From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ubuntu Login Sound in 5.1 Channel Glory

It was way too hot here in Austin, Texas this weekend, as it hit 110F on Sunday!  So I spent most of the heat of the day inside, toying with something that I think is pretty cool :-)  I couldn't find any OS today (Mac, Windows, or Linux) that has a 5.1 channel login sound...  I'm hoping that Ubuntu might be the first!

I have 7.1 channel surround sound in my home theater, which is great for watching movies.  Hooked up to my projector is (of course) an Ubuntu nettop, which I use to stream and serve most of my media content.

I thought it would be neat to remix the Ubuntu login sound in 5.1 channels, to exercise my theater's surround sound at boot.

So I grabbed the familiar "drums and crickets" OGG file, which you can find at /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/desktop-login.ogg, and opened it in audacity, a phenomenal open source mixer.  I split that stereo track into two mono tracks, and then added four more blank tracks.

The first two tracks are the Left and Right channels, respectively, followed by the Center channel, the Sub woofer channel, and then the Surround Left and Surround Right channels.  I copied the Left and Right channels to the Surround Left and Surround Right channels.

Then, I opened the original desktop-login.ogg again, and mixed that stereo track to a single mono track.  I took that mono track and copied it to the Center and Sub woofer channels.

Okay, now I had 6 tracks ... time to start playing with them!

I decided that I wanted the "crickets and wind" at the end of the clip to be exclusively in my rear, surround channels.  So I silenced the Surround Left and Surround Right tracks until about the 3.85 second mark, and then faded in from 3.85 seconds to 5.43 seconds, and faded out from 5.43 seconds until the end of the clip.  Since I wanted that sound exclusively in the rear channels, I silenced each of the Left, Right, Center, and Sub woofer channels from the 5.0 second mark, until the end of the clip.  Next, I smoothly faded out the Left and Right channels from about 2.21 until the 4.54 second marks.

For the intro, I wanted the first few drum beats to emanate from the center channel, and then spread wide to the Left and Right channels, right up to the big cymbal crash and the crescendo of the clip.  So I took the Center channel and added a very long fade, from the 0.30 second mark until about 3.97 seconds.  And then I set the Left and Right channels to slowly fade in, from 0 seconds to about 1.48 seconds.

Finally, I took the bass track and de-amplified it way down.  And then I applied a low-pass bass boost filter several times, until the lowest hits of the bass drum are the only audible parts of the track.

Want to hear it for yourself?  Well, you'll have to have 5.1 speakers in a true Surround Sound setup...  If so, grab the [flacogg, or wav] file, and open it in smplayer, ensuring that you have 5.1 channel sound enabled in smplayer.



With the right equipment, you should be in for a treat!  The first few drum beats you'll hear in your Center channel along with some solid, thumping bass hits.  The sound should spread quickly from the Center, fanning outward toward your Right and Left channels right up to the big crashing cymbal!  And with that crescendo, the Left, Right, Center, and Sub should all gracefully fall silent, while the crickets and the wooshing wind sweep back to your Rear Left and Rear Right channels!

Don't have 5.1 sound?  Well, you can still listen to each track individually.  Grab the [flac, ogg, or wav] file, and open it in audacity.  You should see 6 channels vertically down your screen.  You can click the Solo button next to each track, and listen to each track one-by-one.  Make sure you un-click the Solo button between plays.  This might give you a decent idea of how each of the channels come together.


Fancy yourself a sound producer?  Remix it again and share :-)  I have the wav sources up at lp:~kirkland/ubuntu-sounds/834802. Better yet, how about creating a whole new Ubuntu login sound?  :-)  Maybe one day....

From the right side of my brain,
:-Dustin