Stereo vs. Surround with Steve Guttenberg - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 42 Old 12-07-2013, 02:19 PM
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I enjoyed this conversation very much, very informative, confirming much of my previous understanding and certainly expanding on a couple of subjects. Although I generally understood compression, I am now more comfortable with the concept.

I am a huge fan of surround music and I am glad that you gave Steven Wilson his due on the matter. I completely believe that his more recent records have been though out tri-dimensionally, probably beginning with Porcupine Tree's Deadwing, and then his solo albums Insurgentes and The Raven That Refused to Sing. Too many recordings have gone the wrong way when remastered for surround, some examples focusing on the special effects around 5 channels and completely losing the soul of the record. As Mr. Guttenberg states, Wilson gets it.

By the way check out Wilson's brand new blu-ray, Drive Home, where the four concert songs presented execute the surround mix superbly. Of course he is paying from The Raven and from Insurgentes. There's also Audio only material and 2 music videos.

As far as systems are concerned I believe that it is not that difficult to mix the stereo and surround purposes in a single installation. Definitely you have to start with a good LR pair of speakers, but properly timbre matched center channel and surrounds do the trick. Large fronts and tiny surrounds may be OK for HT/movies, but you want closer family members in size when you are focused on music. My speaker set up started stereo with a pair of B&Ws DM602, and over time I added a CC6 and finally a pair of DM601 in the back. I would have preferred identical speakers on all 4 corners (affordability comes into play, even when searching for used gear) but I feel I have reached a very consistent sound from all parts.

Thank you.
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post #32 of 42 Old 12-07-2013, 04:03 PM
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Well put me in the camp that totally disagrees that you can't have an outstanding two-channel system and a home theater in the same room (using the same components). I'll extend an open invitation to anyone that wants to hear one. Sure it is very easy to compromise one for the other but with the right planning you can have your cake and eat it.

As for surround sound vs stereo, I love both. I have plenty of exceptional music recordings in 5.1 that I have demoed for long time audiophiles that completely shook up their opinion of what you can do in a listening environment. But there are also a lot of bad 5.1 recordings out there (just like 2-channel). A lot of the early surround stuff reminded me of early the early 3D movies after Avatar. Just doing stuff to sound different and gimmicky as opposed to really putting some thought into the recording. I think most music could benefit substantially from a well done 5.1 recording though.

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post #33 of 42 Old 12-07-2013, 04:05 PM
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Speaker positioning in a home theater will never be optimum for ideal 2-channel listening, because you'd basically have to put the speakers in front of the screen. I think that was the point. Guttenberg said you can have both "if you throw enough money at it." and that you should decide which way to "skew" it—and they are only talking about the ideal.

I gotta say, I run into tons of home theater junkies who think their system is the best-ever—without fail, those systems are not capable of the same kind of holographic imaging and sublime rendition that one gets from a properly configured 2-channel rig.

Couldn't disagree more. You can optimally place stereo speakers in a room and still have a screen (even a large one). And I'd put the holographic imaging and rendition that I achieve in my room against anything I've ever heard at any price range. Imaging and resolution are probably the first things people comment on during 2-channel listening in my room.

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post #34 of 42 Old 12-07-2013, 04:55 PM
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I didn't get the chance to listen to the whole interview yet but Steve brings up some great points. But he also talks about how you have to be kind of locked in to the sweet spot to truly enjoy surround sound for music or movies, more so with music. While this is indeed true, I find it is EXACTLY the same with stereo. Sure you can sit off axis and enjoy it but the soundstage is designed to so that you sit in the sweet spot and the phasing is done with that in mind. So the soundstage collapses just as much in one case as another. Call me crazy but I always thought that "audiophiles" sit in one spot and listen to music with the intent of doing that a nothing else, so this shouldn't be that hard to achieve. I also disagree that orchestral music (which I don't listen to much) would be better in a good two-channel system than a multi-channel setup. I can't recall any symphony hall that doesn't convey a sense of space around you just as much as in front of you. Spatial cues are all a part of the experience and surround sound does that FAR more convincingly. It is also much easier to properly integrate a subwoofer into a system that is designed for multi-channel playback than a 2-channel system because of phase relationships and digital crossovers. The phase control on a subwoofer can only make the sub FARTHER away from you, so unless you place a sub closer to you than the main speakers (which few do) it serves no benefit for integrating the sub perfectly into a system.

If you are into casual listening with other tasking going on, a dedicated listening room for either formats doesn't make sense. If you are going to listen to music and nothing else, you can make a room that does both two-channel and multi-channel with very little (if any) compromise for both types of listening. I've done it and I know a lot of others who have too.

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post #35 of 42 Old 12-07-2013, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Deering View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Speaker positioning in a home theater will never be optimum for ideal 2-channel listening, because you'd basically have to put the speakers in front of the screen. I think that was the point. Guttenberg said you can have both "if you throw enough money at it." and that you should decide which way to "skew" it—and they are only talking about the ideal.

I gotta say, I run into tons of home theater junkies who think their system is the best-ever—without fail, those systems are not capable of the same kind of holographic imaging and sublime rendition that one gets from a properly configured 2-channel rig.

