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Do you watch movies in stereo or surround sound?

What is your primary audio setup for WATCHING (not editing) movies/fanedits?

  • Stereo (2 channels)

    Votes: 16 57.1%
  • Surround (5.1)

    Votes: 9 32.1%
  • Surround (other than 5.1)

    Votes: 2 7.1%
  • Other/no answer/show results

    Votes: 1 3.6%

  • Total voters
    28
  • Poll votes is visible for users with special permission.

VarsityEditor

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I'm curious about what proportion of potential viewers have a surround sound setup as opposed to standard stereo for when watching movies/edits.

I'm doing all my editing in 5.1 (as that is the source and there are various technical advantages), but not sure if I should have the final versions in surround sound, or just downmix to stereo.

Ideally, I would like to have the final versions in 5.1 just like the source, but I don't have a surround system myself and so can't truly test what it sounds like. I've found that when rendering the final versions and listen back in stereo they tend to sound slightly different, a little quieter and almost "muddy" when watching in VLC, whereas when previewing the video in Mac OS it sounds fine just as it did in the editor.

As much as I'd like to have them in 5.1, I might just output in stereo so that I can hear for myself exactly how it sounds and to be sure that everyone is going to be hearing the same thing, rather than provide surround sound files which will likely be listened to on stereo equipment with varying results.

Any thoughts?
 
For me personally, it depends really. I have a decent mid-range 9.2 setup that was originally a 5.1.2 setup when I first put it together. I have been well acquainted with multichannel home theater since I was a kid, having a father who is big into all things music and film. Laserdisc was how I experienced the films of my childhood until the dawn of DVD, and I have very fond memories of pulling out these massive (to a child's POV) CD like things and watching them on our family's cherished Trinitron CRT, and I always heard these movies matrixed into surround sound unless my father wasn't around and I wanted to watch a movie, but didn't know how to work the sound system.

Until recently, I continued to watch movies in surround, whether they had a multichannel soundtrack or it was a stereo mix matrixed into surround. Over the past few years or so, I've made it a habit to watch a film in its original aural presentation at least once and figure it out from there. There are several movies I prefer in surround, but there are several that I prefer to hear in stereo or maybe even mono.
 
I would recommend investing in 5.1 surround speakers. I have a Logitech set that I use with my NLE system so I can check out the mix as I am editing in real time. It wasn't expensive. Then I test the file out on a better system in my home theater. You will find that every surround experience is going to be slightly different. It depends on the orientation of the speakers and whether or not it is set up correctly. Play your fan edit on as many systems and TVs as you can.

With the MKV or MP4 container you can include a stereo and 5.1 mix in the same file. That way you can give a viewer both options. Or output two MP4s and let them decide which one they want. I assume that most people who are going to the trouble to seek out fan edits are cinephiles so they most likely will want the full 5.1 theatrical experience. Once you have that subwoofer thumping behind your chair during a big action scene, it's really hard to go back. I had a similar experience to kidjupiter92. I remember clearly watching the remastered 5.1 version of The Godfather near the end of the VHS days and being blown away by the surround experience in my parent's living room. It is not necessary to enjoy a film by any means but it does add another layer. Audio engineers put a lot of time into those mixes so why not enjoy them the way they were supposed to be enjoyed?
 
I edit in 5.1 but only have limited access to a 5.1 setup to test the output. Either way, my releases include both stereo and surround, with surround being the default audio stream.
 
With the MKV or MP4 container you can include a stereo and 5.1 mix in the same file. That way you can give a viewer both options.

I edit in 5.1 but only have limited access to a 5.1 setup to test the output. Either way, my releases include both stereo and surround, with surround being the default audio stream.
I think this is probably what I'll end up doing, thanks for the replies.
 
Surround, and you might also consider matrixed dolby surround/pro logic surround. The mixdown that algorithm produces is a little more conscious and balances the channels in a way that sounds more natural in 2.0 than a straight mixdown, plus it puts a phase effect on the rear channels that surround sounds read when in pro logic mode that allows for a surround experience and it actually works more accurately than you might would think. And it gives you a bit of freedom when editing the channels because you don't 5 to "fill in the gaps" when muting just certain channels so to speak because the algorithm will automatically mask that when up mixing it so it'll be seamless as long as the overall volume stays consistent. Both avidemux and handbrake can do it for free.
 
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I'm curious about what proportion of potential viewers have a surround sound setup as opposed to standard stereo for when watching movies/edits.

I'm doing all my editing in 5.1 (as that is the source and there are various technical advantages), but not sure if I should have the final versions in surround sound, or just downmix to stereo.

