Which 5.1 Music Format Do You Prefer?

Cliff Olson

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Nov 9, 2002
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I'm new to multi-channel audio, and with the 2+ formats available, DVD-A, SACD, and DTS (DVD-A that uses the digital out!), it is quite overwhelming. I don't have multi channel inputs on my Lexicon, so I can only play SACDs in 2-channel format (I have Sony's 999ES). I am pleased with SACD stereo, but I can't help but wonder how much better multi-channel SACDs would sound.
I really like the idea that DTS uses the digital out on CD/DVD players, but I have no idea if their sound is as good as SACDs or regular DVD-As in multi-channel. I just bought Vivaldi's Four Seasons on DVD-A (DTS), but I'm not very impressed (and I'm a HUGE fan of DTS Movie Soundtracks!). Are there great sounding DTS CDs out there?
I'm wondering what format you guys (and gals) like the best. Thanks!
 

Philip Hamm

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Are there great sounding DTS CDs out there?
Yes, to me there are, but I think you may be a bit more critical than I am.

Personally I don't care what the "format" is, I like all multichannel music. My current favorite is Midnight Oil's "Capricornia" which is a DTS CD.
 

Dan Joy

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Dec 8, 2001
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To me the source recording and how the sound people use it is more important than the actual DVD-Audio, DTS, or SACD formats. DTS sounded great(and some still do) until I heard DVD-Audio and SACD. As a caveat, there are plenty of poor sounding material in all three formats. Luckily I can have all three and buy what I want.

P.S. IBTFW (in before the format war)
 

Jerome Grate

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There are some great, multi channel audio out there. I don't have DVD-A or SACD yet, but listening to some DTS CDs and some DVDs with multi channel music on them is really great. I find Forever Yours by Marvin Gaye to be a good selection. I would love to see some Earth Wind & Fire on Multi Channel audio/DVD. The best thing that you have right now is that Lexicon. You know (of course) that Logic 7 does an excellent job with stereo and your surrounds.

I have the Harman Kardon 500 and my CDs really sound impressive. You can use the PCM of you DVD player and Logic 7 M will do the trick. Now call me weird but I have a preference of using the analog portion of the receiver. I have the DVD player going through the JVC 7600 and then the 7600 going through the t.v. to take advantage of the t.v.'s stereo wide enhancement. I find that there is more seperation not just on the fronts but in the rear as well. Some CDs do so well on this, it really appears to be multi channel audio. Clarity is there, the sound (to me) sound natural to the extent of placing let say back up singers in the rear and some instruments as well. You're placed in the middle of the band sometimes depending on what cd you are listening to.
 

Rich Malloy

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I am pleased with SACD stereo, but I can't help but wonder how much better multi-channel SACDs would sound.
Some multichannel discs sound fantastic, others are merely interesting. If you have a superior two-channel setup, I don't think you'll find the addition of multichannel SACD or DVD-A to be an extraordinary step up (and you'll definitely be sticking with the stereo tracks on many discs).

It seems the multichannel thing is more impressive to folks with systems geared primarily to home theater and which are fairly lacking in stereo playback. I enjoy the hi-res multichannel experience, but the multichannel aspect alone doesn't represent anywhere near the improvement I experience from the higher DSD sampling rate (in two channel or otherwise). In other words, with the hi-res two-channel SACDs you have, you're already experiencing the largest improvement over CD the new formats have to offer, and multichannel is merely "icing" on an already very tasty cake.

My best advice: don't "trade down" from your two-channel Lexicon just to get multichannel. Superior two-channel reproduction is better than compromised multichannel. If you're lowering the fidelity of your main channels just to add those centers and rears... well, you're gonna be disappointed.
 

John Kotches

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Rich,

Respectfully, I disagree with what you say.

I enjoy the hi-res multichannel experience, but the multichannel aspect alone doesn't represent anywhere near the improvement I experience from the higher DSD sampling rate (in two channel or otherwise).

In other words, with the hi-res two-channel SACDs you have, you're already experiencing the largest improvement over CD the new formats have to offer, and multichannel is merely "icing" on an already very tasty cake.
For you, this is no doubt true. For most people, it is the multi-channel aspect which stands out, not increased resolution. Lest we forget, most people are extremely satisfied with CD and even MP3.

