5.1 vs 6.1

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ZachW, Nov 12, 2002.

  1. ZachW

    ZachW Stunt Coordinator

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    Is a 6.1 system really any better than 5.1? I was looking on this forum, and read that the 6th speaker in 6.1 is almost useless. Is that true? I'm going to get the JBL NSP package with a SVS 20-39PCi, and possibly another set of N24's if I decide to go 6.1. I will get a reciever around 500 that will match the speakers good to. What do you think I should do? Go 5.1 or step up to 6.1? Thanks
     
  2. todbnla

    todbnla Screenwriter

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    Is a 7.1 system any better than a 6.1? I ask cause I have had a 5.1 setup and now have a 6.1 setup, when will the madness end [​IMG] I guess it depends on how many speakers you want in your setup and how much $ you want to shell out....
    I have 6 bookshelf speakers mounted on my walls, sound is great but would'nt 7 sound that much better?
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Where would that 7th speaker go? On the ceiling?
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    NSP-1 and a heavy duty sub? That seems like a LOT of sub for those speakers to match up with... I would strongly recommend getting better mains and using all the N24s as surrounds.

    7th speaker - dual rears, but still only playing back 6.1 material.
     
  5. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    THX EX, DTS ES require a center rear...preferably two(most receivers are set up to run a single speaker).With the rears set-up properly I think it provides a better sound field in the back...with the proper mix. LOTR DTS ES Discrete version...Blade 2 sounded better with the rear center than without.
     
  6. ZachW

    ZachW Stunt Coordinator

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    Do you think the N38II's would make better mains? Or the N26 or something else? What do you reccomend for mains? thanks
     
  7. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Zach,

    From what I am reading here, it sounds like the answer is no unless you are an audiophile. People saying they 'think' it sounds better or 'think' it creates a better soundfield doesn't sound very compelling to me.
     
  8. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Zach:

    The N38ii's are superb mains.

    And, in my experience, 6.1 matrixed from 5.1 material is inferior to good old 5.1. True, discrete 6.1 is nice, but there is such little software that is encoded for it that I would take a good 5-channel receiver over an inferior 6-channel receiver every time. I'd rather had 5 good channels than 6 subpar ones.

    --AM
     
  9. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    The N28s are great mains to match up w/ a NSP1 package in a 7.1 configuration. The only reason i would move up to the N38s is if you listen to a substantial amount of 2ch music without a sub. This is pretty much the only time that the N38s will offer any advantage over the N28s. The N28s can be had as low as $130 shipped online. The cheapest i've seen N38s is around $200 + $60 shipping. The N28 is really the price/performance sweet spot of the Northridge series right now.

    Hope this helps.
     
  10. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    And, in my experience, 6.1 matrixed from 5.1 material is inferior to good old 5.1.
    ..........................
    How can you say that? Surround EX employs matrixing the center-surround channel (often called the back-surround channel) into the left- and right-surround channels of the Dolby Digital 5.1 bit stream. This technique is very similar to analog Dolby Surround, which utilizes matrix encoding to store four channels on a two-channel stereo signal. It is more than just summing the information from the rear channels.Three channels have been folded into a two-channel carrier. They are recovered in a 2:3 decode system (two discrete channels containing a third matrix encoded channel).After decode you are left with a "discrete" rear center! It does not degrade the 5.1 bit stream...it simply adds a center rear that is not bandwidth limited. I can switch between 5.1 and 5.1 EX (THX EX)on the fly, (Denon 5803)and when the sound has been mixed properly (LOTR a great example) there is an obvious and qualitative performance increase in the depth of the sound field. I had this same discussion years ago with the old "pro-logic" die hards who resisted Dolby Digital. Having the ability to decode THX EX, DTS-ES Matrix, DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 is a BIG PLUS! More and more moderately priced AV receivers are incorporating these upgrades. Now I will agree that when you play a 5.1 sound track (non-EX encoded) and utilize the rear center that the sound field collapses into the center. I guess that is where the Auto-Flag detection circuitry comes into play...too bad no THX EX releases has incorporated this yet. I think all DTS ES has this flag.
     
  11. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    Mike,

    I think you misunderstood Angelo's post. He is saying that decoding the 6th matrixed channel from software that WAS NOT encoded with the 6th matrixed channel sounds inferior to the same title played in 5.1. A clearer way of saying it is that a NON EX movie w/ EX decoding will not sound as good as the same NON EX movie played in standard 5.1. A movie ENCODED with EX will sound better in 6.1 than in 5.1.

    When you put a NON EX title through EX processing, the rear sound stage becomes somewhat muddy because you are trying to derive an EX channel that hasn't been encoded. This causes the EX processing to matrix elements of the discrete left and right surrounds into the back surround, which in turn, destroys imaging in the rear sound field. I've compared both ways of decoding 5.1 material (with and without EX) on several movies and with 2 different receivers (Pioneer D811S and Denon 1803).

