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Chapter 13. Mixing Surround > Surround Mixing Conventions

Surround Mixing Conventions

Over 30 years of mixing in stereo has led to a rough set of rules, or at least guidelines, for stereo mixing. For example, the snare and lead vocal are almost always placed at dead center in the mix. Surround mixing, especially for music, has no such guidelines, but it's useful to consider some practices that have been used in film mixing for some time.

The center channel is usually reserved for dialogue and voice-over—what the people on the screen at the moment are saying. The left- and right-front speakers are used for the musical score of the film, some off-screen dialogue, and special effects. The left and right surrounds are used for ambience, special effects, and directional events. The subwoofer covers the not-very-directional low frequencies and helps shake the walls during explosions.


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