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Old 14th January 2006, 19:28   #1  |  Link
ursamtl
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GUIDE: Converting stereo to 5.1 surround for FREE

NOTE: THIS GUIDE WAS WRITTEN IN JANUARY 2006. RECENTLY, A NEW VST PLUGIN ADD-ON FOR FOOBAR2000 HAS APPEARED THAT GREATLY SIMPLIFIES THE PROCESS. IF YOU'D LIKE TO TRY IT, CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING POST. FOR BACKGROUND AND OTHER APPROACHES, YOU CAN ALSO READ THE ORIGINAL GUIDE BELOW.

2007 GUIDE BY TEBASUNA51
2013 GUIDE

Many of the stereo-to-surround conversion guides posted in this forum and elsewhere on the internet rely on Plogue Bidule or other VST hosting software such as Steinberg Cubase, Steinberg Nuendo, or Adobe Audition. These are all fine programs but they are not free. Bidule has a time-limited free version but eventually that will run out.
If you can afford Plogue's $75 US for an early bird license, let me say that in my opinion, this is the best value available. You get tremendous value for your money, one of the most interesting, unique and powerful audio programs available today. If you can't afford this, however, there is a way to convert stereo to 5.1 sound and do it for free, using legal software.

There may be other approaches, but this is one I'm proposing.

Here's what you need
V.I Stereo to 5.1 Converter Suite
Foobar 2000 version 9.0.
Bridge plugin for winamp DSP plugin NEW FOR FOOBAR v0.9x
VST Host Winamp Bridge by Christian Budde
MultiFXVST (Optional-for chaining VST effects) French site or Google translation of site
johnman's wavewizard

NOTE: THE FOLLOWING GUIDE WAS WRITTEN USING FOOBAR V0.83. THE BASIC PROCEDURE WITH VERSION 0.9 IS ALMOST THE SAME BUT WITH SOME CHANGES. FOR THE BASIC METHOD OF USING THE V.I PLUGINS, READ THE GUIDE BELOW. FOR THE FOOBAR2000 V.9.4 AND HIGHER PROCEDURES, INCLUDING AC3 ENCODING WITH AFTEN, SEE THIS POST.

As for why these programs and plugins:
  • Foobar allows a user to right-click and save a 32-bit file to disk as a wave file without having to play it back in real time. Similar to Plogue Bidule's offline mode, this can save a lot of time over VST hosts that can only process while playing a file. Foobar also has built in dithering, limiting, resampling and convolution. Why not Winamp? Because to my knowledge, its diskwriter plugin only saves 16-bit files. If you prefer to use it, go ahead!
  • Foobar does not support VST plugins, nor does it support Winamp plugins. However, if you add the Bridge plugin for winamp DSP plugin and then in turn use it to load Christian Budde's VST Host Winamp Bridge, you can then host a VST plugin.
  • If you want to chain more than one VST plugin, you can load MultiFXVST into the VST Host Winamp Bridge. It works! However, for limiting, reverb convolution (impulse responses), resampling and dithering, you can use Foobar itself. Just be sure your settings for writing files have the Use DSP box checked.

Procedure Overview
You will process a stereo file three times, each time using a different V.I companion plugin from the fLfR, CLFE, and sLsR plugins to write processed files to disk. This will create three stereo files. Then you can use wavewizard to create 6 mono files or one 6-channel file for encoding. If you need a freeware 5.1 encoder, wavewizard comes with a free AC3 encoder.

Part 1: Foobar and plugins
  1. Install Foobar.
  2. Install all files for both Bridge plugins in Foobar's Component subdirectory. This includes all files such as the msvcr71.dll that comes with the Foobar2WinampPlugin. Important: The installation program for the Winamp VST bridge installs to the Winamp/plugins folder. If you don't have Winamp, let it create and install to that folder anyway and then manually move the dsp_vst.dll file to your Foobar/Component directory.
  3. You can check to be sure the bridge is installed by starting Foobar and pressing Ctrl+P. In the Preferences dialog box,
    select Component libraries at the very top of the left tree and find "foo_dsp_Foobar2WinampPlugin.dll."

  4. Expand the Components branch of the tree on the left and select Diskwriter. Setup Foobar to write 32-bit files by choosing 32 from the Preferred bit depth dropdown list and then check the box next to use DSP in the [b]Processing[b] section.

  5. Select DSP Manager in the tree on the left. Use the <= and => buttons on the right to move DSPs from the Available DSPs list on the right to the Active DSPs list in the middle. Be sure that the Advanced Limiter DSP is at the very bottom (use the Up and Down buttons to re-arrange the list order.

