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4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Great Community! I am proud to be here with you all. However, I am trying to understand something and am having a very hard time getting information from anyone or even anything on the internet. I am a music producer. I want to deliver my music in a Quadraphonic format to my listeners. My questions are:

1.) Do any of the smartphones, mp3 players, etc. have the ability to stream or play a multichannel music file? Does Foobar 2000 accomplish this or is there other hardware/components required?

2.) What medium do I have to use in order to get the music to my listeners? Can I provide my songs as digital downloads? If so, in what format? Also, I understand that CD is not an option so I assume that I could do a Quadraphonic mix on DVD and/or Blu Ray? Is that true and are those my only options?

I would love to be able to stream music to fans in a 4 channel format but keep hitting a brick wall when trying to get ANY info. on how multi channel audio is being used in today's environments.

I appreciate everyone on this page and am looking forward to any insight regarding my questions.

I apologize if they are uneducated, but like I stated, I am a newbie when it comes to producing in 4 channel audio.

Respectfully,
--Ivan

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #1
Quote
1.) Do any of the smartphones, mp3 players, etc. have the ability to stream or play a multichannel music file? Does Foobar 2000 accomplish this or is there other hardware/components required?
MP3 only supports 1 or 2 channels.  AAC supports multi-channel, but the hardware on a phone or iPod is 2-channel stereo.

Quote
2.) What medium do I have to use in order to get the music to my listeners? Can I provide my songs as digital downloads? If so, in what format? Also, I understand that CD is not an option so I assume that I could do a Quadraphonic mix on DVD and/or Blu Ray? Is that true and are those my only options?
DVD or Blu-Ray are your only options if you want to deliver something standard that anybody can play.    If you look at the downloads from Amazon (MP3) or iTunes (AAC), they are 2-channel stereo.

For DVD or Blu-Ray you need authoring software to create the correct file structure & formats for playback on a standard DVD player, and to add a menu, etc.  The situation is similar for Blu-Ray.  Your DVD or Blu-Ray player might play audio or video files simply burned onto the disc, but you can't be sure that every player will play the disc unless author a standards-compliant disc. 

I have a couple of DVD authoring tools.  I have Corel Video Studio and DVD-Lab.  I've used DVD-Lab to make a 5.1 channel DVD.  I've never tried it with Video Studio.  Assuming you don't have any video, you can make a "slide show" DVD, or your video can be a still image of text showing the artist/song/title or even a blank-black image.  There is DVD-Audio, but it's non-standard and most DVD players only work with regular video DVDs.   

DVD-Lab is getting outdated and it's no longer supported, although you can still buy it.  And, DVD-Lab is ONLY an authoring program, not an editor or MPEG or AC3 encoder.  For encoding Dolby AC3 I used a free tool called wavtoac3encoder.  You feed in between one and six WAV files, assign them to the correct channels, and it creates a Dolby AC3 file.  Then your DVD authoring program takes it from there.

Corel Video Studio should be an easier solution because it's an all-in-one application, but I haven't used it for authoring DVDs because there were a couple of things it wouldn't do for me.

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #2
Multichannel  music is usually distributed in DVD ,BluRay in AC3,DTS or SACD  or DVD-Audio.

There is no limitation though because even other formats support multichannel , FLAC , AAC , OGG , OPUS.
I guess you could provide digital downloads in any format you wish, according to the licences respectively.

The real question is that there is really no "general public interest" in such formats , because you need the appropriate hardware and speaker setup's to enjoy these releases and the majority of the public are not willing to invest in something like this.

Here's a poll thread on AVS Forums about the popularity of it.
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/92-community...re-popular.html

As to broadcasting it has been done even by the BBC, and you can easily setup an icecast server to broadcast in multichannel OGG.

I wish someday the automotive industry will implement surround players in our cars as a standard equipment ( cars have an ideal speaker layout ) , and then broadcasters will appear will multichannel broadcasts ( via DAB or whatever) so the public can appreciate the enjoyment of real multichannel recordings.

You can find a lot of info also at these sites
http://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/forum.php
https://www.surroundbyus.com/

Good Luck!

