How to Record a Stereo CD to 5.1 Surround

Written by zach dexter
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How to Record a Stereo CD to 5.1 Surround
Listen to CDs over a surround sound system by "upmixing" from stereo. (Juan Silva/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When you buy a quality surround sound system for your home entertainment centre, it can be frustrating to consider that your new system can only play CDs in stereo because 5.1 surround sound requires six channels of audio --- two front speakers, two surround speakers, one centre speaker and one subwoofer. With only two channels of stereo, how is it even possible to get surround sound from a CD? Fortunately, we live in the digital age. Using a VST plugin with an encoder that supports it, you can do an "upmix" from stereo to 5.1 surround. It isn't perfect, but it's a satisfactory option.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • CD or stereo WAV file
  • Audio encoder that loads VST plugins (Foobar2000 or Audacity recommended)
  • Stereo-to-5.1 VST plugin (V.I recommended)

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  1. 1

    Double-click the audio encoder's desktop icon to launch it or click "Start," then "Applications," and select your encoder from the applications list.

  2. 2

    Click "File," then "Open" in the audio encoder, browse to the CD or the folder containing a stereo WAV file and select it. The CD or WAV file should now be loaded into the audio encoder.

  3. 3

    Click "Edit," then "Select All" to select multiple tracks, then right-click and select "Convert," then "Convert to."

  4. 4

    Click the "Encoding Presets" drop-down menu and select AC3 (Aften). Check the box next to "DSP Processing" and click the "..." button to open "DSP Settings - Converter."

  5. 5

    Click "Channel Mixer" under "Active DSPs," then click "Configure Selected."

  6. 6

    Click the drop-down menu next to "Output Channels" and select "6."

  7. 7

    Click the "Upmix" tab, then click the drop-down menu next to "Mode" and select "Off." Click "OK."

  8. 8

    Click "VST bridge under "Active DSPs," then click "Configure Selected."

  9. 9

    Click the drop-down menu under "Select VST library" and select a stereo-to-5.1 VST plugin from the list. Click "Show editor" and use the plugin interface to set stereo-to-5.1 preferences or select a preset. This will vary according to the plugin and will require a bit of practice.

  10. 10

    Click "Start" or "Convert Now" in the audio encoder, and a 5.1 surround ac3 file will be generated.

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