  6. Expand the DSP Manager branch of the tree and select Winamp DSP plugin. Select the VST Host DSP v.10 for WinAmp in the middle Plugins pane and Use the On ==> button to move it to the list on the right.

  7. Click the Show Plugin Interface button if the VST Bridge does not open with the last plugin used in it. If it's the first time it's run, click the space to the right of VST Plugin: and choose Load DLL... from the menu that appears. Navigate to the folder containing the VST plugin dlls you wish to use and select flfR.dll. Adjust set it as desired. Note that you can play a file in Foobar while adjusting. Just move back and forth between the two windows.

  8. When you're ready to write a processed file, stop Foobar from playing the file. Select the file you wish to process in Foobar, then right click on the stereo file in Foobar and choose Convert to save as a wave file. Name your file in such a way that you can identify it later as the front channels.

  9. Once this is complete, go to the Bridge window and click the dll name to the right of VST Plugin:. If you cannot find the Bridge window, click the Show Plugin Interface button in Foobar's Preferences dialog box. Load CLFE into the VST bridge and set it as desired.
  10. Right click on stereo file in Foobar and choose Convert to save as a wave file. Name the file so that you can identify it later as the center and LFE channels.
  11. When complete, load sLsR into the VST bridge and set it as desired.
  12. Right click on stereo file in Foobar and choose Convert to save as a wave file. Name the file so that you can identify it later as the rear surround channels.
  13. When finished, go back to the bridge and click the text to the right of VST Plugin: and choose Reset to clear the bridge for the next time it's used.

Part 2: Merging or splitting files
Note: you can use other utilities to combine or split the files. For example, CDP Multi-Channel ToolKit at http://www.bath.ac.uk/~masrwd/mctools.html or Besweet as documented elsewhere in this forum. If you're going to split the files, it's a good idea to combine them first because some encoding programs that require 6 mono files will only work if the files are all the same length.

Here's how to merge or split the files with Wavewizard.
  1. Load the three files into wavewizard.
  2. Choose Preferences from the Edit menu or press Ctrl+F4. Select the options you want for Stream manipulation according to your encoding software's requirements (1 6-channel file or 6 mono files).
  3. Choose Conversion Batcher from wavewizard's Edit menu or press Ctrl+F3. Important: Make sure the two boxes are not checked next to Send jobs to batcher and Start batcher when finished. You will use the Conversion Batcher later, but not yet!
  4. Click the Convert button to carry out the conversion. You should end up with one merged 6-channel file or 6 mono files, depending on the settings you choose in the previous step.

Part 3: Encoding
The subject of this guide is how to end up with a surround sound file using completely free (and legal) software. Unless you own commercial AC3 or DTS encoding software, there are only a couple of options for encoding to AC3 files. One option is to use wavewizard with ac3enc.dll, as I explain here.
  1. Go to the directory where you installed wavewizard and in the ConversionBatcher subdirectory, find and run ConversionBatcher.exe. Click the Configure button and then the Programs 2 tab at the top. You need to set it up with the path of your AC3 encoder.
  2. Close ConversionBatcher and run wavewizard.
  3. Choose Conversion Batcher from wavewizard's Edit menu or press Ctrl+F3. Choose the AC3 Encoder.dll at the bottom of the dropdown list. Be sure to check both boxes next to Send jobs to batcher and Start batcher when finished.
  4. IMPORTANT: Choose Channel mapping (F2) from the Edit menu. Be sure that the box for 6 -> 6 Softencode and ac3enc is checked as well as the box for Enable channelmapping. This ensures the final ac3 file will have the right channel order.
  5. Click OK to apply the channelmapping settings and return to the main window.
  6. Click the Convert button to carry out the conversion.

For now, experiment and see if you can get it to work. I tested on several files and got it to work each time.

An extra bonus: stereo playback enhancement
I might add that the fLfR plugin by itself can enhance stereo playback if you use it by itself and turn the front ambience up near its maximum. This won't give you the full V.I effect, but depending on your source material it can have you looking for speakers that don't exist! ).


Happy surrounding!
Steve.

