Disclaimer: The following notes are from my own experience and experiments and is not a paid endorsement.
First things first, what is 2.1 and 5.1?
"2" refers to two channels - Left and Right.
"5" refers to five channels - Front and Rear Left, Front and Rear Right and the Center.
".1" is your sub-woofer also known as LFE (Low Frequency Emitter)
Now, for this technique to effectively work, you're going to need a 5.1 speaker set. Assuming you've made all of your connections properly, you will notice that when you play any of your music on your computer, only the Left and Right and Center speakers are being used (along-with your sub-woofer) while the Rears stay quiet. This is mostly due to the audio files being encoded in 2.1 format.
For foobar2000, the top two things that caught my interest were:
- It's a free player with a ton of options!
- The steps to setup the 5.1 upmix are very straightforward
Interestingly, when music is recorded in a studio, it is recorded in 8, 16, 24 or even 32 channels. Each channel (or a group) is dedicated to the individual audio sources being recorded; however, when a file is mastered and rendered, most studios opt for the common 2.1
It has to do with 2.1 (stereo) being super popular. From your headphones to your computer speakers and from YouTube to many other online streaming services, content is mostly offered in 2.1
First of all, for all audiophiles out there, it's important to remember that foobar can't re-write music. It is only creating a 'fake' 5.1 surround effect using the existing stereo data.
To do that, it takes the Left and Right channels and duplicates them to the Rear Left and Rear Right while 'widening and spacing' the sound. This creates a 'fake' virtual surround sound effect while utilizing all of your speakers during playback.
Navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\foobar2000\components
Paste the .dll file you just downloaded in this folder.
Now open foobar2000
Navigate to File>Preferences>Playback>DSP Manager
Move the DSP called "Channel Mixer" from the "Available DSPs" section. It should now show up under the "Active DSPs" window.
Select "Channel Mixer" and click on "Configure selected"
1. Select "6" in the "Output channels" option
2. Check all 6 boxes in front of L, C, R, RL, LFE, RR
L - Left
C - Center
R - Right
RL - Rear Left
LFE - Low Frequency Emitter (Subwoofer)
RR - Rear Right
I've set my Stereoimage width to the default "1.00" but you can experiment with different settings.
1. Choose "Surround" in the Mode option
You can experiment with all other settings based on what sounds better to you depending on your speaker set and placement setup.
1. Check boxes in front of "Use subwoofer" and "Bass redirection"
Under Bass redirection, make sure you choose the "Leave satellites intact" type.
This will leave the default Left and Right channels intact thus giving you the original clean sounding audio while adding the 'fake' surround in the Rear Left and Right.
If you've followed all steps correctly, you should be hearing your audio from all speakers now.
Remember, you are free to tweak these settings as per your taste & preferences, keeping in mind your speaker set and placement.
Although I've been building a new collection of 5.1 mixes, this little trick has helped me better enjoy my main collection that still remains 2.1