The Various Complexities of Audio Channels, New Recordings

The Various Complexities of Audio Channels, New Recordings

An audio channel is defined as the representation of sound coming from or going to a single point. For example, a single microphone can be used to produce one channel of audio, while a single audio speaker can also accept one channel of audio. To this point, a digital audio file can have numerous channels of data. To illustrate this point further, music that is professionally mixed for headphone listening will be saved as an audio file that contains two channels, with one channel being sent to the left ear and the other channel being sent to the right ear. Alternatively, audio that is professionally mixed for surround sound in the context of movie production will often contain 6 different audio channels.

With all this being said, many cameras, camcorders, cell phones, and software programs, among various other devices and technological solutions, allow consumers to record audio on multiple channels. For instance, automatic redaction software programs allow users to redact multiple channels of audio within a particular digital file. Conversely, digital recording software allows bands and musicians to record their vocals, instruments, and background sounds on three separate audio channels, before these channels are merged into a single musical piece. Likewise, many consumers will have experienced the impact of multiple sound channels when watching a major Hollywood film at their local movie theatre.

Stereo Sound Systems

In keeping with the example of multiple channels of audio, stereo sound systems are formatted in a manner similar to headphone audio, with sounds beings directed to 2 different audio channels. However, there are also many other ways in which stereo audio can be configured, including but not limited to the following:

  • 2.0.- As stated above, this configuration represents the most standard form of stereo audio, in accordance with a left and right speaker. Furthermore, all music, as well as audio that has been created for video media playback will be recorded using this configuration.
  • 5.1.- This configuration represents the most standard form of surround sound for movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Generally speaking, this configuration includes the typical left and right speakers, a center audio channel, and 2 more audio channels that go around the seating area in a movie theatre setting.
  • 6.1- Much like the 5.1 configuration, the 6.1 configuration also includes left, right, and center audio channels, as well as 2 additional audio channels in and around the seating area in a movie theater setting. Moreover, this configuration also includes an additional back surround sound audio channel that also goes in or around the seating area.
  • 7.1- This configuration of stereo speakers comes with built-in systems that allow users to split signals for a single audio channel into 2 different audio channels (6.1 system), giving said users a more immersive listening experience.
  • 8.1- Stereo configurations above 7.1 are typically reserved for specialists within a particular musical or audio environment, as each audio channel that is added to a stereo system will provide listeners with an enhanced experience.

Split Multi-channel Audio

While multiple audio channels can provide users with an ideal listening experience as it relates to certain forms of media and entertainment such as music and movies, there will also be instances where a consumer will want to combine the output of multiple audio channels into a single audio file. As such, split audio channels provide consumers and professionals alike with the ability to extract multiple audio channels into a single project or media file. For instance, going back to the example of music production, an audio engineer or producer may want to include audio from the left channel, while simultaneously removing the music from the right channel.

On the other hand, a law enforcement officer may record multiple channels of audio in their patrol car while on duty. More specifically, this officer may record their own voice, a video or dash camera, and the dispatch for the police station under which they are employed. In order to comply with a FOIA request, this officer may need to disclose their dash camera footage in order to adhere to the provisions of the law. Likewise, the audio dispatcher may speak on personal details or information that would also violate the personal privacy of unrelated individuals. Subsequently, the splitting of these respective audio channels would allow the law enforcement officer to maintain compliance with all applicable legislation.

While audio recording seems like a simple pursuit on a surface level, especially in regard to the massive amount of technology that enables consumers to create audio recordings in an instant, audio channels add numerous variables and technicalities to the equation. From entertainment and leisure to government agencies, each individual person will be looking for certain qualities or characteristics within a given audio recording. Audio channels, as well as the ability to split these audio channels into individual files, provide consumers around the world with the means to capture audio recordings, music, or information in the manner that is most convenient and appropriate for their personal desires or needs.