Two-channel stereo equipment ... dying format?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Cohn, Dec 31, 2001.

  1. David Cohn

    David Cohn Extra

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    Would like to get some opinions from you all:

    I have been amazed at the explosion of home theater equipment - 5,6, even 7-channel amplifiers and surround sound processors are now the norm. Does this mean that manufacturers are devoting more resources (R&D, marketing, etc.) into the home theater market and less into the traditional, two-channel scene?

    I have a satisfactory home theater setup and would like to have a dedicated stereo setup for music. Can I better afford those stereo components (Rotel, B&K, Proceed, etc) now that home theater is popular?
     
  2. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

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    i prefer listening to my music collection with 5 channel stereo instead of 2 channel. with 5 channel, the sound comes from everywhere, enveloping me. i dont think i need a dedicated 2 channel setup, but thats just me.
     
  3. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    While I enjoy home theater, I will always like music played thru a good 2-channel system. Have to play my vinyl, right? Yes, I think 2-channel is a dying, especially in this country.
     
  4. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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    2 channel is still superior if you have quality gear and good speaker positioning. Sure, MC SACD and DVD-A are nice. But I'd still rather listen to stereo, IMO it's more realistic.

     
  5. Mark Fitzsimmons

    Mark Fitzsimmons Supporting Actor

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    I agree entirely with JerryW. 5 channel stereo destroys the natural sound stage of stereo and also makes the image less dynamic. For music, stereo is where it's at.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Five-channel stereo is not the way to appreciate music. Likewise, middle-of-the-band multi-channel music isn't either. Sure, these are fun ways to listen to music, but they are also fake. My view on five-channel stereo is that it is good for a large room where you have a large gathering of people. With five-channel stereo, everyone can hear the music. However, for critical listening, two speakers (and possibly a subwoofer) is the way to go.
     
  7. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    "However, for critical listening, two speakers (and possibly a subwoofer) is the way to go."

    I seemed to have come full circle back to 2 channel, after owning three A/V receivers and two prepros. While I agree with the middle-of-the-band comment, I still have to wonder why three front channels doesn't work out better than two front channels?

    Michael
     
  8. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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  9. JerryW

    JerryW Supporting Actor

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  10. JohanK

    JohanK Second Unit

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    Jerry, couldn't such an issue be corrected through the use of x-overs at proper cutoff frequencies?
     
  11. MarcVH

    MarcVH Second Unit

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    I think the original question wasn't about whether it's better to listen to music in 2-channel mode, but whether 2-channel-only hardware will still be around in a while. Obviously all A/V receivers can listen to 2-channel content.

    Personally, I think we're already seeing it. I think we will continue to see 2-channel stereo receivers in the budget space, and high-end stuff in 2-channel will stick around. In the mid-fi area, though, it's hard to see a bright future for stereo-only hardware.
     
  12. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  13. PaulKH

    PaulKH Second Unit

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    There will always be stereo fans, like there are vinyl fans, but they will be in the vast minority.

    Jerry says stereo is more realistic, which in some ways makes sense because you don't sit in the MIDDLE of a band or orchestra when you hear them live the sound comes from in front of you. However, most living rooms or HT rooms even don't provide the sound reflections of a live music setting, so the rear speakers in a surround setting can provide subtle reinforcement that make it sound MORE realistic IMHO.

    Since most of my music listening is done in the car which, like most cars, is really a 'surround' setup (I have 4 'speakers' [mid/tweeter] + sub) - I've really come to prefer surrounding music. And once I listened to 5.1 music on my HT, I knew I could never get much enjoyment from plain stereo again... it really does sound 'flat' and dull to me.
     
  14. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    I'm sorry. This is truly your loss.
     
  15. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    I have yet to hear a multi-channel setup, and I have heard some very nice systems, that comes anywhere close to a properly setup 2 channel system. A properly setup 2 channel system eminates sound from all around you, like being totally surrounded, but with a more proper delay like a live situation. With that being said, multi-channel will probably become more advanced in the future and may someday overtake 2 channel, but for the time being 2 channel is still the king. There's a magic that multi-channel just doesn't have yet. IMO, stereo will be king for a long, long time.
     
  16. Drew Eckhardt

    Drew Eckhardt Stunt Coordinator

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    If you go to an indoor concert, you get whatever ambience

    is there from the hall/room in the semi-circle that's behind you. With a few really large scale pieces they run out of room for the performers on stage and you end up with them off to the sides (Mahler's Third calls for a full symphony orchestra, adult chorale and childrens' chorale. At the preformance I attended (Colorado Mahlerfest XIII) at least the children where up in the balconies).

    With a reasonable stereo setup (I have a 20' x 15' room without spousal restrictions on speaker and seating placement) you get convincing placement of the performers out somewhere past 120 degrees, a reasonable mix of hall ambiance and your room out to 180, and mostly your room behind that.

