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Why bass management makes my life tedious

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I repeat: they have been released *in the last 20 years*. It doesnt mean they are all 20 years old. It means, DVDA and SACD have been around since 2000 or so, followed much later by BluRay music releases. So, a 20 year span of time. Some of the releases that have full range LFE are just a year or two old. Some are two decades old. Age has nothing to do with it....if that was your point.

My friend, I will repeat this. This is music (no standards) versus movies (which have standards). It was obviously the choice of the mixer to make the .1 full range, that option is there. The music industry does not have to adhere to the guidelines of the film industry, and vice versa. Based on that fact, you cannot spread what the music industry does (like peanut butter on bread) over the film industry audio mixers do. That is called conflating.

The music mixers have no real need for the LFE channel, you can put all the bass you need in the front two or three channels if they chose. The LFE channel was created for film soundtracks, not music. That frees these guys up to use that channel however they want.
 
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I'm not 'conflating' a thing, I never claimed or even implied that the practices I'm describing on 5.1 music releases, have been found on movie releases. Nor did I say anything about anything being a 'global issue'. That seems to be your imagination.
I am not sure it is my imagination or your full frontal dead horse beating of the issue. As I said above, the music industry is not bound to the film industry's standards. They can do whatever they want with the LFE.

You mad because I'm talking about music release LFE here? Is this thread only allowed to be about movie soundtracks? If so, let me know, officer. .
Mad? Can you please tell me how one ascertains emotions over the internet WITHOUT DOING THIS? I don't think I did that anywhere in my posts. You are making this personal, and my name is not LFE, nor do I mix in the music industry.
 

krabapple

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My friend, I will repeat this. This is music (no standards) versus movies (which have standards). It was obviously the choice of the mixer to make the .1 full range, that option is there. The music industry does not have to adhere to the guidelines of the film industry, and vice versa. Based on that fact, you cannot spread what the music industry does (like peanut butter on bread) over the film industry audio mixers do. That is called conflating.
Well, since I didn't "spread what the music industry does (like peanut butter on bread) over the film industry audio mixers do", it wasn't conflation, so...what is your complaint again? :rolleyes:

What I did do was post about music LFE in a thread that had been discussing film LFE and bass management, thinking there might be some interest in the difference and its potential for causing bass playback mischief. From responses it appears not everyone knew that 1) that there was a difference in the first place and 2) it's because 'there are no standards', rather than being a QC problem.

The music mixers have no real need for the LFE channel, you can put all the bass you need in the front two or three channels if they chose.
I wholly agree and have posted the same before...just not here.
 
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Well, since I didn't "spread what the music industry does (like peanut butter on bread) over the film industry audio mixers do", it wasn't conflation, so...what is your complaint again? :rolleyes:
Since we have established that the music industry dances by a different technical tune than the film industry, then I throw this back at you. What is YOUR complaint again???

What I did do was post about music LFE in a thread that had been discussing film LFE and bass management, thinking there might be some interest in the difference and its potential for causing bass playback mischief.
Then apparently you thought wrong. You hijacked the thread, and even when the differences were explained to you, you continued to argue. So, exactly what is your motivation here?



From responses it appears not everyone knew that 1) that there was a difference in the first place and 2) it's because 'there are no standards', rather than being a QC problem.
Let me add 3) they didn't care because it wasn't a part of the discussion. Ever thought about that one?
 
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markus

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@Soundmixer The observation that music recordings have unwanted high frequency content in the LFE is insofar important as consumers probably use their SSP to play any content and not just movies.
 
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markus

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I'd like to talk a bit about one problem (amongst many) I find when mixing films in surround sound: Bass summing.

It's not a new problem, but as speaker counts have gone up, it's definitely been exacerbated. While the issue is kinda multidimensional, discrepancies in bass level at the point of replay exist partially because of the interaction between:

- Bass management.
- Lack of bass management.
- Speaker coupling / summing in the acoustic domain.

The amount of bass extension (how low the system can go) obviously has an effect too, but I find that less disruptive to the experience than multiple decibel level differences in the 40 to 100Hz range which come about through bass management or lack thereof.

