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A Definitive topic: Surround Sound DAW Comparison

What is the best DAW for Surround Sound Mixing? (any config above stereo)


  • Total voters
    31

mirrodin

Member
Hey folks, perused through the forums as much as I could and DAW comparisons bubble up all over the place but I'd like to start a definitive thread on specifically tracking what DAWs have surround sound capability, what their fallbacks are, and workarounds might exist for them to be able to work in any given surround configuration.

My lengthiest experience is with Cakewalk's Sonar, I started a thread back when X2 was the latest version with my first major surround sound project to-picture. The thread can be viewed here.

If you have experience or can point to relevant articles on established sites, please add them to the discussion as links (please don't quote).

I'd simply like to create a running "list" of resources for quickly finding information. Some quick guidelines to posting a comment and adding to the list:
  • Name DAW & manufacturer + Version #.
  • The maximum channel configuration of the DAW at the described version
  • Keep description minimal, provide links to information source where possible.
  • Label in the comment's title whether your describing a "problem", "workaround", or "workflow".
An example post would be:

Title: Cakewalk Sonar Producer - ver. X2a PROBLEM + WORKAROUND

Comment:
Max Channel Config: up to 8.1 surround
Problem: Surround Sound plugins do not function on surround busses, sync loss due to audio drift when using Surround Bridge Feature in DAW.
Workaround: workflow described in this forum thread in Sonar User Forums.
 

tack

Damned Dirty Ape
Why can't I view the results until I vote? I ought to abstain, since I have no experience at all with surround, but I'm still interested in the results. I hate to taint the results just so I can view them.
 
OP
mirrodin

mirrodin

Member
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@tack, I changed the poll options, thanks for letting me know! Should be publicly viewable now.
 

mathis

Active Member
As much as I love Sequoia, it definitely is not the best surround mixing engine. But I still did quite some surround mixes in it, quite big ones actually....
 

stonzthro

Senior Member
Difficult to say with any authority what the 'Best' is since I would need to have done surround mixing on many platforms. I think most DAWs are serviceable in surround duties.
 

Dietz

Space Explorer
I would be interested to hear why anybody prefers Logic for mixing surround (!) sound. :confused:
 
Cubase for me! However, I use Pro Tools as well. Cubase and Pro Tools slave. I do some mixing in Cubase but final touches happen in Pro Tools. For me, they both do certain things very differently so that's why I use them both together! However I'll soon be mixing completely in Cubase and just using Pro Tools for video hosting and that's it!
 

synthetic

Senior Member
Pro Tools HD is what everyone uses, but you can't buy it. It only comes bundled with the hardware. The non-HD version doesn't do surround.
 
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mirrodin

mirrodin

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On an interesting note, I've been attending my local AES sound panels and listening parties out of San Francisco - Bay Area in California.

There's a lot of talk about surround sound formats lately especially as VR is now growing substantially as an outlet format. On top of that, at least in the upper end of the commercial world, Nuendo and Pro Tools are currently the only ones with direct Dolby Atmos support - however, in order to author the object-based Atmos outputs for the large speaker array systems, you would need a costly investment in Dolby Atmos Authoring system.

With home entertainment systems entering 7.1 and 9.1 standards, the base layer of Atmos is 7.2.4, and the alternative 5.2.4 Auros configuration. One thing is certain facing the future of DAW's and scalable multichannel / 3d audio mixing capabilities, we're going to see an increase in more immersive audio solutions that DAW's will have to implement to at least stay current.

VR, Ambisonics and binaural audio formats aside, scalable multi-channel plugins are going to be the next big "want" as more and more work heads into surround flavors.
 

dgburns

Leg Ahh toe / Shpeig haw too
I would be interested to hear why anybody prefers Logic for mixing surround (!) sound. :confused:

-rant on-
Actually I do, but it's more like I keep shaking my head and swearing at the mac the whole time. There is alot of nonsensical "wisdom" of design going on.
I think the punishment would be to have the dev's actually have to use this app and finish a major project in surround as the ultimate punishment for the design. ;)

-rant off-

carry on!....
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
I've had DSP Surround 5.1 mixers since 2002.
Had lots of fun with some Kliptsch Home Theater projects so I added 2 satellites to my Blue Sky 2.1 system and got a JL Cooper Panner.
I got bored with it using Cubase SX2 and gave up.
It's an unending addiction as you want 7.1, then 13/15/17, etc.

Have fun.
 
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mirrodin

mirrodin

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I've had DSP Surround 5.1 mixers since 2002.
Had lots of fun with some Klipsch Home Theater projects so I added 2 satellites to my Blue Sky 2.1 system and got a JL Cooper Panner.
I got bored with it using Cubase SX2 and gave up.
It's an unending addiction as you want 7.1, then 13/15/17, etc.

Have fun.

True that! I'm barely scratching the surface with my home studio setup, but it seems like part of the battle is finding a DAW that actually took time to address workflow issues with respect to working with multichannel material & surround as opposed to just accommodating surround as an afterthought feature. I'm looking into PT12, Cubase, Nuendo, and Reaper. Pyramix seems out of reach for general purpose DAW usage. Fairlight is just too pricey and niche focused as well.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
Sounds really old school but an ancient Scope Pro DSP Card can be had for 300 bucks and used with a low powered old Intel or AMD CPU in a separate PC and comes with 2 x kick ass Surround Mixers.
It's also a complete synth and Modular workstation.
If you don't mind using a 32bit OS the STS5000 Sampler is as good as an old Akai, Roland or EMU Sampler too.
Lots of guys I know use a modern DAW and mix out using AES/EBU or ADAT to the Scope DSP PC.
It's just for their home theater or studio use.
But I've heard some excellent family movies done in surround.
The only additional expense might be the Surround 5.1 Reverb and a hardware panner like JL Cooper.
All really old "dated" gear but works incredibly well and is easy to use from any Multi Out RME Card.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
FWIW I tried using this live and it was a PITA with monitoring.
But I did discover a great way to run 5.1 just for my keys.

When I needed to jump 10db for highlighted parts or solos, I would stomp down on a FC4 Pedal that kicked into 5.1 using a pair QSC K12 satellites.
Then default back to 2.1 using a Dual 18 RCF Sub, and 2 x KW153 full range 3 way cabinets.

Been a while since I tried it, but using Native, Hardware and DSP Rotary cabinet emulations was especially fun.
The virtual Hammond B3 sound is fantastic in 5.1.
 
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