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The Surround Panner will automatically become available in a channel's pan control area when mono or stereo audio channels are routed through a surround output bus or a multichannel child bus (but not a stereo child bus). You can position and automate the position of the sound within the surround configuration by clicking on the small dot inside the surround pan display. Double-clicking on the Surround Panner display will open the Surround Panner Control, which offers greater control over the setup and behavior of the panner. The Surround Panner offers three different modes: standard, position, and angle (see Figure E.4).
In the upper part, all three modes offer a representation of the speaker position and the position of the sound in relation to the speakers. The lower part offers a variety of controls over the behavior of the panner itself. To switch from one mode to the next , you select the desired option in the Mode drop-down menu found in the panner. Note that the actual number of speakers and how they appear in the upper part depends on the current surround bus configuration. Here's a look at the differences between each mode.
In Standard mode, speakers are aligned to the front and back, similar to a typical movie theater setup. The space between each front speaker in this mode may not be the same in every room since the width of the left/right speakers will depend on the size of the room. This is the default mode and is most appropriate for moving sounds from one channel (position) to the next without attenuating the level of this signal while it travels between both positions .
In Position mode, speakers are also aligned to the front, but not necessarily to the back. Instead, the surround speakers (in a 5.1 or 5.0 setup) are located on the side. Furthermore, the front speakers should be equally spaced from the center as well as the sides. In other words, if you were to divide the front by five, each line would be equally spaced , with lines 1 and 5 representing the left and right walls respectively, while lines 2 and 4 would represent the left and right speakers. This mode is also similar to movie theaters. The display is also different, as it shows circles around the position (or location) of the sound rather than the intensity of the sound emanating from the speakers. Each circle corresponds to a -3 dB decrease in amplitude from the current position of the sound to the first circle, another 3 dB to the next, and so on.
In Angle mode, all speakers are considered at equal distance from the center point (the ultimate sweet listening spot). This is probably the most common configuration for 5.1 surround sound, but not a typical movie theater representation. This said, the angle mode will work well in most surround configurations. In this mode, a red arc helps you determine the perceived range of a source, and the sound will be at its loudest in the middle of the arc and the weakest towards the ends.
In any mode, the speakers represent an optimal speaker setup and the lines, especially in standard mode, give you an indication of how loud or soft a sound will be in any given speaker. You may decide, however, to mute a speaker, forcing Cubase to redistribute the sound through the remaining audio channels (hooked to the corresponding speakers) and effectively muting any signal going to that speaker.
To mute speakers in the Surround Panner:
Alt(PC)/Option(Mac)+click on the speaker you want to mute.
Repeat the operation on the same speaker to unmute the speaker.
In the same display where you found the speakers, you will find either one or two control handles, depending on the mix mode set (see the following list). The control handles allow you to place the source of the sound appropriately in the surround sound mixing field. Lines emerge from the speakers, indicating the level being sent to each output. In the example provided in Figure E.4 (standard mode), you can see the single control placed in the upper-left portion of the display. Consequently, the front-right speaker's level is set to -86 dB, the center speaker to -4.9, and the left speaker to -5.5, while the left surround and right surround output levels are set to -11 and -27. These are the levels required to position your sound in the current configuration. Consequently, the level of this channel is distributed to each output by using these levels. The only speaker that is not represented in this display is the low frequency subbass speaker, which has its own control in the lower part of the panner.
You can move the source of a signal by dragging the control handle where you want in this display (and in any mode). If the source is stereo and if you are not using the Mono Mix mode (found in the lower part of the panner), you will find two control handles labeled L and R. When positioning a stereo sound within the Surround Panner, you will always move the right control handle (labeled R). The direction the left control handle takes depends on the surround mixer mode set. You have four basic mix modes to choose from:
Mono Mix. When used on a stereo source, both sources are mixed into a mono channel and you control where this channel is positioned in the surround field (see Figure E.4).
Y-Mirror. This causes stereo sources to become mirrored vertically. Moving the right control handle's position to the left or right causes the left field to move in the opposite direction. Moving this control to the front or back causes the left control to move in the same direction. In other words, the position of the right control is reflected vertically (the Y-axis).
X-Mirror. This causes stereo sources to become mirrored horizontally. When you move the right control handle's position to the left or right, the left field moves in the same direction. When you move this control to the front or back, the left control moves in the opposite direction. In other words, the position of the right control is reflected horizontally (the X-axis).
X/Y-Mirror. This causes stereo sources to become mirrored both vertically and horizontally. In other words, the left control always moves in the opposite direction of the right control.
In the Standard mode, the Center Level control determines the percentage assigned to the center speaker. When this slider is set to zero percent, the signal that would be positioned in the center speaker is shadowed by the left and right speakers instead, creating a virtual center speaker without using this source. By default, this value is set to 100 percent.
Still in the Standard mode, the following three rings are called Divergence controls, and they determine the attenuation curves used when positioning sound sources, for X-axis front (the first ring to the left), X-axis back (the center ring), and Y-axis (the ring on the right). By default, these values are set at zero percent. Raising these values changes the shape of the dotted line square representation inside the graphic display and causes the signal to start appearing in other speakers even when you place the source on a single speaker. This occurs because you change the attenuation curve and set the room to react unnaturally, attenuating the sound coming from one source more than the sound coming from another source. As a result, the speakers generate a different level to compensate for this attenuation.
In Position or Angle modes, the Center and Divergence controls are replaced by the Attenuation and Normalize controls. The Attenuation control increases the volume of the source in its current surround position, while the Normalize increases the overall level of all speakers so that the sum of the amplitude from all speakers is at 0 dBFS when the Normalize control is set at 1. Note that you should not use the normalize parameter to replace a dynamic control over the surround channels because normalizing doesn't prevent peaks from occurring in the signal. Such peaks could cause one of the surround channels to clip and cause distortion. You should use the Attenuation control when a sound, once positioned appropriately, still sounds too loud in the surround mix.
The subbass (LFE) speaker control in all modes will adjust the level being sent from this source in the subbass channel if such a channel exists in your surround configuration. For example, there are no LFE channel in an LCRS configuration, so this control would not be available in such a case. You can also adjust the level of the LFE channel by using the slider next to the Surround Panner display in the mixer channel or by entering a value in the extended portion of the mixer (see Figure E.6).
You can automate the Surround Panner as you would any other channel automation described in Chapter 13.
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