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #3
Thanks so much! Yes, my problem is the hardware to play the music once I have mixed it down to 4 channels. Someone mentioned Foobar 2000 to playback the content but that is assuming the device is capable of Multichannel playback, which mobile devices are not. I was hoping there was a frankenhack way of putting something together via a smartphone app or even an affordable hardware DAC I could use. Since everything I am doing (producing, mixing, mastering, delivering, playing) with the content is digital, I was hoping I wouldnt need to use a DAC converter to deliver the audio. ;-/

Multichannel  music is usually distributed in DVD ,BluRay in AC3,DTS or SACD  or DVD-Audio.

There is no limitation though because even other formats support multichannel , FLAC , AAC , OGG , OPUS.
I guess you could provide digital downloads in any format you wish, according to the licences respectively.

The real question is that there is really no "general public interest" in such formats , because you need the appropriate hardware and speaker setup's to enjoy these releases and the majority of the public are not willing to invest in something like this.

Here's a poll thread on AVS Forums about the popularity of it.
http://www.avsforum.com/forum/92-community...re-popular.html

As to broadcasting it has been done even by the BBC, and you can easily setup an icecast server to broadcast in multichannel OGG.

I wish someday the automotive industry will implement surround players in our cars as a standard equipment ( cars have an ideal speaker layout ) , and then broadcasters will appear will multichannel broadcasts ( via DAB or whatever) so the public can appreciate the enjoyment of real multichannel recordings.

You can find a lot of info also at these sites
http://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/forum.php
https://www.surroundbyus.com/

Good Luck!


4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #4
Thanks so much! Yes, my problem is the hardware to play the music once I have mixed it down to 4 channels. Someone mentioned Foobar 2000 to playback the content but that is assuming the device is capable of Multichannel playback, which mobile devices are not. I was hoping there was a frankenhack way of putting something together via a smartphone app or even an affordable hardware DAC I could use. Since everything I am doing (producing, mixing, mastering, delivering, playing) with the content is digital, I was hoping I wouldnt need to use a DAC converter to deliver the audio.


What multichannel hardware were you planning on using to listen to these files?  Usually having an external DAC isn't a serious problem if its just going to sit on top of a 5.1 speaker system. 

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #5
Quote
I was hoping there was a frankenhack way of putting something together via a smartphone app or even an affordable hardware DAC I could use. Since everything I am doing (producing, mixing, mastering, delivering, playing) with the content is digital, I was hoping I wouldnt need to use a DAC converter to deliver the audio.
I don't understand what you are saying/asking...  You don't need a multichannel DAC to make a multichannel file (or DVD/Blu-Ray).  Except of course, you do need to monitor your mix and it would be silly to make a 4-channel mix if you can't play it. 

You don't need a multi-channel ADC unless you are recording multiple (analog) channels simultaneously.

Every phone, MP3 player has a 2-channle stereo DAC.  Every computer has at least a 2-channel stereo DAC.    Of course, for surround sound the listener needs a multi-channel DAC, a multichannel amplifier, and multiple speakers.

I assume a phone or MP3 player will down-mix to 2-channels.  Every home theater receiver or DVD/Blu-Ray computer application/driver can down-mix because it's required by the DVD/Blu-Ray standards.  That might also be a requirement for an AAC decoder (or other formats) but I'm not sure.

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #6
Doug, that is correct. I have EVERYTHING that I need in order to mix and deliver the multi channel audio. The problem (at leas as I see it) is that the music buyer has a phone that down mixes to 2 channels. What I am trying to understand is exactly what THEY would need in order to be able to listen to my multi channel album? Do you think this would work for what I am trying to achieve?

http://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4

Quote
I was hoping there was a frankenhack way of putting something together via a smartphone app or even an affordable hardware DAC I could use. Since everything I am doing (producing, mixing, mastering, delivering, playing) with the content is digital, I was hoping I wouldnt need to use a DAC converter to deliver the audio.
I don't understand what you are saying/asking...  You don't need a multichannel DAC to make a multichannel file (or DVD/Blu-Ray).  Except of course, you do need to monitor your mix and it would be silly to make a 4-channel mix if you can't play it. 

You don't need a multi-channel ADC unless you are recording multiple (analog) channels simultaneously.

Every phone, MP3 player has a 2-channle stereo DAC.  Every computer has at least a 2-channel stereo DAC.    Of course, for surround sound the listener needs a multi-channel DAC, a multichannel amplifier, and multiple speakers.

I assume a phone or MP3 player will down-mix to 2-channels.  Every home theater receiver or DVD/Blu-Ray computer application/driver can down-mix because it's required by the DVD/Blu-Ray standards.  That might also be a requirement for an AAC decoder (or other formats) but I'm not sure.


