Since there have been several threads lately regarding multi-channel music listening such as Cathy not happy that her new Heart SACD evidently was only 3.1(?), along with the 2 channel with no sub, 2 channel with a sub, 5.1, 7.1, 25.1 threads etc…etc…etc…I decided to give my multi-channel SACDs another try (hopefully with an open mind). I loaded up the Sony changer with a brand new SACD Elton John Sampler that Sony was kind enough to send me gratis because I’ve evidently bought so many SACDs from their web site, Mary Chapin-Carpenter’s Time* Sex* Love*, The Allman Brothers Eat A Peach, Alison Krauss and Union Station Live and The Wallflowers Red Letter Days. I intentionally left out titles like Pink Floyd’s DSOTM because I already know I like that MC SACD and The Police’s Every Breath You Take because I already know that MC mix sucks.
I know I have a real bias towards 2.1 channel listening for music but I really did try to go in with an open mind. So I sit down hit the “ext-in” on the Denon AVR (thanks to Cathy’s thread), make sure the Sony CDP’s MC light is on and press play. First up is Elton John’s sampler which is good cross sample of several of his CDs, followed by the SACDs in the order listed above. Most of the MC mixes were well done with good SQ. The separation and "surround" soundstage was evident. I was truly enveloped in the music. I can understand how this can appeal to many listeners. Having said that….I guess after 35+ years of stereo listening, I am just too set in my ways to appreciate MC music (my short lived foray into Quadraphonic notwithstanding). It just didn’t seem right to hear an instrument coming from the back right speaker or for the backup vocals to be coming from MY back. I did like the Allison Krauss MC mix because the surrounds were used as background crowd noise and the reverb you would get in a concert setting. It was very well done and is now one of the SACDs that I will listen to in MC. As for the rest I guess it will be good ole’ 2 channel for me.
Now HT is a totally different concept for me. I have been in the MC movie mode since the early 90s when Dolby Digital was referred to as AC-3. I want my movies to be in surround sound. I went to see Midway in “Sensurround” in 1976 and decided that was the way movies should be. As soon as I could, I bought a Sony receiver with a center and rear speaker connections (no LFE) found some small Advents to be used as surrounds and an Advent center to try and match my large Advents. I want an AVR that has Dolby PLII (or comparable) for some of my VHS tapes that haven’t been replaced by DVD to have surround sound. I know George, Troy, F1 and others have come down solidly in the 2 channel movie camp….but not me. I believe one of George’s points was that he often preferred human interest movies that didn’t necessarily need “effects”. I want movies that entertain me. For human interest I prefer books because I have yet to see a movie that can come close to the detail of the book. This may be the reason that most of the movie adaptations Michael Crichton’s books make poor movies (a very technical and detailed oriented writer). Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain are the best of the adaptations but they pale in contrast to the books. Unlike others I want to hear bullets whizzing over my head, a door behind me slam shut behind me and so forth. You 2 channel movie guys are cool with your opinions….mine are just the opposite though. It’s all good.
I am not just about the new stuff with effects being the “star”. I have quite a few movies in my collection that are older than me (51 + years), many in black and white and stereo or mono soundtracks. I have them because they are good movies that I enjoy for what they are. However I also believe that if the directors of these movies had the ability to use surround effects to enhance their movies, they might very well have done so.
Multi-channel music – for the most part NO
Surround sound movies – ABSOLUTELY