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Volume 1, Number 9, December 2003
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Digi-Talk: Surround Encoding with SmartCode Pro

SmartCode Pro DTS (CD & DVD)
Every year, DVD titles are getting more popular and mixing in surround is, of course, following the same trend. Many stereo and even mono recordings are being remastered into surround albums in DTS©, Dolby©, DVD-A, and SACD© formats.

Kind of Loud Technologies, a company started by the same folks that started Universal Audio, were pioneers in surround plug-ins for Pro Tools, which at the time had no surround capability. Since Pro Tools now has built in surround features, some of Kind of Loud’s plug-ins are no longer supported, but some very powerful plug-ins still are: the SmartCode Pro Suite of plug-ins.

SmartCode Pro (SCP) is an AudioSuite plugin that can work in any Pro Tools system after 5.0 that runs in OS 9 (OS X Development is still being assessed at this time). Being an AudioSuite plugin, you do not need to have expensive TDM hardware to use the plug-ins. In fact, one version of SCP (SmartCode Pro DTS-CD) can run in Pro Tools "Free"!

Probably the biggest advantage of SCP is the savings over purchasing or renting hardware encoders and decoders. Using SCP is easy: you do a mixdown of your surround session into the final tracks, import them back into a Pro Tools sessions, and then process them with SmartCode Pro, and you are left with a surround encoded file on your hard drive.

SCP DTS has a very cool feature which is part of the DTS specification, and that is surround CD creation. With SCP DTS-CD, you can encode five or six tracks into a file that can be burned onto a typical CD-R with the CD burner you most likely already own. This CD can be played in a DVD player and, as long as it is connected to a DTS decoder, you can play back your tracks in true DTS 5.1 surround. This is a great way to provide surround CDs for clients who want to take a mix of the project to listen and critique at home. Surround “dailies” if you will.

Another great feature of SCP DTS-CDis the disk space requirements of the surround DTS file are the same as the stereo version of the same mix. So if your project fits on a stereo CD, you can remix the whole project in surround, and still fit it on a DTS surround CD! The DVD version, SCP DTS-DVD, can make DTS files for DVD as well as CD.

SmartCode Pro (Dolby)
SmartCode Pro Dolby works just like its DTS cousin. SCP Dolby creates AC3 (Dolby Digital) files, and can encode as little as one mono track, and supports all formats up to 5.1. This plugin features all of the metadata settings of the hardware, so if you are already familiar with the Dolby hardware, you can get up and running quickly.

Of course, we work very closely with Dolby and DTS as they verify the algorithms to make sure they are correct.

And speaking of surround, Universal Audio will be attending the Surround Professional Conference on Thursday December 11th, and Friday December 12th at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. This conference features many workshops and panels, and of course, gear! Universal Audio will be showing our 2192 Master Audio Interface, used by Elliot Mazer as a front end to his Pro Tools HD system. He uses four of these two channel interfaces in 192k to provide the optimum resolution for his surround projects, which have been appearing as SACD titles.

--Dave Crane

Fully functional demo versions of of SmartCode Pro DTS and SmartCode Pro Dolby are available on our website.

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