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Old 09-08-2021, 09:44 AM   #1
scarletlion scarletlion is offline
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Default The origins of 5.1 audio

Hi,

Can someone tell me when 5.1 sound was first used on film? I've read that Disney pioneered the feature, then it was used on Superman and Apocalypse Now. But when did anything other 2.0 audio really become a staple ?

Many older films still don't have 5.1 audio, so I assume that if the audio is not mastered in 5.1 at the time then it will never be able to be issued in 5.1, is that correct?

Thanks.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:32 AM   #2
Lee A Stewart Lee A Stewart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scarletlion View Post
Hi,

Can someone tell me when 5.1 sound was first used on film? I've read that Disney pioneered the feature, then it was used on Superman and Apocalypse Now. But when did anything other 2.0 audio really become a staple ?
The 5.1 sound format meaning 3 screen channels (L, C, R) and two surround channels (LS, RS) and a low frequency effects (LFE) channel for deep bass was first used in the cinema in 1992 as Dolby Digital with the first movie being Batman Returns.

Prior to that there were numerous multichannel sound formats from 4 channels, 6 channels and 7 channels not including IMAX.

The widest use of multichannel sound in theaters came in 1977 with STAR WARS with optical Dolby Stereo: 4 channel (L, C, R, S) on 35mm film. Prior to this it was mainly 70mm presentations with 6 track magnetic strip with 5 screen channels (L, LC, C, RC, R) and a single surround channel. Dolby Stereo ushered in multichannel sound for theater goers.

Quote:
Many older films still don't have 5.1 audio, so I assume that if the audio is not mastered in 5.1 at the time then it will never be able to be issued in 5.1, is that correct?

Thanks.
They can remaster older films that were once mono into multichannel sound if the original sound elements can be found. At one time sound was recorded on 35mm film "full coat" meaning the entire film was covered in a magnetic coating, the same used in tape recorders.

Or they can fake multichannel sound which leaves a lot to be desired.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:41 AM   #3
Lee A Stewart Lee A Stewart is offline
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The History of Surround Sound - to 2004

https://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=337317

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Old 09-17-2021, 04:22 AM   #4
captainsolo captainsolo is offline
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There were many stereo or multichannel formats that existed prior to digital sound taking over in the 1990's. Primarily multitrack stereo was limited to 70mm or roadshow releases in grand theaters but the arrival of Dolby Stereo allowed for matrixed stereo to give better experiences in standard 35mm theaters. Pretty much all of this tech and implementation found its way into the backbone of surround sound as we know it today.

The first technical usage of the 5.1 standard theatrically was the Cinema Digital Sound or CDS system used on a handful of films like T2, Dick Tracy, Days of Thunder, The Doors, Edward Scissorhands. Most were only 4.0 mixes but T2 and Dick Tracy were 5.1. The system was PCM encoded on the print itself but had technical problems and no backup system so it was quickly shelved. Dolby released their Dolby Digital SR-D (surround digital aka ac3) shortly thereafter, testing on Star Trek VI and first releasing officially on Batman Returns in limited areas.
DTS followed about a year later on Jurassic Park with the benefit being much greater bitrate due to utilizing CD-ROM decks timed to the print instead of encoding the digital stream into an area between the sprocket holes. Sony followed suit with their less popular SDDS system which also boasted an 8 channel configuration sometimes specially mixed for on certain titles.

On video 5.1 first came to Laserdisc via Dolby ac3 with True Lies and Clear and Present Danger. A few years later DTS came to LD with Jurassic Park and The Shadow. Then these forms made it over to DVD and became the common DVD audio forms.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:50 PM   #5
Wendell R. Breland Wendell R. Breland is online now
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Default Sony SDP-EP9ES

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainsolo View Post
On video 5.1 first came to Laserdisc via Dolby ac3 with True Lies and Clear and Present Danger.
It was exciting times for home theater and multi-channel sound. I modified my Pioneer CLD-900 to output RF and procured a Sony SDP-EP9ES AC3 decoder with RF input. True Lies was one of the first titles I purchased on the D-VHS D-Theater format (HD video) and still have that copy.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:26 PM   #6
crutzulee crutzulee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell R. Breland View Post
It was exciting times for home theater and multi-channel sound. I modified my Pioneer CLD-900 to output RF and procured a Sony SDP-EP9ES AC3 decoder with RF input. True Lies was one of the first titles I purchased on the D-VHS D-Theater format (HD video) and still have that copy.
That was a crazy exciting time. I made the same mod to my LD with parts bought at RADIO SHACK.
I still remember the thrill of seeing all of the tiny yellow lights come alive on my Pioneer amp denoting that it was receiving the AC3 RF signal from my modded LD player. It was a real "IT'S ALIVE" Frankenstein moment.
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