Originally Posted by scowl
New format? Dark Side of the Moon was available in quadraphonic sound since its original release. It wasn't enough to help quadraphonic sound as a format.
Quad (4 channel) and 5.1 are VERY different.
In two channel stereo, the listening positions that let you hear proper imaging exist on a center line between the two speakers. Move off center, the image, particularly sounds panned center, pop over to the speaker you are closest to. Two channel stereo works well for a listener on the center line only. That pretty much lets out listening for imaging in a car.
Quad made things worse. First, finding places for four identical speakers, each equidistant from the adjacent on, and on a perfect square or slight rectangle conflicted with every living room. And where two channel let you hear correct imaging in several positions on a center line, in quad, there was exactly one good seat, at one point, directly centered in the array. Anywhere off center, and you lost balance and perspective. Not to mention the fact that there was no real "standard" speaker layout for quad, and not even a standard delivery format. Matrixed quad (4>2>4) never really had much separation, it was a big homogenous mash of sound. Discrete was costly and limited mostly to 4 channel 8 track tapes.
5.1 solves the imaging issue by using a center speaker. Now, if something is to be panned center, it's coming from a single speaker which always images from that location regardless of where you sit. No more phantom center to deal with. And surround speakers don't depend on phantom images as much either, especially if they are used as surround ambiance. 5.1 works well in more seats than 2 channel, and way more than quad.
5.1 solves the room layout issue by standardizing on a layout. Even if it isn't exactly followed, it's less critical, and works well anyway.
5.1 solves the delivery issue by providing listeners with several discrete formats that play on a player without user involvement, and at no additional cost.
Remixing DSoTM for 5.1 is a blessing. More people can hear more of the mix, the hidden gems, the details and dimension, than ever before in stereo or quad. Yes, it's a new format, it isn't quad, it's way better. There is now real channel separation (never had that in QS or SQ). There's a hard center image. If you don't think it's different, you probably haven't heard it. And DSoTM is just one example, there are hundreds of others in existence right now. I know, I use them for demos!
Quad didn't survive because it was expensive, cumbersome, didn't work well, and a quintessential example of marketing confusion with multiple incompatible formats requiring multiple decoders or source devices. It was simply too much trouble for the benefit. 5.1 is here now, established in millions of homes, and would have been easy to place in cars, again solving the center channel image issue. Cars already have four speakers, power amps, and even a sub sometimes. It was only adding one channel in many cases. It could have popped open a whole new market for existing music...just what the music industry needed. A way to re-sell the library without the artist re-recording! And, no mp3 distribution of 5.1!
Sorry, I still say HD radio blew it.