Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
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  • ドキュメンタリー映画21:21のサラウンドシステムの設定

    2010年10月16日 Studio J No comments


    On June 8th, Kyoda san (who I like to call Mister Surround) from TC Group Japan, visited Studio J to tune the surround system that they graciously provided for the audio production of 21:21, a documentary film about 21st century education. Produced by Patrick Newell and Directed by Gisli Snaer. TC Group supplied a Dynaudio BM15A for the center speaker, 2 Dynaudio BM6As for the surrounds and a BM14S sub-woofer. WOW! Studio J already had a pair of Dynaudio BM15As that I chose in an A-B comparison with some of the current Genelecs the 8020B, 8030A and 8040A. I had been a long time user of older Genelecs. The 1030s, 1031s and still have a pair of 1028s which I still use today as , but the new Genelecs sounded lifeless and almost hard to listen to during our comparisons. I will say that the smallest of the Genelecs I tested, the 8020Bs, were superb and if I needed some small and powerful monitors, they would be at the top of the list. Thanks to the amazing tweeters, the Dynaudio BM15As are super high definition and give you incredibly accurate reproduction of the original sound while also sounding warm and full of life. It’s hard to tell if the sound is coming from speakers or the instrument itself. The Dynaudios, seem to make your ears better and more sensitive. Changes of half a db in volume or EQ are noticeable, which makes for some well balanced mixes. Mixes translate very well to other systems though it is often a let down when playing back on lesser speakers because of the loss of definition.

    Our first job was to set the speaker location. Based on the ITU 5.1 surround sound standard, all speakers need to be equidistant from the listening position and positioned at 0 degrees for center, 30 degrees left and right and 110 +/- 10 degrees for the surrounds.  See a diagram here.

    “Hey Jeff, bring me a mic stand”. Kyoda san pulls out this cool plexiglass plate with the speaker angles printed on it, that mounts on a mic stand and a piece of rope attached to the center point to make it easy to fix the speaker positions. “Place the mic stand at your listening position”. We then went around the circle and moved the speakers into place.

    Kyoda san has a theory about surround speaker placement. Japanese people’s ears tend to pop out and face forward, which he thinks is because they worked in the fields and it was important to hear people in front of you across the rice fields. While Europeans ears are generally flat, this is because, as Kyoda san hypothesizes, Europeans had to be able to hear animals sneaking up from behind to eat them. Thus Japanese placement of surround speakers is generally 110 and European is generally 120. (Note from Kyoda san: “please add that this hypothesis is not based on any official statistics or anthropological studies. I hope, somebody reads your blog who has an interest in this hypothesis and starts a study. :-)DSC_0029

    Now I thought having 2 Dynaudios, one for each ear, was a pretty cool thing, actually “sublime” and “transcendent” is more accurate. Imagine being surrounded by 5 of them and a sub woofer on the floor?! Things can only get better. The BM6As  are smaller than the BM15As but sound quality was perfectly matched and the BM6As held their own while not taking up too much space in the control room.

    The next step was to balance the speaker levels. We placed a DB meter above the “X” we taped on the floor to denote the listening position and then fed pink noise through the direct outs of the Digidesign Digi 003 and into each speaker to adjust the output level of each speaker at the listening position to 85 dBs. We used Logic’s Test Oscillator plug-in to generate the Pink Noise and the Multichannel Gain plug-in to adjust the output levels.


    Now it was time to check out the sound. We didn’t have a DVD player with discrete 5.1 outputs yet, (Kyoda san suggested the Pioneer DV-610AV which I picked up the next day) so we played around with setting up some stereo music files for 5.1 play back. Import a stereo file into Logic and send the sound out to LR, Center, surrounds and sub-woofer, each with different processing. LR and center, as is. Surrounds, delay both channels and adjust to change the perceived room size, inverse the phase on either channel to bring out the vocal. Sub-woofer, low-pass filter and some bass boost.

    Remember, we were just working with a stereo track but when played back through six speakers it is a completely different world. Music that sounds incredible in stereo opens up and completely engulfs you. That’s probably why they call it surround sound. It was a completely different effect than the pseudo-surround that AV amps apply. It sounded completely natural and present. Muting the surrounds, center speaker and sub-woofer was almost depressing. How can I ever listen in stereo again?! I got really excited at this point and started adding song after song to see how they would sound. Kyoda san was very patient with me but I think he was happy to see me so excited about the wonderful system that he had provided.


    Since set up day, I have been working hard on 21:21, adding original sound effects and environmental sounds, cleaning up and balancing the dialog, recording additional music and basically designing the aural landscape of the film. All in beautiful surround sound! Many thanks to Kyoda san and TC Group for your generosity and support.

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