Another depressing-and uninformed-article about surround music

Discussion in 'Music' started by LanceJ, Dec 26, 2005.

  1. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Read it here:

    "Surround-Sound Audio Albums"

    and subtitled "If these high-quality discs are so good, how come so few of them are available?"

    And the contribution by the CEO of 5.1 Entertainment Group (Silverline, etc) and who also heads the Dvd-Audio Council*, is REAL encouraging. An excerpt:


    [​IMG]

    * woweee, that page sure is up to date. [​IMG]
     
  2. Stu Rosen

    Stu Rosen Second Unit

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    Why is this uninformed, as opposed to taking a position you don't agree with? I have to tell you, I have a DVD-A/SACD player and about 35 hi-rez discs, and even I don't really care all that much about the sound quality. For what it's worth, I find myself more often than not reaching for my regular CDs of the same material.

    You can say that I'm not an audiophile, that I don't have great equipment, and you'd be partially right on each count. But even if you're correct, doesn't that just prove the writer's point - that people don't care that much about sound quality?

    Personally, I think it's something else - I think the failure of hi-rez is NOT a result of bad marketing or not educating consumers, or even that consumers don't care about sound quality. I think it comes down to (a) the format being, ultimately, a little bit gimmicky in its excecution, and (b) that people don't care about the DIFFERENCE between CD audio and hi-rez. It's not like the leap from VHS to DVD. It's like the leap between laserdisc and DVD, with a little 3D thrown in.

    This isn't meant to slam people who love the hi-rez formats. As I said, I sunk a lot of $$$ into them. I just take issue with the proposition that every time the public rejects a cult format it's because the public doesn't know better, and that they're a bunch of "joe six-packs" (a lovely name, don't you think?).
     
  3. Frank_T

    Frank_T Auditioning

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    I believe that this is correct: most people don't care about hi-rez audio like they do about video (and I think HD video is going to be a harder sell than DVD since VHS stunk so badly).

    Anyway - consider the fact that people are shelling out hundreds of millions for MP3 players and songs in compressed MP3 format. Tells you something about their thoughts towards sound quality.
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Depressing maybe if you think suppound sound music should or will ever have a hope of being a player on the audioscene.

    Uninformed, not at all. What's uninformed about that article?

    IMO it's great. Surround sound format does not now, nor will it ever, have a ghost of a chance to be mainstream. But it sure is neato.
     
  5. andrew markworthy

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    The prime problem with surround sound is that it hasn't been marketed properly. In theory, everybody who has a home theater system can play surround sound music of some description. You have in theory the potential for a significant market, and even if people aren't bothered about the last word in musical fidelity, they sure as Hell might get a kick out of an aggressive surround mix.

    So what do the manufacturers do?

    (1) release a trickle of albums (a lot with only niche appeal) and don't tell anyone anyway
    (2) don't make a big thing of it in the instruction manuals and advertising for the hardware
    (3) do a Betamax by allowing two competing formats to slug it out - ane also ensure that players capable of playing both SACD and DVD-A are rarer than rocking horse droppings.
     
  6. Stu Rosen

    Stu Rosen Second Unit

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    Another point worth mentioning is that your enthusiasm for hi-rez is a function of the type of music you like.

    If you like old blues or R&B, hi-rez won't do a thing - even if it could, it's the grit of these recordings that's part of the music's appeal. Now, if you go for Dream Theater-type state-of-the-art pyrotechnics, I can understand what hi-rez brings to the party. If you live on a diet of classical, as well, I can see how a thoughtful mix might be a real plus.

    I'm not a pure, through-and-through old guy, but I'll always go for Al Green or my Stax collections before I reach for the newest Steve Lukather project. So hi-rez versions of my favorite recordings aren't a prerequisite to enjoying them to their fullest.
     
  7. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Guess that wasn't the best title, so to clarify: "uninformed", as in researching the formats before writing the article:

    If they only could have actually HEARD one of those discs, I'm sure the word "huh" would not have been written.

    From what I can tell, DTS Entertainment is the only multitrack surround music label that is actively promoting surround music, and they are much smaller than Warner, Universal, etc. [​IMG]

    * one of Universal's sublabels does have at least one DD that contains a DSP-derived (technically called "upmixing") surround mix, but at least they have the class to indicate on the outside label that this is how the mix was actually generated. I saw this disc myself while visiting a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
     
  8. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I would go so far as to say that there isn't a significant noticable difference to more than 90% of these people between DVD-A/SACD and DD compatability mode.

