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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:44 am 
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Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 10:34 am
Posts: 34
Here is what I noticed.
Some music is converted perfectly with SPEC, while other files sound a bit flat after conversion.
Don't misunderstand me. The fact that a software can take ANY Stereo source and make it sound 5.1 and sound good is simply staggering. But some sources are not designed for this process. I am simply trying to ascertain what CDs those might be so I can stay away from them.
For example, Michael Franks's "Barefoot on the Beach" (a smooth jazz CD) converted perfectly. Phil Spector in his unincarcerated days couldn't have done a better job. SPEC, in its default settings, brings it to life. The voices where they belong, the guitars, the sax solos - all are near perfect with occasional rear channel instrument sounds. What shows up in the rear belongs in the rear - seldom quiet second guitars, backup solos, rare bongos and chimes. Basically, to create a sound like that you need a professional sound engineer and mixer, a professional studio for about six months and access to the original 24 channel master soundtrack with a separate channel for each instrument and voice. And about quarter a mil to pay for it all. This amazing software does a job just as good - if not better - in only in a few minutes. Its beyond me how this is even possible. Magic, I guess.
Other CDs I tried to convert are simply flat. These CDs I would have thought would be perfect candidates for SPEC because of their multi dimensional music structure, even though they are recorded in Stereo. For example, Photek's "Form and Function" (a minimalistic D&B or IDM) is such a candidate. However, after conversion, most of the CD sounds almost stereo. The fronts are fine, but rears sound like somebody simply played Stereo source but placed two microphones in the back of the concert hall to record what people back in the audience hear. There are no occasional instruments there, like in Michael Franks conversion. Only in track #9 "Rings Around Saturn" I can hear rain specifically in the rear channels, that is it. The quality of both CDs is fine.
So, from this I assume that some CDs are not candidates for SPEC. This is by no means a drawback of the software, but of the sources, no doubt. But which ones? How do you tell?


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:21 pm 
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What a wonderful post. I haven't been keeping track too much of the action here, so this is very nice to read. Welcome aboard.

As to sources, I definitely agree that some sources will do better than others. At the end of the day, we are manipulating stereo, and the more that is provided to us by the stereo source in order to achieve that, the better. A big test to me involves listening to the stereo on a pair of headphones and seeing where sound is experienced. A source in which you hear distinctive sound across the soundfield, both in the front and back, as well as a defined center which is not mixed too wide, is what is going to sound best. A source lacking in such, in which there isn't much differentiation across the soundfield, where everything is mixed wide, is going to lead to much less differentiation in the rears. I always think of a lot of 80's music in that manner - vocals were mixed so wide that it's hard to get the echo out if the rears at times.

The Photek album may have some more minimalist production to it. Some electronic albums mix great, but others are pretty much mixed for IPod listening at this point.

That's not to say, of course, that some ambience-derived rears, with enough dinsrictive sound, can't produce an immersive mix.

Hope that helps.


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:52 pm 
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I took a quick listen to the first track on that source. Almost everything is happening dead center, with just ambiance/effects to the left and right.

Just for grins, try Diagonal mode in ArcTan, with really narrow C and Front widths.

Something like:

Total Image Width: 360
Center Width: 10.0
Front Width: 10.0
Mode: Diagonal

For me most of the action seemed to be on the left side, and tweaking Re-Center didn't help much, but then I was doing this on my office surround system (and an older version of Spec) so not optimal. Those narrow widths are really "extreme" and anything not dead center is going to "slip away".

Diagonal is probably very rarely used, but this source might need it.

Anyway Open up Zmon and solo the different channels while adjusting things.

Cheers,
Z


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 6:47 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 10:34 am
Posts: 34
Thanks, Zeerround.
I am in trouble. I have created another layout, opened ArcTran and changed the parameters like you said. But, since I am not familiar with the software, I messed something up because all my test copies of the same song (but with different settings) are coming out in STEREO! I guess this happened because I set all modules to "Processing". Some of them I believe are supposed to be in "Bypass". The strange thing is that even default layout SPEC4.85_ZAG_3.0-Release produces STEREO songs.
Before, all recordings automatically switched my AVR to either DTS or DTS-HD MSTR. Now these songs with changed settings switch it to STEREO from my BluRay player. I tried to burn one of the previously converted ISOs and they play correctly, DTS.
What module should be Bypass, what should be Processing?
Thanks


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:50 pm 
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Spec produces 6 mono files. Then you use a dts encoder to create a dts file.

If your avr is not showing dts you must have skipped some post spec steps.

Re the layout you can always grab a fresh copy from the install folder (in layouts) or Download spec again. You should always save your layouts with a different file name (I use the album name) so you can go back to the original or revisit settings you liked.


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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2013 7:58 am 
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Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 10:34 am
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Zeerround wrote:
Spec produces 6 mono files. Then you use a dts encoder to create a dts file.

If your avr is not showing dts you must have skipped some post spec steps.

Re the layout you can always grab a fresh copy from the install folder (in layouts) or Download spec again. You should always save your layouts with a different file name (I use the album name) so you can go back to the original or revisit settings you liked.


Thanks, Zeeround. This was BluRay player and AVR communication problem, not software. I restarted both and the same disc went back to DTS-HD MSTR.


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