More Gabriel, more surround

For those of you who enjoyed my piece on Peter Gabriel (and other folks at the AES Convention) in the January 2008 issue (Random Play, page 16), the quotes had to be severely trimmed for the print edition. (What else is new?)

Want more? Here ya go!

First up: Gabriel.

On surround in general: "I like 5.1. From back in the old quad era to today, the idea of being able to immerse people in sound is still an attractive thing for me. In stereo, it really does feel that, sometimes, you haven't quite got the space in which to place everything - especially if you're working on a texture-rich piece. Suddenly, in 5.1, you've got this much wider, bigger space."

On whether he's worried about the slow traction of music in surround so far: "Well, people have spent a lot of money on the home cinema experience. So I hope music sneaks in through the back door. With a movie, the difference between playing it on small stereo speakers and playing it on speakers all around the room is often considerable. But for the average listener, the fact that they can be immersed in music is better but not huge. However, I think that the more they get to know the difference, the more they'll see the sense of it."

On surround speaker-buying: "I always say to people: Whatever you buy, buy the same. Don't have good speakers in the front and crap ones in the back."

Lamb On the coming surround mixes of his Genesis material: "When I heard the first mixes, I was a little disappointed. They weren't brave enough. If you have the opportunity of moving things around, you should play to the strengths of the medium, not just make enhanced stereo. So I lobbied hard for that. And the next round of mixes were much more to my tastes. Nick Davis worked very hard on all of it. Each of us in the band, I'm sure, would have mixed it in a slightly different way; each thinks that more 'me' is generally the best way [laughs]. Having said that, I probably don't push my vocals up as much as some other people do. . . . But in the end, I think Nick has done a good job."

On when we might get more of his solo catalog in surround: "Other things come along and get in the way. . . . I think now, at the moment, I'm spending 3 days a week in London: My young son is in school there. So, it might be something for him to start on. I'm looking for some 5.1 projects to give him while I'm away on Tuesdays and Wednesdays . . ."

Aes1_2 Next up: Miscellaneous comments from George Massenburg's panel on "5.1 Mixing Do's and Don'ts":

On the center channel:
Frank Filipetti: "I'm a firm believer in the center channel. Alan Parsons hates it."
Massenburg: ". . . and he hates anyone who uses it . . ."
Filipetti: "Parsons literally doesn't put anything in the center channel. He does wonderful work, but that's his way." [For my interview with Parsons, click here.]

On mixers checking out their mixes:
Massenburg: "You gotta walk around the room. You gotta get your fat ass out of the chair and walk around the room to hear what it sounds like!"

On the supposed popularity of concert DVDs:
Jeff Wolpert: "I walked into a store and saw many music DVDs on the shelves - but they're not selling. They're only there as a byproduct of broadcast, because they're so inexpensive to do."

On repeated glitches in trying to get the panel's demo system to work:
Massenburg: "You see? Even the best minds of audio can't get this shit to work!"

Aes2_3 Which leads to the final expanded quote I'll put here. As I mentioned in my print piece, Frank Filipetti closed his panel comments with a "riveting sermon," a kind of surround-sound manifesto. Here it is in full:

"As I look around the room, I see that it's a pretty good response here. There's obviously a great deal of interest in surround mixing. We've been mixing music in surround for, I think, 12 years now. I can't imagine that, 12 years after the start of stereo mixing, people were still having discussions about how to do it.

"I mean no disrepect to the guys who are trying to run the demos here. They're doing a great job, and they have this great equipment, but . . . we still have a difficult time in just flipping a DVD into a certain machine and making it work. But the problems that are plaguing them are problems that plague every single one of us every day in the recording studio. There's a lack of interest and wherewithal on the record companies' part, there's a distinct lack of interest on the manufacturers' part to make this stuff all work. Consequently, with the advent of the iPod and other things, there has been a distinct lack of interest on the consumers' part to make this thing work.

"This is the greatest of all formats we've ever had. There's nothing like it. It even beats, often times, actually being at a concert. There's something magical about it. And the fact that all of us professionals are still debating what to do - it's absurd. At some point, we've all gotta stand up and get together and somehow make this work. Because already, companies are talking about not supporting DVD-Audio at all in the next few years.

"I just hope all of you can do whatever you can to keep this format going, because it's really way too important to let go."

AMEN. Somebody print that onto a poster on nail it to the door of the Church of Stereo! -Ken Richardson