What is it about 2channel and music thats so much better than 5.1 etc. - AVS Forum

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2-Channel Audio

ChronicStoned's Avatar ChronicStoned
06:16 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 23
03-09-2013 | Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2013
I had a sony 900 watt, had 5.1 and diff settings, and then ofc it had 2channel, A+B 2 lefts and 2 rights, for 4 speakers, And honestly I enjoyed the sound of the sterio better than the 5.1 settings, Infact Even with movies, the 5.1 was lousy sounding, the center and surrounds barely ever put much sound out, I know its suppost to seperate the sounds, But it just didnt sound right to me,
Im just having a hard time understanding it to be honest, is it a amp thing? perhaps when in 2 channel mode it allows more amp to the speakers??

Or is it possible just a personal thing, being the specific AV tuner I had, maybe it just wasnt quality crossover system in it, cant blame it though they build crap so cheap now a days.. I was always a simple sony fan til I bought this system anyway.

But I just didnt know the connection with 2channel and 5.1, Is 2channel better for music anyway, ?
Anyway I got rid of the sony, which btw cost me 700$, It was nice and sounded good, Or atleast I thought It did til I found an akai am 2800 for $5.00. It made the sony sound crap.. And it was 2channel smile.gif
lovinthehd's Avatar lovinthehd
08:39 PM Liked: 1143
post #2 of 23
03-09-2013 | Posts: 7,788
Joined: Dec 2007
Could be you were too stoned on the kronik and couldn't setup your speakers properly smile.gif Music is recorded in 2 channel generally, might have sounded better played back that way. If you only had 4 speakers connected, or had no sub, then you didn't have 5.1 in any case.
ThumbtackJack's Avatar ThumbtackJack
10:34 PM Liked: 17
post #3 of 23
03-09-2013 | Posts: 157
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I switched from multichannel CD listening to dedicated stereo a few years ago. I thought the 5.1 was cool at first but after a few months I was growing a little tired of it and decided to randomly listen to 2 channels one day. Let's just say I haven't listened to my music in 5.1 since. Some people like it better, some don't so it just comes down to personal taste.
lovinthehd's Avatar lovinthehd
10:36 PM Liked: 1143
post #4 of 23
03-09-2013 | Posts: 7,788
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThumbtackJack View Post

I switched from multichannel CD listening to dedicated stereo a few years ago. I thought the 5.1 was cool at first but after a few months I was growing a little tired of it and decided to randomly listen to 2 channels one day. Let's just say I haven't listened to my music in 5.1 since. Some people like it better, some don't so it just comes down to personal taste.

I tend to agree for music recorded in 2 ch. OTOH I have some nice stuff remastered for 5 ch that is fantastic, and a few for 7 ch that's even better.
glangford's Avatar glangford
04:52 AM Liked: 58
post #5 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 1,821
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If its properly mastered I hear it's good. But I prefer two channel. The whole idea behind stereo is to mimic the soundstage, not be in the band.
commsysman's Avatar commsysman
11:05 AM Liked: 266
post #6 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 5,353
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The problem with most 5.1 is that it is really not properly recorded or mastered at all. Almost all of the rear channel information is just time-delayed or electronically synthesized in some way, not recorded from appropriately-placed microphones in a good acoustic space.

Almost all movie sounds are dubbed in anyway, with no relationship to any real space.

Most stereo sound recordings have some relationship to the original acoustic environment, but the implementation is usually better and more realistic in the case of live location recordings rather than studio recordings.

If you want to hear some superb examples of well-done recordings, listen to the OPUS3 recordings from Sweden. They are all absolutely excellent. Another good example is the recordings by sound engineer John Eargle of Delos records. His two albums "Engineer's Choice' and Engineer's Choice 2" are great. Many of the early Mercury and RCA Victor recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s are excellent.

