Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 33 Old 11-12-06, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

Have you ever been seduced by surrround sound?

A few years back when Dolby Pro Logic II was introduced I was excited to listen to all my music with the processing. I spent hours tweaking the settings to get the most 3D image I could. Eventually I found the sound to be more of a gimic than an improvement. I went back to listening to normal stereo.

Then I got seduced again by multi-channel DVD-Audio and SACDs. I never found much music on the formats that I liked. Some stand-outs included Queen A night at the Opera and Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. I tried to impress my father-in-law with the Queen surround mix and he fell asleep. The Flaming Lips album is more an experiment in annoying surround mixing than music so I only listened to it once.

Since then I've been on a quest to get the best stereo experience my budget will allow. I've upgraded my speakers, purchased tube pre-amps and separate 2 channel amps.

I think surround sound is great for movies and video games but it should keep its distance from stereo recordings.

Have you been seduced? Does surround music have a place in our listening rooms? Anyone else with similar stories as me? Did you feel cheated or was it a fun experiment?

Would you join the Real Stereo Campaign?
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post #2 of 33 Old 11-12-06, 01:35 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

must admit I've never been seduced, 2 ch is my only interest.

HT, for me, is a waste of time. 1) movies, especially mainstream ones, bore me and 2) for mine, most of what I get from soundtracks is basically crash and bang for the sake of it, and to my ears they all sound the same anyway so why bother??

Some have said that 5.1 etc is good for music, but again for me my taste in music means any of the music I prefer is not mainstream so would never appear in a format like that so miss out there as well.

No, I'm with you, I'll stick with stereo thanks

lots of love

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post #3 of 33 Old 11-12-06, 06:37 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

Personally I think Yamaha’s approach is best, what they call Digital Soundfield Processing. They don’t use the center channel at all. Instead they add a couple of extra front speakers and use them, with the rears, to imitate the acoustic signature of real venues – certain concert halls and clubs in various places around the world.

Aside from modeling real acoustic spaces, the nice thing that separates Yamaha from most others manufacturer’s surround effects is that the main front speakers play the original, unaltered stereo signal. Plus, the effect can be turned up or down, so you can have it as prominent or as subtle as you like. The receivers have dozens of effects to choose from, so you’re bound to find at least a few that you like. Personally I like to use one that’s appropriate for where you would likely see a particular artist perform, like an Arena setting for a national touring act, a European concert hall for an orchestra, an intimate Jazz Club setting for a lesser-know small ensemble, etc.

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post #4 of 33 Old 11-12-06, 09:22 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

I've never been a fan of Surround sound for CD's and other 2Ch sources. I'll stick with just 2Ch for music.
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post #5 of 33 Old 11-13-06, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

Wayne - I've never heard the Yamaha set up you're describing but it sounds interesting.

Back when I was playing around with Dolby Pro Logic II Music, I was especially impressed by a track off DJ Shadow's Private Press album. It has a minute of circular pans that the DPLII really spun around my head. Later, after I'd upgraded to my Vandersteen 1c speakers I listened to the same track in 2 ch stereo and got almost the same circular panning effect. Stereo can be amazing and immersive with the right speaker setup and recordings.

Anyone else have any recordings that can envelop the listener to the point that you think you have surround channels active?
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post #6 of 33 Old 11-21-06, 10:19 AM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

While I haven't spent much time listening to the very few surround music DVDs I own I wouldn't be without surround for films now.

Let's not forget that subwoofers are the product of HT enthusiasm. Stereo fans only flirted with the idea and many still wont let one near their two channel systems.

I was turned to the dark side of film watching by subwoofers. They added so much to ordinary TV and film watching in stereo through my system. Subwoofer addiction was the result of listening to a single, half-hour organ music programme using my stereo tuner through shoebox monitors. (Linn Kan MK1)

I had enjoyed organ recitals at the local cathedrals decades before. Hearing the emasculated effect of tiny monitors reminded me of my system's catastrophic weakness in the bass. Yet bass is an everyday reality for us all. The rumble of a pallet truck in the supermarket, the passing bus and the train all expose us to very low frequencies at levels that most subwoofers can only dream about.

Don't you find music DVDs go flat when you revert to plain old stereo? You've watched a whole DVD of Metallica strutting at a steady 100+dB. You're drooping in your chair. Completely wasted by the experience and soaked with summer sweat. Then you decide to hear how it sounds in stereo with the picture switched off.

Dead boring, isn't it?

Our ears are not humble stereo nor are ours eyes blind. We are surrounded by reality in all its bewildering complexity and its extremes of sound and light and sensation. We must forgive its weaknesses when reproduced by our humble collection of expensive boxes.

Isn't it ironic that no affordable system can accurately reproduce the sound of our hitting one of the empty boxes that once housed a system component on its way home from the dealers?
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post #7 of 33 Old 12-28-06, 05:33 AM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

The first recording that comes to my mind for surround would be Pink Floyd 'Meddle' . I don't have surrounds yet but when I do 'Meddle' will be one of the first. Moody Blues 'Days of the Future Past' might be another. I also like various albums from Hawkwind but I enjoy the Space Rock kind of thing.
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post #8 of 33 Old 01-02-07, 12:44 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

Wayne A. Pflughaupt wrote: View Post
Personally I think Yamaha’s approach is best
Excellent! I love hearing good things about names I own
That being said, I really don't care for extra processing, and prefer direct input mode, bypassing as much internal dsp as possible...

Honestly, and I think it really comes to this for many of us, the content decides..
Two 2ch source = 2ch playback. I know for myself my main goal is getting as close as I can to acheiving a sense of what the artist/producer/engineer intended for us to enjoy about the recording.
Likewise, a 5,6,7.1 formatted program, music or otherwise was also intended to be listened to in that format or enviroment.

(On a side note, after having a will not be named A/V REceiver die on me, and having a tech explain the cost/value of repair, I purchased my two Yamaha units, later my tech guru jokingly complained that I would never need his services for the yamaha gear as in his experience they were probably never going to die! I loved that and obvioulsy haven't forgotten it!)

Viva la resolution!
post #9 of 33 Old 01-02-07, 01:18 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

As far as I understand, if you are sitting in the "sweet spot", you won't get much improvement or change in sound between stereo and multichannel processing for music. The advantage I have found is when you have more than one listener (like eight!). In that situation, the soundstage that you get out of the sweet spot is much better with multichannel processing. Try putting in you favorite 2 channel recording and listening to it in your listening position. Switch back and forth between 2Ch and Multi-Ch and see if you really notice a difference - if things are well set up, you won't notice a change in the front sound stage. Now move and sit directly in front of the left or right speaker and do the same. For me, the multi-ch sounds much better. If you never sit anywhere but the sweet spot, 2Ch will be fine for you. Multi-Ch was designed not to improve on 2Ch in the sweet spot, but to make "every seat a good seat".
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post #10 of 33 Old 07-24-07, 06:19 PM
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Re: Seduced By Surround, Saved By Stereo

Interesting thread title. I sold my multi-channel gear and went back to pure stereo, even for movies. I find multichannel music gimmicky and artificial. I liked the Hafler surround setup for movies, but discrete 5.1 never did it for me. I find sound effects and dialogue suddenly appearing behind me just pulls me out of the movie. I'll be sticking with good ole stereo.


saved , seduced , stereo , surround

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