Question

stereo vs 5.1

  • 14 January 2015
  • 10 replies
  • 1739 views

Hi,

While perusing the site and listening to tracks, I have noticed some play in stereo, and some play in 5.1.

I'd like to know how to make sure my files play in 5.1 if someone has the system for it.

So how should I encode my files so that they play in 5.1 as some on here have done?

From what I read, SoundCloud encodes to MP3 Joint Stereo, but I would expect if all files were done that way, they should all play the same way.

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10 replies

Userlevel 7
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Hi Loopysaurus,

Thank you for reaching out. This actually currently isn't something you can do through mixing on your end. As you know, when tracks are uploaded to SoundCloud, they are transcoded into 128kbps mp3 audio files for the purpose of streaming, even on slower internet connections. If you enable downloads, the file that others can download will be the exact file that you've uploaded though.

Now, whether or not the Stream will be split into 5.1 surround sound or not likely depends on whether the browser in use supports this. Furthermore, while most of our streaming is now done via html5, some tracks might still be powered through an audio engine that runs on Flash. This currently cannot be manipulated, but rest assured that our developers are working around the clock to improve things on a continuous bases.

Hope this helps to shed some light on the matter.

Cheers,
Mathis
Well I am using the same browser to listen to all the music, so it must be the html5 vs flash thing.

I thought maybe premium users got theirs played in 5.1 or something.

It seems more play in stereo though vs 5.1, so if you're saying html5 plays in 5.1, and most of your streaming is done with that, well it still is weird because I have been listening to mainly trending music (newer stuff) and I would expect then for most of those if not all to play in 5.1....but I am finding most tracks play in stereo.

Also, I tried uploading a few test tracks yesterday and they all played in stereo.

So the question still is, given the same browser, and upload date not seeming to be a factor, what determines whether a track plays in stereo (flash?) or 5.1 (html5)? This should be a very straight forward question to answer.
so really? no one has a real answer for this?
Userlevel 7
Badge +3
so really? no one has a real answer for this?
Hi Loopysaurus,

Thanks for writing back. Considering we provide 128kbps mp3 stereo audio streaming, it ultimately isn't up to us to tell or control whether a track can be split into Surround after uploading. Ultimately, what I'd recommend if you want to provide tracks that are mixed for 5.1 systems is to enable downloads for them and explain in the track description that surround can only be provided in the original file.

I have talked to our developers about this and they are looking into this to see if there is something we can do to improve this in the future. For now, stereo it is - sorry I don't have a more positive response at this time, but I hope this helps to shed some light on this.

Cheers,
Mathis
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.


Hi Loopysaurus,

For various technical reasons we stream using a few different streaming formats. Some of these can use browser native HTML5 audio mechanisms, and some rely solely on Flash. Which tracks use HTML5 and which use Flash depends on the track itself - you may have a split of tracks in a given listening session playing with one or the other, and it's not generally something you can control.

As Mathis said, Flash only supports stereo output and so it will only play two channels. HTML5 audio will also technically be outputting stereo, but a lot of systems will remix the output to 5.1 from the browser if your audio device supports it. Generally this remixing is not possible with Flash.

I hope that answers your question.
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.


What are the technical reasons you stream using different formats?

I just don't like the fact that some artists music will end up sounding better because it comes out surround (virtual or not). If that is due to them being a premium member or something, fine, but I just would like to know the proper reason.
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.


It's not something I can clarify very precisely. Some browser and operating system combinations result in us not being able to use HTML5 audio effectively, so we fall back to Flash in some of these cases. In other cases we have some limitations in which formats we can supply the audio in, which means again we have to use Flash.

Overall, in some circumstances it is the content that determines it, and in some circumstances the listener's equipment and software. We are certainly working on eliminating Flash entirely but it is a slow battle.
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.


Ok well in my case, since some of the tracks do play in 5.1, we can eliminate the hardware and software. Now I just need to know what in particular about the content determines it.
That still doesn't explain why some tracks stream (not download) in 5.1 where other are stereo (within the same browser).

All I am doing is hitting the play button on various tracks, and like I said, some play in 5.1 and some in stereo.


Hi again Loopysaurus,

Again, we do use a variety of different mechanisms for streaming playback - some of which use Flash and some of which do not. This is controlled by our internal systems and is not something I'm going to go into any further.

Secondly, yes it is true that Flash only supports stereo sound, but we also only ever guarantee to support stereo - we always transcode uploaded audio into 16bit 44.1kHz stereo for streaming. If your system can up-mix that stereo signal into 5.1, that's great, but not something we support or guarantee when playing back audio from our site.