Incidentally, the first Delos CD ever issued ("Our Man...Papa Jo Jones"), CD 4001, from 1984, still sounds great. It was one of the first two CDs I ever bought, with my first Magnavox/Phillips CD player. 98% of the recordings of that era were pretty crappy due to problems with early digital recording gear, but Delos used a different recording system that worked well.
Paraneer's Avatar Paraneer
11:42 AM Liked: 40
post #7 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 403
Joined: Jun 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford View Post

If its properly mastered I hear it's good. But I prefer two channel. The whole idea behind stereo is to mimic the soundstage, not be in the band.

Big +1 to this.

I agree. For music, in most cases good 2 channel is much better. Certainly in my listening room with the equipment that I have. I do enjoy a good uncompressed 5.1 Blu-ray concert if engineered correctly. The surrounds would recreate the natural reverb that would occur at a good concert hall or venue. But not put you in the middle of the stage. Problem is there are too few well engineered multi-channel concerts in relation to all the great music that has been made and is available over lifetimes. And I value music first over movies. I realize some may have designed their HT systems around movies/gaming first and that is a different story. For movies, surround makes sense to hear the effects all around you - to put you in the middle of the action/story so to speak.

This is why my system is designed as a quality 2 channel rig first embedded into a 5.1 HT system - the best of both worlds.
Ethan Winer's Avatar Ethan Winer
12:08 PM Liked: 136
post #8 of 23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronicStoned View Post

honestly I enjoyed the sound of the sterio better than the 5.1 settings

Stereo music is meant to be played in stereo, not "expanded" by software in your receiver to 5.1 channels. Such software invariably loses some of the high end, and messes with imaging. But a proper 5.1 mix can be fantastic if it was actually mixed for surround. I have many 5.1 concert DVDs and Blu-rays that sound better than stereo. So the key is to find the switch for stereo versus surround on your receiver's remote, and use it as appropriate.

--Ethan
filecat13's Avatar filecat13
12:19 PM Liked: 92
post #9 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 4,508
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Considering how this thread started, kudos to the *mostly* sincere responses here. Nonetheless, this seems like more of a user issue than an equipment, original recording format, or playback issue.
kiwi2's Avatar kiwi2
03:29 PM Liked: 144
post #10 of 23
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Setup configuration can make or break surround sound. With more speakers and subsequently more room and listener interactions... there is more chance to get things wrong. 2ch at least keeps things a lot simpler.

However I prefer a well set up surround sound experience over straight 2ch playback. Granted the bulk of music available is only 2ch. On my system I get the AVR to duplicate the 2ch signal into a centre speaker at 29% of the front's signal strength and 48% in to the side surrounds. Soundstage becomes wider and deeper with good localisation of individual instruments/vocals in a very 3D holographic effect. Straight 2ch playback sounds flat in comparison. The bulk of the soundstage is still up front and you probably wouldn't realise it was an surround sound unless you were told. Instead it just sounds more 3D.

It's just a matter of preference. I just happen to be one of those people that want to feel like they are sitting in the front row of the audience or the band has actually set itself up in my very room. It's the "they are here" vs the "you are there" preference.

But detail to the setup configuration is critical. I measure the frequency response at the listening position to check the FR for problems I may be causing by reintroducing the same signal into an additional speaker. I can then go about moving the speaker 10 or even 5mm steps at a time to avoid cancellation or reinforcement errors. Distant settings for individual speakers is only in 100mm steps in my AVR which is too crude of an adjustment. Newer AVRs from some manufacturers can be adjusted in 10mm steps. These distance settings, thus delay, is critical for avoiding tonal shifts between the 2ch playback and the surround sound playback.

Of course also having similar sounding speakers and good placement makes or breaks it. Putting some side surround speakers into a very acoustically compromised position in your room is of course going to compromis the whole system.
Kilian.ca's Avatar Kilian.ca
08:13 PM Liked: 36
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03-10-2013 | Posts: 1,901
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

On my system I get the AVR to duplicate the 2ch signal into a centre speaker at 29% of the front's signal strength and 48% in to the side surrounds.

