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what exactly is the difference between 2 channel stereo and 5 channel stereo?

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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Mike Matthews

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Posted August 30 2003 - 06:42 PM

all i know is that i'm loving listening to music when it's flowing out of all my speakers however, i hear that 2 channel is better, quality-wise what exactly is the difference, other than the fact that the tunes are coming out of all the speakers as opposed to just two

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   DavidES


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Posted August 31 2003 - 12:12 AM

One answer to your difference question, IMHO, has to do with the audio image. 2ch can only go so far. The image only extends from the sides of your head to the front where the speakers are, only if you sit in the exact center and the speaker/seating is just right. Not conducive to having company over to listen.
Multichannel can extend the front-back image to behind you and sound more balanced to your friends sitting off-axis. Now the current 5.1 setup is a little flawed since it's for the movies where you have a visual world setup in front of you, but it does a decent job on audio-only if the source has been mixed right.

Multichannel can give the artists more options to work with if they wish.

In reference to the quality, multi should be better due to higher sampling rates and deeper bit depth giving a lower noise floor, more dynamic range, and more detailed high frequencies.

This might be a good read for ya.

Maybe another way to put it is that multichannel, if done right on both mixing and home setup, would allow you to feel more immersed in the artist's audio world and not just listening to it since you get more of the 360 degrees around you. Does that make some kind of sense to you?

When you sit down for that desperate hit of music Posted Image , turn down the lights, relax, close your eyes and escape reality for a while.
David S.

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   brentl



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Posted August 31 2003 - 04:24 AM

Pretty much a way to fill up the room with sound. Denon has this on there receivers and it works great. I'd say it's for non critical listening only. Brent

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   RobWil


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Posted August 31 2003 - 04:34 AM

5 Channel stereo is different than multichannel formats. In 5 channel stereo it's just like having 2 sets of stereo speakers, one in front and one in back....the same exact information is coming out of the rear speakers. I'm not sure what comes out of the center since it can't play in stereo. So it depends on if you're talking about 'multichannel' or what they call '5 channel stereo', so when you ask:
[quote] what exactly is the difference, other than the fact that the tunes are coming out of all the speakers as opposed to just two [quote]
That IS the only difference!
that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted August 31 2003 - 05:54 AM

[quote] however, i hear that 2 channel is better, quality-wise [quote]
I suspect this is a bit of old-fogey snob attitude.

Here is something a salesman told me that still feels true:

"Music is about accuracy, but home theater is about impact."

When you talk to audiophiles (music lovers) they demand as close to total accuracy as possible. This means if they play a CD (which only has 2 channels), then anything more than 2 speakers producing sound is considered wrong to them.

Many receivers will take 2-channel music and perform various 'tricks' to route the sound to 5.1 speakers. Some of these are kind of a gimmick (like "Hall" and "Church" settings), but others do a very good job.

So just be aware that there is a bit of 'attitude' against 5-channel sound (unless it's a 5-channel disk of course). But it's YOUR system, dont let anybody shame you into thinking you are doing something wrong.

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Mike Matthews

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Posted August 31 2003 - 06:06 AM

Posted Image

thanks guys - good information. i really like listening in 5 channel stereo...but sometimes i switch back and forth to regular stereo just for kicks. i've only had my system for a couple days, so i'm still experimenting!

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted September 01 2003 - 02:00 AM

When I first got my receiver I liked the 5 channel mode too, but after awhile I got tired of it. For my receiver bass is fuller in stereo mode.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Jason GT

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Posted September 01 2003 - 07:12 AM

I've got multichannel stereo on my AVR as well, but I don't use it. The owner's manual states that the algorithm for multichannel is simple: The left and right signals are also sent to the left and right surrounds respectively, and the center channel gets a summed signal of the L+R.

As for multichannel audio (SACD/DVD-A) - I have no experience with it. The closest I have is Logic7, and IMO the thing that is lost with L7 (and I'm guessing multichannel audio) is due to the use of a CC there is resulting loss of center image. Even with a set of inexpensive speakers, the delicacy and accuracy of a stereo image is far beyond what can be achieved with a CC. IMO of course Posted Image

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   ChrisWiggles



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Posted September 02 2003 - 10:41 AM

multichannel 5.1 music can be amazing, whether from just DVD (dts/dd) or SACD and DVD-A. I prefer very conservative mixes, as it's much more real. Multi-channel stereo... is.... cool for a little bit, but there's just no imaging going on, it's just a lot more oopmh. Your're just getting a folded L-R mix in the center, and the same L and R out the surrounds. Fun for parties, but anathema to the magic of 2-channel music. Expanded DSP stereo, CAN sound very nice indeed, or, unfortunately with most recievers, very gimmicky and as degrading as all/multi-channel stereo. If done well, though, it can definitely add something to "plain" stereo. (I say plain with great trepidation, stereo is FAR from plain) My .02, do what sounds best to you.

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   BrentPollard


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Posted September 02 2003 - 01:39 PM

Play stereo music in stereo, that's how it was mixed. But as stated above 5 channel stereo does fill the room. If you have large mains just crank up the volume in stereo.Posted Image

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   KendallT



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Posted September 04 2003 - 04:52 AM

With Denon, the "5 Channel Stereo" is just what RobWil and JasonT stated, it's an algorithim Denon uses to route a normal 2-channel source (like a normal CD or a record) into all 5 of your speakers. It is NOT surround sound in the sense of DVD-Audio, SACD or even a 5.1 mix from a DVD Video which are discretely recorded to take advanrtage of the extra channels. I use it sometimes on my Denon 3803, just do what sounds good to you. But, when I play a DVD-Audio disc or a 5.1 DVD video I never use the "5 Channel Stereo" mode as it would completly miss the point. Happy Listening!

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