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Multi vs 2ch?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Nick Bum, May 11, 2005.

  1. Nick Bum

    Nick Bum Well-Known Member

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    So I have begun to wonder why so many people have started going to 5.1 6.1 7.1 or even 8 and 10 ch set ups? So answer me why? To me it seems that to "upgrade" the front soundstage from 2 ta 3 ch is pointless. If you have good speakers then the soundstage and immiging is just as good with 2 speakers as with 3. When I had a 3 ch set up I thought that the center ch detracted from the over all sound of my system. And at least I can not justify the expence of having suround speakers or rears they are almost never used so they seem pointless to me. So can someone enlighten me to the ways of multich audio? I am very happy with 2 ch and dont understand the reason for more. When I was younger and had a cheap set up I loved having 5.1 but with my new set up it seems that adding any thing even matched speakers to the rear is so expensive that the benefits are not their.
     
  2. John S

    John S Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what world your living in. But for music you may be correct on 2 channel source. But on DVD, or even multi-channel audio your position just has no merrit whatsoever.

    3 channel is important to properly anchor dialog to the display.

    The sub is maybe the most important for impact.

    The surround channels create effects that just could never be produced by 2 channel.

    Best of luck with your system
     
  3. mackie

    mackie Well-Known Member

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    I agree with John. While I tend to mostly listen to music in 2 channels, the 5.1 for movies can't be beat. Also, I live DAV-A and SACD and own a few disks, but the limited number of disks I like keeps my multi-channel listening time down. A good DVD-A or SACD mix is stunning. The sound-staging and imaging are exponentially better than 2ch, but a bad mix can be annoying.
     
  4. Derek N

    Derek N Active Member

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    Well for DVD, 5.1 or 7.1 is the only way to go. Can't really appreciate the movement of objects without having surrounds to "throw" the sound from front to back, etc.

    For plain CDs I listen in only 2 channel and in general avoid any types of DSP. So in this point I agree with you. For redbook, 2 speakers work just fine.

    The kicker for me is that a well mixed SACD sounds so much better than a redbook that it justifies the cost for me. Where as a good redbook gives a great front soundstage, a SACD gives the possibility of a 360 degree soundstage! One that you can be in the middle of.
     
  5. Evan M.

    Evan M. Well-Known Member

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    Yep, I agree with Derek, Not watching a movie in 5.1 or 6.1 is like a ham sandwich with no cheese, lettuce, tomatoe and a good spicy mustard.....BORING!! As for music....I prefer 2 channel all the way although I have grown to appreciate DPLII....although I really do not use it much and like Derek...I avoid DSP stuff. Good front speakers create a good enough soundstage to me without needing more speakers.
     
  6. Aaron_Mum

    Aaron_Mum Well-Known Member

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    You are only talking about audio right??? For HT every speaker gets a workout and removing any of them degrades your performance. The only exception is not running a center which some around here prefer but that is only with certain setups. The magnepan crowd has reported that they can get away with it because of the capability of that type of speaker.

    I think multichannel audio is just a preference thing. I like multichannel audio but it has not ruined 2 channel for me. To say that a multichannel audio system is overkill when you could run a 2 channel system and get the same result is way off.

    What kind of multichannel music are you listening to that does not use the rear speakers? There are disks out there that only really use the front three speakers while the majority will heavily use the rears.

    Its true that a high end 2 channel rig will satisfy but it is a different kind of system. You are giving up certain things to go either direction (unless you have the $$$ to do everything well). If as you stated, your 2 channel rig is stellar and adding onto it does not justify the expense then fine but you are giving up performance in other areas. It is just not possible to do all things well with only 2 speakers. That's not a wrong way to go about it, you just chose to put all your $$$ into 2 channel but understand that is only one way to go. It has its strengths and it has its weaknesses.

    Also, adding a high end sub to your system is going to make it sound tons better (unless you have very expensive high performance towers backed up by a powerful amp and even then...) and the increased performance of the sub will probably justify the expense.

    Hope this helps!
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    There is a possible reason why that is - incorrect setup (configuration, positioning, lack of calibration) can easily make any setup sound poor. Positioning of your center is quite important and 80% of all people's setups I've seen have small issues that could easily be corrected to make it sound better.

    I'm with everyone else here too. For audio, I listen about 90% of the time in 2ch, but well recorded DVD-A and SACD are quite amazing. I'll go with the standard DSoTM as an example - if you haven't heard the SACD on a good, properly setup system, you have no idea what you are missing.

    For movies, there's just no way you will get the same effect, NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR SPEAKERS ARE, as you will with a multichannel setup. It's kind of like listening to stereo with one ear; sounds good, but would be much better if you pulled the finger out of the other ear.
     
  8. EricCrane

    EricCrane Well-Known Member

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    Recently I sold my previous center and fronts then bought some new fronts. So I had 2 rears, 2 fronts, and a sub. I watched some dialogue driven movies w/out the sub directing the center output to the fronts and hated it.

    I preferred putting a cheap $17 sony bookshelf as the center compared to running in center phantom mode. As far as music I prefer stereo with my sub on.

    Of course to each his/her own.
     
  9. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Well, I am with you Nick, at least if you have a limited budget, and if you meant that you are adding a sub into the mix for 2.1 movie sound. If you can go for a full out attack on state of the art then by all means do it. But say you have a $10,000 budget for speakers. Dividing that budget by three speakers instead of six allows for a pretty significant increase in the quality of your speakers, which in my experience pays off. Aslo you save in not having to purchase another three channels of amplification.

