23rd International AES Conference
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What Shall We Do with the Center Channel?
Attila Kiss and Istvan Matok
Digital Pro Studio, Budapest, Hungary

The first stereophonic recording systems used three channels: left right and center. The stereophonic LP and FM broadcast systems couldn't be able to handle the center channel. The surround movie soundtracks regenerated the center channel. Now, the multichannel sound is more than movie soundtracks, because the new high-resolution systems (SACD, DVD-Audio) are give new possibilities to these formats. In the big Movie Theater, the center channel playing great part in the perfect localization. But what part plays in the acoustical music recordings, and in the home cinema practice? How can fit the mono center channel into the stereophonic image? What will happen after the down-mixing? (3/2 to 3/1 Pro Logic or 2/0) We tested some microphone setups and chose one for our recordings. We recorded a church choir in multichannel format. We made some versions of 3/2 mixing. We asked the listeners test group, to chose the most natural version. We made downmixes with several coefficients and asked the listeners to descrive the changes in the sound, and choose the perfect downmix.