Stereo music-->5.1/7.1

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by AndrewDWill, Dec 8, 2004.

  1. AndrewDWill

    AndrewDWill Auditioning

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    Hey all (absolute-utter-hometheaterforum-neeewwwb)

    I'm scoping out some products, want to set myself up with a real nasty speaker setup. Something crossed my mind as I was comparing/contrasting....

    I'm looking to buy a receiver capable of 7.1..... I think I'm just going to start off by buying two floorspeakers, then work to 5.1, then upgrade to 7.1 when I have the money.

    My question is... when I play a basic CD over this sound system, how does the CD audio translate over the 5or7 speakers?? Is there a feature in receivers that determines how such music is translated? Should I be looking out for some special spec when shopping? This would be very important to me... the last thing I want is to play CD audio over my 7.1 and have it come out in just the front two.....

    Rock on, thanks everyone, love the site!
    -Andrew in San Fran
     
  2. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    As long as the CDs are stereo, you can use a DSP setting using Dolby Digital Prologic II or similar system, and the system will "matrix" the system into a close approximation of "surround" 5.1/6.1/7.1 although I think ProLogic II is limited to 5.1 sound. If this is the case, then the extra speakers would reproduce the sound the primary surround speakers would output. However, most CDs are mixed to get optimal sound out of a stereo mix so many people use stereo mode on their AV receivers when listening to stereo CDs. A player receiver combo that can play SACD and DVD-A discs can take advantage of the "surround"/multi-channel mixes that those discs include. Many SACD discs include a 2 channel layer so that the disc can be played in "hi-def" stereo. Indeed, a lot of SACD discs are mastered in "hi-def" stereo only and do not include a multi-channel option.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    ALL CDs are stereo, there is no other flavor. DTS CDs, DVD-A and SACD are multichannel capable.

    How the sound is played back really depends on what DSP you select, and there are quite a few: Dolby Prologic/PLII/PLIIx, Circle Surround (CS5.1, CS6.1), DTS NEO:6, Logic7, to name a few. You would have to choose "stereo" to get just the two front speakers, which I do for all of my stereo music.

    PL and PLII are 5.1, but PLIIx will do 7.1 with what will be 7 discrete channels of sound.
     
  4. AndrewDWill

    AndrewDWill Auditioning

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    So at the risk of sounding redundant... Why do you use only the front two speakers for all your stereo music? Does it not sound as good when it's spread out among 5/6/7 speakers or something??
    -andrew
     
  5. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Because stereo music was created and mixed with 2 speakers in mind. Anything more than two peakers and you have to use some kind of unnatural filtering/electronics to route it to the other speakers. Most serious 2-channel listeners are purists.
     
  6. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Ummmm......not true, with all due respect John, not ALL CDs are stereo. I have in my collection quite a few classic Jazz and classical music CDs that are NOT stereo. These CDs were taken from mono masters and NOT converted to stereo.

    Andrew, I use the front two speakers to listen to stereo music because that is the way the stereo CD was mastered to sound best. I have found that when using Prologic or other type of "matrixed" surround, the music.....to my ears....just doesn't sound natural. On the other hand, the SACD and DVD-Audio discs that I have in my collection are absolutely stunning to hear in multi-channel. I have both the plain old stereo CD of Carole King's "Tapestry" albun and I also have the SACD multi-channel version. The SACD version is so much more lifelike it is hard to describe. The guitars and piano sound more concert-like on the SACD than the regular CD. I have a DVD-Audio of Led Zeppelin that is just incredible.

    Basically though, if you listen to a stereo CD in ProLogic or other "matrixed surround" flavor, and you like what you hear, then by all means do it. I have a friend who just loves to listen to his CDs in the "stadium" Prologic mode. To him, this is musical heaven. To me, it is just too "echoey." Test the different DSP modes and see which one sounds best to you. For me, stereo CDs sound best in, well, plain 'ol stereo![​IMG]
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Well, live and learn. I've never seen/heard a mono CD, so thats a first to my ears. These would not be the norm however, and CDs are certainly never more than 2 channels, which is what I was getting at.

    With a decent system properly set up, stereo recordings can give you a suprisingly complete presentation, to the point that it can almost sound like other speakers are being used. What Chuck says is pretty much exactly my feeling, not just because it's stereo, but because I'm not a big fan of DSPs and the somewhat artificial sound they give to the presentation. Even with some SACD and DVD-A tracks, I prefer the stereo version. It varies from recording to recording also, certain ones work well with DPL, while others do not. That's just me also, you can listen to your system in whatever way pleases you most.
     