    Multi-channel recordings have the potential to give you 360 degrees of hall in your living room.

    In practice, doing multi-channel right (tonally my system sounds about the same when toggled between the front pair + sub and full 7.1 complement whether the extra channels are synthesized or the 2.1 come from a DTS/AC-3 downmix; and the surround field is 360 degrees), is time consuming (I tweaked things for six months before I was happy), eats space, and is expensive.

    1. The rules for stereo speaker placement are easy to follow, seem to work, and are mostly compatable with domestic tranquility. In the multi-channel world, people can't agree on what to do (front 3 in a line or equidistant circle. dipole or direct radiating surounds. surrounds at ear level or above. sub in the corner, some fraction along a wall, or where it sounded best when you had it in your chair). Where there's an accepted way of doing things (horizontal mid-tweeter-mid layouts either on top of a huge baffle or next to the ground) it may sound horrid. The need to keep speakers away from walls to sound right and the listener so the image doesn't collapse increases the space requirements. Then there's the problem most of us have with a big box that sits between the front pair of speakers.

    2. While what I considered to be a decent two channel setup wasn't cheap, it wasn't much of a stretch when I was recovering from starving student status. It was a few years before I could afford something comparable in multichannel, and a few years more before I was willing to.

    To answer Dave's question:

    1) Adcom, Rotel, etc. seem to be have two channel lineups that are no smaller or less affordable than they were a decade ago.

    2) All sorts of obscure companies have either cropped up or become visible since the Internet got popular. With no advertising budget and furthuring the proprieter's hobby rather than making a real profit as the goal, prices can be _very_ reasonable.

    3) It's now easy to find used gear (audiogon, ebay, etc), and you can pick it up at wholesale prices.

    As far as research and design: For a while, I ran a thirty or forty year old Marantz 7C preamp. It sounded a lot better than my gear designed in the last decade. Silicon amps have changed a lot in that time, although they haven't really changed in the last decade. CD players and DACs are changing, although there are some fine sounding units that are five+ years old. It doesn't need to be new to sound good.
     
  17. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

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    at least i dont listen to my cd collection while not doing something else. i dont do critical listening, i do "enjoyment" listening. i dont bother to critic my own song. or whatever. or maybe i misunderstood the statements?

    heheh

    sorry
     
  18. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    I'm curious as to what people mean when they say 'critical listening'. I listen to music for enjoyment only. I judge one way: bit on (I like) or bit off (don't like).

    I could understand listening critically to classical but most everything else is just enjoyment, we're going for a ride on someone's creativity. It's not like you have an audience and have an interactive experience going on... It's a one way street - no?

    For the record, I hope 2-channel continues to survive. It is encouraging that a stereo mix is included on most of my DVD-A's. My one multichannel SACD has a stereo mix on it, I'm not clear if this is the norm for SACD.

    One thing I think I like a lot about multichannel mixes is placing lead vocals in the center channel. Seems to me the soundstage is still there, just different from 2 channel.
     
  19. Manuel Delaflor

    Manuel Delaflor Supporting Actor

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    What I don't understand is the formula "some speakers/amplifiers can do soundstage + imaging and this = accurate representation of sound".

    CERTAIN recordings can sound more real, so to say, in certain setups, but the same recordings can sound very bad in another setups and viceversa.

    There are no way to reproduce sound accurately because the factors involved are way more complex than the ones two speakers in changing enviroments (from home to home) can draw. In other words, for me, the term "accurate" referring a two channel (or 5.1 for that matters) system is a modern myth.

    Don't get me wrong, of course sometimes I feel that the sound my system is able to achieve is very "real", but again, this is only with certain recordings, and this is because those recordings in addition to my specific setup sound great. That's all.

    Another recordings sound better using my HT setup (using the rear speakers to make reververations) and yet another recordings sound best on my multimedia system (I use Monsoon speakers wich are famous for the big stage they draw).
     
  20. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    With well more than 99% of available recorded material done as multi-track masters, where no real world performance ever existed, how is any presentation more valid than any other?

    Is it fair to say that the Beatles wanted their last recordings to be presented as stereo? Due to technological limitations of their time that was all that could be presented.

    As far as a middle of the band mix goes, I had trumpets rear left, trombones, euphoniums and tubas rear right, other clarinets to the side right, saxophones and bassons to the side left, flutes to the front right and oboes/english horns to front left for wind orchestra.

    Trumpets and trombones were always behind me, drums, bass and piano to the side in jazz band.

    I like the seperation and unique space that can be given with multi-channel selections.

    I also like stereo mixes....

    Both will survive, and for a multi-track recording, where soundstage is a pot on the mixing engineer's console both are equally valid.

    In addition, multi-channel recordings can capture a venue in ways that a stereo recording cannot. Listen to Chesky Records' Bucky Pizzarelli Swing Live with the Surround Height speakers sometime to understand what I'm talking about.

    Regards,
     

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