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PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:19 pm 
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Surround Junkie

Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 10:34 am
Posts: 34
I am looking for some suggestions on good sources for SPEC conversion. "Good" means two things:
1) Excellent original quality of Stereo sound recording. This is crucial. If instruments and voices sound muffled, lack detail and unclear, this will not be a good source for conversion. I have heard so many shared SPEC conversions that - apart from person who did the surround conversion liking the album - there was no point to even bother with this particular CD.
2) Original Stereo effects that will result in a wide and correct (or at least interesting) positioning of instruments after they had been converted to 5.1. I think this second item is important, but not as important as item 1) above. I would always prefer listening a good quality Stereo CD over listening to a SPEC converted 5.1 DVD or BluRay that has killer surround effects, but sounds like somebody dumped 5 tons of hay over the speakers.
After experimenting with SPEC for a few months, I converted hundreds of stereo sources to 5.1 surround. Some of it I loved in Stereo, but SPEC did not make them shine because they were not good quality original recordings and their Stereo effects were not pronounced enough for SPEC to improve them further in 5.1. This is by no means a defect of the software. It is a defect of the sources.
So, I compiled an alphabetical list of my top recordings that meet both criteria with scores (5 out of 5 is the top rating). Yhey have one thing in common - rated ove one star in either quality or stereo effects. They reflect my particular taste, but I listen to any music as long as it is GOOD, from rock to ambient, even disco (yes, I am that old!). Some of these CDs you would probably reject thinking that only an insane man would listen to music like this. Guilty as charged. "Certifiable" should have been my middle name. :D
Please post your lists. I very much would like to hear what you found to be SPEC material. I dont care about your style of music. Could be any. I do care about the quality of it, which I can like or not like. If I will not like it - I will simply not convert! But your list will make my search for the next good conversion much shorter as long as they meet the two criteria I mentioned.

Alan Parsons Project, the - The Best of the Alan Parsons Project. Recording: *****, Effects: ***
Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto with Ensemble Modrn - UTP. Recording: ****, Effects: *****
Amon Tobin - Bircolage. Recording: ****, Effects: ***
Amon Tobin - INSAM Live. Recording: ***, Effects: ***
Andreas Vollenweider - White Winds. Recording: ***, Effects: **
Aphex Twin - Drukqs. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Arling & Cameron - Music for Imaginary Films. Recording: ***, Effects: ****
Art of Noise, the - the Best of the Art of Noise. Recording: **, Effects: *****
Chris Rea - the Best of. Recording: ****, Effects: **
Deadmau5 - 4x4=12. Recording: ****, Effects: ***
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Deep Purple - Made in Japan (Remastered edition). Recording: ***, Effects: **
Depeche Mode - Violator, Exciter & Ultra. Recording: ***, Effects: ***
Doors - the Best of Doors. Recording: ****, Effects: ****
Eagles, the - spam California (DVD-A). Recording: *****, Effects: ***
Giorgio Moroder - From Here to Eternity. Recording: **, Effects: *****
Kavinsky - Outrun. Recording: ***, Effects: ***
Kraftwerk - Der Katalog (Remastered). Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Leonard Cohen - Star Mark Greatest Hits. Recording: ***, Effects: **
Michael Franks - Barefoot on the Beach. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Michael Jackson - Thriller & Bad. Recording: *****, Effects: *****
Monolake - Any CD!. Recording: ****, Effects: ****
Peter Gabriel - So. Recording: *****, Effects: ***
Pink Floyd - the Wall, IWYWH, Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, the Best of. Recording: *****, Effects: *****
REM - Automatic for the People. Recording: ****, Effects: **
Queen - the Best of Queen. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
SETI - The Geometry Of Night. Recording: ****, Effects: ****
Yello - One Second & Stella. Recording: *****, Effects: *****


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:25 pm 
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SBU Wiki Team
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Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:01 am
Posts: 656
Almost any electronica - good with SLICE mode.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:08 pm 
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SBU Wiki Team
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Joined: Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:01 am
Posts: 282
"Aphex Twin - Drukqs. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Deadmau5 - 4x4=12. Recording: ****, Effects: ***
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories. Recording: *****, Effects: ****
Giorgio Moroder - From Here to Eternity. Recording: **, Effects: *****
Monolake - Any CD!. Recording: ****, Effects: ****"

All examples of albums that would convert well simply because of creative uses of panning effects throughout the album, music that is very clean and free of a lot of reverb and echo, and where you can clearly hear differentiation between what is in the front and rear of mix when listening on headphones. Very easy to get the illusion of discrete sound from the front and rears with all of these.

