5.1 Surround Sound
 
I finally set up my 5.1 surround sound speakers on my workstation. I'm still working on finding a good way to mix audio for it. Audacity will allow you to generate 5.1 sound, but doesn't give you a good way to preview it, so it's kind of like shooting in the dark. I'm probably going to see if I can learn how to do it in Ardour.

There are proprietary tools for "vector based amplitude panning", which is a more intuitive way of mixing multichannel surround sound, but the open source options seem to be pretty limited. I'm still looking. There is supposed to be a partial implementation as an extension for Ardour, but I haven't tried it yet.

I also found a VBAP library on GitHub, implemented for Matlab, that might be a starting point for writing a VBAP mixer tool.

This illustration is from a 2011 article, "Understanding Surround and Binaural Sound", which I wrote for Free Software Magazine explaining why 5.1 sound is a good idea for home-theater presentation. Very briefly: "binaural sound" works great on earphones, but not for people sitting in a room watching a video.

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