Last edited by tebasuna51; 15th August 2013 at 13:43. Reason: 2013 method
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Old 15th January 2006, 13:58   #2  |  Link
daphy
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Temp. Download resource

Hiho,

as you may have noticed: needfulthings is under construction

Edit: problems solved!
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Last edited by daphy; 20th January 2009 at 10:24.
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Old 15th January 2006, 14:17   #3  |  Link
ursamtl
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Thanks daphy. I was going to put it on my site this morning until you got needfulthings back up and running. I'll change the link in the guide.
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Old 15th January 2006, 16:00   #4  |  Link
johnman
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Thats a really nice guide you made

Quote:
If you don't have one, use the AC3Enc.dll that came with the program
There isnt any ac3enc.dll included in the ww distribution. IIRC one can be downloaded in the ww thread on this forum.
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Last edited by johnman; 15th January 2006 at 16:09.
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Old 18th January 2006, 07:17   #5  |  Link
newhaven
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newbie

hi all,
may seem like a stupid question. i have installed foo_dsp_Foobar2WinampPlugin.dll in the components directory of foobar. how do i use this to load christians budde's vst host winamp bridge?

thanks for your time--newhaven
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Old 18th January 2006, 14:23   #6  |  Link
ursamtl
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No it's a valid question. Be sure you copy Christian's dsp_vst.dll file to the same folder as foo_dsp_Foobar2WinampPlugin.dll, the Foobar2000 Component folder. Then restart Foobar and when you check the DSP Manager in the Properties tree, selecting Winamp DSP Plugin (see step 6 of the guide) should display VST Host DSP v.10 for WinAmp in the left side of the Plugins section of the dialog box. This is Christian Budde's bridge plugin. You just have to activate it and then load a VST dll file. This is because the Foobar2WinampPlugin searches for and lists all Winamp plugins it finds in its directory. A neat trick I've discovered is that if you make a copy of Christian's dsp_vst.dll, rename it to something like dsp_vst_2.dll and load it in the same directory, the Foobar2WinampPlugin lists two instances of it. You can then load activate both and load a different VST into each one!
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Old 18th January 2006, 15:12   #7  |  Link
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here is where i'm lost

ok,
when i double click on the setup icon for christian's bridge, the install box comes up and states: please select your winamp path below (you will be able to proceed when winamp is detected) (install button in lower right corner is greyed out). for my destination folder, i select the component folder of foobar. the ok button stays greyed out, and i cannot proceed any further?
not sure what i'm doing wrong----i don't have winamp installed on the pc? also in the foobar winamp plugin folder i downloaded is a file called msvcr71.dll.
does this go into the components folder also--i saw no mention in the instructions.
thansk again--newhaven
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Old 18th January 2006, 16:56   #8  |  Link
ursamtl
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Actually sorry, it's been awhile since I downloaded and installed Christian's plugin so I forgot that it tries to install to the Winamp/plugins folder. Since I also have Winamp installed, I just let it go ahead and then copied the dsp_vst.dll file manually to my Foobar/Component folder. As for the msvcr71.dll, yes put it in the Foobar/Component folder as well. Thanks for bringing this up. I'll update the guide right away.

Regards,
Steve.
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Old 22nd January 2006, 18:03   #9  |  Link
ursamtl
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Just a note to those who downloaded the software and tried this guide, the sLsR v1.0 plugin I released on January 14 contained a problem with reduced ambience. I've fixed this and released version 1.1. I think you'll find this greatly improves the surround field. Check the message at http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.ph...084#post773084 for download links.

Regards,
Steve.
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Old 23rd January 2006, 23:45   #10  |  Link
newhaven
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stuck again

steve,
when i start foobar up. i get a pop up console that says: Failed to load DLL: foo_dsp_Foobar2WinampPlugin.dll, reason: Unable to load DLL. I can't get rid of this i have tried uninstalling foobar and putting all the DLL's back in the component folder, but i still get the error message?? any ideas?

thank you--new haven
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Old 24th January 2006, 00:31   #11  |  Link
ursamtl
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I haven't seen that error before. When I put the foo_dsp_foobar2WinampPlugin.dll in my Foobar/Component directory, it worked ok.

Anyone else have this problem? You might also check the foobar forum at http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/...act=SF&s=&f=28. I'll let you know if I find anything out.
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Old 25th January 2006, 16:49   #12  |  Link
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a couple of steps closer

