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How to Downmix 5.1 to stereo on Mac, Windows [Step-by-step Guide]

Downmixing 5.1, 5.0 to stereo is used to playback multichannel audio files at stereo systems. As rule, stereo headphones are used for music listening on portable audio players and mobile phones. Read how to convert multichannel to stereo to reduce music file size for limited disk-drive space of portable audio player or another device.


Author: Yuri Korzunov,
Audiophile Inventory's developer with 25+ year experience in digital signal processing,
author of the articles that make audio easy for beginners


How to convert 5.1 audio to 2.0

To downmix 5.1 to stereo or 5.0 to 2.0:

  1. Launch 5.1 to stereo converter software AuI ConverteR 48x44.

  2. Open multichannel audio file(s): SACD ISO (.iso), DSF, DFF, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, etc. to stereo DSF, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, etc. (check the channel-conversion-capable configurations).
  3. In the main window, select the target directory in Directory output files field.
  4. Click Tools button.
  5. In Tools window click Downmix tab.
  6. To conversion of channel number check Downmix to stereo switch. To keep original channel number uncheck the switch.
  7. Select mixing mode (see details below).
        5.1 to stereo downmix levels are adjusted automatically.
  8. Click OK button.
  9. Select target file format, sample rate, bit depth.
  10. Select directory for output files.
  11. Click Start button and wait the end of conversion.

WARNING: DVD-audio/video, Blu-Ray, DVD/BluRay/CD ISO are NOT supported.
For Modula-R version, SACD ISO, DSF, DFF are supported in proper configurations.
For ISO tracks, DSF, DFF longer than 3 minutes, FREE edition mutes 2-second silence in the output middle and has other restrictions
Free version has processing sound quality identical commercial editions.


How to convert with downmix 5.1 to stereo



Sound quality issues

Channel number reduction is not a purely technical procedure. How to downmix 5.1 to stereo is an element of art.

Played multichannel record back may have a different sound depending on the listening room and apparatus with its settings.

When studio producers have original mono tracks for each sound source of the record, their spatial locations can be modeled mathematically. The calculation may be done for a given channel number N. In instance, N=6 or 5.1 or five speakers and subwoofer. As result, we get several N-channel tracks. They are united into a single N-channel bus. And, N-channel recording is distributed.

5.1-to-stereo converter or downmix plugin of digital audio workstation has this distributed record as input. So there are issues with the sound source separation. And channel number conversion is not the same as the above-mentioned studio work, where sources may be separated.

Studio records may be provided in several variants with the different channel number. As example, multichannel and 2.0 options of the same album.

It is not possible to say what is better in the general case: stereo variant of studio record or multichannel file, that is downmixed in conversion software. There are many conditions: original stuff, quality of math modeling, converter's algorithm, others. In the author's opinion, the best thing to do is compare target stereo records aurally.

Downmix processing may not be bit-perfect even theoretically. It changes audio signal in any option.
Qualitative downmix introduces low distortions.


Audio channel converter settings

Above we considered that no single "right" way to convert 5.1 audio to 2 channel file.

Therefore AuI ConverteR provides 2 alternative downmixing modes:

  • Mode 0 : artificial easy spatial expansion is applied.
  • Mode 1 : minimalistic processing is applied (developers consider it more "natural").
  • Depending on the converter version, other modes may be there.

5.1 downmix to stereo: Settings

You may select the mode which the sound you prefer.




You can check the sound of the downmix processing in FREE edition when converting 5.1 to stereo.

For Modula-R edition the option of 5.1 to 2.0 converter is applied in the "Downmix (add-on)" module. It may be purchased separately. "Base (core)" module is required for this add-on.

SACD ISO-capable configurations of AuI ConverteR allow extracting either stereo tracks from SACD ISO or getting multichannel tracks with downmixing 5.1 to stereo files.



AuI ConverteR has several price/functionality options that allow saving your budget for the required functionality. You can expand Modula-R abilities later by purchasing new modules. Unlimited-time license, major updates (... 10.x > 11.x > 12.x > ... versions) are paid.

WARNING: Modula-R modules (parts of AuI ConverteR’s functionality) are NOT compatible with Free version.
ADD-ON modules work with certain CORE modules only (see details).
The module is license key received in order email. To activate module functionality, enter its key in Modula-R executable.
All "Modula-R" modules together have "PROduce-RD"'s abilities.
Full-featured "PROduce-RD" version is like a discount on price of full module kit of "Modula-R" version.

To expand functionality, module(s) (compatible with purchased major version number) may be ordered separately.
Modula-R license cannot be replaced with PROduce-RD.

* All prices on this page are in U.S. dollars without V.A.T. and other applicable taxes and fees. The prices are recommended. Information on this page is not a public offer.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I switch from 5.1 to stereo?

You can switch 5.1 to stereo this way...


What happens if you play 5.1 on stereo?

Stereo and multichannel audio is designed for spatial positioning of sound source.  If you play 5.1 on a stereo device, 6 channels of source file are downmixed to 2 one. The positioning abilities are reduced.

There are many ways how to downmix. But, there is no scientifically exact way to convert 5.1 audio to stereo.

Read about spatial positioning in home audio here...


Is downmix 5.1 to 2.0 lossless?

Downmix may not be lossless in any case. Because original information is transformed.




Read more