You are actually 'duplicating' channels, not extracting surround info using one of the commercial schemes? What AVR does that? Would that not alter the balance for surround sound in movies? Given the wide range of genres of music and quality of recording and mixing I can't see how a single precise customised set-up would always work.

The idea of extracting surround info from stereo isn't itself a bad one but the implementation in Dolby PL, dts Neo and the like is too crude and offers little control and usually results in too aggressive surround/rear signals which just sound unnatural or muddled. That is apart from set-up configuration issues. Sometimes it's not so different from 'All channel stereo'! NAD's EARS is a bit better.

The key is judicial use of the surrounds or let the listener have some control of how much (degree and type: ambience or on stage) and would be better than just relying on a pre-determined set of algorithm from the factory.
Bigus's Avatar Bigus
09:49 PM Liked: 51
post #12 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 4,258
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer 
Stereo music is meant to be played in stereo, not "expanded" by software in your receiver to 5.1 channels.
I disagree. Meaning that I don't think there is any rigid way in which "stereo" music is "meant" to be 2 channel. Certainly all the people working on Dolby prologic, DTS neo, Logic 7, Trifield etc through the years don't agree. I think music is "meant" to be reproduced in whatever way works best for a particular system and user. Not that good multichannel extraction is easy, but I don't agree that there is anything inherently "bad" about it.
Quote:
Such software invariably loses some of the high end, and messes with imaging.
I haven't had issues with high end rolloff in the past, perhaps because I've always implemented simple EQ and any such "loss" would be compensated. Do you have any data/measurements that show that for the popular surround extraction algorithms? As for messing with imaging... Sure! That's what it's meant to do! smile.gif Matter of taste and perspective I suppose. What to you is "messing" with imaging (presumably that means its bad) might to me be improving imaging. But I don't deny that imaging changes... otherwise why make the effort?
LINEARX's Avatar LINEARX
10:37 PM Liked: 12
post #13 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 323
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Surround sound was designed for surround movies.
2.1 format is best for "stereophonic" music recordings except for that which was recorded in "the round".
Your two ears and brain create all the stereophonic 3D perception you need.
I prefer music in 2 channel with an excellent subwoofer.
I like movies with an exceptional sound track in surround.
Many movies have a crappy sound track even though using the best recording equipment and manipulating algorithms.
There is an ART to recording anything and a lot of companies don't spend the money to produce the best product.
chashint's Avatar chashint
11:08 PM Liked: 41
post #14 of 23
03-10-2013 | Posts: 1,695
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I listen to it in stereo and in EXT stereo and both have merit.
I also listen with headphones which has its own pluses and minuses.
Bigus's Avatar Bigus
11:49 PM Liked: 51
post #15 of 23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LINEARX 
Surround sound was designed for surround movies.
Since the origins of "stereo" music included three front speakers, later settling for two secondary to limitations of media, it would appear your statement is incorrect. Two channel "stereo" was a technical compromise that has since become so ingrained some people can't seem to get their head around the idea of listening to music with more channels. How about next time you go to the symphony, you ask the orchestra if they could rearrange into two small clumps of musicians, one on each side of the stage. wink.gif
Quote:
2.1 format is best for "stereophonic" music recordings except for that which was recorded in "the round".
If by "best" you were just writing the shorthand of "best for you" then I completely agree. You are free to like and use whatever suits you. And the same applies to others, whether that's two channels, five, seven, or twenty-two. There is no self-consistent technical argument you can make for assuming your preference has some objective encompassing truth. About the best you could attempt is the "that's what the recording/mixing/mastering engineers heard, so that is what they intended us to hear" argument. Except that upon cursory examination, you realize you can't possibly know what they heard or hope to recreate it, nor is it even obvious that what is on the disc is what they really wanted/wished for you to hear but rather what they also had to settle for under constraints of media, marketing, lowest common denominator considerations, etc. All you are left with then is personal preference.
Quote:
Your two ears and brain create all the stereophonic 3D perception you need.
Again, if you are stating a personal preference, great. If you mean however that in some objective way, two channel can create the same 3D perceptual cues as multichannel, all indications from physics and experiments indicate otherwise.
Quote:
I prefer music in 2 channel with an excellent subwoofer.
I like movies with an exceptional sound track in surround.
Great!
kiwi2's Avatar kiwi2
02:56 AM Liked: 144
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03-11-2013 | Posts: 1,631
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