    Other things that bug me about 5.1 unless you have the money to install it in a well done theater room.
    1. Wiring can be maddening if you don't have a good portion of it running through your walls.

    2. Bad surround speaker placement which so many home theaters suffer from. The sound in the surround channels typically bugs me more than it adds to the movie, especially when your ear is closer to one side than the other, or if the speakers or not that high of quality. Plus alot of the surround information is just not super involving or important to the movie. Just read the reviews and probably at least half of them mention a dissappointing use of the surround channels. Yes surround sound does add to the immersive effect of some movies, but so does better tonality (to name one thing that using better speakers can afford you) out of your main speakers which all movies will benefit from.

    3. All but a few center channel speakers I have heard sound worse than having no center channel. Yes they can tie the sound to the screen, but if you have your front speakers positioned correctly they are going to offer a wide soundfield that ties the dialogue close enough to the center of the screen as long as you are inside of them. Typically you can at least get the sound coming from the edge of the screen, I don't know this just doesn't bother me much. Whereas bad center channel speakers do bug, across the board they just have no life to their vocal production.

    Their is also some dollar amount or speaker performance level (however you want ot view it) out there, where for your budget the quality of speaker you can afford no matter how many you have to buy is not going to be at high enough level to outduel the whizbang soundeffects of having all five speakers present. A $5K speaker budget would probably be a good ballpark figure, here.
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    I spent half that and I am very pleased (internet direct, of course). I'm pretty picky too. My center had to be built separately, so I was running the setup with no center for a while, because the one I had didn't match. I actually went back to having the mismatched center because I didn't like how dialogue swapped from side to side all the time without one. Even with the mismatched center, it sounded better to me for movies.

    As I said, it's very important to get that center right. It should almost sound as if it's not there. The front stage should practically sound like one speaker, just as 2ch should sound as if the center IS there.

    Another thing about using no center: while you are "saving" some power by not using one, you are also losing the additional SPL of that speaker.

    I do have to agree that two speakers vs three for the same budget, for the most part, will make a pretty big difference in the quality of speakers available to you no matter what price range, but for me that is just in preparation for saving up for the matching center.
     
  11. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Oops edit made!
     
  12. AlbertD

    AlbertD Well-Known Member

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    I always love it when I read statements like this:

    "... 3 channel is important to properly anchor dialog to the display..."

    They are put out there as if they are facts and they are not. They are subject to a variety of factors. Depending on the size of room, positioning of the speakers, where the listeners are positioned in the room, a two speaker front can easily equal if not surpass a three channel front soundstage setup. At least this is my and quite a few others opinions. But the fact that there are a LOT of people that feel like I do certainly validates the position that "both" the above statements are only opinions.
     
  13. John S

    John S Well-Known Member

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    I think I typed that response. And while I say that, I am not beyond eliminating the center channel in a fair amount of cases. But yes I stand on that opinion in general for sure.

    Never really meant to imply it as fact, I assumed it would be understood to be an opinion of my own.
     
  14. AlbertD

    AlbertD Well-Known Member

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    Hey John. I was not picking on that statement, simply using it to illustrate a point that there is certainly an argument to be made on both sides of this coin and both can be equally valid. I have posted this before and taken major hits for it. But I have a three channel setup for my front soundstage and personally consider it a compromise. When I sit in the sweet spot, switching to a two chanel front is clearly better than three (for me) But I use three speakers due to the fact that the layout of my room forces some to sit on the edges and the dialong gets lost for them. [​IMG]
     
  15. John S

    John S Well-Known Member

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    I was actually in agreement with you in my last post.

    It is opinion, most posts here should be taken as opinion. It was a excellent point you made about that in general.
     
  16. Gabriel.H

    Gabriel.H Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I never listen to any 2-channel muic without DTS-Neo:6 or Pro Logic 2, while purists prefer 2 ch on 2 speakers, and they are as entitled to their opinion as I am to mine....I find that having rear dipole speakers projecting the ambience and background effects all around you (where it should be in the first place) instead of projecting it from the front gives the most accurate sound.
     
  17. John Garcia

    John Garcia Well-Known Member

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    "Accurate" is probably the wrong word... At a live show, the sound is coming from the front, the ambiance is reflected. A room does not reflect sound in the same way as a live venue (and a room or bad setup can make the reflected sound actually sound worse), but that does not mean it is somehow less accurate.

    Listening in 2ch doesn't make anyone a "purist", just as NEO:6 doesn't make you a neophyite, it's just a preference. Many who use DSPs to simulate ambiance have never heard what a great 2ch setup can do.
     
  18. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Well-Known Member

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    This statement doesn't add up to me. Two speakers can play at levels louder than one's ears can take, if you pick speakers that are meant to played at exremely high SPL levels. If your trying to fill up an auditorium with sound then yeah maybe you need additional channels for the dB boost to properly load the space. But for most sane sized rooms this is a non-issue. And by "saving" I didn't mean saving a drain on one's power supply. I meant the same thing as for the speakers. For a set dollar amount typically a 2 channel amp will perform better than a five channel amp.
     
  19. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Well-Known Member

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    Very true
     
  20. Victor Ferguson

    Victor Ferguson Well-Known Member

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    I am of the opionion that you should listen to media in its origional format. If it is a two channel recording listen to it with two channels, if was a dolby prologic signal listen with that encoding running. Dolby Digital EX well make sure you have a 6.1 setup. Etc. Etc.
     

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