In cinema (theatrical) mixing we don't have to worry about bass management much. The screen channels only go down to around 40Hz, but ya know, so be it. We can dump to the LFE if we need to. In general, the translation room-to-room is decent in regard to "bass summing" as everything stays discreet. Each channel we had in the mix exists as a physical speaker location except for surrounds in Atmos. Sure, sometimes the screen channel speakers couple to each other differently in different rooms, but it doesn't affect things too much.

However, when we move out of that world and into Home Entertainment, things get difficult. The big unknowns are (a) Will they have bass management, and what frequency will they crossover? (b) How many speakers will they have?

The reason these questions matter is that the way low frequency content sums in bass management is different from how it sums in the room. This is because, as most people on this forum will know, in general bass management involves making a mono signal path and slamming together all the "speaker" signals below a certain frequency. In room, the summing is dependent on a few things, but generally the screen channels have more coupling to each other than they do to the surrounds. In all cases though, summing in the signal processor of fully phase coherent material from multiple speakers will result in a level push of [20log(number of speakers)] so 6dB for each doubling of sources. The acoustic summing will be less than this.

At the other end of the scale, if I ran a 40Hz signal 180 degrees out of phase into the left/right pair, someone who's totally in to their bass management region at that frequency would get literally SILENCE as a result of that signal. Without bass management, you'd get a wide stereo bass effect.

Because low frequency content is generally quite coherent across channels (unless the mixer has done something deliberately that isn't, or it's music recorded on a large stage with mics a great distance apart) using bass management therefore in general gives more bass push to a mix as a whole than allowing the main speakers to run full range.

Assuming the consumer is using "speaker based" bass management, the more speakers they have, the bigger the LF push compared to the unmanaged version UNLESS there's only ever "bass" in one speaker at a time in the mix. Now, this is possible. I could brutally brickwall chop all speakers off at 160Hz and put everything below that into the centre channel. (side note: I can't put that content in the ".1" as in most default stereo downmixes the decoder mutes that off, so anyone listening via a 2.0 decode would have no bass at all.) I'm not seriously suggesting this as a solution but it's about the only thing that would be an absolute fix for the issue rather than the fudges we end up doing in the real world.

What I'm talking about here is of course just the basic "maths" at the decoder/bass management stage, so it's all before you even get the signal as a far as "preference" curves on the consumer's line-up, which in some cases compound the error by having more bass tilt-up than studios. Despite personal preference for spectral balance between Re-recording Mixers being relatively similar in my experience, this bass management issue means that mix-to-mix, a consumer will probably find some mixes have loads of LF lumping up and others don't. If you don't use bass management, things might be more consistent from film to film, EXCEPT the mixers have to take in to account that most, but not all, people are bass managing and have to compromise the mix accordingly. And, there's no standards for this yet.

Now, I'm not against bass management. It probably does more good than it does harm. It's just that it's implementation is so unpredictable right now all I can do is try my Home Entertainment mixes without bass management, and bass managed at a random frequency on an random number of speakers (probably 7.1.4 since that's what the clients usually wants it mixed on) and then make compromises to the mix such that neither experience sounds terrible. Generally this means if the bass managed replay gets too LF prominent anywhere, my options are (a) finding some way of de-correlating the offending signal, (b) re-distributing the LF content to a smaller number of speakers or (c) reducing the LF content to bring it back in to the realm of acceptability. The last option (c) being either as a whole sound element if it's an object in Atmos, or by dipping the LF content in some of the speakers if it's a channel-based surround recording.

Help is at hand in the form of "OBJECT BASS MANAGEMENT" in Atmos. This removes the "number of speakers" variable so it's a step in the right direction. So far as I'm aware, not many people are using this in the consumer field yet? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For your amusement, here's what happened in my mid-field studio with and without bass management, when playing phase coherent filtered pink noise, measuring with a single mic at the mix position. (This was a couple of years ago and I've lost the details of the pink noise but it wasn't heavily sub-sonic. Maybe rolled off 12dB/Oct @ 40 & 180Hz or something and the bass management would have been around 80 or 100Hz).

