surround panner - not panning to Surrounds for ps4, xb1?

Hey guys,

Here’s my issue:

You’ll need a Sound Card with a Dolby Digital Live encoder chip in your computer attached to a consumer receiver to test this. You’ll need to test and make sure Windows is using this card as default since Studio cannot detect/select a specific sound card. You’ll also want to be sure that your receiver is indeed seeing a 5.1 Dolby Digital signal (typically some kind of front panel visual). Full disclosure - I never actually ran this test on the XB1 or PS4, but I’m assuming I’m going to get the same results since I’m using a DD Live encoder on the PC. Please correct me if this logic is wrong.

  • Set your Fmod Studio preferences to 5.1
  • open the examples.fspro
  • open the audio bin
  • drag the file EN_Main_Menu into the VO folder making an event called the same
  • Highlight the audio track within this event and change the panner to Surround
  • pan the sound to the FL, C and FR to ensure discrete panning is happening for the fronts (this worked as expected for me - nice and discrete)
  • now pan the sound to the Surround speakers

Result = no sound will play from the surround channels when audio is panned there
result in 7.1 = sound will come out front left and front right when panned to surround speakers and no sound will come out of the LR surrounds.

Desired result - sound panned to the surround (side) speakers comes out the surround speakers whether in 5.1 or 7.1

I think there is currently no way to test Dolby Digital Plus or DTS HD (the two main consumer 7.1 protocols) on a PC (the only 2 cards that have been manufactured so far seem to be discontinued). In order to find out what’s happening with the rear (back) speakers when Studio is set to 7.1, someone will need to test through each console (through a receiver).

Has anyone tested the surround panner through an XB1 or PS4 to ensure channel assignments are correlating and panning as expected?



Hi Rich,
7.1 is working without an issue on XB1 and PS4, we have shipped titles on these platforms.
Also, the whole dolby digital thing is really unnecessary, a normal soundcard with 4 analog outs is good for testing. You can’t really output 7.1 digitally except via HDMI that i’m aware of.

7.1 back speakers will mix down to the fronts and surrounds in a 5.1 downmix, but we’ll double check this to make sure everything is working as expected.
Can you tell us which version of studio you’re using by the way? A while back there were some fixes to do with downmixing i think.

Hi Rich,

Let me just elaborate a little on how Studio handles the project output format and down-mixing. You might already be aware of all this but just to be sure…

The output format selected in Studio’s preferences is the target output format for the game; so no matter what platform you run the game on and what the output device is, the game will always be mixed in this format. If the output device is not set up in the same format, an up- or down-mix will occur at the output of the Master Bus before it hits the output device.

So setting the output format and then loading a project will have no effect because the output format is per-project and must be set after loading the project. You also need to reload the project to apply the new output format. For the game to play correctly, the same output format must also be set using the runtime API setSoftwareFormat() before calling init(), even if the device does not support this output format - in which case a down-mix will be applied. If the game doesn’t set this currently then it might not down-mix correctly.

Studio automatically applies different down-mixing based on the platform you are running in whether it’s DTS, Dolby or out built-in one but these all perform the roughly the same function.

Is the game setting the same output format on the target platform as is being set in the Studio Preferences for the project?

Kind regards,

Hey Guys,

I’m running fmod studio 1.2.8. This issue is specifically with Fmod Studio. I was unaware that you have already shipped titles for the xb1 and ps4 that use fmod studio - which ones are they?

To reiterate - I’m not running off the target console (xb1, ps4) I’m running the fmod Studio ‘Editor’ - the sound designer tool. So I’m not initializing any API except for the sound card in my PC which is a Creative Labs Sound blaster xfi -fatality with the DD Live - blah, blah (see above). And FWIW I do at least restart fmod after switching my preferences between 5.1 and 7.1. I guess I was just hoping that, given my set-up, if I Initialized in 7.1 and sent signal to the right surround - discretely - I would hear signal only in the right surround. But maybe, Gino, this is some artifact of having a 5.1 DDL card and trying to shove 7.1 through it?

“7.1 back speakers will mix down to the fronts and surrounds in a 5.1 downmix” Really!? - In a 7.1 to 5.1 down mix the Rears (back) channels are mixed to the fronts? I can understand the Surrounds - that makes total sense - but the Fronts? Is this Firelight’s choice or are you guys just following some published standard from some entity?

How about we just focus on 5.1 for now. That’s what I’m most interested in and it will focus our energy.

Again - the reason I focus on the DD Live (and DTS) thing is the games I’m making now are for the bigger consoles - Wiiu, 360, PS3, XB1, PS4. These boxes do not decode 3d audio rather they rely on a receiver to decode 3d audio info form a Dolby or DTS bit stream - right? In my particular case, I don’t think a “a normal soundcard with 4 analog outs” would help in my situation since I am trying to make my PC development environment simulate my final target console as close as possible. In your example, which of the 6 speakers would the ‘4 analog outs’ map to exactly? And how would I be aware of the audio info on the other two channels? I also remember something about Microsoft Direct sound flipping the rear/side channel mapping when compared to Dolby and DTS - which would further cloud my world. Something I hope has been fixed by now. How does OpenAL treat the 2 'added speakers in 7.1? Are they sides or rears?

FWIW - I am currently using Designer (4.44.22) with xb1 and I do have a series of test tone events that use use their event properties to feed discrete channels. These test tone events are working as expected within Fmod Designer, with the game running on PC (both through the whole DD Live/ receiver thing) and on the xb1. Since we don’t have Studio integrated I can’t test on xb1.

