Surround Mixing on Headphones with Nx

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Learn how to create 5.1 surround mixes on headphones using the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin. A tutorial with producer/mixer Simon Vinestock (David Bowie, Robert Plant, Blur).

With the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin you no longer need a surround monitor system, a dedicated surround mixing facility, or even an acoustically treated room in order to mix or master for 5.1 and 7.1 surround. The Nx plugin (along with the Nx Head Tracker) lets you mix for surround using your regular stereo headphones.

Nx technology is also available for music listeners everywhere in the form of the Nx 3D Audio apps, which let you listen to any surround mix on any set of headphones.

Here’s the basic workflow for creating surround mixes using stereo headphones + the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin:

  1. Open a 5.1 aux bus which will serve as your master channel. Make sure to route all of your tracks to this channel.
  2. Open another 5.1 aux bus which will be your Send to the headphones.
  3. On your main master bus, open up a Send to the Nx headphone auxiliary.
  4. Insert the Nx Virtual Mix Room plugin on the headphone aux bus. Make sure that you use the 5.1-to-stereo option. This will let you easily route the bus to your headphones.
  5. Panning:

    When you route a stereo track to a 5.1 bus you get the surround panner. Here you can determine the panning of the source.

    Simon’s Tip #1 – Whereas in stereo mixing you would normally use panning more subtly, when mixing for surround do not hesitate to use the panner more extremely. This makes the positioning and the placement in space much more precise.

    Simon’s Tip #2 – For musical content, try not to use the Center channel. To position sound in the center, try to place it in the stereo phantom center; you may find that this sounds better in the mix.
  6. Using effects:

    When mixing for surround you can use both stereo and surround effects.

    When using surround plugins you can either insert them on your surround channel, or open a 5.1 auxiliary bus and insert the plugin there.

    Simon’s Tip: When using stereo reverb in a surround mix, you can open one reverb plugin on one stereo channel and pan it to the front and another reverb on another stereo channel and pan it to the back. By doing so you can create a more immersive sense of space.
  7. Exporting the mix:

    Export the main master bus output to a surround was file. Make sure not to export the Nx Virtual Mix Room monitor path!

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