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Introduction To High Definition Surround
by Brad Miller

Many of the most compelling recorded performances of our time are now available from the HDS label, an acronym for our "High Definition Surround" trademark. Each title is a 4.1 or 5.1 mix from an original studio and/or location recording. The discrete (separate) multichannel program is encoded in the digital data stream of this compact disc with DTS Digital Surround technology. This and other DTS encoded CDs are playable by connecting the digital output of your CD, LD, or DVD player to any control device that contains DTS 5.1 digital decoding capability.

It is recommended that you employ a minimum of four matched full range loudspeakers; one pair for front left and right and one pair for left and right surround. A center channel loudspeaker that at the minimum matches the timbre of the front loudspeaker pair if and when included for 5.1 movies as well as music, should be slightly recessed if possible, as its physical position relates to the front left and right loudspeakers. This will create an arc and helps to eliminate center channel build up, often referred to as the "closeline effect", which can degrade the depth and balance of the frontal soundstage image. Further, in order to reproduce the lowest octave smoothly, a subwoofer is also recommended. In fact, a pair of subwoofers placed between your left and right loudspeakers maintains room coherence, even though each is reproducing a mono channel source, ie., .1 LFE channel.
Regardless of how or where this recording was made, a vital production step called "The Mix" is undertaken. Multi-track (8, 16, 24, 32, 48 and so on) original recording session masters are mixed down (combined) into descrete multichannel music surround mixes, with equalization, source levels and balance of the entire soundfield adjusted and finalized. What is important for you to know is how "The Mix" is monitored by the professional recording team, so that you might approximate (or replicate) this scene within your own listening environment.
"The Mix" employed matched full range loudspeakers with equal amounts of amplification applied to each, including the surround speakers. They may have been nearfield or midfield monitors, plus subwoofer(s), depending upon the size of the recording studio control room. No surrounds were ever placed on the side walls, not were dipoles employed. Diffusion of the soundfield as expounded by some, is a creative decision that is addressed by the professional record/mix team, and should not be impacted after the fact by loudspeaker design or outdated theorums.
In the most general of terms, the four corner (primary) full range and matched loudspeakers were toed in about 45, and exhibit a dispersion of approximately 90, in order to create a symmetrical 360 auditory plane. The full range matched center loudspeaker (when used) occupies a recessed location dead ahead. This allows for each of the primary (4 or 5) full range matched loudspeakers to be equidistant from the engineer/mixer position at the mixing desk. However, if the mix maintains phase and frequency coherence, one may enjoy a multichannel music surround mix from many different locations. Try listening outside of the direct soundfield reproducing space for yet another revealing experience!
The .1 channel in a 5.1 (6-channel mix) refers to LFE (low frequency effects). In motion picture soundtracks, impact effects reside here, like explosions and dinosaurs with extended low frequency content. In music mixes, the .1 LFE channel allows for the smooth reproduction of the lowest octave, and you will find it in use even if the original mix was for example, a 4.0 master from the 1970's era. The .1 LFE channel in these instances will be "derived" from the original 4.0 mix. The selection of the number of channels engaged for a mix, whether it be 4.0, 4.1, 5.0 or 5.1 (6), is a creative decision of the moment. Each is valid dependent upon the decisions made by the professional recording team, and the tools available to them at the time of the mix.
As you can see, nothing in these general guidelines or the explanation thereof alters the enjoyment of your 5.1 discrete digitai audio system for home theater, car surround or for the cinemas throughout the world. We in fact now have one uniform reproduction standard for all! And, you will experience an unprecedented musical journey from this High Definition Surround compact disc that was heretofore unattainable, given the limitations of 2-channel stereo! Space - the final frontier - has begun!

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