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Re: surround looping
At 11:37 AM 5/15/2005, Jeff Larson wrote:
>If you just want to route audio signals to 4 or more speakers during live
>performance, then you don't need any special "surround" support in
>software or hardware. You just need a computer audio interface that has
>at least four mono analog output channels, and software that can route
>signals to each of those channels.
I agree. I'd been toying with the idea of doing something similar, but
decided to go in a slightly different direction lately (using the outputs
of the soundcard as multiple effect sends, rather than multiple speaker
outs). However, I've got one or two jacks free on my Edirol FA-101 which
may still use for an extra out or two.
>You would probably want to feed the audio interface channels into a mixer
>with a 4 channel output bus, then into a pair of stereo power amps.
>are lots of mixer/amp possibilities, the important thing is the 4 output
This is where I *might* respectfully disagree. If you've invested in any
sort of powered speaker, there's not really a need to tack on a mixer or
power amps (unless you've a specific specialized reason to do so). After
discovered all the software mixing capabilities of the new Ableton Live, I
decided it would be perfectly viable to do all my mixing in software, and
then merely use the I/O on my soundcard to route the signals externally --
currently, two different effect loops and one output to route signals into
Thus, I've completely eliminated the mixer from my setup. And I either
take the outputs balanced directly into the house board, or else attach
powered speakers to the outs in the case of a smaller venue.
>Next you need a VST host that supports multi-channel audio interfaces and
>multi-port plugins. Plogue Bidule, Audio Mulch, and EnergyXT are all
>good. Audio Mulch is free, the others are under $100US. I'm not very
>familiar with Live!, but you should be able to route audio to all of the
>output channels provided by the interface. If you don't want to use the
>static loop triggering features of Live, it will be simpler to use a
>general VST host like Bidule.
Here, I can't say enough good things regarding Live4. I originally bought
it for, well, all the standard capabilities you normally think of in
Live. Instead, I've mostly used it as a really, really flexible mixer and
VST/AU host. The mixing and routing capabilities are ultra-flexible, and
super easy to use. What's more, since everything's in software, I can
reconfigure all my mixes and routing simply by calling up another
I've also tried both Numerology and Plogue Bidule for this purpose, and
found neither of them as much to my liking in this respect. Don't get me
wrong -- I both own and really like each program, but each for its own
purpose. However, Numerology couldn't handle multiple outputs on the
soundcard well enough on the last version to which I updated, and it
occasionally had quirks as a plug-in host.
Likewise, I started checking out Bidule as a mixer/host when I was
experiencing Jack troubles with SooperLooper. Bidule deals with Jack even
worse than Live, though, so I've finally put SooperLooper on the back
burner until the VST version comes out. With that taken out of the mix, I
discovered that I was spending hours wiring up virtual patchcables in
Bidule only to have it duplicate the function I already had in Live.
In both cases, I've gone back to using both Numerology and Bidule for
functions closer to what they were designed for [sic]. Live4 just kills
the mixer/host category, though, especially in flexibility and ease-of-use.
Eventually I'm gonna need to start using Live for it's primary purpose,
until then I'm having loads of fun with the software routing/mixing alone.
Finally, for those of you who want to broaden their spectral image, but
don't want to dive all the way into multiple speakers, I've also just
started playing around with SRS (Sound Retrieval System) -- also known as
"fake surround". This is the same sort of stereo image enhancement that
you find in many computer music playback programs, like iTunes and (I
think) WinAmp. There's a little-known hardware box that was manufactured
by Crate a few years ago, the SM2-SRS, specifically to apply SRS
to any sound source. I've just gotten one of those little puppies
across my main outs, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it does with
Vortex especially. I'll let you know if it's cool or crap...
"Now Simulcast on Crazy People's Fillings"