“ it can mix down in almost every surround format „
This is my favourite product in the whole wide world, bar none. It is just the answer to all my prayers. I've been looking for a way into composing music in surround for sooooo long. I know those guys at Computer Music magazine think surround music is just a gimmick, which is probably why they don't ever talk about solutions, and why those of us who really want to try anyway have got to find out how by ourselves. There are more expensive ways in. If you have the Pulsar sound card (£899) then there is a plug-in surround mixer. But the output isn't Dolby 5.1 - it's 6 analogue channels, which means you need to buy an ADAT to analogue breakout box to get these channels out of the card (think ££££) followed by some kind of system which will take 6 analogue outputs and feed them to 6 speakers. And this is one of the cheaper, home PC alternatives. Other alternatives include buying a box which will encode 6 channels down to Dolby 5.1, in real time (ca. £4000), and then feeding it to a decoder and speaker system Enter the Audiowerk8. The card has 8 analogue outputs on its breakout cable - all RCA phonos. It comes with a free, reduced version of Logic Audio, called Logic surround, which will mix in just about any surround format you care to mention. Simply pop your Wav files into the 16 audio tracks, swap the panner, on the mixer, for a surround panner, and you're away. 5.1, 7.1, 4.1, 4.0 etc. etc. All you do is place a little dot on the panner, representing where you want your Wav placed in space, and the relevant amount of it is fed to each of the RCA outputs. Then your mix can be bumped down, creating a Wav representing the output of each speaker. OK the output is still just a bunch of analogue channels. If you want Dolby 5.1 then you still need to buy encoding software, or send your Wavs to a studio, who will put the encoded signal onto DVD for you. But with the Audiowerk Kit coming in at just £299 you've saved more than
enough for the rest of the kit. I mix in 5.1, feeding the six channels into an AV amp (Yamaha DSP-AX620 - £400, but they do come a lot cheaper if you don't need 90W per channel.) and from that into a bunch of Hi-Fi speakers. The Audiowerk, the amp, five speakers and subwoofer cost about £900, which comes in a lot cheaper than any of the other alternative ways of getting as far as 6 separate channels coming out of speakers. Sorry - haven't found any cheap encoding software. So does it work. You bet it does. The free version of Logic is very reduced. No stacks of free plug-in effects and instruments. But that's not why you want it. The surround mixer does exactly what it's supposed to -no messing. I do all my composing, and apply effects, in Pulsar, with Cubase as a sequencer - reduce it all to Wavs and do the surround mix in Logic. If this is too long-winded, and you don't already have another sequencer that cost you too much to abandon, then you could always buy a full version of Logic, which also contains the surround mixer (although I don't know if it's hardwired to the Audiowerk card in the same, very convenient way). However you look at it, this is just a brilliant product. If you're from the generation who thought Stockhausen was cool, and would like to experiment with spatial effects, then it is absolutely perfect, and probably the cheapest way in.