I get odd hankerings for new things to try out sometimes. Since I’ve been playing the hell out of Skyrim lately, I thought it’d be cool to record the game’s ambient sound effects in surround sound (AKA 5.1 or 6-channel). The idea was really inspired by a particular audio file found in my rip of Dungeon Siege III’s music which had rain in 4-channel surround–I thought that sounded awesome.
Anyways, back to the point: Skyrim in 5.1. I was pretty unsure how to accomplish this at first. To start, I tried the recorder that came with my X-Fi, Creative Smart Recorder, as I seemed to recall it supporting some more advanced audio formats. But alas, it can only record stereo (albeit at higher frequencies and bit-depth). I also have Adobe Audition 2.0, which is pretty old now and has pretty limited multi-channel support–or so I thought. It turns out that in “Multitrack” mode, you can actually select from several different lines to record from.
Here’s where it gets tricky, though, and dependent upon one’s sound card. Windows’ standard audio drivers don’t support recording from anything but the front two channels. But if your sound card supports ASIO, then you should be able to select your different hardware channels independently to record from.
I also ran into another snag here where I still only got stereo recording even when using ASIO. The problem was that I was in the X-Fi’s Game Mode when I needed to be in Audio Creation Mode. This is the first time I’ve actually ever needed that mode for this card.
Then to get Audition ready to record, set the input of six tracks to each of the channels to record (Front Left, Front Right, Center, Rear Left, Rear Right, LFE) and tick the “Arm for Record” button for each. Finally, hit the master record button and then jump into Skyrim or whatever game you want to record.
When, you’re done, you’ll have six nicely-synced wave files. But they’re pretty useless unless you plan on only listening in Audition. I like my multi-channel audio to be in AC3 usually because AC3 Filter is a fantastic decoder when used with Media Player Classic. However, multi-channel OGG also has good support among audio players.
I knew that BeSweet could encode to 5.1 AC3 and OGG, but I was unsure how to get my six waves into it when there was only one input file allowed. It turns out you have to create a playlist file with the .mux extension that has the paths to your six waves in the order
FL, FR, C, LFE, RL, and RR FL, C, FR, RL, RR, and LFE and use that as the input file.
And after that, everything is pretty gravy really. I’m thinking about editing some of this up a bit and releasing it online but stuff like that takes so much time, so we’ll see.
I found some time to edit up the recording I did of Skyrim and have uploaded it for your consumption as a RARed AC3. This recording includes the following environments:
- 0:00 → snowstorm
- 4:15 → forest
- 5:30 → stream
- 10:30 → distant dragon
- 11:30 → geyser (the area between Riften and Windhelm)
- 13:20 → Riverwood
- 21:00 → thunderstorm
- 25:15 → rain shower
- 28:00 → forest at night
The cats were thoroughly freaked out by the dragon and thunder parts if that’s anything to go by as far as quality. Obviously, to make the best use of this, you need at least 4.1 speakers and something that plays 6-channel AC3s like Media Player Classic and AC3 Filter.