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Home | Library | Articles | MultiMAX & Surround Sound Profits

MultiMAX & Surround Sound Profits

by Steve Harvey - Public Relations Director

Article summary: How MultiMAX overcomes the limitations of your existing console and enables confident production of surround sound mixes in many different formats.

Featured in Audio Horizons Fall 1999 PDF 520k | Newsletter List
MultiMAX product information

Adding MultiMAX to your existing mixing console will save you big money. Many consoles simply do not include the features necessary to successfully produce surround sound projects. But rather than replace the console, or pay for costly upgrades or custom-engineered solutions, you can simply add MultiMAX. The powerful and unique features of this inexpensive solution allow you to handle the complexities of surround sound monitoring on your console by augmenting its stereo monitor section, preserving your investment in the console and speeding up the mixing process.

MultiMAX has been designed to integrate with your existing stereo console to add monitoring in 8-channel surround, 7.1, 5.1 and LCRS, with precise level control of multiple speaker systems, and comprehensive solo, mute and dim control. All of the controls are right there at your fingertips; and if you don't have space for a 1U box close at hand, perhaps the optional remote can be positioned more conveniently. The remote is available as a standalone unit or in a version that can be custom-fitted into your console or other work surface.

But MultiMAX offers much more than simple level control. It offers selection and monitoring of the signal at any stage in the mixing process. It allows you to perform quality control checks throughout the signal chain, all at the push of a button. With MultiMAX integrated into your studio you can return the patchcords to storage – everything is now just a button push away.

MultiMAX allows you to monitor the mix buses or the mix recorder. You can insert any matrix encode/decode processor and monitor before and after processing. You can monitor the 2-channel Lt Rt (2-channel matrix-encoded) output of the processor, or listen to an Lo Ro (standard, un-encoded stereo) downmix.

The front panel (or remote) buttons all feature LED indicators, providing the engineer with a clear idea of the signal flow at a glance. The 'wide' inputs (8-channels each) consist of Direct (console buses), Playback (recorder returns), and three Premixes – a total of 40 inputs. A single switch selects between Direct and Playback for quick and easy comparison of the buses and recorder returns. A new software revision allows all five 8-channel inputs to be selected in any combination, or one-by-one in 'interlocking' mode.

A quick glance at the panel will tell the engineer what sources are being monitored. It can be the sum of the selected wide inputs, the return from the decoder (up to 8 channels), a stereo source (Lt Rt or Lo Ro, for example), or even the console. You need to be able to retain your console's mute, dim and solo (PFL/AFL/APL) features, and MultiMAX allows you to monitor these functions through a single button push. Rear panel connections further simplify this feature: you can interface the console mute, dim and solo logic lines to MultiMAX to provide automatic selection of those functions - regardless of the monitor system format currently in use - when they are selected at the console.

There's also a switch to introduce the production track. This is useful in scoring sessions where you want to monitor the track but don't want it to get into the mix or recorder sends – and it doesn't use up any consoles inputs.

There are some additional switches in the monitor source section, and it's here that MultiMAX really shines. MultiMAX is the only surround monitor controller currently available to offer comprehensive downmixing in all formats, to insure backward compatibility on any playback system. Your 8-, 6- or 4-channel surround sound mix can be played back in a wide variety of formats on home systems. Some decoder systems recover the Lt Rt matrix-encoded mix differently to other systems, and differently to your original mix. Other systems synthesize a surround mix from the encoded data. You need to be sure that your mix will sound good, regardless of the format in which it will be replayed.

Switches in the monitor source section provide the engineer with the ability to hear the surround mix downmixed to a variety of other formats. MultiMAX provides the complete user-selectable menu of downmix coefficients that are also available to the engineer in the Dolby encoder for DVD production, allowing the auditioning of the results of the application of those coefficients before processing. This permits the engineer to maximize his balance between downmixed and non-downmixed sources. An LFE filter can also be selected to simulate the DVD-Video and DTV encoding process.

MultiMAX also provides summing coefficients to ensure the correct downmixing of levels when monitoring a 5.1 mix in LCRS format, for example, or a multichannel surround mix in stereo or mono. These coefficients take into consideration the difference in surround channel levels between motion picture theatrical release mixes and video or music mixes to correctly sum the surround channels for playback on systems with fewer speaker channels.

Some monitor control systems can take all day to set up. That's fine if you can bill the client, otherwise it's a day of lost revenue and a potentially frustrating day for the engineer. With MultiMAX you can be ready for your session in next to no time, without any complications. The easy-to-read LCD and great sounding MDACs allow precise, repeatable setups of the system. Configuring the system for the session is a simple matter, with easily accessible setup menus and clear graphics. The mute, dim and speaker solo functions interact to make the setup of the monitor system a breeze. You can calibrate your speaker systems using the built-in pink noise generator and individual level trims. The LCD SPL readout can even be customized to reflect the operating levels at which you normally work.

MultiMAX will control four separate speaker systems, plus an alternate set of surround speakers so that you can easily switch between direct radiating and diffuse, depending on the soundfield that you require. The monitor system currently selected is clearly indicated by an LED, as are the individual channels selected within each system. The setup menu allows the redirection of low frequencies from any channels that are using limited bandwidth monitor speakers to channels equipped with full-range speakers, or a subwoofer.

Contact us now for more information on MultiMAX and as a bonus we'll send you a report on the secrets of doing surround sound on your existing stereo console.

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