You are actually 'duplicating' channels, not extracting surround info using one of the commercial schemes? What AVR does that?

Yamaha with its "7ch Stereo" mode.

Quote:
Would that not alter the balance for surround sound in movies?

Volume level isn't affected outside of 7ch stereo mode. The percentage of signal in the parameters is only for that mode. My fine tuning of speakers distances perhaps ends up with speakers that are 50mm different from what the receiver thinks they are. It's not too big a deal for the couple of blu-rays I watch a month. 95% is either 2ch music or 2ch TV broadcast.

Quote:
Given the wide range of genres of music and quality of recording and mixing I can't see how a single precise customised set-up would always work.

I have got it to a point where it just expands on what's already there. Whatever particular soundstage the material already has, my setup simply stretches it out and exaggerates the soundstage. Material with a narrow soundstage gets a bit wider. Material with a wide soundstage becomes very 3D and holographic.


Quote:
The idea of extracting surround info from stereo isn't itself a bad one but the implementation in Dolby PL, dts Neo and the like is too crude and offers little control and usually results in too aggressive surround/rear signals which just sound unnatural or muddled. That is apart from set-up configuration issues.

I have tried many of those other upmix utilities but didn't much care for them. Either they were too subtle and didn't offer much difference over straight 2ch, and/or the parameters to adjust them were too crude a adjustment scale. I didn't much care for JRiver's JRSS either.

Quote:
Sometimes it's not so different from 'All channel stereo'! NAD's EARS is a bit better

I was recently considering getting a Denon, but its 'All channel stereo' mode didn't have adjustable volume levels within that mode and just put 100% to the extra channels as far as I could tell. It put me off and I decided to stick with Yamaha.

Quote:
The key is judicial use of the surrounds or let the listener have some control of how much (degree and type: ambience or on stage) and would be better than just relying on a pre-determined set of algorithm from the factory.

Yes, I agree as that is what I have found.
arnyk's Avatar arnyk
07:23 AM Liked: 1205
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03-11-2013 | Posts: 14,530
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChronicStoned View Post

I had a sony 900 watt, had 5.1 and diff settings, and then ofc it had 2channel, A+B 2 lefts and 2 rights, for 4 speakers, And honestly I enjoyed the sound of the sterio better than the 5.1 settings, Infact Even with movies, the 5.1 was lousy sounding, the center and surrounds barely ever put much sound out, I know its suppost to seperate the sounds, But it just didnt sound right to me,
Im just having a hard time understanding it to be honest, is it a amp thing? perhaps when in 2 channel mode it allows more amp to the speakers??

Or is it possible just a personal thing, being the specific AV tuner I had, maybe it just wasnt quality crossover system in it, cant blame it though they build crap so cheap now a days.. I was always a simple sony fan til I bought this system anyway.

But I just didnt know the connection with 2channel and 5.1, Is 2channel better for music anyway, ?
Anyway I got rid of the sony, which btw cost me 700$, It was nice and sounded good, Or atleast I thought It did til I found an akai am 2800 for $5.00. It made the sony sound crap.. And it was 2channel smile.gif

A well done 5.1 or 7.1 system is also a good 2.1 system if you play stereo media on it in stereo mode.

