Revisiting Multi-Channel Audio Output In DaVinci Resolve

September 26, 2016

Resolve users are often tasked with making final outputs.In this Insight, learn how to easily route multi-channel audio for output.


Making Multi-Channel Audio Outputs Is Easy!

A year or so ago (way back in Insight 368) I showed you how I handled making multi-channel audio outputs from Resolve.

In that Insight, I showed you how Resolve worked in a similar fashion to Adobe Premiere Pro when it came to outputting multi-channel audio.

Meaning, Resolve by default routes audio in pairs, and to get a correct output you had to pan odd tracks left, even tracks right.

While you can still work that way (many people do) when it comes to multi-channel audio output, there is another (easier) way to make this happen.

So, in this Insight, I’d like to revisit this topic again and show how to make multi-channel outputs in a slightly easier fashion from DaVinci Resolve.

Multi-Channel Audio?

Like many of you, when it comes to finishing a project I’m often asked to not just simply color a project, but to also remarry audio mixes and graphics.

I seldom, if ever, have to deal with editorial audio – meaning tracks of music, VO, camera audio, etc.  Instead, I usually receive mixes from our audio team ready for output.

These days those mixes usually comprise 6 or more mono files that make up the surround mix, a stereo mix of the entire show (usually an interleaved file) and sometimes other stems that a broadcaster or distribution company may want.

All I do is replace the temp mix that I get from an editor and lay the new mixes on a timeline.  Well, I wish it was that easy!

To make the output work correctly, there is some audio routing that needs to be done.

Routing In Pairs or Routing To Discrete Tracks

In my previous Insight on this subject, I showed you how Resolve by default routes in audio in track pairs – i.e. 1 +2, 3+4.

I also showed you how to get around this ‘limitation’ by panning tracks left for odd tracks and right for even tracks.

While many people still use the panning method, as far as I’m concerned, there is an easier method for routing tracks – especially for mono files that make up a surround mix.

In the movie below, I’ll show you quickly toggle between routing in pairs vs routing to discrete channels. By routing to discrete channels you can avoid the panning discussed in the previous Insight and make quick work of making a multi-channel output.


P.S. Thanks to Mixing Light contributor Rob Bessette for reminding me to do an update on this subject.

P.S.S. This routing feature is not new to Resolve 12.5, (although discrete channel output vs single on Output page is) however I’m not entirely sure which dot update of Resolve 12 the UI was updated to the current routing toggle button.  Member Michael pointed out this functionality a few months after I recorded the previous Insight.

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13 thoughts on “Revisiting Multi-Channel Audio Output In DaVinci Resolve”

  1. Another really good Insight, thanks. Is it possible to monitor 6 channels from your computer audio card (just for confidence, not necessarily quality)? Or will that just pass stereo and you’d need to take the BMD audio outputs?

    1. This depends on your sound card’s abilities. My built in sound card on my home machine does indeed allow me to use a surround setup. In Resolve you just need to make sure you ‘Use System Output’ for audio in your prefs.

  2. Do you usually deliver Stereo and 5.1 in the same Quicktime file? I tried this a few months ago and wasn’t able to select Stereo or 5.1 in VLC or other software from the Quicktime. Mediainfo told me there were indeed 8 channels, but I’m not sure how playback software interprets the 8 channels, or if it does at all. Or are these master Quicktime deliveries just for client’s safekeeping and audio channels can be selected and used appropriately further down the line? Thanks!

    1. Hey Ryan – Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      To answer your question – yes I almost always deliver 5.1 + stereo and usually a boat load of over splits (its common with some of the deliverables I have to do to 24+ tracks)

      QT, VLC etc while it will recognize those files, depending on your system setup you might not here those channels.

      But bring that master into something like Resolve, or Premiere Pro that can be setup to handle multi-channel audio and assuming you have a multi-channel hardware setup you should have no problem playing back or soloing/routing tracks as appropriate.

      Keep in mind that deliverable like this are often not for playout. As you sort of said, I’ll deliver a ProRes with 5.1 + Stereo Someone on the broadcasters side is plucking that 5.1 out encoding them to Dolby Digital for air. Same with stereo, while the other stems might only be for archival purposes. Make sense>

  3. Hi, Robbie, new here, thanks in advanced I need to deliver deliver Stereo and 5.1 in the same Quicktime file I wanted to doit via davinci 14 but it seems everything has change, I only have a few days to deliver can you give me a few tips, thanks a lot

    1. Hi Jeico – Yeah, your question fell through the cracks. A few weeks ago we had an internal discussion about doing a follow-up Insight to answer your question. We decided we couldn’t, since none of us have figured out how to get a proper 5.1 output from Resolve 14. With Fairlight, it seems they’re still working this out on the audio side.

      For some reason I thought we gave you this response. Apparently not. In the future, feel free to use the Contact Us page to make sure the commenting system is working properly if you’re not getting a response here.

        1. Quick update: So we’ve enlisted some Fairlight pros to help us figure this out. It looks like, as with all things audio in Resolve 14, this kind of routing is part of Fairlight’s bus routing system. Which means, if you’re not an audio person, it makes no sense and you have to be taught it.

          Once we understand how this works and know it well enough to teach it – we’ll do a follow-up Insight. We’re still in the ‘grokking’ phase of this.

          But to be clear, it doesn’t look like it’s busted. But it is rather… non-obvious (making it feel like it’s busted).

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