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  • Writer's pictureGarry Haywood

What's in a name?

A look at naming of Layouts in the Sympan Monitoring Tool for Multi Channel Audio

The naming conventions in the multi-channel audio ecosystem can be confusing.

Even though standards bodies such as ITU and SMPTE have attempted to codify various layouts, it can sometimes seem to muddy the waters even further. When combined with the proprietary approach of the companies in the eco-system. who set their own standards or supply production software based on their own flavours, it can become very complex.

For the Sympan Monitoring Tool application and plugins we have tried to reduce the complexity of the multi-channel audio ecosystem with the following approach to naming and grouping of speaker layouts.

Naming conventions

The Name of each layout in the Sympan Monitoring Tool application has 3 components {numerical prefix} angle convention [channel order]

  1. for layouts with more than 4 channels, there will be a numerical prefix, e.g. 4.1, 7.1 or 9.1.6. Layouts with 4 channels or less are not given a numerical prefix.

  2. the layout type, which is based on the typical set of angles used, e.g Surround or ITU

  1. the channel order postfix, which is presented within square brackets, may be derived from two sources

    1. standards-based ordering,e.g. ITU, SMPTE and so on

    2. proprietary ordering from systems suppliers or production/playback software, e.g. DTS or Reaper

Here are some examples:

  • Stereo [ITU]

  • 4.1 Surround [ITU]

  • 7.0.2 Atmos [SMPTE]

  • 10.0 Auro-3D [Auro-3D]

  • 9.1.6 Surround [Reaper]


In the pop-up menu system, we group on two values

  1. the number of channels a layout requires. For example, a 5.1 layout will require 6 channels, an Atmos 7.1.4 layout will require 12 channels. This seems the most basic common denominator in the multi-channel audio layout ecosystem.

  2. the arrangement of the speakers for a layout, and we distinguish both

    1. systems that have standards-based layouts. For example, a 6-channel system could be either a 5.1 layout or 6.0 layout will be grouped on their numerical name

systems that have proprietary layouts. For example, Auro-3D will be grouped on the proprietary system name

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