If you never achieved that, it is probably because you didn't put forth the necessary effort.
Nethawk's Avatar Nethawk
12:28 PM Liked: 115
post #18 of 23
03-11-2013 | Posts: 2,513
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There was a time when I listened to most 2 channel music in surround modes. The enveloping experience, sitting in the middle of the action had its wow factor. Then I grew up and paid more attention to speaker designs, those that excelled in clarity and imaging, learned about room acoustics. Building a room and system around 2 channel soundstage was a huge achievement for me, the rewards significant. There is certainly a place for multichannel recordings, I have some fantastic SACD and DVD-A, but I now listen to source material the way it was presented rather than the way I think it may sound better. I win. smile.gif
kiwi2's Avatar kiwi2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

There was a time when I listened to most 2 channel music in surround modes. The enveloping experience, sitting in the middle of the action had its wow factor.

There are so many ways to implement surround sound that it is adjustable to taste. When you say sitting in the middle of the action - it sounds like you didn't have a subtle setup. You could of had a 7.1 system, speakers in the ceiling, putting full volume to all speakers... or anything, who knows?

When I talk about holographic and 3D it doesn't necessarily mean 'all around me'. The soundstage is up front but with depth to it where you can hear instruments placed behind the singer and a wall to wall soundstage with excellent localisation of individual instruments and vocals. With your eyes closed you could swear you could get up and walk between where the individual instruments are placed.

Even a simple track of just a singer with a guitar reveals a nice difference on my system. In straight 2ch playback on some tracks, the sound of the guitar and voice both appear to be coming from the exact same point in space. Like the singer had his or her head inside the guitar and was singing out through the sound hole. In the surround playback mode, the guitar is now slightly below and forward of the voice. Probably more how it would sound if the performer what sitting in the room in front of me.

Not saying a good 2ch system couldn't achieve that as well... but it would take a very dedicated room I would imagine.
vision-master's Avatar vision-master
01:40 PM Liked: 24
post #20 of 23
03-11-2013 | Posts: 1,895
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Finally after many decades, stereo is gone.

Do I miss it, nope.

Do I listen to music, yup, concert DVD's - hundreds.......smile.gif
Ethan Winer's Avatar Ethan Winer
04:15 PM Liked: 136
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

I don't think there is any rigid way in which "stereo" music is "meant" to be 2 channel.

Well, that's certainly how the music was monitored by the mixing and mastering engineers when they produced it. wink.gif But yeah, whatever floats your boat.
Quote:
I haven't had issues with high end rolloff in the past, perhaps because I've always implemented simple EQ and any such "loss" would be compensated. Do you have any data/measurements that show that for the popular surround extraction algorithms?

Even to my aging ears the loss of high frequencies and clarity is so obvious there's no need to measure anything. I suppose I could make a test tone CD and record off my receiver's Line Output both ways to show a graph. I never considered adding an equalizer to compensate. By "messes with imaging" I didn't mean the expansion of sound out to multiple speakers. I mean sounds that seem to wander around.

--Ethan
kiwi2's Avatar kiwi2
11:03 PM Liked: 144
post #22 of 23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Even to my aging ears the loss of high frequencies and clarity is so obvious there's no need to measure anything.

Strange. How were you converting 2ch to multichannel? A particular extraction algorithm or additional duplication of channels at controlled volumes?
Ethan Winer's Avatar Ethan Winer
11:18 AM Liked: 136
post #23 of 23
03-12-2013 | Posts: 5,748
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwi2 View Post

Strange. How were you converting 2ch to multichannel? A particular extraction algorithm or additional duplication of channels at controlled volumes?

My Pioneer receiver has a number of audio modes. The only two I use are Surround and Stereo. When set for Stereo, music that's inherently in stereo is sent to the left and right speakers only, as expected. When set for Surround, 5.1 soundtracks are sent out to the 5.1 speakers as expected, but stereo is expanded to 5.1 using Dolby ProLogic II. So ProLogic II is what I'm talking about. I probably should have mentioned this earlier.

--Ethan
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