Steve,
i was able to resolve the issue with foobar. the link provided for the winamp plugin above, has 4 selections. 1 of the files contained a third DLL (msvcp71). put this in the components folder and no more problems loading.
i am currently using wavewizard to process the files from your wonderful proggy to 6 monostreams that i want to convert using surcode dvd dts encoder (not using conversion batcher). each of the 6 streams has a 0 & 1 after the title (i.e. center & LFE channels ch0,center & LFE channels ch1, front channels ch0,front channels ch1, rear channels ch0,rear channels ch1)
can you possibly tell me what each ch# properly corresponds with (example--center & LFE channels ch0 is the center channel, front channels ch0 is the front left,rear channels ch0 is the left rear and so on?)
than you for your time! --newhaven
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Old 25th January 2006, 18:34   #13  |  Link
ursamtl
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Glad to hear you got the Foobar problem resolved. In Foobar Diskwriter preferences, it's possible to have the program prompt you for a filename by checking the Ask before writing checkbox. This way, you can give you generated files descriptive names. What I used during my tests was adding "flfr" to the end of the filename for the fronts, "clfe" for the centre/lfe and "slsr" for the surrounds. Then you can place them in the order flfr, clfe, slsr in Wavewizard.

Steve.
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Old 25th January 2006, 22:11   #14  |  Link
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confusion

Steve,
i did what you suggested (CLFE,FLFR,SLSR) in foobar originally. my confusion comes when i load the 3 files into wave wizard. i am using a surcode dvd dts encoder----the only way i can load the files in Surcode is by having wavewizard convert the 3 WAV's into 6 mono streams (which Surcode accepts). after converting the 3 WAV's (c&LFE,flfr,slsr) to 6 mono streams i have the following:
c&LFE ch.0
c&LFE ch.1
flfr ch.0
flfr ch.1
slsr ch.0
slsr ch.1

what are the 0's and 1's? (examples: c&LFE ch.0=center
c&LFE ch.1=sub bass & LFE
flfr ch.0= left front
flfr ch.1= right front
slsr ch.0=surround left
slsr ch.1=surround right )
do you know what i listed in the examples is correct ?

thanks again, sorry if i'm a bit "green" at this
newhaven
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Old 25th January 2006, 22:44   #15  |  Link
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These look to be correct, yes. Give them a try.

No need to apologize for being green at this. We all were not so long ago!
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Old 26th January 2006, 02:15   #16  |  Link
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Thank You

Steve,
thanks for the kindness and patience, but MOST of ALL, THANK YOU FOR THIS GUIDE!!!!!!!! i have successfully used your method twice now, and to say i am pleasantly surprised at the final quality of the product is an understatement . WOW! is more like it.

thanks again, see ya around the forums ---newhaven
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Old 26th January 2006, 03:30   #17  |  Link
ursamtl
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Hey I'm happy it's turning out well for you. I continue to be amazed myself with how good these conversions turn out.

Thanks for the feedback.
Steve.
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Old 13th February 2006, 18:26   #18  |  Link
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Disc error when playing burned CD on my DVD

I followed the steps of your guide "Converting stereo to 5.1 surround for FREE" and was able to generate the 6-channel WAV file by merging 3 stereo (2 ch) files with wavewizardv0.54b. Then I burned a CD that didn't play at all on my home theater DVD. Could it be a problem with the ac3enc.dll???

How can I create 5.1 WAV files that will play on my DVD using the FREE method??

Thanks.
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Old 13th February 2006, 18:46   #19  |  Link
ursamtl
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Go back and recheck everything. I know it took my a few tries before I got the process working correctly. I found it helpful to use CDRWs until I got things working.

One of the most common problems people run into is sampling rate. If you're burning a surround CD, the audio file has to be at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. If it's for a DVD soundtrack, it has to be at 48kHz. People often think because a surround CD will be played back on a DVD player, they need to convert to 48kHz. Not so. The other most common problem is the hook-up between the DVD player and the receiver. It has to be a digital SPDIF or optical connection. Once the data goes through the left and right audio connections, it's already been converted to analog.

A surround CD does a sort of "double trickery" on your system. First, it fools your DVD player into thinking it's a regular audio CD by being at 44.1kHz. Then the data going into the decoder has an AC3 identifier embedded, so the decoder thinks it's receiving the audio from a DVD and thus decodes it as such.

You could retrace your steps and save files every step of the way. since you've installed foobar2000 to do this method, you can use it to play back the 6 channel wave file to see if it's making sounds (if you have a 5.1 soundcard/speaker setup, you can use the Directsound of Kernel Streaming outputs in foobar to hear all 6 channels in surround). Foobar also plays back AC3 files, so you can check them as well.

Don't give up. You'll get it!

Regards,
Steve.
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Old 13th February 2006, 22:22   #20  |  Link
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Inside the file

I have changed the the sampling rate to 44.1 kHz but now when I open the file it looks like an ordinary PCM audio file with the same amplitude/frequency modulations as the original stereo files. Instead, shouldn't I expect to see bursts of data separated by spaces (zeros) when I visualize the file?
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