ACOUSTIC SUMMING (dB) / BASS MANAGED (dB)

L = 74.0 / 74.0
L+R = 77.9 / 80.0
L+C = 79.4 / 80.1
L+C+R = 82.2 / 83.5
LS+RS = 77.2 / untested
L+C+R+LS+RS = 85.1 / 88.1

As you can see, this test only spanned up to 5.0, but as the speaker count increases, so does the discrepancy. By the time you're in 7.1.4 or 9.1.6 the difference is really quite large. Maybe I'll run a real world test of that if I get time...

Other things of note on those numbers, you can see the Left & Centre couple more in this frequency range than the Left & Right, but that's a whole world of room calibration pain that few people venture in to :p I don't have those monitors any more or remember much about the calibration, but you can see that the single left speaker playing on it's own was bass managed accurately in level at least. I suspect the whole room was time aligned with some reasonable degree of accuracy to the centre channel. The FR of each speaker probably adjusted individually rather than summed.

/Rant
Thinking about this a bit more the culprit seems to be proper room equalization and monitoring practices.

Usually speakers are optimized in isolation. So the phase response between speakers doesn't match. The result at low frequencies is a bass response that isn't representative of the bass content in the recording whenever coherent bass content is present in multiple channels.

Another effect is the 40Hz speaker roll-off in dub stages. Content below 40Hz isn't monitored but recorded and therefore shows up as excessive bass energy in a bass managed system. A home theater remix on a bass managed system will probably fix this if the mixer is the same as the one that did the original mix as he's the only one that knows the original. Not sure how often that is the case though.

A solution to this problem is better standards regarding speaker performance, mixing/monitoring practices and room equalization.

What's the SMPTE/ITU's latest stance on this?
 
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I'd like to talk a bit about one problem (amongst many) I find when mixing films in surround sound: Bass summing.

It's not a new problem, but as speaker counts have gone up, it's definitely been exacerbated. While the issue is kinda multidimensional, discrepancies in bass level at the point of replay exist partially because of the interaction between:

- Bass management.
- Lack of bass management.
- Speaker coupling / summing in the acoustic domain.

The amount of bass extension (how low the system can go) obviously has an effect too, but I find that less disruptive to the experience than multiple decibel level differences in the 40 to 100Hz range which come about through bass management or lack thereof.

In cinema (theatrical) mixing we don't have to worry about bass management much. The screen channels only go down to around 40Hz, but ya know, so be it. We can dump to the LFE if we need to. In general, the translation room-to-room is decent in regard to "bass summing" as everything stays discreet. Each channel we had in the mix exists as a physical speaker location except for surrounds in Atmos. Sure, sometimes the screen channel speakers couple to each other differently in different rooms, but it doesn't affect things too much.

However, when we move out of that world and into Home Entertainment, things get difficult. The big unknowns are (a) Will they have bass management, and what frequency will they crossover? (b) How many speakers will they have?

The reason these questions matter is that the way low frequency content sums in bass management is different from how it sums in the room. This is because, as most people on this forum will know, in general bass management involves making a mono signal path and slamming together all the "speaker" signals below a certain frequency. In room, the summing is dependent on a few things, but generally the screen channels have more coupling to each other than they do to the surrounds. In all cases though, summing in the signal processor of fully phase coherent material from multiple speakers will result in a level push of [20log(number of speakers)] so 6dB for each doubling of sources. The acoustic summing will be less than this.

At the other end of the scale, if I ran a 40Hz signal 180 degrees out of phase into the left/right pair, someone who's totally in to their bass management region at that frequency would get literally SILENCE as a result of that signal. Without bass management, you'd get a wide stereo bass effect.

Because low frequency content is generally quite coherent across channels (unless the mixer has done something deliberately that isn't, or it's music recorded on a large stage with mics a great distance apart) using bass management therefore in general gives more bass push to a mix as a whole than allowing the main speakers to run full range.