Personally, I think it's the combination of the two, increased resolution and multi-channel capability which make both high-res formats huge improvements over conventional CD. If it was one or the other, I'd drop a
little resolution and go with multi-channel.

To each their own.

Regards,
 

Mark All

Second Unit
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Dec 10, 2002
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I was an early adopter of DVD-A when I got a Toshiba SD-9200 and listened to the few available DVD-As for several months before getting an SACD player. I initially thought the multi-channel DVD-A format superior to the multi-channel SACD format because Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" sounded so much better to me than any multi-channel SACD mix I bought. Now I've listened to more source material though, I can't say one multi-channel format (SACD vs DVD-A) is superior to another. "Dark Side of the Moon" finally changed my mind about multi-channel SACD audio being equal to the two-channel experience. The mix on this release is astonishingly good. However, all things considered, I'd agree with Rich and Jerome that there is such a wide range of great to mediocre multi-channel releases available that it doesn't make sense to me to get rid of a good two-channel music system just to get access to multi-channel DVD-A or SACD. Another thing I would take into consideration if starting over again would be whether I already had four full-range speakers for the four corners of my listening room. I have tried satellite speakers for the back in place of full-range speakers and the multi-channel experience paled in comparison to having large speakers all around.
 

Nick V

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May 7, 2002
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I have a DVD-Audio player, and have heard SACD quite extensively while demoing amps and speakers to buy.

I can say I like them both equally, and I HATE them both equally. I guess they're still young, but COME ON!! start releasing some discs at the same time that they're released on CD. I'm not a big classical music fan, so I bought a DVD-A player, but it's frustrating to know how much better these formats are than CD, yet still have to buy CD's if you want something that was recently released.

ARGH!!
 

Rich Malloy

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John, I certainly agree with most of what you say, but I was gauging my response to Cliff... not the "average consumer", for whom Lexicon gear is probably a bit out-of-range. The folks you speak to are probably adding audio gear (SACD or DVD-A players) to a home theater system, whereas it appears that Cliff is considering the addition of multichannel capabilities to a fairly high-end two-channel setup.

Since his Lexicon won't accept 6 channels, he'll have to "upgrade" this unit in addition to adding a new player. So long as this really is an upgrade, he'll surely be happy with multichannel capabilities. But if the budget is limited and he'll have to take a step back in quality to add those additional channels, then I think he's setting himself up for a disappointment.

Further, I don't know what Cliff's currently using for CDs (or LPs), but if he's got super high-end stuff, then that's gonna play into this, as well. If he's using Mark Levinson or Weiss Medea DACs, then he's not going to perceive much of an upgrade by dropping a cheap DVD-A or SACD player into his system.

But assuming he's not giving up the Lexicon for a much cheaper multichannel capable unit, and assuming he's not expecting an under-$300 SACD or DVD-A player to outperform a topnotch CD playback system (much less a top-notch 'table), and he's interested in the still relatively paltry number of good multichannel discs on the market, then I'd think he'd get much enjoyment from going multichannel.
Personally, I think it's the combination of the two, increased resolution and multi-channel capability which make both high-res formats huge improvements over conventional CD. If it was one or the other, I'd drop a
little resolution and go with multi-channel.
It's a trade-off, to be sure... and I'd drop (did, in fact, drop) a little resolution for multichannel myself. But the operative phrase is "a little resolution". Anything more than a negligible amount would drive me nuts, particularly because the lion's share of my music collection remains two-channel CD... that is, the vast lion's share of my collection, despite the fact that I've been seeking out multichannel SACDs over the past year as though I were a multichannel SACD-seeking missile!
 

Michael St. Clair

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For surround, I prefer DVD-A because I like to be able to take the surround mixes to my friends' houses and play them there. I know tons of people with multichannel DVD-V, which DVD-A is backwards compatible with. None of my friends have taken the multichannel SACD plunge.
 

anthony_b

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As an early adapter of both formats , It's been so hard to purchase music to my particular taste in either format. I just hope music labels start putting out more diverse music.
 

