Hopefully, this will be one of my last threads for a significant amount of time. That is, if anyone actually replies to it
Just yesterday, someone from Dell found the correct sound driver for me, and (no offense to Microsoft) it kicks the crap out of the generic Windows 7 driver. Anyway, I'm so close to getting things just as I want. One of the advantages of AC3Filter is that you can play a file and by clicking the icon, see the levels of each channel as they're playing... or, you can just put your ear right up to the speakers to make sure they're playing properly. I must admit, I did both. All is well... mostly.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that by using a tool called "BSMUXWIZ", BeSweet truly creates an AC-3 that properly plays in each channel. I thought this was too good to be true, so I tried DVD Lab Pro and all channels play properly on the DVD it creates! So, up to this point, my only option was to use a single interleaved 6-channel Wave file, exported from Audition... and it would only work with VirtualDub. However, now I have a way of not only creating an AC-3, but one that plays correctly! Woohoo! ... but, I digress. On to my question:
If Audition and BeSweet seem to know what they're doing, why doesn't Soft Encode? It worked fine for ages, then a couple weeks ago it starts playing the rear channels in the front speakers and I can't fix it. This brings me to my dilemma: Soft Encode gives a plethora of encoding options, regarding normalization, compression, bitrate, etc. Is there a way to specify the same variables in BeSweet? From what I can tell, for the most part, all BeSweet does is take the 6 Mono Waves and create an AC-3. It doesn't seem to have many options you can apply, as far as the encoding process is concerned
I'm obviously not too good with words, but I hope someone understands what I mean.
I'd greatly appreciate your response, advice and clarification.
Thank you again,
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Need details on your soundcard and speaker setup, both PC and home theater.
Testing surround output can be tricky without doing some detailed analysis. Many programs revert to stereo and/or reverse channels as you have experienced, though usually L to R and not F to S.
Playback programs and standalone equipment can also revert to stereo depending on several things, output cable type and settings, sometimes excessively high or low bitrates will cause problems.
You can DL a DVD image with seperate audio cues for each speaker, or make sure you have an equivalent. Verify first the home theater and then the PC for playback. Focus on PLAYBACK and PLAYBACK ALONE until you are CERTAIN you have this resolved. Reboot, power cycle, play various files and disks, change commonly changed settings, and TEST AGAIN until you are SURE you are getting correct playback.
You can't verify correct encoding until you verify correct playback.
As for the encoding options in BeSweet, you have to use command line switches for finer control. Generally it is best to leave these alone.
First off, thank you so much for replying. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it
I was using Windows XP, but I upgraded to Windows 7. I have a Creative Soundblaster Audigy Advanced MB. Though, it's not compatible with Windows 7, so I had to find the appropriate driver from a kind fellow on Dell's audio forum. I should mention that Soft Encode worked fine, despite upgrading to Windows 7.
I don't have a home theater. I'm doing this all on my PC. My speaker setup is a 5.1. I'm not sure what you mean when you say you need to details on my speaker "setup". My Center is on top of my monitor. My Fronts are to the left and right of my monitor. My Surrounds are to the left and right of my seat, 'cause that's as close as I can get to them being behind me. My subwoofer is below my desk, to the right of my feet. Other than that, I'm not sure what you mean by "setup".
When I test the Windows speaker setup, each sound plays out of the proper speakers. When I play a DVD, all speakers play properly as well. I use Corel's WinDVD.
When I encode, I use 448 for 5.1 and 192 for Stereo or Mono.
As for playback, besides how I mentioned the Windows test and my DVD software's test. I even tried Winamp and it plays each channel properly. It seems that Soft Encode and SurCode are the only apps I've tried that don't playback properly. However, Soft Encode used to, even in Windows 7. I don't know what I did to change it. It pains me, 'cause even though it's an ancient app, it still worked beautifully and I was incredibly privy to it. I really wish I could fix whatever went wrong with it. It allows you to test each channel before encoding and even when I test the Surrounds when previewing, they still play in the front speakers.
Regarding BeSweet, I don't understand why it's best to leave the encoding settings as they are. I mean, if the options in more "professional" apps are considered so important, shouldn't they be considered relevant in BeSweet too?
I'm looking forward to your reply
How EXACTLY are the speakers connected to the PC? 5 individual cables or a single SPDIF connector, either optical or Coax?
The importance of this is that with 5 individual connections, there is less opportunity for channels to get re-arranged on playback, while using SPDIF introduces some extra possibilities for mayhem. AC3Filter, while a great program, also inserts itself into channel re-creation and presents another opportunity for unwanted changes to occur.
Soft Encode, while also a great program, I found to be very glitchy, and abandoned it early on. While it not working is a problem, having another program which does work correctly means it just is not very important. Using a sound card not intended for the OS complicates life enough.
