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Is surround sound really necessary?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jim Williams, Oct 29, 2002.

  1. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    Don't get me wrong, I understand the how and why of 5.1 digital surround sound and I know that it can give you a more realistic "in the theater" experience, but is it really necessary?
    For the most part, most movies, with the exception of big budget action/adventure movies, don't have the kind of content that makes surround sound worthwhile. Most movies are mostly dialog with some music thrown in for atmosphere and with that kind of content, surround sound is overkill. I find that with my current 2.1 setup the sound is great.
    Can someone give me a compelling reason to go with a home theater surround system?
    (In reality, whatever arguments for HT I get I plan to use on my wife to convince her that we should get an HT receiver to go with our DVD player) [​IMG]
     
  2. JakubH

    JakubH Stunt Coordinator

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    Necessary? Not really IMO. Do some people prefer the effect? Of course.

    I personally feel that many 'surround sound only' types would be very surprised to see what the money they put into their HT setup could do put into a good pair of speakers with very wide dispersion (keep in mind you would get 6x the budget for the speakers.) I'm picturing something along the lines of the big Newform Ribbons with a nice sub, and some sort of simulated surround processing such as VMax or something. Pair these with a powerful amp, say 200wpc and like I say I think many HT nuts would be surprised at the results.

    Would it be 'better' than the equivalent HT? No. It would be different, I just think it would surprise many. Just my $0.02.
     
  3. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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  4. Joe Tilley

    Joe Tilley Supporting Actor

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    IMHO with DPL II & other sound fields out there even a older stereo movie can sound pretty good, & myself would prefer it over just plain 2ch any day for movies. Don't get me wrong I think just a nice 2ch set up can sound very good but after being spoiled on surround I just cant see looking back.
     
  5. RobertSchaez

    RobertSchaez Stunt Coordinator

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    If all movie soundtracks were full of loud explosions, screaming fighter jets, whizzing bullets and other "special" effects, surround sound would be nothing more than a gimmick that would get old fast. However, some more subtle mixes of ambient sounds can, if done properly, can really add to the overall realism and enjoyment of what is happening on the screen.
     
  6. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    personally, after I got a HTiB, and having now upgraded to a more substantial setup, I wouldn't have it any other way -- 5.1 (at least) or nothing!

    but a friend who's also heavily into DVDs feels the opposite -- he thinks it's "strange" to have bullets whizzing by your head at home, and wants to save that experience for the cinema. he cited an example where he was at another friend's place watching a Bond movie, and when a missile streaked by and exploded towards the "back", he (and some other guests) turned to look at the rear wall where the explosion had come from, and thought the whole thing rather weird.

    oh well. different strokes for different folks...
     
  7. TomH

    TomH Second Unit

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    Is color really necessary?
    Is a TV really necessary? You can get the same basic content from a book.
     
  8. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Aside from watching movies with 5/6/7 channel listening, some people also prefer to listen to their music in 5/6 channel mode or even Pro Logic II (Music) mode.
     
  9. DanielSmi

    DanielSmi Second Unit

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    I think that surround sound is natural, you don't hear from only one directon or side )maybe if you only have one ear). In these movies you talk about that are just talking and no action I think these movies aren't using surround sound to the fullest capabilties. there's alwats something going on in the background that they could add in but they don't. I just think surround sound isn't being fully implemented. For ex. right now I'm hearing the keys of the keyboard typing, the whine of the cpu fan, the "Flintsones" on TV, my ac motor running outside my house. These are all examples of things that you might hear in your house in the background of a conversation your having with someone, they just aren't being put into the soundtrack. When you get someone that does this then you can have a good soundtrack in any movie. Blade II might one of the best for use of the surrounds. I can think of a scene from "Office Space" where they're in the office you don't just hear the conversation they are having but also sounds that you'd hear in an office like ringing phones, other conversations, copy machines, etc. This is kindof like the arguement that 5.1 is better than 7.1, which to me is a stupid arguement.

    Daniel Smith
     
  10. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    So here is my argument:

    If you go to the theater you get surround sound. That's what makes the theater worth going to. If there was only 2 channel sound, you could do that at home. If you have 5.1 channel sound at home, then going to the theater is much less attractive. For what it costs per year to go there, a decent home theater can be put together. That leaves years of watching movies at home which yields a great deal of money to be spent on something else; it can be spent on other forms of entertainment if the real reason you go to the theater is to get out of the house for awhile. Surround sound can also add to the enjoyment of music, television, and even FM radio.

    So, is it necessary? Define necessary. Will your enjoyment of DVD's, video tape, television, and music be enhanced by it? Absolutely. Will there be any appreciable difference between good quality surround sound and good quality stereo sound? Absolutely. Will make any difference in your life? Undoubtedly. Will you get enough out of it to justify the investment? No Question!!

    Of course, the real answer is, I like it and so does nearly ever other man. Women? Not as likely.
     