Lewis Besze

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Some multichannel discs sound fantastic, others are merely interesting. If you have a superior two-channel setup, I don't think you'll find the addition of multichannel SACD or DVD-A to be an extraordinary step up (and you'll definitely be sticking with the stereo tracks on many discs).
I disagree!
What if your surround set up is equaly "superrior"?
Meaning,that you use the same speakers for the surrounds,as the mains which were carefuly chosen for stereo listening?
Also match the amplification,with the same amp,and use a pre/pro that would do equaly well for both duties?Same goes for the source.
Is that an impossible task?
I think not!
 

LanceJ

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In my opinion, multichannel music is a large change from stereo. And in my case, "change" means "improvement". It's not like I hate stereo now; I just like multichannel music better.

Dvd-audio's hi-res stereo compared to the regular-res version (CD) is an improvement, but I have to be in my "analytical mode" to notice the differences. Otherwise those differences--to me--are not the underwear staining experiences some people report.


LJ
 

Jerome Grate

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I can agree with that, the difference between my fronts and surrounds is one woofer per speaker. The imaging behind me is quite impressive. (Platinum Audio), the best way you can see if your surrounds are as good as your fronts is to either select 5 channel stereo or even in 5.1 applications, disconnect the fronts and stand in between them. You'd be surprised whats back there.
 

Rich Malloy

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What if your surround set up is equaly "superrior"?
Then you'd be the cat's pajamas, no doubt about it!

Unless, of course, "equally superior" is more precisely "equally mediocre", in which case you might have done far better for yourself investing that same money into a superior two-channel system.

Am I not being clear when I say Cliff would love multichannel so long as it doesn't require him to "trade down" from his current setup, at least not substantially? I hope I'm not confusing things--I'll try to be clearer!
 

Cliff Olson

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Nov 9, 2002
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Rich, it's clear to me. I will definately not "trade down" to get multi-channel inputs. Thanks to everyone for their input You've been very helpful
 

LanceJ

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Excuse my multichannel "cheerleading" attitude, but mulitchannel sound to me is definitely NOT just icing on the hi-res cake.

Multichannel is basically a whole other cake.

If I were given the choice between: a stereo system made up of Boston Acoustics' $2,700/pair VR-M90's (their best speakers) powered by separates from Rotel OR a 5.1 system made up of five $400/pair Boston CR85's + a 10" sub powered by a $500 Yamaha receiver.......I would pick the "cheap" system immediately. Even if these were music-only systems.

For me, music presented from all around me is more interesting, involving and sometimes just plain more fun than flat stereo can provide.

LJ
 

Lewis Besze

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Am I not being clear when I say Cliff would love multichannel so long as it doesn't require him to "trade down" from his current setup, at least not substantially? I hope I'm not confusing things--I'll try to be clearer!
Yes you're.
However I sense the notion in your post[and from many other posters from similar threads]that surround set ups are inherently inferior to stereo ones.NO I can see where this came from,the typical surround speaker set ups marketed these days are decidedly of lesser quality,mainly because they're sold in packages,and they tend to be less costly.
I also here the term "properly set up" stereo can give you the "you're there" feeling which mainly why multi channel was born in the first place.Well guess what, surround set up for music also requires "proper set up" too.
I know I'm stating the obvious here but you would be surprised that how many people who condemn MC music has heard it in the way in meant to be.
Having said that I'm not saying you're one of those people,my "response" was simply "triggered" by your post,I hope it wasn't inappropriate though,and if the "shirt don't fit" then don't worry about it.
 

LanceJ

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I think a lot of people "don't like" multichannel music because they have priced themselves right out of it.

Ever notice that 95% of the HiRes Highway members (Audioasylum's sacd haven) constantly put down surround music? Ever checked out their systems? Usually mega-buck stereo rigs tweaked all to hell. I'll bet adding three more channels of amplification, speakers & a subwoofer scares the dog doo out of them.

Like I've said before I stopped listening to audiophiles years ago, and afterwards audio and listening to music became fun again.

LJ
 

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