinking about this incorrectly, and the SBX10 will work fine? If so, can somebody explain to me how that fits into the mix scheme, given that it's daisy-chained onto the front two channels?

Thanks a million in advance.

Chris Conlee


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Peter Groom
Re: Subwoofers and 5.1 Mixing
on Nov 13, 2010 at 7:29:06 pm

HI
Im not failiar with your set up or equipment at all but will respond to your line
"I'm reading about bass management at the DAW, and my understanding would be that a discreet subwoofer would receive the lower frequencies from ALL channels during the mix, in addition to the LFE."

This would be incorrect. The .1 channel is ONLY LFE ie only audio that warrants the sub bass exposure. Def not everything goes to the sub. IN Pro tools (which is all i can comment on re 5.1 mixing) there is an LFE fader and only the LFE exposed audio is routed there by the dubbing mixer. I dont know about your software but youll need to find it.

Peter



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Chris Conlee
Re: Subwoofers and 5.1 Mixing
on Nov 13, 2010 at 8:30:02 pm

Peter, thanks for the response. In your system, is the subwoofer fed thru the front L/R speakers? Or does it have a discreet feed from your audio interface?


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Chris Conlee
Re: Subwoofers and 5.1 Mixing
on Nov 22, 2010 at 12:19:16 am

Okay, my question was answered with a short read of the subwoofer's manual online. Turns out most subwoofers have a discreet input for an LFE feed, if they're being utilized in a surround environment, and they have a stereo input with feeds to left and right speakers for use in a stereo only system.

Problem solved. In fact, my room is now up and calibrated. Now all I have to do is start learning the craft. Yikes!

Chris


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