With some newer electronic music, you should be careful, as I am friends with some electronic artists and there are some that are shying away from the panning effects and whatnot in favor of a "wide" sound that often recalls QSound at its not-so-great.

"Depeche Mode - Violator, Exciter & Ultra. Recording: ***, Effects: ***"

Be wary of vocal echo, as Gahan has a tendency to produce that, but instrumentation should work great.

"Doors - the Best of Doors. Recording: ****, Effects: ****"

I struggle with earlier Doors. Just not enough in the mix. It gets better with the newer albums. "Waiting for the Sun" converts well.

"Michael Jackson - Thriller & Bad. Recording: *****, Effects: *****
Pink Floyd - the Wall, IWYWH, Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, the Best of. Recording: *****, Effects: *****"

Thriller and The Wall are two of the best sources I've ever worked with. Just perfect in spots.

"Queen - the Best of Queen. Recording: *****, Effects: ****"

Very unorthodox stereo mixes sometimes with Queen. Freddie can produce some vocal echo at times. Proceed with caution.

Keep up the good work.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:47 pm 
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Surround Enthusiast

Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 10:06 pm
Posts: 20
I know this is an old thread, but a lot of people just starting out making conversions are probably asking the same questions about source material.

It really varies from recording to recording. One thing I can tell you is that any recording that has been "brickwalled" with everything compressed to 0db is not going to separate well. The program has the same trouble you have being able to tell the difference between different instruments and vocals. Also, when a recording is a victim of the loudness war, the dynamics that make a particular instrument or effect pop out of a rear channel are muted.

Also, early 60's stereo where instruments or vocals are solely on one channel can have odd results, particularly if those instruments are ones (like lead vocals, drums and bass guitar) that in modern records are spread across the stereo channels. For example, after conversion, the drums may only appear in the left rear channel or lead vocals only in the right rear. If that happens, there are various ways you can "correct" - by re-wiring your layout for that song or album or using another audio editing program in post-conversion to spread the instrument or vocal to other channels via mixing.

Stereo recordings that have been "electronically re-channeled for stereo" by splitting a mono recording into treble on one channel and bass on the other are lost causes. Whoever thought that sounded good, even in stereo, was wrong wrong wrong.

Then there was the "vocals on one channel, instruments on the other" stereo method most famously used on the early Beatles albums. Those don't convert well and honestly you would be better off just using the individual stereo L&R channels and an audio editor to change their placement in a 5.1 configuration. Maybe instruments channel in the front L&R, vocal channel in the center and then a blend of the two at a lower volume in the rears. Honestly you would be just as well off playing the songs in stereo and using a "surround" setting like Nero 6 or Dolby Pro-Logic built into your receiver. You are going to get about the same results without going to any trouble.

Finally, there are some recordings that for whatever reason, just won't work. I had planned to do a compilation on a group with a long history that began in the 60's, focusing on just their first four or five albums, but after only two songs I nixed the project. Because of the way the songs were recorded, vocals were all coming out of the front channels and most instruments out of the rear channels. I tried several different audio tricks in Plogue and SPEC and other editing programs, but nothing sounded as good as the regular stereo tracks. Without having the multi-tracks, there was no point in continuing. (That was OK as I have several other projects lined up.)

On all recordings, especially songs with lots of synths or keyboards, you have to be careful not to push your settings too drastically or your rear channels will sound watery and garbled and they won't have much volume. If you raise the volume it will just make the negative effects that much more apparent. When you are doing a conversion, isolate and listen closely to the rear channels. They are the hardest to get right and to a very large extent make the difference between a great musical experience and a very bad experiment.

Mistakes can be a good thing if you can understand why they happened and help you avoid them in the future. If you do that, you will find you get better with each conversion you attempt. Good luck!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:30 pm 
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Mono

Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:24 pm
Posts: 1
Talk Talk's 'Colour of Spring', 'Spirit of Eden' and 'Laughing Stock'. Also Prefab Sprout's 'Jordan: The Comeback'.


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