Assuming the consumer is using "speaker based" bass management, the more speakers they have, the bigger the LF push compared to the unmanaged version UNLESS there's only ever "bass" in one speaker at a time in the mix. Now, this is possible. I could brutally brickwall chop all speakers off at 160Hz and put everything below that into the centre channel. (side note: I can't put that content in the ".1" as in most default stereo downmixes the decoder mutes that off, so anyone listening via a 2.0 decode would have no bass at all.) I'm not seriously suggesting this as a solution but it's about the only thing that would be an absolute fix for the issue rather than the fudges we end up doing in the real world.

What I'm talking about here is of course just the basic "maths" at the decoder/bass management stage, so it's all before you even get the signal as a far as "preference" curves on the consumer's line-up, which in some cases compound the error by having more bass tilt-up than studios. Despite personal preference for spectral balance between Re-recording Mixers being relatively similar in my experience, this bass management issue means that mix-to-mix, a consumer will probably find some mixes have loads of LF lumping up and others don't. If you don't use bass management, things might be more consistent from film to film, EXCEPT the mixers have to take in to account that most, but not all, people are bass managing and have to compromise the mix accordingly. And, there's no standards for this yet.

Now, I'm not against bass management. It probably does more good than it does harm. It's just that it's implementation is so unpredictable right now all I can do is try my Home Entertainment mixes without bass management, and bass managed at a random frequency on an random number of speakers (probably 7.1.4 since that's what the clients usually wants it mixed on) and then make compromises to the mix such that neither experience sounds terrible. Generally this means if the bass managed replay gets too LF prominent anywhere, my options are (a) finding some way of de-correlating the offending signal, (b) re-distributing the LF content to a smaller number of speakers or (c) reducing the LF content to bring it back in to the realm of acceptability. The last option (c) being either as a whole sound element if it's an object in Atmos, or by dipping the LF content in some of the speakers if it's a channel-based surround recording.

Help is at hand in the form of "OBJECT BASS MANAGEMENT" in Atmos. This removes the "number of speakers" variable so it's a step in the right direction. So far as I'm aware, not many people are using this in the consumer field yet? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For your amusement, here's what happened in my mid-field studio with and without bass management, when playing phase coherent filtered pink noise, measuring with a single mic at the mix position. (This was a couple of years ago and I've lost the details of the pink noise but it wasn't heavily sub-sonic. Maybe rolled off 12dB/Oct @ 40 & 180Hz or something and the bass management would have been around 80 or 100Hz).

ACOUSTIC SUMMING (dB) / BASS MANAGED (dB)

L = 74.0 / 74.0
L+R = 77.9 / 80.0
L+C = 79.4 / 80.1
L+C+R = 82.2 / 83.5
LS+RS = 77.2 / untested
L+C+R+LS+RS = 85.1 / 88.1

As you can see, this test only spanned up to 5.0, but as the speaker count increases, so does the discrepancy. By the time you're in 7.1.4 or 9.1.6 the difference is really quite large. Maybe I'll run a real world test of that if I get time...

Other things of note on those numbers, you can see the Left & Centre couple more in this frequency range than the Left & Right, but that's a whole world of room calibration pain that few people venture in to :p I don't have those monitors any more or remember much about the calibration, but you can see that the single left speaker playing on it's own was bass managed accurately in level at least. I suspect the whole room was time aligned with some reasonable degree of accuracy to the centre channel. The FR of each speaker probably adjusted individually rather than summed.

/Rant

You can't have control over living rooms, so why bother? If a user decides to put his sub in a kitchen cabinet because it's too ugly (yes, I've seen it somewhere), that's their doing. It's not your responsibilty to account for that.

On the flip side, I think smarter devices can help people with the setup and tuning of their complex multi speaker system. So some things will improve.
 
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You can't have control over living rooms, so why bother? If a user decides to put his sub in a kitchen cabinet because it's too ugly (yes, I've seen it somewhere), that's their doing. It's not your responsibilty to account for that.

