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Re: surround looping

At 11:37 AM 5/15/2005, Jeff Larson wrote:

>If you just want to route audio signals to 4 or more speakers during live 
>performance, then you don't need any special "surround" support in 
>software or hardware.  You just need a computer audio interface that has 
>at least four mono analog output channels, and software that can route 
>signals to each of those channels.

I agree.  I'd been toying with the idea of doing something similar, but 
decided to go in a slightly different direction lately (using the outputs 
of the soundcard as multiple effect sends, rather than multiple speaker 
outs).  However, I've got one or two jacks free on my Edirol FA-101 which 
may still use for an extra out or two.

>You would probably want to feed the audio interface channels into a mixer 
>with a 4 channel output bus, then into a pair of stereo power amps.  
>are lots of mixer/amp possibilities, the important thing is the 4 output 
>audio interface.

This is where I *might* respectfully disagree.  If you've invested in any 
sort of powered speaker, there's not really a need to tack on a mixer or 
power amps (unless you've a specific specialized reason to do so).  After 
discovered all the software mixing capabilities of the new Ableton Live, I 
decided it would be perfectly viable to do all my mixing in software, and 
then merely use the I/O on my soundcard to route the signals externally -- 
currently, two different effect loops and one output to route signals into 
the Sustainiac.

Thus, I've completely eliminated the mixer from my setup.  And I either 
take the outputs balanced directly into the house board, or else attach 
powered speakers to the outs in the case of a smaller venue.

>Next you need a VST host that supports multi-channel audio interfaces and 
>multi-port plugins.  Plogue Bidule, Audio Mulch, and EnergyXT are all 
>good.  Audio Mulch is free, the others are under $100US.  I'm not very 
>familiar with Live!, but you should be able to route audio to all of the 
>output channels provided by the interface.  If you don't want to use the 
>static loop triggering features of Live, it will be simpler to use a 
>general VST host like Bidule.

Here, I can't say enough good things regarding Live4.  I originally bought 
it for, well, all the standard capabilities you normally think of in 
Live.  Instead, I've mostly used it as a really, really flexible mixer and 
VST/AU host.  The mixing and routing capabilities are ultra-flexible, and 
super easy to use.  What's more, since everything's in software, I can 
reconfigure all my mixes and routing simply by calling up another 
preset.  Sweet!!!

I've also tried both Numerology and Plogue Bidule for this purpose, and 
found neither of them as much to my liking in this respect.  Don't get me 
wrong -- I both own and really like each program, but each for its own 
purpose.  However, Numerology couldn't handle multiple outputs on the 
soundcard well enough on the last version to which I updated, and it 
occasionally had quirks as a plug-in host.

Likewise, I started checking out Bidule as a mixer/host when I was 
experiencing Jack troubles with SooperLooper.  Bidule deals with Jack even 
worse than Live, though, so I've finally put SooperLooper on the back 
burner until the VST version comes out.  With that taken out of the mix, I 
discovered that I was spending hours wiring up virtual patchcables in 
Bidule only to have it duplicate the function I already had in Live.

In both cases, I've gone back to using both Numerology and Bidule for 
functions closer to what they were designed for [sic].  Live4 just kills 
the mixer/host category, though, especially in flexibility and ease-of-use.

Eventually I'm gonna need to start using Live for it's primary purpose, 
until then I'm having loads of fun with the software routing/mixing alone. 

Finally, for those of you who want to broaden their spectral image, but 
don't want to dive all the way into multiple speakers, I've also just 
started playing around with SRS (Sound Retrieval System) -- also known as 
"fake surround".  This is the same sort of stereo image enhancement that 
you find in many computer music playback programs, like iTunes and (I 
think) WinAmp.  There's a little-known hardware box that was manufactured 
by Crate a few years ago, the SM2-SRS, specifically to apply SRS 
to any sound source.  I've just gotten one of those little puppies 
across my main outs, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it does with 
Vortex especially.  I'll let you know if it's cool or crap...


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