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Surround sound Vs Two channel (1 Viewer)

Mark Larson

Supporting Actor
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Mar 3, 2002
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537
I understand that 5.1 is the greatest thing ever to happen to home Theater (next to DTS! :D), but how many of you think that 5.1 for MUSIC is a good thing?
Music is generally represented on a stage, and the sound comes from your front, which is where all the instruments are. There's no clarinet player behind you, or a tuba at your left rear, waiting to shock you with his horniness. :D
So do you think 5.1 is a good thing for music (leave aside the cheap backstreet boys genre) ??
Personally, i'm all for it, but some recordings should be kept in a high-resolution two-channel format.
 

John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
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Mar 14, 2000
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Mark,

A few points.

1) The vast majority of recorded music comes from multi-track masters rolled down into a stereo mix. Since there is no imaging reality to a multi-track mono, just positioning by a stereo pot, it's all an illusion to begin with.

2) Most musicians have experienced 'music all around them' -- I spent many years in Orchestras / Wind Orchestras / Jazz Bands and had instruments on all sides of me.

3) If the artists or producers are available, and assist in the mix, I don't think that remixing to multi-channel is that big of a deal, especially if the original stereo master is left as is.

Just as there was much experimentation with mixes in the early days of stereo, there's experimentation with surround music. Some it is interesting, some of it isn't.

Me, I enjoy surround mixes from ambiant to fully immersive.

Regards,
 

KevinJ

Supporting Actor
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Aug 20, 2001
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583
5.1 is great for music...try the steely dan two against nature dvd for proof
 

Vic_T

Stunt Coordinator
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Dec 29, 2001
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209
Stereo is just a novelty, it has a purspose - if done right. It can create the illsion of actually being in the room with the band. 5.1 can do this as well by filling in the ambience that will be coming from the back walls, thus creating the feel of a specific room or theater. No room (unless designed to be so) is acoustically dead, but some rooms sound better than others, 5.1 can simulate this.

Of course, the entire mix of the multitracked source can be spread throughout the 5 speakers. I don't care for this methodology as much (perhaps i just haven't heard a very good example of this.

I only own a few 5.1 music mixes myself. Their main purpose is demonstrating the system, since I find it harder and harder to find time just to sit back and listen to music. I doubt very much that surround music will become much popular than it is at this point. As pointed out earlier, many folks don't see the need for more than one speakers.
 

Micahel C

Stunt Coordinator
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Dec 29, 2001
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205
Being a quadraphile from the 70's, I've always enjoyed music in surround. I have 270+ recordings in surround format (quad reel, quad 8 track, quad lp, dts cd, dvd-a and sacd). I love every single one of them. Some however are much better than others. Just picked up the new Toto IV mc sacd today and the majority of the ablum is very good, but the "Africa" track is absolutely beautiful in surround!
 

KeithH

Senior HTF Member
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I still prefer stereo, but surround sound in some cases ins wonderful. I just don't like "middle of the band" surround mixes.


Micahel,

You have me wanting to run out and grab the Toto multi-channel SACD. "Africa" is a great track, and I would love to hear it in multi-channel. Do you, by chance, also have the stereo SACD? I have noticed a few pops on the stereo SACD, and others have reported the same thing on Audio Asylum. One person on Audio Asylum said that the stereo track on the multi-channel SACD was remixed and is free of pops. I'm looking for other opinions.
 

Micahel C

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Keith, No sorry I don't have the stereo only version and I've only listened to the mc section of the new disc. I can honestly say that I listened to it four times last night and it sounds great. Elliot Scheiner has done a great mix for this. I have the redbook cd of this and it'll be headed to the local used record store this weekend as it's dead compared to the new sacd.
 

KeithH

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Micahel, thanks for the info. I'll pick up the multi-channel SACD as soon as my A/V receiver is back from the shop. I am very interested in comparing the stereo layer on the new SACD to the original stereo SACD to see if the pops are gone.

The standard CD of Toto IV is very poor. I'm a bit surprised that Sony hasn't issued a remastered version. They did release a MasterSound gold CD years ago, but that's it. I don't have the MasterSound CD, but I do have the MFSL gold CD, which is very good. The stereo SACD beats it, however.
 

andrew markworthy

Senior HTF Member
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Sep 30, 1999
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A couple of things:

(a) whether you like sounds from all around you is not a matter of 'realism' in music unless the rear speakers are imitating the reflected sounds from the venue in which the recording took place (and even then you have the problem of your own room acoustics, unless you live in an anechoic chamber). The 'playing in the band' acoustic is unrealistic - music is not meant to be heard in this way (especially classical). The exception to this is a deliberately 'artificial' recording, such as Mike Oldfield's Ommadawn, where the instruments were intentionally placed around the four speakers in the original Quad mix.

(b) it should be remembered that you need a decent-sized room for surround sound to do its stuff properly. Buying a surround system for the sake of it and stuffing it in a tiny room is a gross waste of money - get a good stereo system instead!
 