Now these Dell drivers. Is this a Dell mobo? If not, then you need different drivers. Of COURSE they will be better than the Windows generic drivers.
From your previous posts which I browsed, it had seemed as though you were having intermittant playback issues.
The plethora of encoding options in the "pro" programs are mainly intended to assist in creation of a surround environment from seperate files not originally intended as such. If what you have as source is an already created surround sound, there is really very little you should do to change this. Individual channel volume levels and delays should not be changed. The only real option is bitrate. I would experiment some with 384 as I had several unusual authoring outcomes using 448.
I guess I should ask about your sources for the files you are encoding.
The cables aren't optical, but not Coax either, I don't think. They're 3.5mm, I believe... not sure about various cable types. There are only two cables going into the computer, one plugged in to one jack and another in to another jack. I can't be certain, but it looks like the icons above the two cables are implying that one jack is for the Fronts and the other for the Surrounds...? The subwoofer is where the 5 main cables are plugged in. They're clearly labeled.
The Dell drivers are for a Creative Soundblaster, but it's called an Audigy Advanced MB. I'm assuming that stands for MotherBoard...? Dell and Creative both report basically the same thing when contacted... something along the lines of "Sorry, but that card isn't compatible with Windows 7.".
The files I'm using were not originally intended for Surround. I took a Mono soundtrack and did a ton of work to create a Surround mix... just a little experiment of mine, which worked far better than I would've thought, IMHO.
As for the file source, I took the original AC-3 (2.0 Mono) from part of the film (via Smartripper) and used Audition to create the new mix.
Well, I will assume that you are aware that your description of the speaker connection to the PC is just short of absolutely worthless?
One of the jacks should be black, representing a digital IO. The speaker set must support this type of input. The type of plug is an RCA mini, commonly known as a mini headphone jack.
Now for the bad news. There should be either one speaker connection for digital IO, or at least three for the surround connection. Can't be sure without the speaker specs, but it is very possible that you have a simple stereo connection to the speakers and the surround effects are being simulated in the speaker hardware. Most speakers would have a Front, Rear, and Center/LFE and/or digital.
I would strongly recommend getting one of the test DVD's I mentioned. Using a movie DVD to test correct surround output, as opposed to a simulation, is extremely difficult. The testing of DVD playback is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the windows speaker test. The test DVD clearly states "Front Left" and so forth. This would clarify the possibility I mention above, whereas attempting to judge precisely which speaker a given sound effect should be on is difficult and being able to differentiate from a simulated surround is almost impossible. The test DVD enables you to KNOW exactly when a given effect should play, and where, and will reveal simulated surround as well.
For creating a surround mix, SoftEncode might be useful but that prog is very old and has not been updated in years.
I'm sorry for poorly describing the connection to my PC.
Yes, one of the jacks is black. I missed that when I looked before, since black isn't easy to see in poor lighting.
There are 3 cables going into my PC:
2. Orange rubber, but the sticker on the PC is yellow
3. Green rubber, but the sticker on the PC is blue
So I do have the digital IO, plus the other two cables. Since I'm obviously awful at describing these connections, I won't say anything further in that respect, other than that there are 5 cables plugged in to the subwoofer. Again, difficult to see the labels.
I'll seek out a test DVD and report back.
Okay. I used one of those tests DVDs and I don't know how to explain the conclusion, other than to say that all is well and I'm convinced that this is not the "bad news" that you presented as a possibility. My setup, though I'm not good at explaining the cable hookups, is a true Surround system. It's not the simulation that you mentioned.
It was actually rather interesting. I had no idea how many different kinds of tests there are to go through. I found the polarity tests to be particularly intriguing. It's very odd to hear the difference between "in phase" and "out of phase". I spent about 30 or so minutes going over these tests.
So, if all seems to be proper, then I guess what I'm noticing with Soft Encode are some of the glitches you were referring to. This is all I can think of to explain why it's not behaving as it should, since Audition and even BeSweet work correctly. Are some of the issues I have with the program at all similar to what you encountered to cause you to abandon it?
Yeah. Some of those phase tests cause you to feel like your brain is malfunctioning.
The black functions as Digital IO when used by itself, OR as one of the three Front, Rear, Center/LFE connections. So it sounds correct, though not digital. The colors often do not correspond, you must RTFM to determine the correct connections to use.
I remember SoftEncode either swapping channels or, IIRC, requiring them to be identified differently than other progs. This was several years ago, while trying to test AC-3 output without a surround amp or speakers, and without a verifieable 5.1 source. That was frustrating enough without any software hassle. BeSweet handled it with no problem and also offered some other capabilities I needed.
Do you know that your board may be capable of CAPTURING a 5.1 audio file?