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Unofficial surround/music mode preference thread (1 Viewer)

Serge Breton

Supporting Actor
Oct 21, 2001
With all these latest processing formats that the current processors have, i find it important to see what people like/dislike about a particular surround/music mode and why. Also, mode configurations can also be discussed to acheive the best sound quality for that particular mode. For example, with DPL 11, one can adjust 3 different parameters (panorama, ?, ?) to acheive the best balance, imaging and depth for that mode.
First off, we certainly have an abundance of new formats (Outlaw 950 here) but i have listened to several and here are my findings so far.
standard 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS are both excellent and in many instances better than the latest and the greatest accompanying 7.1 counterpart as i'll mention later.
DPL 11. I like this mode but after all the hype about DPL2, i don't see it as all it's cracked up to be. This mode is not a cheesy hall or stadium effect but a legitimate mode that does provide some enhancements to DPL and some other modes but it's not a favorite of mine at this time. I haven't played around with the parameters as of yet, we'll see if improvments can be made and with the 3 parameters, there is room for improvement. Maybe after some tweaking, this mode may become a favorite, we'll see
On the 950, there is a Cirrus surround mode which add the extra rear center channel to 5.1 sources. Overall, i like this mode and it does allow for a greater sense of envelopment when listening to 5.1 encoded disks but at the expense of overall dynamics.
DD EX: Again, a greater rear (this time discrete) rear soundfield with 7.1 channels now. There is a greater sense of envelopment which is immediately evident when A/B ing these 2 modes. However, i notice a decrease in overall volume which can obviously be compensated for but at the same time i prefer standard 5.1 DD just for the dynamic impact. The difference is not subtle; i mean much of the punch/dynamics are lost when switching on DD EX. Personally, keeping this in mind, i prefer DD 5.1 on the test dvds that i have tried so far including Pearl Harbour, Fifth Element.
DTS ES: This is my favorite surround mode so far. On Gladiator, the dynamics are maintained and the extra rear channels really add information and is a definite improvement over 5.1 DTS. I have watched parts of this dvd a hundred times and when i switched on DTS ES it was like i heard this for the first time again. I really liked this mode, and i really felt part of the movie and the feeling of involvment ranked high. Of course Gladiator is a reference dvd and is the only dvd i have for the review (that i'm aware of) that contains the ES flag so yes i'm jumping to conclusions but a definite improvement is evident.
DTS NEO: no impressions at this time.
7 & 5 channel stereo makes use of all your speakers. So much for that:)
2 channel using the coaxial digital input. Very good considering i just used my HTPC with Winamp to play cd's. I later tried WMP 7 and the overall sound was a little better. Considering the above, i am unable to review my true impressions until i purchase a good standalone cd and or SACD/DVD Audio player. From what i hear, this processor rocks!;)

MatthewJ S

Supporting Actor
Feb 27, 2001

DTS Neo is good, circle surround is good, DPLII is better...

DD5.1(etc) IS GOOD, DTS5.1(etc) is better (let's not start with the why's, these are just opinions)

The only other DSP's that I have liked have been Yamaha's and their's only if the perameters were configured properly for the room (and admittedly even then, sometimes, it is "hit-or-miss")...

Didn't used to like 5 (6,7) channel stereo but now see that it has it's place....

Can't listen to most rcvrs old DPL ANYMORE UNLESS THERE IS some enhancement...


Stunt Coordinator
Mar 26, 2002
At first I preferred DPLII to Logic 7, but now that my speakers have fully broken in, there is no contest. I love Logic 7. Can't wait to upgrade to a 6.1 system.

As far as digital goes, I prefer DTS to DD. But they are both pretty good.


Second Unit
Sep 3, 2001
Meridian's Trifield mode takes the cake. It is not a surround mode where tries to simulate Abbey Hall, but mostly a front soundstage enhancement mode.
Here is some quotes of what reviewers had to say about Trifield:
On Stereophile's review of Meridian gear:
Trifield, however, offered seductive tradeoffs that ultimately made it my default listening mode for normal two-channel sources---including CDs, LPs, and radio.
A comparison of Trifield on 565, Logic 7 on Lexicon, RSP Circle Surround and an experimental Gerzon/Craven algorithm. Here is what they had to say:
Of all the processors tested, the Meridian 565 probably showed the best ability to retain focus and stability in the front image.
A brief comparison Trifield vs DPLII on Secret's:
Link Removed
PL II Music is something that grows on you. Or at least this is what happened to me, because at first, I was not impressed. To put things into perspective, I have been using Meridian’s Trifield DSP mode for a long time. Trifield is a passive matrix decoder, and there is very little information in the surround channels. The surrounds really just add ambiance to the room, which is extracted from the recording. PL II, in contrast, has aggressive surround channels that envelope you. However, the more I listened to PL II, the more I began to enjoy it.
The best way to describe PL II Music is fun. You are immersed in this larger-than-life sound field that manages to wrap itself around you.
Music was never a concern previously because they
(Meridian) had always offered Trifield.

Kevin C Brown

Senior HTF Member
Aug 3, 2000
For music, count me in for simple, old fashioned, tried but true: stereo. :)
Have tried Yamaha's and Sony's various DSP modes, and always came back to 2 channels.

Scott Oliver

Aug 30, 2000
I am a 2 Ch. Stereo man as well
And although I haven't tried them all, I like plain ol' 5.1 Dolby Digital. 5 speakers plus a sub is more than enough headaches for me to deal with, and it sounds good too.
In the future I would rather see them improve the sound mastering technique (you know like higher bit rates, etc. CD vs SACD), instead of adding more and more channels. Otherwise your gonna end up with more speakers than a theater, and my living is not the same size as that:frowning: .

Ted Lee

Senior HTF Member
May 8, 2001
i do not like dsp's. they all sound horrible to me. if i had a 'source-direct' button (like my old sony es did) then i would engage it.

for movies, it's all about dd/dts.

Mal P

Stunt Coordinator
Mar 17, 2000
I'm a stereo/no DSP man myself. One of the most euphoric moments come when a good recording is played, and the soundstage created makes it feel almost like 5.1, except with just two speakers. Ahhh...




Second Unit
Apr 16, 2002
Sending music through surround processing is a crap shoot.

If it hasn't be specifically mixed for it, you can have

a whole range of effects, depending on the material, from

excellent to plain awful. But it's interesting to

experiment. I have an old Rotel RSP-960 Pro-Logic preamp

that allows some of it's sound mods to be applied to

headphones. Using it's Pro-Logic mode with a phantom

centre channel makes music sound very robust, fleshed out.

Better than conventional stereo. But I doubt they intended

it to be used for this.

Jeremy Hegna

Supporting Actor
Nov 28, 2000
2 channel, Pure Direct for me.
As far as movies are concerned, I love the DTS-ES discreet format, but THX-EX isn't my cup of tea. It seems very flat IE...the highs seem sanded off.
I do like DTS neo every once in a while and 7 channel stereo is perfect for cleaning the house or entertaining guests....and the occasional poker game:)


Second Unit
Apr 16, 2002
How typical of THX to "sand off" the highs. They are

still labouring under the impression this has to be done

with DVD soundtracks because the movie sound was composed

for the "theatre." Well, DVD soundtracks are re-done for

home and IMO, the last time I heard an objectionably

bright presentation that needed "taming" it was a poorly

done laserdisc from 1985.

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