Who ditched 5.1 for two channel? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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I have recently discovered audio nirvana with two channel critical listening after purchasing my new speakers (Salk HT3's). HT/video have now taken a backseat to two channel listening.

I am getting ready to buy a dedicated two channel amp and pre-amp, and through educating myself via internet boards, I see where many two channel audio purists (owning excellent towers, two channel tube or hybrid amps/pre-amps) have lost interest in a 5.1 system all together, even though their display is in the same room.

I can certainly understand the logic, as the mains are not used very often during most (certainly not all) movie watching, since only the center channel is active during most of the movie. It seems many prefer 100% of the soundtrack coming from the the mains, while enjoying a phantom center. All while saying "See-ya" to the rears for the occasional ambient wiz-bang.

AVS is more of a HT based board, so there may not be many people who would choose this route.

I'll use 5.1 for HD-DVD viewing, as we are not dealing with compressed mixes here, but for (most of) the rest of my viewing, I'll stick to two channel.

What about you?

Mark

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - - Stephen Roberts
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post #2 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 12:38 PM
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I haven't "ditched" 5.1 but I DO love listening to 2-channel sources with only my 2 front speakers, with no subwoofer, in 2-channel mode.

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #3 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 12:51 PM
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I only think 2 channel when listening to music in their original format unless its SACD. There
is no sense of ditching 5.1 unless you need the space or x problems you have. 2.1
is not the same as 5.1 in terms of surround quality, it only phantoms the "image"
around you like any other 2.1 "surround" speakers.

There is always someone out there that gives you opinion of a product that they don't even own.
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post #4 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 02:39 PM
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I don't think one needs to "discard" one over the other. Most my CD listening is in 2ch "bypass" mode.

sent via Morse code...........

The Hun
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post #5 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 03:06 PM
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Having a 5.1 channel HT and 2 channel stereo in my listening room (basement man-cave), I can have my cake and eat it, too. My CD player is even hooked up to both systems. HT via optical and stereo via standard patch cords.

Lotsa fun.

Now all I need is more time to listen!!

Jack

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post #6 of 30 Old 06-02-2007, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll toss out a link titled "Home Theater, who needs it" from Audiocircle.com

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/i...?topic=24874.0

There are people from both camps posting their thoughts, I thought it was an interesting read.

Movie listening via an outstanding two channel rig would have never occurred to me, as I have been "conditioned" to believe otherwise.

This is all of course, all personal preference and much depends on a persons gear.

Just something else to think about.

Mark

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - - Stephen Roberts
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post #7 of 30 Old 06-03-2007, 04:38 PM
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hi all...I just found this site, and boy do I like what I've seen so far. Being a guy of 60 and now having to look at 'new' equipt, I'm going to enjoy reading everything u say! Buy the way, i'm a purist , if thats the word. I'm for 2 channel, and so far i all I have is my 5 year old RT8's....luv em too!
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post #8 of 30 Old 06-03-2007, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Keck View Post

................... I can have my cake and eat it, too. My CD player is even hooked up to both systems. HT via optical and stereo via standard patch cords.

sweet

"All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it."
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post #9 of 30 Old 06-04-2007, 11:18 PM
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My own personal experience (~13 years) with both multichannel and 2 channel systems has led me to the following realizations:

1.If I had to work with only one audio/video room then I would go with a high end home theatre pre-amp such as the Bryston SP2 or SP1.7 along with similar quality amplification and loudspeakers/subs. The main loudspeakers should be first and foremost very good at 2 channel music reproduction on their own. Unfortunately, this approach would cost me ~$15,000 to put together not including the display.
Eg. Bryston SP2 ~$3K, Bryston 9B-SST(5 channels) ~$4K, Bryston 3B-SST (2 channels) ~$2K, 6 Totem Model 1's ~$6,000, 2 Totem Lightning powered subwoofers ~$1,500

2.I am fortunate enough to have 2 rooms to work with for audio and video respectively. Being an audiophile first, much of my budget goes towards my 2 channel system which consists of a Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1 tubed cd player, 2 Bryston amps in bi-amp configuration, a pair of Totem Arros and a Totem Dreamcatcher powered subwoofer. Total estimated cost: ~$5,000.00 This system is located in my living room. Very resolving and musical.

In the recreation/multimedia room downstairs I have a budget but very good sounding home theatre set up consisting of a Panasonic Plasma display, Panasonic SA-XR70 6.1 digital receiver, a Panasonic S-97 Upconverting DVD player, 6 Paradigm loudspeakers and 2 Athena powered subwoofers. Estimated cost:$2,200.00. Very dynamic, detailed and good home theatre sonics.