On the flip side, I think smarter devices can help people with the setup and tuning of their complex multi speaker system. So some things will improve.
"Why strive for better if some don't care" – with that kind of attitude we still would be sitting in caves.
 

markus

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You clearly don't understand my point. I was stating that it's no point in trying to account for unknowns. It's futile.
He's not trying to account for unknowns. He's experiencing a level discrepancy between the recorded content and playback in his reference environment with/without bass management enabled and varying speaker counts.

The numbers he has measured for the bass managed case are correct whereas the numbers for single speakers don't match up due to room effects.

Screenshot 2021-06-10 at 15.07.29.png


http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-coherentsources.htm
 
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@Soundmixer The observation that music recordings have unwanted high frequency content in the LFE is insofar important as consumers probably use their SSP to play any content and not just movies.
It is not unwanted if it is there. Do you think a kick drum got in the LFE by accident? Do you think they used the LFE as a height channel forby accident?

If it is in the LFE channel, the mixer wanted it there. As I said earlier, a music engineer can put anything they want in the LFE. It is up to the end-user to make any adjustment they need to make to properly playback the recording.
 
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Thinking about this a bit more the culprit seems to be proper room equalization and monitoring practices.
I disagree with this big time. This would assume a mixing engineer is completely ignorant on how to do this.

Usually speakers are optimized in isolation. So the phase response between speakers doesn't match. The result at low frequencies is a bass response that isn't representative of the bass content in the recording whenever coherent bass content is present in multiple channels.
This is also incorrect. I don't know about other audio engineers, but I make sure that my system is properly calibrated before every remastering and encoding session I do. I am not sure any audio engineer worth their salt would work on a system where there is a phase mismatch between speakers. That is very audible and very difficult to miss.


Another effect is the 40Hz speaker roll-off in dub stages. Content below 40Hz isn't monitored but recorded and therefore shows up as excessive bass energy in a bass managed system. A home theater remix on a bass managed system will probably fix this if the mixer is the same as the one that did the original mix as he's the only one that knows the original. Not sure how often that is the case though.

It does not matter if the original mixer does the HT remastering or not, we get the final mix in pro tools so we know exactly what they did. You are correct that a mix is remastered on a bass-managed system for the very reason you mention. So that is not an issue.

A solution to this problem is better standards regarding speaker performance, mixing/monitoring practices and room equalization.

What's the SMPTE/ITU's latest stance on this?

I am not sure SMPTE would have anything to say about this because this is all based on a bunch of assumptions.
 
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markus

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It is not unwanted if it is there. Do you think a kick drum got in the LFE by accident? Do you think they used the LFE as a height channel forby accident?

If it is in the LFE channel, the mixer wanted it there. As I said earlier, a music engineer can put anything they want in the LFE. It is up to the end-user to make any adjustment they need to make to properly playback the recording.
I do understand that the LFE channel can be repurposed to whatever the mixing engineer wants it to be. But the content I have found in the LFE certainly has not been mixed there deliberately (I looked at movie content on Blu-ray by the way). Typical "leftovers" like open mic noise. Otherwise the channel contained only low frequency sounds. I believe krabapple found the same.

I agree though that we need to survey a decent amount of current recordings to make an authoritative statement one way or the other.
 

markus

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I disagree with this big time. This would assume a mixing engineer is completely ignorant on how to do this.
For a meaningful discussion it would be helpful if you would let me know why you disagree.
I've followed the results of the working group in which Toole was involved. The results were really devastating. I also don't think re-recording mixers are involved in acoustical design and room equalization?

This is also incorrect. I don't know about other audio engineers, but I make sure the phase of all my speakers is correct.
How do you do that if I may ask?
@audio2920 data shows that in his environment the bass managed in-room response follows the signal whereas the non-bass managed case results in reduced SPL. This has an impact on mixing decisions.

As far as I know, all content sent to the speakers is monitored, so there are no accidents. Also, by the time the end-user has actually heard the content, it is been remastered to present the best mix possible. The end-user is not getting a direct from the dubbing stage to HT mix, so I don't think that is the issue either.
If a speaker can't reproduce 20Hz it can be monitored. Easy as that.
So in your opinion all movies from all studios get a HT remix. This is quite an authoritative claim so I hope you don't mind me asking what your sources are?