I do have a suggestion - I think it would be AWESOME if you guys included some simple multichannel test events in your examples.fdp (fspro). I think this would help you and your users get their surround sound kinks worked out more quickly. I would even make them for you if you’d like… :slight_smile:

I’m very eager to hear what comes back from your tests on through the consoles/receivers?

Are there any Sound Designer out there with Studio integrated on xb1/ps4 who can do a few surround tests on console and chime in?



Hi Rich,

Namely Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One, Driveclub for PS4 and other AAA and indie studios shipping games with Studio in the next year.

It sounds like this is the case, I’ll see if someone else can comment on this.

Just a correction, rears are down-mixed to surrounds only, not fronts.

For the example that Brett was saying, Studio would downmix from Surround to Quad, no channels should get “thrown away”. Studio does use the Dolby/DTS channel ordering and name but I’ll let Brett or Mathew confirm the channel ordering for Xbox.

Yes, this is a good idea, we’ll definitely consider adding this. We haven’t experienced this is issue before so it seems related to the output device and DDL.

I’ll ask one of the other guys to chime in with more info about DDL and console output.

Kind regards,

Can you turn off DD Live? Does it work out the analog outputs? It -is- relevant to your issue, as I don’t think your issue is studio related, but setup related. 5.1 and 7.1 works fine on xb1 and ps4. We have extensively tested this and not to mention the fact that titles are already shipping with it as mentioned above. 4 analog outs is the ‘standard’ for PC audio. plug 1 is FL/FR, plug 2 is C/LFE, plug 3 is surrounds and plug 4 is backs usually. Just use a set of headphones if you havent got the cables.

Are you setting the windows control panel speaker mode for your device to 5.1 before you start studio? (and not a 3rd party config dialog that sits on top of windows settings).
DD Live is really irrelevant to this conversation, i know you want to simulate DD, but that’s not even what happens on the consoles, they use HDMI for 7.1 (optical doesnt do 7.1, only 5.1).

If something isn’t working, its more likely to be a speaker or config issue. If you look at the master bus metering, check what levels are registering there. The from there if you see the right levels, its a setup issue, not a studio issue - the screenshot you displayed showed signal in the rear right, correctly. The issue here is just what is coming out of your speakers after leaving studio. Again, confirm what you’re seeing on the master bus.

7.1 to 5.1 downmixing is mixed to surrounds normally yes, I was actually thinking of the case on speaker setups where surrounds don’t exist, but downmixing isn’t always just a case of placing the audio from one speaker into the nearest speaker either. Sometimes other speakers like the fronts have some bleed and other matrix operations applied to them to get better positioning, depending on the downmix algorithm (ie DTS/THX/Prologic etc).

You dont need to worry about ‘channel ordering’ in studio. FMOD Studio uses the standard dolby setup like you see in studio. You author to that.

XB1 has chan 7&8 flipped with 5&6 (according to dolby) but we handle that already, its the same on PC, its basically called the WAVEFORMATEXTENSIBLE channel order, Microsoft platforms only, and 7.1 only.
We just flip the last 2 pairs before sending to the soundcard but you wont even notice it. Designer didn’t do this and used the microsoft format, that’s why there’s a difference there.

That is low level runtime stuff anyway and not relevant to authoring. You don’t need to think about it.

Hey guys,

One question - how can it be an issue with my set up if Fmod Designer works exactly as expected?

My setup works as expected with all my DAWs, Unreal etc. Only Fmod Studio seems to have this issue.

I will check my master bus metering in the morning.


I couldn’t agree more - it should just work - just like the analog PC outputs. The only problem with the analog PC outputs is they are so configurable it can get confusing as to which channel is which. That’s why I avoid them.

My Master Bus output reflects my channel pan as described in the original issue. I’m seeing signal going to my right surround (see image) but I hear nothing.

Yes - I just confirmed this in the Microsoft white papers on xb1. What an annoyance. Interesting to know that they are the only ones who do this.

No, I am allowing the Creative Labs control panel to operate because I’m using a Creative Labs sound card and without it I can’t enable the Dolby Digital encoder.

Let’s just focus on 5.1 for now if we can, I’m not concerned with 7.1. And remember the new consoles also have optical outs. Besides DD card is irrelevant.

How about this - when I drag and drop a 6 channel SMPTE file (FL, FR, C, LFE, LS, RS) into designer - I hear it perfectly reproduced out of the appropriate channels through my system. When I play this same file from Sound Forge through Direct X I get the exact same results. However, when I do the same in Studio - I hear no Surround channels - just silence in the surrounds.

Couldn’t this be the answer? - If, in a 5.1 preference, your code still flips the surrounds (sides) to the rears before the sound card on my Windows 7 machine - then, when I send signal to my right Surround - that you are then sending it to a Rear channel that doesn’t exist in 5.1 thus producing no sound in my environment? Or Maybe your flipping the channels twice?

I know you said you’ve tested this already, but would you mind just confirming that this doesn’t happen for you on the xb1 one more time (with the 5.1 preference)? Then I will let this go and throw my whole system away! :slight_smile:

The one Forza title that’s been released on Studio so far is 7.1 -right? Is Drive Club is 7.1 as well ? So it’s possible that maybe you have not run into this particular ‘5.1 preference’ issue on the consoles yet…



The consoles are -always- 7.1, if you select 5.1 in fmod it just upmixes to the 7.1 output. The 7.1 output does a DD conversion through the optical port. The console audio works fine in 7.1 or 5.1 or stereo. We have verified this.

I would really be interested in what happens if you try this on a different sound card or machine, but i think its time to take it to and then we can post results here later.