  11. Lyden

    Lyden Stunt Coordinator

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    theres no point in asking us if its nessasary the real question should be "Do You Want it?" what is it to you? theres really no reson in going out and spending 5k on a surround system because some one told you it was good and then you set it up and it doesnt please you. opinions are just that and that only. ive seen many people who rather listen to movies and music in stereo rather then surround beacase all the processing takes away things well for music atleast for movies surround only make you more tuned into the move a better feling some people dont want that. the question is do you care enough about youre movies to get the best possible quality at youre home? if not then obviously surrouns is a useless invest ment. the only compelling argument i can give you is the only obvious one. all of our opinions just restate the same fact..
     
  12. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    I think surround sound is way over-rated, and has (unfortunately) fostered an emphasis on special effects, and of substance over form.

    I am well aware that I am in a very small minority (at least on this forum) in believing this.

    Larry
     
  13. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Special effects will always be big in some movies, that will never change.... there is always someone who wants to push the boundaries of what can be done.
    that being said you have to ask yourself is this supposed to be a home theater, or a cheap way to watch movies?
    a vcr and a cheap tv let youy watch movies at home, btu if you want a home theater then isn't 5.1 or 6.1 surround kinda necessary?
    it also goes back to things like OAR what about sound? the sound track was mixed in 5.1 should't you listen to it in 5.1 if you can? mainly because a surround setup costs more money people dont apply the same stigma to listening to movies in stero when they were made for surround as they do when people watch pan and scan as opposed to widescreen.
    that being said i agree many movies dont make the most of surround sound, you dont have to ahve explosions behind you to use surround sound, its the more subtle things like someone walkign off screen and you hear their footsteps move around your room, and other subtle sounds that make it a more imersive experience.
    you also ahve to factor in the new factor. i know the first widescreen movie i saw was lawrence of arabia, damn.... the first hour of that movie sucked, all i could see was the black bars... but now i dont notice black bars, im better educated and infact i even avoid watching movies on tv because they are pan and scan..... as HD tv and other broadcast sources become more available in surround sound im sure i will star to shy away from even widescreen movies on tv if they dont have DD or DTS.
    to be its all about maximizing the experience, so i say go surround [​IMG] have fun [​IMG]
     
  14. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Anyone with a discerning ear should listen to the sophisticated surround sound design on David Lynch's films. If you, after hearing them on a properly set-up and balanced surround system, think that surround is not an art form when done with care, then you shouldn't bother with anything other than center-channel mono. Sure, there are plenty of bombastic sound mixes designed only to be loud or "kewl", but those movies aren't worth watching very much anyway.

    Having surround at home is part of recreating the intended way a film is shown theatrically. Just the same way as Original Aspect Ratio is to recreate the theatrical intention of the image. I'm no fan of remixes, though. I'd prefer the original sound mix (and channel formatting) to be the main audio option. All remixes should be optional.
     
  15. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    No good ol two channel is good enough for most movies. If implemented correctly with good quality components 2 channel sound can be very impressive. More than most people can imagine. However this is only true for a narrow region of your listening area AKA sweetspot. Just like a center channel is not required when you are seated in the sweet spot but for most other positions around the HT you do need good surround sound implementation to creatle all the subtle nuances of ambient space. Once you move sufficiently far away from the sweet spot the 2 channel image gets lop sided and cannot present a sound thats cohesive with the picture. Thats when you need surround sound. Sure surround sound also has its limitations as to how cohesive it can sound with the picture but that window of limitations is much bigger.

    So I still think that surround sound is necessary for a convincing movie experience. Of course it has to be implemented in a good way to achieve that goal. For music though I still believe that 2 channel is the way to hear it.
     
  16. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    What surprises me about this post is the fact that I expected 40 posts stating "what, are you kidding, where have you been, do you know what your missing". You know what, if you had asked that question 2 years ago, that would have been my answer. Now that I consider my self a seasoned enthusiast, I say now, what ever floats your boat is how you should enjoy your movies. I can tell you, there was a day when Jurassic Park 3 came on satellite and it was broadcast in 5.1. Instead of going down to the basement, and firing up the 6.1 system with two subs, I watched it on my wife's set that has a 20 inch t.v. with two older Infinity speakers and two bookshelf speakers modified for bass. That day and most days usually would do it for me. Don't get me wrong I get very excited about 5.1 or higher, and if it was up to me I probably would have a mini HTiB system in the bedroom with the 27 inch t.v., but I find (well with the help of my wife:b )it not always necessary.
     
  17. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Jerome your HT link is not working. Just wanted to check it out.
     
  18. Doug_H

    Doug_H Supporting Actor

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    Best way to convince her would be to take her to a high end A/V store and set her down in a nice demo room. Have them switch from stereo to surround during the same movie and let her experience it for herself. You may find as I did that she is suddenly much more enthusiastic about the whole HT investment.
     
  19. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

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    Well I like high-fidelity sound, I want low distortion and good dynamics from the sound but the surround thing has become boring and I rarely even pay any attention to it anymore, not to stereo even if the movie is really good and I'm involved. I've been fiddling around with surround since the old Dolby Surround days, back then it was novel and kind'a cool but now I think I'd be happier with a single Altec A5 theater speaker in mono than with must home surround rigs, few of which meet my standards for basic fidelity of sound.
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  20. rodney wiley

    rodney wiley Second Unit

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    Very few things on this forum are necessary, but every person has their own enjoyment level. I simply cant imagine watching a movie without surround sound. [​IMG]
     

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