You have made a bunch of assumptions on the production side, many dead wrong as far as I have observed. So I am not sure SMPTE would have a stance on this.
This reads more like a personal attack than a meaningful contribution to the discussion. I try again, is there anything normative SMPTE/ITU added lately when it comes to speaker performance, mixing/monitoring practices and room equalization?
 
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For a meaningful discussion it would be helpful if you would let me know why you don't agree.
I did tell you. Read what I wrote again.



How do you do that if I may ask?
@audio2920 data shows that in his environment the bass managed in-room response follows the signal whereas the non-bass managed case results in less SPL.
Audio2920 environment is different from mine. He works on the cinema side, I work on the home media side. My side always uses bass management, his side does not.



If a speaker can't reproduce 20Hz it can be monitored. Easy as that.
So in your opinion all movie content from all studios gets a HT remix. This is quite an authoritative claim so I hope you don't mind when I ask what your sources are?
Ever heard of a spectrum analyzer plug-in? It does not matter if the speaker can't reproduce it, if 20hz is there, we can see it using that tool.
I don't offer opinions on what other studios do, I can only tell you what the one I work for does. I know Sony does it, I know that Universal and Warner have done it, but I don't know if it is a standard practice like it is for Disney.




This reads more like a personal attack than a meaningful contribution to the discussion. I try again, is there anything normative SMPTE/ITU lately added when it comes to speaker performance, mixing/monitoring practices and room equalization?
Saying you are making assumptions (which you are) is a personal attack? I would suggest you remove your emotions from this discussion, they are not very useful in this instance. I am pretty sure SMPTE has better things to do than address someone's assumptions rather than their facts. That is not an insult or a personal "attack". If you can quantify everything you have stated with evidence to show there is a real industry-wide issue here, then we have something to address. Making assumptions and statements you cannot quantify with evidence is not something I would waste my time pursuing.
 
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I do understand that the LFE channel can be repurposed to whatever the mixing engineer wants it to be. But the content I have found in the LFE certainly has not been mixed there deliberately (I looked at movie content on Blu-ray by the way). Typical "leftovers" like open mic noise. Otherwise the channel contained only low frequency sounds. I believe krabapple found the same.

I agree though that we need to survey a decent amount of current recordings to make an authoritative statement one way or the other.
Your last statement is spot on, I said the same thing to krabapple. I am not asserting that all mixes are perfect and without warts, but I think you both are overstating and overblowing something that is really quite minor and not widespread.
 

krabapple

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Your last statement is spot on, I said the same thing to krabapple. I am not asserting that all mixes are perfect and without warts, but I think you both are overstating and overblowing something that is really quite minor and not widespread.
I own 85 surround music releases offering a lossless 5.1 option. More than a quarter of those (27) have full-band LFE (and some others have content that isn't full spectrum, but extends significantly beyond 120Hz). The date of release (your first, incorrect, hypothesis) is not a factor...the full-bandwidth LFE releases span the history of lossless 5.1 (~21 years). Examples exist in DVD-Audio (MLP-PCM), SACD (DSD), and BluRay (DTSHD PCM) releases. And btw, none of the surround music releases in my collection (including classical) use the LFE for 'height'...that was a 'quite minor and not widespread' usage, adopted mainly/only by Chesky.
 

krabapple

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It is not unwanted if it is there. Do you think a kick drum got in the LFE by accident? Do you think they used the LFE as a height channel forby accident?

If it is in the LFE channel, the mixer wanted it there. As I said earlier, a music engineer can put anything they want in the LFE. It is up to the end-user to make any adjustment they need to make to properly playback the recording.
Why did the engineer put full range content in the LFE there if it isn't meant to be played back at full range?

Or are you saying that 'proper playback' of such LFE *is* full range? Good luck with consumers working that out.
 

Kal Rubinson

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And btw, none of the surround music releases in my collection (including classical) use the LFE for 'height'...that was a 'quite minor and not widespread' usage, adopted mainly/only by Chesky.
Telarc did a few and a related application is utilized by mdg in their 2+2+2 recordings.
 
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