Couldn't disagree more. You can optimally place stereo speakers in a room and still have a screen (even a large one). And I'd put the holographic imaging and rendition that I achieve in my room against anything I've ever heard at any price range. Imaging and resolution are probably the first things people comment on during 2-channel listening in my room.

I'm sure your system is first class. I'm not doubting you, I'd like to know what your approach is, to get that nice 2-channel holographic sound. Could you describe it, or is there a link where I can check it out? I'm only sharing my own experience, and I've heard some rather nice systems over the past few years.

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post #36 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 08:20 AM
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My approach is actually pretty simple, design the room with the best 2-channel audio you can get and then go from there. I designed the room so that the mains are in their ideal location and that the main listening position is in the best position based on the acoustics of the room. From there I figured out what the largest screen size I could accommodate was (in this case 120" diagonal). The room has been treated for acoustics and all the speakers are in their ideal location. The only compromise I feed I had to make was the center channel. Ideally this would still be behind the screen but that would mean I'd have to compromise too many other things (screen position, acoustic perf, etc etc) and I wasn't willing to give up the picture quality for a subtle improvement in center channel performance. I know several others that have cost no object systems that have done the same thing building around their 2-channel setup as well. Most are using their mains in full range with no sub though, which I always feel compromises the end result. I don't care how "full range" your mains are, they can always benefit from a sub and proper integration with that sub (time alignment, proper order crossover, proper sub placement). And NEVER underestimate room treatments and locations. This is what so many people ignore and instead spend thousands on little tweaks that do almost nothing compared to dealing with the acoustic issues of a room. Only the speakers themselves play as big of a role as the room your listening in.

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post #37 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Deering View Post

My approach is actually pretty simple, design the room with the best 2-channel audio you can get and then go from there. I designed the room so that the mains are in their ideal location and that the main listening position is in the best position based on the acoustics of the room. From there I figured out what the largest screen size I could accommodate was (in this case 120" diagonal). The room has been treated for acoustics and all the speakers are in their ideal location. The only compromise I feed I had to make was the center channel. Ideally this would still be behind the screen but that would mean I'd have to compromise too many other things (screen position, acoustic perf, etc etc) and I wasn't willing to give up the picture quality for a subtle improvement in center channel performance. I know several others that have cost no object systems that have done the same thing building around their 2-channel setup as well. Most are using their mains in full range with no sub though, which I always feel compromises the end result. I don't care how "full range" your mains are, they can always benefit from a sub and proper integration with that sub (time alignment, proper order crossover, proper sub placement). And NEVER underestimate room treatments and locations. This is what so many people ignore and instead spend thousands on little tweaks that do almost nothing compared to dealing with the acoustic issues of a room. Only the speakers themselves play as big of a role as the room your listening in.

I'm convinced! And I agree with everything you say here... 100%

That's exactly what I've done with my own home theater, except I refuse to accommodate a center channel—I'm perfectly happy with using phantom mode. Your comments regarding subs and the value of room treatment are worth repeating, again and again.

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post #38 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 08:32 AM
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I thought about that approach with a center but I find it too valuable with movie playback. And since my screen size was determined by my left/right placement, I looked at how much room I had underneath the screen and there was still plenty to accommodate even a rather large center (and mine is huge by most standards). You can find pics in the link in my signature.

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post #39 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kris Deering View Post

I thought about that approach with a center but I find it too valuable with movie playback. And since my screen size was determined by my left/right placement, I looked at how much room I had underneath the screen and there was still plenty to accommodate even a rather large center (and mine is huge by most standards). You can find pics in the link in my signature.

"Smacks forehead" I wish I'd followed that link first. Bravo, sir. smile.gif

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post #40 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I'm convinced! And I agree with everything you say here... 100%

That's exactly what I've done with my own home theater, except I refuse to accommodate a center channel—I'm perfectly happy with using phantom mode. Your comments regarding subs and the value of room treatment are worth repeating, again and again.

Then you or anyone else better not move off center from the MLP or anyone else will suffer from directionality, being too close to one speaker or the other, in which case you have a home theater for one. But it is your choice, after all it is your home theater system to enjoy, even if someone wants to lay down on a couch.
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post #41 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I'm convinced! And I agree with everything you say here... 100%

That's exactly what I've done with my own home theater, except I refuse to accommodate a center channel—I'm perfectly happy with using phantom mode. Your comments regarding subs and the value of room treatment are worth repeating, again and again.

Then you or anyone else better not move off center from the MLP or anyone else will suffer from directionality, being too close to one speaker or the other, in which case you have a home theater for one.
But it is your choice, after all it is your home theater system to enjoy, even if someone wants to lay down on a couch.

It's really not a big deal, I've been sitting in the "sweet spot" for 25+ years—it's worth the effort. Usually I either use my system solo, or I else I'm hanging out with my wife. I've had enough center channels to know that for me, it's not merely a waste of money—I find that using a phantom center usually sounds better for my situation—for a larger audience, center channels are much more useful... or mandatory.

Ultimately, if you don't sit in the center, any system will sound imbalanced.

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post #42 of 42 Old 12-08-2013, 03:45 PM
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Mark, what mode are you using for movies to get the best phantom center? Are you missing anything in the soundtrack that is mixed just for the center speaker?
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