Bob Jr

Auditioning
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Feb 28, 2002
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3
andrew markworthy:
(b) it should be remembered that you need a decent-sized room for surround sound to do its stuff properly. Buying a surround system for the sake of it and stuffing it in a tiny room is a gross waste of money - get a good stereo system instead!
Interesting, this is the first time I've heard this.
I have a small room (12 x 14 ft), and I have always been disapointed in what I hear from the surround speakers.
I have always blamed the recordings because 5ch stereo sounds fine, but only the occasional 5.1 or DTS sends out something in the rears.
Like the crowd in Sade's Lovers rock and Steely Dan's Two Against Nature, where you are in the middle.
Would a bigger room actualy improve on this?
:D
 

Rob Roth

Stunt Coordinator
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Feb 1, 2001
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113
A larger space would be beneficial for those mch recordings that reproduce mainly ambience in the surrounds since the 'size' would be reinforced. However, mch recordings which are 'middle of the band' run the risk of sounding incoherent- two of the musicians are far separated from the others. In other words, it depends.

I've done lots of experimenting with this since I have two identical sets of surrounds; side surrounds stand mounted 9 feet from sweet spot and rear surrounds which are wall mounted 14 feet away. In very general terms; the SACD mch sound better using the surround rears. But DVDA sounds better using the 'tighter' arrangement. Curiously, many Concert DVDs (DD and DTS) sound best using both sets of surrounds; my hypothesis is that the bit-starved formats used are filled out by a multiplicity of speakers.
 

John Kotches

Senior HTF Member
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Mar 14, 2000
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Rob,
You said
my hypothesis is that the bit-starved formats used are filled out by a multiplicity of speakers.
Could this be paraphrased as "spreading your losses" ;)
Now, for the serious side of this, after some humor.....
Your issue about distances would not be problematic if time alignment were available. The whole point of time alignment is to delay the closer channels in time to match the arrival time of the farther channels. Most SACD and DVD-A players don't offer this feature at the time of this writing.
Also, since it sounds like you have a larger space, have you experimented with the surrounds at ITU locations for surround setups?
I'm pretty close to ITU, but have a 2' differential between front and surrounds.
Regards,
 

Martin Rendall

Screenwriter
Joined
Dec 5, 2000
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1,043
Just to throw my 2 cents in, I am intrigued by multichannel music, but will stick primarily with 2 channel until I get better surround speakers, and corresponding amplification. Costs are a pretty significant factor in multichannel music. Some people spend the bulk of their funds on a good front soundstage (for HT), and go cheaper on the surrounds. Even after I get the corresponding surrounds for HT, they still won't be appropriate for music.

But one day... one day. Hopefully, after proper bass management and time delay is readily available from the players.

Martin.
 

Mark C.

Supporting Actor
Joined
May 21, 1999
Messages
558
I'm all for live performance multichannel audio that puts the audience behind me. I get the feeling I'm in the audience watching a performance. Too often, however, I hear guitars or drums playing behind me, ruining that sense of being there.

I don't have DVD-A or SACD, but I own a couple of DTS CDs that I have not listened to in more than a year. It just doesn't wow me. The DVD-A and SACD that I have listened to through friends' systems sounded nice, but not jaw-dropping. I guess I'm sticking to two-channel music for the time-being.
 

Micahel C

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Dec 29, 2001
Messages
205
One thing I've noticed reading a number of forums is that the biggest complaints from those that don't like surround music, is that they dislike the sound of instruments coming from behind them. If you're in this camp, then my guess is that your speaker placement for listening to music is entirely wrong. This was the major problem with quad setups in the 70's. Throw a speaker in each of the four corners of the room and let it rip. If this is the assumption most are making then I can understand why the music would sound gimmicky or artificial. Speaker placement for surround music is not meant to be the same as it is for surround movies. With out my going into a long drawn out discussion on the subject, here's a link for a very good site which can offer a lot more info than I could give here. It covers everything from 4 speaker quad to the latest 7.2 surround systems. I'm sure there are other sites that are just as good or better than this one. This just happens to be one of my favorites. Enjoy! :)
Adventures In Surround Sound
 

Ken Garrison

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 1, 2002
Messages
543
I think multichannal music is pretty cool, but IMO, it should be used for like audience and reverb. I watched Roy Orbison's Black and White Night on my Uncle's DTS system. It sounded great. For some strange reason, the back up singers and violins were in the back of the room. If you have a 5.1 system, it's some sort of way of expanding the stereo image from the 2 channels, making it wider.

Here's what strange now. I record the band and choir concerts at the highschool with 2 Shure SM 57s microphones space widely apart and a stereo Sony TC 377 Reel to Reel deck. After I get that on the computer, edited, then burned to CD and play it on my Prologic system, the rear speakers even play sound. NO special encoding was done. Evidently, having 2 mics out there to pick up the sound also picks up a lot of out of phase stuff. But it sounds REALLY good. If you switch it to 2 channel, it sucks. It sounds flat. No 3D image at all. Turn the prologic on and there ya go. You feel like you're back at the gym watching the concert. So, IMO, that's how some multichannel music should sound. They sound like they are in the living room and don't sound like they're coming out of the speakers themselves.
 

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