Recording the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 5.1

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"It's really difficult, because you don't want to squash her down; you want to keep that dynamic range, so you really have to do some gain riding on her, and we do a tiny bit of leveling on her, but we try to do minimal processing on these recordings," Markos said. "We have an LA3A for a little bit of leveling. There's no compression on anything else."

The stage was configured with the orchestra surrounding the trio, so Markos was challenged to create that type of mix for the recording.

"In all of my live mixes, I try to pan them as they are live, because it helps to eliminate a lot of phasing problems," Markos said. "What we are basically doing is we have the orchestra surrounding the quartet, and we do everything audience perspective. So, for instance, we are panning the guitarist right, but not all the way right; we are panning him within the orchestra, so the quartet is within the orchestra just like they are onstage, and with surround, we have the opportunity to also pan things depth-wise, so we are panning things depth-wise as they are onstage. The quartet is up front, as are the first violins, so we try and keep the relationship there, because it really does help keep the coherence of the sound."


Pappas and Markos recorded the show on a Mac G5 running Logic. Though Pappas has recorded in DSD before, including the Yo-Yo Ma show, with the large number of microphones on stage, he felt DSD was too much.

"The reason we picked Logic is it is very simple and very quick and it works every time," Pappas explained. "We're recording to one single drive; we're not even doing a RAID. Knock on any cellulose product; it's never let us down. That's also being fed by an RME MADI card. You can put 56 or 64 channels of uncompressed audio on a single coax line. We have a send, a receive, and a clock, and away you go. I can run those 500' to 600' easy. We have 40 inputs, which for us is a huge amount to run. Doing that and split to the front of house and a relatively compressed load in and rehearsal schedule didn't allow us to bring in the DSD machines and run it all."

Markos created an LT/RT mix and fed it through a DaySequerra DownMix surround encoder using DTS Neural Surround. After taking the mix back to KUVO to fine-tune it, it was uploaded to PRI servers for broadcast through Public Radio stations nationwide using DTS Neural Surround. The show was broadcast on Christmas Eve to an estimated 1.5 million listeners.

"On that console (DS-00), you can go back and forth between the discrete and processed feeds right off the board and they are virtually identical," said David Day, of DaySequerra.

"This is going to be broadcast as a DTS LT/RT that can then be decoded at the other end with a home theater receiver into 5.1 so you can get a near-discrete experience. The signal is stereo-compatible with all surround systems which total hundreds of millions of units."

Horgan is a freelance writer based in Denver. Photos by Darius Panahpour.

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