Ideally, I would like to have the final versions in 5.1 just like the source, but I don't have a surround system myself and so can't truly test what it sounds like. I've found that when rendering the final versions and listen back in stereo they tend to sound slightly different, a little quieter and almost "muddy" when watching in VLC, whereas when previewing the video in Mac OS it sounds fine just as it did in the editor.

As much as I'd like to have them in 5.1, I might just output in stereo so that I can hear for myself exactly how it sounds and to be sure that everyone is going to be hearing the same thing, rather than provide surround sound files which will likely be listened to on stereo equipment with varying results.

Any thoughts?

Bolded for emphasis. Please, do not release any edits that you can't properly test. There are already tons of fully approved edits from experienced editors here that advertise "5.1 audio" but were obviously not properly tested before release. There's a long discussion here:

 
Bolded for emphasis. Please, do not release any edits that you can't properly test. There are already tons of fully approved edits from experienced editors here that advertise "5.1 audio" but were obviously not properly tested before release. There's a long discussion here:

Thanks for your input. Reading that linked thread previously was actually what prompted me to post this poll, as I wanted to get some actual numbers on how many people actually watch in SS, rather than the technical/editing side of things which was the focus of that thread. The point of this poll was to find out how niche SS is with viewers, as if say 90% of people watch in stereo anyway then maybe it's just not even worth worrying about.

You bolded the part where I said I can't test SS for myself, but the more relevant part was the following paragraph where I specifically said that while keeping the 5.1 is ideal, I'll likely err on the side of caution and just release stereo so I can be as sure as possible that people are catching what I'm pitching.

For context, the project in question is The Sopranos which is almost entirely just people in rooms, talking, plus some music. Nothing fancy or ambitious is being done. The edit is 99% just keeping the original 5.1 audio as it is, and ideally, I'd like to retain this for those viewers, and would consider it a shame to squash it down to two channels just because I can't test it.

I noted from the reviews you linked on the other thread that you are keenly critical when it comes to clumsy 5.1 audio edits, and was heartened to read you detailing specific complaints about flaws in edits you've watched (compared to the many 10/10/10/10/10 reviews I've seen on the site). If you don't mind me asking, I'd be very grateful if I could send you some material to run your critical ear over, even if it's just a 10 minute compilation of some spots where I've edited the original 5.1 audio (usually adding/removing music). If you give it a thumbs down I can either improve it or just stick to stereo. Of course I'd be happy for you to preview full edits if you have the inclination. I note you've also done a Sopranos edit so you're familiar with the material.
 
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if you can't test the discrete surround but do work in surround, I'll again repeat you could at least downmix with matrixed surround so long as you have the channels mapped correctly. It will mask anything you mute within the individual channels as long as the volume stays constant, and you can get a fully accurate sound test in stereo while also giving the surround crowd at least something. It's the form of surround that's on vhs tapes and many laserdisc, particularly it is the format of the commercially available sound mixes of the original versions of star wars as well. (I know they made a discrete six channel mix but for home video they folded it down in this manner). Avidemux and handbrake can do it. It might sound like a cheap gimmick on paper but it actually does work very well. In my surround system I can barely tell the difference actually and for fanediting the ease of finishing it in stereo (after doing principle editing in surround) and the decreased file size was very worth it.
 
I'll again repeat you could at least downmix with matrixed surround so long as you have the channels mapped correctly.
Thanks for re-emphasising this point, I'm using Handbrake for the final version, I'll test this out.
 
Thanks for your input. Reading that linked thread previously was actually what prompted me to post this poll, as I wanted to get some actual numbers on how many people actually watch in SS, rather than the technical/editing side of things which was the focus of that thread. The point of this poll was to find out how niche SS is with viewers, as if say 90% of people watch in stereo anyway then maybe it's just not even worth worrying about.

I would say it's not worth worrying about. Even bad 5.1 edits get just about universal praise here. It's either because the viewers are watching it downmixed to stereo or don't care. So, don't worry about it.

You bolded the part where I said I can't test SS for myself, but the more relevant part was the following paragraph where I specifically said that while keeping the 5.1 is ideal, I'll likely err on the side of caution and just release stereo so I can be as sure as possible that people are catching what I'm pitching.

For context, the project in question is The Sopranos which is almost entirely just people in rooms, talking, plus some music. Nothing fancy or ambitious is being done. The edit is 99% just keeping the original 5.1 audio as it is, and ideally, I'd like to retain this for those viewers, and would consider it a shame to squash it down to two channels just because I can't test it.