    The fact is, people don't care about surround music. The jump from mono to stereo was many orders of magnitude more important.
     
  9. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    without meaning to start another boring stereo vs. surround argument............

    In my and many other's opinions, at an artistic level so is going from stereo to surround.

    AND

    Anyone with two working ears can hear EASILY the difference betwen stereo and surround, with a PROPERLY done surround mix i.e. not the fake/upmixed variety.

    And if those same people could ever get to actually *hear* one of those mixes on a properly configured system, I bet many-not all, just many-people would consider getting into surround music.

    But with publicity like the above........
     
  10. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    While I agree with this, what puzzles me is that people do care about surround sound for movies. I always felt that if movie theaters would put on a good dvd-a or sacd during intermission or before a movie started people could hear what surround music is all about. Since they make us watch movie trailers, how about music trailers? A little Porcupine Tree to warm up the audience before the latest horror flick just might have opened a few eyes to mc. They should have pushed it (and hi-res) harder thru the car audio scene as well. Those guy's are always looking for the latest stuff. DVD concerts seem to be the only category that's selling well now. But I still wait (and wait...and wait) for new surround music to come out. I'm goin' down with the ship.
     
  11. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I agree with your entire post ^ Andrew.

    To back up my whining about *hearing* 5.1 music, I've played two discs at both Best Buy & Circuit City, that I thought would appeal to younger people, Crystal Method's The Legion Of Boom and Linkin Park's Reanimation (this disc was one of my first surround title purchases, mostly to see what others meant by "aggressive" mixing). At Best Buy within a month two employees had bought the LP dvd-audio and one guy at CC bought the Legion disc. These weren't close friends or anything, just people that HEARD surround music over decent mid-fi systems.

    Being a science teacher has gotten me into the habit of getting out and actually trying out my theories before yakking about them in places like this. And as I've mentioned before, I sold HT gear for three years and KNOW that after demonstrating 5.1 sound for movies, many people *did* come back and buy surround systems.

    Gene: how can people care about something they've never heard? So IMO you're right about the theater demo-I think that would get many peoples' attention.

    But......

    What (almost) renders all this discussion moot as far as many-again: many, not all-of the Regular Joes out there is concerned is their present severe lack of interest in better sound for ANY format, whether music or movies. I find it very hard to believe that the deserted audio departments the past three years in every store I visit is a result of online purchasing (though many stores' iPod accessory sections have become much larger the past year-coincidence?). Because there's barely anyone even looking at the stuff, much less buying it. But man, the video department's big screen section is always bustling with people. Nothing like seeing all the shallow & mean-spirited characters on the latest reality show on a five foot screen!

    Priorities certainly are changing these days.

    I'll stop here or else the P.C. Police will get upset.
     
  12. Dick Knisely

    Dick Knisely Second Unit

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    Just my $.02. For me, there are two things that SACD/DVD-A bring to the market: increased sound quality and the surround sound mix.

    90% of the listening/consuming audience doesn't really want an increase in sound quality. And its not entirely because they're idiots or deaf. It seems to me that the hi-res formats don't offer enough quality gain to be worth changing format for the overwhelming majority of people. The activity in the marketplace (read that as where the money is spent) isn't going to higher quality. In fact I don't think CDs were adopted just due to quality factors--convenience, durability and portability figured just as much.

    The benefit of a surround mix is limited to non-existent for most. According to what I've read, most music listening is done in a mobile environment and except for a few cars surround sound isn't useful.

    I don't think the surround sound, hi-res formats are going to make it in the marketplace. That won't stop me from buying and enjoying some of them but I just have this strong sense of 'deja vu' about this because I remember "quad" of the 70's all too well.
     
  13. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Oh I know it doesn't require pristine sound to enjoy music because I do a lot of my own *enjoyable* listening via a $70 boombox in the kitchen while i'm making dinner, lunch whatever.

    I have my $1,400 surround system wired up with 16ga lamp cord and $15 interconnects, so I am not an obsessive audiophile that's for sure. Nor do I place the sound quality of the music above the music itself.