    It boils down to this: If a movie is encoded in 5.1, listen to it in 5.1. If it's encoded in 6.1, ES, or EX, listen in the extended format. When you try to make 6.1 our of 5.1, it just doesn't sound as good.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Stephen Hopkins,

    I guess I did misunderstand. I am in total agreement with your post. Maybe I should read more carefully before I rant.
    Thank's
    Mike
     
  13. Jeff_Fitz

    Jeff_Fitz Stunt Coordinator

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    Zach:

    Another reason to go 6.1 over 5.1 is to fill in the surround field.

    I have a bit of a problem room that forces me to put the TV in the right corner. Putting surround speakers on the left and right walls left a huge gap in the surround field.

    I addressed the problem by putting the left surround near the middle of the left wall, the right surround near the back of the right wall, and a center surround near the back of the left wall - directly across the room from the right surround. This approach fills in the surround field in my room and is still balanced because the TV points directly toward the rear center.

    6.1 might also be a good idea if you have more balanced but particularly wide room.


    Jeff
     
  14. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

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    Zach, it's kind of like this. Would you go out and buy a new Pentium 2 166, when a new Pentium 4 1.7 or what ever would run everything the P2 would run plus a whole lot more! Or how about a new 4:3 NTSC 50" for $1500. when a 55" 16:9 HDTV is but a few hundred more.
    A 6.1 receiver will also play 5.1 but leaves you the ability to move up to 6.1. I will never go back to 5.1 in my main theater, the upstairs theater system is 5.1 and is fine for that room application and trying to keep with in the WAF!

    Wes
     
  15. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Mike and Steven:

    Mike, you did misunderstand me, but I enjoyed your post anyway! Steven answered quite well on my behalf (thanks).

    All I meant was that material encoded in 5.1 ought to be listened to in that format; matrixing that '6th channel' just muddies up the water, in my opinion.

    --AM
     
  16. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Hi Angelo.M,

    I should have read your post more carefully! I totally agree that 5.1 should be listened to with the conventional 5.1 configuration. My Brother-in-law insists on using all 7 speakers no matter the format...he says...I bought 7 speakers and I will use 7 speakers! I think the whole sound field collapses into the "summed" center when he does that.

    I will read more carefully next time!!! :b
     
  17. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Wes,

    You are not understanding the question here. To use your analogy, it's like buying a P4 that runs windows and games faster, but is actually slower than a P3 in word, office and others. The point is 6.1 is not a cut and dried improvement over 5.1 yet, DVDs just aren't all coded for 6.1 or 7.1 yet.

    I tend to be a bit more of a purist. I would almost say get 2 really good speakers for the front and a pair of decent speakers for the back, a really nice amp, and live with that for a bit. With a properly configured (and strong enough) front L/R setup, event he center channel is extra.

    Barring that, just get the NSP-1 setup and a really good receiver for $500 and be happy. Get 7.1 the next time around (when they will be trying to push 9.1 before it is really 'here').

    All MHO.

    PS - After that rant above, I must disclose that I have a center channel in a 5.1 system. But my point is I went for better 5.1 speakers than to squeeze in two more (for 7.1) on the same budget even though the receiver supports it.
     
  18. IssaraS

    IssaraS Extra

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    excuse the newbie question here...

    if 5.1 is five speakers and a sub, what is 6.1? what is 7.1? and where do these additional speakers go?
     
  19. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    Joe Szott,
    Have you listened to a properly set up 6.1 system where you have 2 speakers on the sides and 2 rear center speakers. This set up with DTS ES Discrete or a good THX EX DVD really adds to the depth of the rear sound-field. I just recently upgraded from a conventional 5.1 setup to the Denon 5803 and added 2 rear center speakers. I feel the performance increase was substantial. The extended version of LOTR has the DTS ES Discrete sound track and I find that version much more enveloping than when I switch to 5.1 and turn off the rear speakers....In the above post you also eluded to a phantom center being preferable or equivalent to a discrete center....I heard Bose has a surround system with only 2 speakers...interested?[​IMG]
     
  20. Mike Sloan

    Mike Sloan Second Unit

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    ************************************************** *******
    if 5.1 is five speakers and a sub, what is 6.1? what is 7.1? and where do these additional speakers go?
    ************************************************** *******
    Dolby and THX have collaborated to create a new format known as Dolby Digital Surround EX in professional theater systems and THX Surround EX in home-theater products. THX holds the licensing rights to the home-theater version of this technology, and thus the "THX Surround EX" designation is available only on THX-certified processors and receivers.
    THX Surround EX combines both discrete and matrix encode systems so it is not truly a 6.1 system. "6.1" is commonly used but that indicates six full-range discrete channels plus an LFE, which is not the case given the matrix encode and decode of the new surround back channel. DTS has developed a true discrete 6.1 format known as DTS-ES Discrete 6.1. This method of encoding actually stores a discrete center-surround channel in addition to the left and right surrounds making it the only true 6.1 surround format.All 6 channels are encoded individually and they remain so throughout the entire signal path through to decode. I think were a lot of confusion originates is where THX dictates the use of 2 center rear speakers for THX EX....7 speakers...not 7.1. To my knowledge there is no such thing as a 7.1 format.
    speaker placement
     

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