For a Sopranos edit, I would suggest you do it as stereo, and not just becuase you can only review it in stereo. The audio engineers on that show really didn't make use of all the available channels. It was a waste. You won't lose anything with a 2.0 soundtrack. I went 2.0 with my Sopranos edit and it was fine.

I noted from the reviews you linked on the other thread that you are keenly critical when it comes to clumsy 5.1 audio edits, and was heartened to read you detailing specific complaints about flaws in edits you've watched (compared to the many 10/10/10/10/10 reviews I've seen on the site). If you don't mind me asking, I'd be very grateful if I could send you some material to run your critical ear over, even if it's just a 10 minute compilation of some spots where I've edited the original 5.1 audio (usually adding/removing music). If you give it a thumbs down I can either improve it or just stick to stereo. Of course I'd be happy for you to preview full edits if you have the inclination. I note you've also done a Sopranos edit so you're familiar with the material.
Once you have your Sopranos edit at a point where you're ready to release it, I'd be happy to give it a look and provide feedback on the edit as a whole. But I'm not going to test your 5.1 edits for you becuase you can't do it for yourself. Hope you can understand that.
 
I would say it's not worth worrying about. Even bad 5.1 edits get just about universal praise here. It's either because the viewers are watching it downmixed to stereo or don't care. So, don't worry about it.
The audio engineers on that show really didn't make use of all the available channels. It was a waste. You won't lose anything with a 2.0 soundtrack
This is what I figured. Certainly the primary audio track will be stereo as that's what I can be sure of. I was considering having an additional 5.1 track which can be selected by those who want it (as others have suggested), but maybe it's just pointless anyway. Do you have an opinion on "standard" stereo vs "matrixed surround" stereo?

...I'm not going to test your 5.1 edits for you becuase you can't do it for yourself. Hope you can understand that.
Of course, sorry if it was presumptuous to ask. Since reading your critical reviews of others' 5.1 audio mistakes I went back and reviewed the spots where I have edited the 5.1 audio, and realised that I had done it in a slightly sloppy way. Since understanding this mistake I've corrected those parts in the 5.1 mix for the sake of completeness, though the minor correction will probably be redundant in the final stereo mix. So – thanks!
 
Do you have an opinion on "standard" stereo vs "matrixed surround" stereo?

Do you mean a true 2.0 track vs a 5.1 track downmixed to 2.0? It depends on the source. Sometimes a lot of care is taken with a true 2.0 mix, sometimes it's an afterthought. If given the choice, I think most people would choose the downmixed 5.1 track becuase they usually have less dynamic range and sound louder.
 
Do you mean a true 2.0 track vs a 5.1 track downmixed to 2.0? It depends on the source. Sometimes a lot of care is taken with a true 2.0 mix, sometimes it's an afterthought. If given the choice, I think most people would choose the downmixed 5.1 track becuase they usually have less dynamic range and sound louder.
I meant a 5.1 edit downmixed either to stereo or to matrixed surround (as recommended by Possessed in post #11)
 
I meant a 5.1 edit downmixed either to stereo or to matrixed surround (as recommended by Possessed in post #11)

I think that would be fine, as long as you're happy with the mix that you're releasing and don't label it as a 5.1 mix. If someone wants use their AVR with PLII or Neo or whatever to try it out, then that's up to them.
 
Oh yeah definitely don't label it as 5.1. But if you wanted some thing pretty to call it you could call it simply Dolby Surround. (Just not dolby digital or with a number). Vhs tapes and laserdiscs used this same type of matrixed surround and that's what they called it on the boxes. All the commercially available mixes of the non special edition used it and the boxes called it dolby surround. Occasionally it was called dolby stereo but much like calling it dolby digital 5.1 would be overselling it, I feel like dolby stereo would be underselling it since one might not even realize theres a surround component to it at all. On my surround system I can barely tell the difference between 5.1 and dolby surround bUT granted my movie room is pretty large, in a smaller space where I'm closer to the speakers it might be more apparent.

Also worth noting is many 3rd, 4th, and in the case of Nintendo the 5th generation used it as well. Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for Nintendo 64 in particular sound incredible in surround mode and it uses a 2 channel signal.

I'm getting off topic and rambly now, must have had too much bourbon lol.
 
My answer would have been
“Yes”
 
Tricky question. I prefer stereo but it has to do with mix quality.

Sadly countless Blu-Ray/4k/HD have VERY poor 2 channel mixes that are intolerable for understanding dialog. They're so bad I make a point to watch on DVD preferably over the better video quality. I could "fix" this with surround sound variations but frankly it is tacky to me, I am totally uninterested. Just give some some Synergy horns and be done.
 
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