    But I think many people listen a lot in their cars and to iPods while they commute simply because certain technology makes that possible, not just because they (possibly) don't care about sound quality. Because look at the sales of dvds: obviously the majority of people can sit down for 1.5, 2 or more hours (Lord Of The Rings!!!) on a couch and experience a movie. And before all this technology even existed, look at the amount of people that sat down in their living room and just listened to music on their 200lb walnut console stereo system.

    But the pop psychologist in me also believes there is a rather insidious attitude sneaking around that says if you aren't doing something "extreme" all the time-watching an adventure movie, playing an M rated video game, being involved with several after-work sports clubs or traveling to "X" island in the Pacific while at the same time having a meeting with your boss and a client via a webcam-something is wrong with you. So sitting and listening to music to some may be thought of as almost being ill in some way so surround music isn't for THEM. Jeez if I see one more commercial for a meal you can eat while driving the team to soccer practice, it will be too soon!

    But for others that DO think that having a sit-down simply for the hell of it is a positive thing..........
     
  14. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    BTW: don't know if anyone noticed but I've never said I-or anyone else-could only enjoy surround music unless it used a hi-res format. Dolby and especially DTS can both sound very good IMO and wouldn't mind all that much if they were the only formats with which the labels issued 5.1 music, but I sure hope it was because it was the only way to do so! I listened to my dvd-audio titles this way for two years until i finally bought my Pioneer DV-656A dvd-a player.

    FYI: using a gift card from Target, tonight I bought the Police's Every Breath You Take dvd-video collection, which IIRC is supposed to use the surround mixes from the DTS-CD and sacd versions of the same album. And it only cost $10 (it wasn't even on sale). I like watching videos if they're done well, I can turn off the TV if I just want to listen, and I own two Police albums so this was a no-brainer purchase. And with the rest of the card's allowance, I bought Uncle Buck on dvd. [​IMG]
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Well, to be blunt... Nyquist was right, and frankly these hi-fi formats don't really offer anything to anyone but the most golden eared audiophile. Which is about .001% of the population.

    Plus people listen to music largely as background to their lives, not paying attention like a movie. For this purpose, the jump from mono to stereo was huge, but surround sound is a non-starter.
     
  16. andrew markworthy

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    I'm not sure that visual input is attended to any more closely. A few years ago now a colleague of mine did a survey of adults' TV viewing habits and found that a significant proportion of them were apparently watching television 18 hours a day. When the data were examined more closely it turned out that the said adults switched on the TV first thing in the morning and had it as a sort of comforting background noise throughout the day. Another colleague did a study examining the ability to identify theme tunes to TV programmes. If memory serves me correctly, level of watching TV had only a marginal effect on ability to recognise the tunes - instead it was level of IQ that was the best predictor. So presumably this means that not only is an unintelligent couch potato wasting time, but they also are taking in less than someone of higher intelligence who watches selectively.
     
  17. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Stu Rosen, I couldn't agree more with your 1st post in this thread, but in my case, I think time is the main factor here.

    I LOVE high quality audio. It sounds SO awesome! and when I'm in my living room (on my couch) I love to immerse myself in a wonderful digital surround sound disc, but I don't have much time to do that anymore. The big reason is because of my DVD's. Anytime I have a few hours to spare (which is rare), I find myself watching a DVD over listening to music.I purchased the Sammy Hagar DVD-A and I can tell you that the 5.1 mix added NOTHING to the end product over the CD. What a waste. [​IMG]

    And speaking of high quality "adding nothing"...

    I think that audio (over TV and movies) is a LOT more emotional. I don't feel that the increase in quality, makes my enjoyment (of the song) any more enjoyable. I can hear a song on AM radio and still get the same 'feelings' as I do if it were being played live.

    Sure, the live performance would sound better, but 90% of the time, I listen to music for the emotion and not the quality.
     
  18. Paul Anthony

    Paul Anthony Stunt Coordinator

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    This article is quite depressing, because I happen to love SACD and DVD audio (I just bought a digital DVD player with DVD audio). If you want to blame someone, blame it on the iPod. That's why I'm totally against them, and will not purchase one.[​IMG]
     
  19. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Hardly! You can't blame the effects of something as the cause.

    The iPod's popularity is because most people don't care about high quality audio. If it weren't for the iPod, high quality discs would still be where they are as of this moment.
     
  20. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    No, blame the people who created audio compression formats such as MP3 and AAC.
     

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