  8. AndrewDWill

    AndrewDWill Auditioning

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    When I was a kid, I had a boombox in my room, and had the audio outs spliced to hook up 6 speakers (still just stereo, obviously, but I had 3 sets of the channels around my room, it was like music EVERYWHERE.
    Is this undesirable with a 7.1 setup? Take out the center speaker, I assume, and couldn't you have 3 sets of stereo speakers? Maybe that's just too all-encompasing? It's been a long time since I took those speakers down, so I can't really remember what it sounded like, I just remember thinking it was waaaaaay cool (they were all different brands/sizes/types, too, lol, a real mess).
     
  9. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    In a setup where the speakers are wired in parallel, you would be right, music all around. Unfortunately, DSP modes in ProLogic attempt to reinterpret the sound and separate it as well as delay the back channels slightly to give the illusion of depth to the room you are listening in. This, in my opinion, gives an "artificial" feel to the music. If that is what you want, like what your boombox sounded like, then get a receiver with A+B speaker connections and put a set of stereo speakers behind you. When you want the music "all around you" just choose the setting which activates both pairs of speakers.[​IMG] John, I don't know if you are a jazz fan or not, but some of those old mono recordings transfered to CD, and done well, can take you back to the old days when music was raw and electronically unsophisticated. Pretty good stuff.[​IMG]
     
  10. AndrewDWill

    AndrewDWill Auditioning

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    Oooo that reminds me of another thought I had... exactly what's the deal with A&B?? Does that inherently mean that both speaker sets are stero? Or could it be that A is your kick-azz 5/6/7.1 and B is another setup?

    That being said, could you......

    Setup your 5/6/7.1 system, connect all the speakers, then take the B connection and connect the rear speakers a second time? In effect, the speakers are connected to the receiver twice- when A is selected you get 7.1, when B is selected (A off) you get three sets of stereo speakers?

    (Man this forum can be real fun, yet antigonizing...)
     
  11. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    No, sorry about that. At least not on the Pioneers. If a digital input is being used on the A set (which is mandatory), you cannot run the A & B sets. Analog is another matter, but there you have just the two fronts (A), and two with the B set.

    Yeah, that would have been nice!

    Glenn
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    No, there will be 7 channels of sound, but they will not be discrete.

    M.
     
  13. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I knew when I wrote that, that it would not be specific enough [​IMG] PLIIx creates 7 channels of unique sound, so they could be considered more or less discrete, as opposed to "normal" 7.1 in which the two rear channels are playing the same thing, though these channels are derived from the original track and not truly discrete channels.


    Most receivers now do "all channel stereo" which sends the stereo signal to the rears as well. It does not give you any depth, but it does give you a lot of sound.
     
  14. Nathan Stohler

    Nathan Stohler Second Unit

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    I have a somewhat related question...

    If I'm listening to a CD and I switch from regular stereo to "6-channel stereo" mode, I get significantly less bass from my subwoofer.

    Does anyone know why? And is the 6th speaker in "6-channel stereo" the rear surrounds or the subwoofer?

    Thanks.
    --Nathan
     
  15. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    This is probably due to the analog nature of the outputs. I find that in order to get really good bass from my sub in 6 channel mode, (I have two, one for DTS, DD and regular CDs and one just for 6 channel music, SACD, DVD-A) I have to have the second powered subwoofer hooked directly to the subwoofer out on the back of my Samsung DVD HD841. On normal stereo CDs, the other sub gets its signal directly from my AV receiver via the digital optical input.

    The 6th channel refers to the extra rear surround channel. The subwoofer is usually designated as the ".1" channel in the 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 systems.
     
  16. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    A channel can't be "more" or "less" discrete. Either it is or it isn't. (Check the dictionary definition of "discrete": "constituting a separate thing".)

    No one ever talked about a "discrete" channel until the advent of 5.1 sound formats. The term is used to refer to a separately encoded channel such as the 5 full-range channels and 1 LFE channel in DD or DTS 5.1. That is why the DTS-ES versions are separately denoted as "DTS ES Matrix" and "DTS ES Discrete", because the latter has a separately encoded center surround channel, whereas the former does not.

    DPLIIx may drive 7 speakers, but it doesn't provide 7 discrete channels (plus LFE). There is no existing home theater format that does.

    M.
     
  17. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Discrete was the wrong choice of words in my original post.
     
  18. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    Isn't DTS-ES Discrete 7 discrete channels (6+LFE)?
     
  19. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I was following John's phrasing. The LFE channel is discrete but is usually considered separately (hence "5.1" instead of "6", "6.1" instead of "7") because it is not full-range. But to eliminate any confusion, I've noted the point in my prior post.

    M.
     

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