I'm usually going the other way, as I want to end up with DD 5.1 SS for my DVD's, and most of my source material is stereo.
I know that Adobe Audition will ingest 5.1 SS material and Export to stereo streams. I would guess that the freeware program, Audacity, can do this, as well.
First thing that I would do would be to de-mux the muxed stream (both Audio & Video in one file), into elemental streams (Audio-only & Video-only in two discrete streams), then work on the Audio portion.
I'm surprised that PE does not allow the Video portion of the Clip to go to Video Track 1, and just place the Audio on an appropriately lower Audio Track. Did you create a Project with a 5.1 Audio Preset? If not, that would be my first move.
In another recent thread, Paul_LS talked of 5.1 Audio at length, and had many useful suggestions. If I can find that thread, I'll link to it.
If you have your AVCHD project set up for 5.1 audio, your videos will load to the Video 1 track.
Premiere Elements can not OUTPUT 5.1 audio, however, so whatever you put into it will automatically be converted to stereo when you create your DVD or BluRay disc.
Okay, I checked your camcorder specs and it's not a hi-def camcorder. Just a hard drive camcorder that, as you say, records in 5.1 audio.
Unfortunately, Premiere Elements doesn't support this camcorder in this native format.
Short of converting all of your video before you edit it, I think you're going to be stuck either working with your video on Video 4 -- or using a program that's designed to work with this non-standard format.
Sony Vegas MovieStudio would be a good candidate.
my source video is SD 5.1, not avchd, so I can't use a 5.1 preset.
Thanks for confirming my thoughts on the use of 5.1 w/ AVCHD. Unfortunately, for the OP, the material is not AVCHD, so the Preset will not help.
Since I use Audition for most of my Audio work, I do not know Audacity that well. Do you know if it can rip the Audio from a muxed Video file, and easily convert the 5.1 to PCM/WAV? If Audacity cannot do the de-muxing, there are many utilities that can, and it seems that a lot are freeware. Once de-muxed, it would only be a matter of finding the right utility to convert the stream to stereo PCM/WAV.
There has got to be a program (other than Audition) that can do this easily. The source Audio can only be WMA (six channel), or AC3, to my knowlege. I do not think any other formats/CODEC's support six-channel Audio, though I might have missed one on the Mac-side of life.
OTOH, if Sony's Vegas can handle the source files natively, that might be the best solution, and far, far cheaper than purchasing Audition, just to process the Audio - though it's great for doing a whole lot more with Audio. It would just be expensive overkill.
Thanks to you both for all of your help. Doing conversions and having more than one program to learn sounds like too much for me, so I think I'll try Vegas. Maybe if I'm lucky it will accept my mpegs as is and I won't have to deal with the infinite "indexing and conforming" waits. The shame is that I upgraded from PE 4 to PE 7 for greater stability. 7 took my file from 4 and worked fine with it. Several months later, I am starting a new project to find out that I've wasted $100. I see home videos as priceless, though, so if vegas works, great.
As a total aside, I find that the inclusion of 5.1 Audio in so many cameras is rather a big mistake. While I work in DD 5.1 SS for most Projects, the thought of a single mic'ing system to record it, is absurd. Even with five, or six, well-placed mics on a single camera, there is little of the 5.1 field that will be recorded. To capture any since of the full sound stage, the mics would have to be highly directional and focused appropriately. Even with a battery of shotgun mics, this would be difficult if they had to be located in the same exact spot.
To me, this is more of a sales gimmick ("hey, we offer 5.1 SS, just like your home theater!"), than a useful recording function, but maybe I'm missing something important and the directional characteristics of those tiny mics is far better than I can imagine. To be at all useful, I would think that the camera operator would need a headband with at least five shotgun mics hanging off of it, and he/she could not move their head at all, during filming. The rig would look like something from the "mad Dr's lab" in one of those '50s horror films. I can almost see sparks shooting from the mics...
You could just export the audio from PE7 and it will be exported as stereo, then just replace the 5.1 audio with this.
Now that is simple, quick and elegant. Why did that not dawn on me? DUH!!
Sometimes I get so focused on the particulars, that I cannot "see the forrest for the trees."