Submitted by thewhippinpost on Thu, 01/03/2007 - 18:07.

Diagram example of ambient speaker setup On the sleeve-notes to one of Brian Eno's albums (sorry, can't remember which one), I remember reading how he came across an easy trick to achieve an "all-round ambient-type" sound from a stereo recording by wiring a third rear speaker into a stereo amplifier - Brian Eno, for those who don't know, is regarded as the grandfather of ambient sound.


First, blah blah blah... don't blame me, k?


Having said that, I used to have my own stereo system wired-up in the way I'll describe, with no problems at all.

... and yes, it does sound amazing!

OK, you need a third speaker - preferably one that is smaller than your two main front speakers. The reason - from what I remember Eno writing - is that you don't want so much bass. He even suggested an old car-speaker - but don't stress too much, I just used any ole speaker TBH.

The rear speaker should be sited to the rear of your listening position (see above diagram).

Wiring the Speaker to the Amplifier

This is the crucial bit, and possibly the fiddly bit too, depending on your speaker connections.

Run cable from the rear-speaker to your amplifier and separate the positive and negative wires.

Note: I'm assuming the pos and neg wires are stripped. If they're connected to a jackplug or whatever, you'll probably need to cut it off and separate the pos and neg wires. I can't see from here, so how am I supposed to know!.

Now shove, say, the positive wire into the positive output of the right-channel of your amplifier - that's right, jam it in with your front, right-speaker connection (somehow), go on!

Now do the same with the negative wire (rear speaker), into the positive of the left channel output of the amp.

Now stick on your fave Rod Stewart record, dim the lights, and take your seat for a "3-dimensional" sound experience.

Ambient Sound

So what's happening?

Well I don't think even Brian Eno knew for sure when he wrote of the trick, but what we both think is happening is that you are basically taking the central mono sound, and placing (some of) it behind you.

The effect of this is to move any panning sounds right around your body, rather than just from left-to-right in front of you.

That's a simple explanation. The experience however, is something else: sounds are perceived in front, above and behind your head; the room is "full" of sound - ambient sound, or surround sound if you prefer.

It really is quite extraordinary.

Don't forget, the mono centre sound is largely used for bass and kick, which I mention to reinforce the reason given for the choice of rear speaker, ie., a more "trebley" speaker to the rear works best.

So there you go. If you don't yet have a fancy surround-sound system, this is a good alternative if you fancy experimenting.

Oh yeah, don't forget the disclaimer!

hey i love this trick i

hey i love this trick i brilliant. just one thing tho. on my amp i can change the left to right balance. when its in the middle, if u listen to the mono speaker on its own its like.... wobbley i cant really describe it. u can only notice it if u dont set up the other speakers but i was jus wonderin is that meant to happen at all?

Hmm... it's some years ago I

Hmm... it's some years ago I had this setup so I can't test but I don't recall what you describe.

So, in short, I don't know, sorry.

hey me again, jus

hey me again, jus realised.

wont having the third speaker having two positive inputs ruin it over time?

All I can say, Indy, is that

All I can say, Indy, is that I had it setup as described over a period of years and never had a problem.

... you did read the disclaimer, didn't you?! ;)

What you hear in the rear

What you hear in the rear speaker is the DIFFERENCE between the Left and Right Channels.

As it happens, most of the ambience ends up encoded as a difference signal. The SUM (or mono or center) is canceled completely.

You can extend the effect if you wire two rear speakers in series, then connect a 50 ohm power resistor between the two speakers to Ground (like a "T" with the resistor as the vertical and the speakers as crossarms). It works great for stereo TV and movies too.

Sounds like a better

Sounds like a better explanation than mine ;)

Interesting, thanks

Ok. That's tricky but let me

Ok. That's tricky but let me see how much shit you really know. How do you make ambient sounds feel like there around you when you only have 2 speakers. I have heard 3D effects before where there is a fly buzzing around you and shit it sounded real with 2 speakers even. I don't know how it was done but it was. Here it comes! How do you do it using Cubase SX?

The album on which this

The album on which this setup is described is Ambient 4:On Land (maybe also on other albums?)