4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #7
What I am trying to understand is exactly what THEY would need in order to be able to listen to my multi channel album? Do you think this would work for what I am trying to achieve?


At least 4 speakers and a multichannel receiver/soundcard/amplifier/etc to drive them. 

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #8
The problem (at leas as I see it) is that the music buyer has a phone that down mixes to 2 channels.

Forget about a phone, that is a mobile device. To enjoy surround sound, you need to sit down anyway (in a room or cinema usually). So for playback there are options like a media player, PC (with HDMI preferably) BluRay or DVD player etc.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #9
Quote
The problem (at leas as I see it) is that the music buyer has a phone that down mixes to 2 channels. What I am trying to understand is exactly what THEY would need in order to be able to listen to my multi channel album? Do you think this would work for what I am trying to achieve?

http://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4
Serioiusly?  Nobody is going to buy special equipment just to listen to your album/production.  Either they have a home theater system (or possibly a gaming system) with surround or they don't.

What do you use for listening to surround sound that you don't produce yourself?

Since you are apparently trying to sell your music, you should probably offer a regular stereo MP3 or AAC version unless surround an absolute requirement for your particular production.  As zeremy said, there is very little market for surround sound music.*  This is a tough business!  ...It's not easy selling music an any format unless you are famous and popular.    (Even though every DVD player & AVR can downmix, almost every DVD with a surround track also has a separate stereo track.)

I suppose one option for surround downloads would be a DVD image file so the customer could burn their own DVD.    But, I wouldn't expect many of your customers would be willing to do that unless the download is free.  Even if it's free, you might not have the advertising & promotion to find the one or two people who are want your music and also want to burn their own DVD...  This is tough business!




*  P.S.
My surround-music collection looks like this:
I have a shelf-full of about 100 concert DVDs.  Probably 3/4ths of these have a Dolby and/or DTS surround track and the others are stereo-only.

I have one DVD-audio disc that came with a video DVD concert.  My DVD player doesn't support DVD-Audio and I can't play it.

I've got another DVD-video disc with a slideshow for the video.  It came packaged with an audio CD.

I've got one universal disc which has DVD-audio files (which I can't play) as well as the normal DVD-video file structure but it has audio-only (maybe there's a still image of text showing the song title).  This is the ONLY audio-only surround music I have that didn't come packaged with a regular video DVD or CD.

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #10
Doug, that is correct. I have EVERYTHING that I need in order to mix and deliver the multi channel audio. The problem (at leas as I see it) is that the music buyer has a phone that down mixes to 2 channels. What I am trying to understand is exactly what THEY would need in order to be able to listen to my multi channel album? Do you think this would work for what I am trying to achieve?


first, Listening to it on headphones would of course be pointless, so let's assume you mean , listening over 4 loudspeakers. 

second, let's realize there is no phone that is going to output 4 analog channels. So using the phone's DAC is a nonstarter.  Your only hope is to output the quad audio as a digital stream, to a downstream DAC , probably in an A/V receiver, that will then decode/convert the stream and output to 4 loudspeakers

so,  to do what you want the phone would have to have a *digitial audio out* -- i.e., a port that bypasses the phone's DAC -- and some player software that can be set to pass a pure 'bitstream' to the digital out.

If the 4 channel digital audio is in a lossless format (.wav or .wav losslessly compressed) then the port will have to be an HDMI port .  If the audio is lossy (DTS, Dolby Digital)  then it can be an S/PDIF (toslink or coax) port instead (HDMI will also work). 

The user would connect their phone to an AVR using an HDMI or S/PDIF (toslink or coax) cable.

*Possibly* it could all be done wirelessly instead (if the AVR has a wireless receiever of some sort), wihtout need for physical output ports. 

I've never heard of phones having any/all of these technologies....  but I have not investigated.


4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #12
I've never tried streaming multichannel audio data to an AVR via USB -- I guess that's possible?




4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #13
I've never tried streaming multichannel audio data to an AVR via USB -- I guess that's possible?


Highly possible. IME not many AVRs have a USB input for audio streams either multichannel or stereo, but  the use of an USB audio interface with multichannel digital or analog outputs works.

4 Channel Digital Downloads?

Reply #14
Will the flac automatically down mix to two channel ? I know the idea of ambisonics formats is that they will up or down mix depending on how many speakers you have but it's a long way off commercial development ....

 
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