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  1. #1

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    Default Multi-channel listening revisited.....

    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.

    Bottom line:

    Multi-channel music – for the most part NO

    Surround sound movies – ABSOLUTELY
    "Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right." - Ricky Gervais

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  2. #2

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    Good post, I respect your thoughts on the matter.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Multi-channel listening revisited.....

    Originally posted by shack
    So I sit down hit the “ext-in” on the Denon AVR (thanks to Cathy’s thread),
    You're welcome :D
    Main HT
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  4. #4
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    Very good post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    The current MC music mixes remind me of the “pioneering” two channel recordings. The left channel has the vocals and lead guitar, while the right channel has the drums and bass guitar etc., etc… I still have trouble listening to recordings mixed in this manner regardless of the song quality. Hopefully in time, the “pioneering” MC music experimentation will stop with the end result being a realistic rendition of the event.

  5. #5

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    I don't have the bias off the back, since I've been listening to a mix of stereo and dts music since I started building my system about a year ago. Yesterday I finally got my Analog 2's from Frank to enable multichannel sacd/dvda, and today was my first serious listening session.

    I'd been listening to stereo sacd/dvda for a couple weeks waiting on my cables to get here, so I had a pretty good reference of what it sounds like. I had previously been using MIT Terminator 2's as IC's for stereo listening. For my first MC albums I tried out Roxy Music - Avalon, Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (obligatory), and Hootie and the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View.

    Avalon is an amazing album in MC, I was stunned at how they worked all the channels into the recording as if it was originally designed to be played back in 5.1. The vocals were clearer and though there was less imaging on the front stage, one listen to the track India shows just how far MC can go beyond stereo imaging in the right engineer's hands.

    Dark Side of the Moon MC as you said, is one of the best mixes out there, and it sounded as good as I expected.

    Cracked Rear View sounded extremely good in stereo, and I was a little skeptical about how the MC would sound in comparison. I considered this to be my first real test of stereo vs. MC, and I must say I'd describe them as different rather than one being vastly superior. In MC they mixed the surrounds so that the vocals are played but you can't really tell to turn around and look at the speaker if there's sound coming out. Turning back towards the front however, the vocals are very... seperate from the music, seemingly because of how the fronts and surrounds are interacting. It was like I have 2 systems, one playing the music, the other playing the vocals - very cool, but a bit weird at the same time. It was pleasing in the end, but I could see it being more fatiguing over the long haul if listening to mutliple albums with the same characteristic. If I'm feeling active and in a listening mood I think I'd favor the MC - but in a more "blah" mood I think I'd go with the easier listening of stereo.

    If I was really use to stereo though, or had more expansive 2 ch. speakers, I could see how it would be undesirable moving to MC. I'm sure part fo the problem from my end is that the LSi's simply don't sound as good when they're really busy.
    Dodd Audio ELP [ Tubes ] // Harman Kardon AVR330 // Parasound HCA-1203A // Denon DVD-2900
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