In other words, to be able to satisfy my 2 channel standards and have a home theatre rig in one system requires a much greater outlay than if you were able to have 2 separate systems. I find that reasonably priced home theatre gear can be satisfying enough in its own element (movies and tv programs) but performs poorly or just ok in 2 channel mode. Just my 2 cents on this topic.
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post #10 of 30 Old 06-10-2007, 06:02 PM
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I have no receiver for my 5.1! just the DVD player hooked directly to the 5 speaker durabrand system! (sub has amp for powering all speakers!)

ad I have a 2 channel stero that bass sounds soft when I hook it up to any speaker I have around.

One shall stand... One Shall Fall... - Optimus Prime
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post #11 of 30 Old 06-11-2007, 06:19 AM
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I was unable to get two channel music to sound quite right in my HT - primarily because of the 50" DLP display between my front L and R speakers. I eventually gave up and set up a separate 2-channel in another room (I am fortunate to have the space 8^) and now life is (almost) good.

I must admit however that I am not completely satisfied with multi-channel SACDs or DVD-Audio discs in the HT room. When there is a movie going the HT is great but when I put on multi-channel music (and there are no visuals to distract me), I can hear all kinds of issues that simply don't come into play when watching movies. So, I listen to music in the 2-channel "music room."

PLUS, this way, I don't have to choose sides between 5.1 and 2-channel!

mnilan
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post #12 of 30 Old 06-11-2007, 02:14 PM
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When I upgraded my audio I decided to split it off into a separate, dedicated room. There isn't any multi-channel recorded music that I listened to (99% of recorded multichannel is classical) and to do it right I wouldn't have the room for equidistant speaker placement. I have no regrets whatsoever being strickly 2ch for audio.

larry

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -- Thomas Alva Edison
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post #13 of 30 Old 06-13-2007, 08:24 PM
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I embrace 5.1 since the equipment can also play 2 channels. I know all the advertising about 2 ch only system being superior but those are more qualitative than quantitative. The judgement of 2 ch only gear being superior is often clouded by personal preference, pride of ownership, subliminal inclination to treat price as an indicator of quality, community consensus overriding real auditory benefit, perception being confused with reality, and the list goes on and on. Thus the double blind testing was developed to rid of all non auditory factors.

You can get good 5.1 gear and you can also get good 2 channel only gear. Knowing what to get can be hard. Therefore, an online community such as this can be very helpful. However, while one may get support from each other through any avs forum, one would still need to separate facts from fiction, reality from perception - still not an easy task. In the end, we yield to consensus, and we hear what we want to hear, to justify a purchase.

Get a 5.1 or 7.1 or 9.1 and play music in 2 channels. Most people in a double blind test would not be able to tell if 2 channel only gear is justifiable in terms of auditory improvement. Sure you can get a 2 ch only gear if that satisfies your emotional needs, pride of ownership, me too or mine is better mind set - if that suits you.
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post #14 of 30 Old 06-14-2007, 12:04 PM
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A while back I decided to go with two separate systems. I have my own two channel system for just that. I don't bother with multichannel surround music. Give me two speakers that do their job well at music.

XBox - Shizelbs

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post #15 of 30 Old 06-14-2007, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swwg View Post

I embrace 5.1 since the equipment can also play 2 channels. I know all the advertising about 2 ch only system being superior but those are more qualitative than quantitative. The judgement of 2 ch only gear being superior is often clouded by personal preference, pride of ownership, subliminal inclination to treat price as an indicator of quality, community consensus overriding real auditory benefit, perception being confused with reality, and the list goes on and on. Thus the double blind testing was developed to rid of all non auditory factors.

You can get good 5.1 gear and you can also get good 2 channel only gear. Knowing what to get can be hard. Therefore, an online community such as this can be very helpful. However, while one may get support from each other through any avs forum, one would still need to separate facts from fiction, reality from perception - still not an easy task. In the end, we yield to consensus, and we hear what we want to hear, to justify a purchase.

Get a 5.1 or 7.1 or 9.1 and play music in 2 channels. Most people in a double blind test would not be able to tell if 2 channel only gear is justifiable in terms of auditory improvement. Sure you can get a 2 ch only gear if that satisfies your emotional needs, pride of ownership, me too or mine is better mind set - if that suits you.

I've never encountered places/people that said 2ch gear is superior to multi-channel gear. Or at least people who knew what they were talking about. There's excellent multichannel preamp/prepros and universal players (I use one for 2ch). And how can you go wrong with multiple monoblocks? And there's nothing keeping anybody from using multiple 2ch preamps for mch setups.

larry

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -- Thomas Alva Edison
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post #16 of 30 Old 06-14-2007, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

I've never encountered places/people that said 2ch gear is superior to multi-channel gear. Or at least people who knew what they were talking about. There's excellent multichannel preamp/prepros and universal players (I use one for 2ch). And how can you go wrong with multiple monoblocks? And there's nothing keeping anybody from using multiple 2ch preamps for mch setups.

larry

Oh by the way, I need to add one more sentence: No one will deny anyone the joy of purchasing and the joy of AV ownership. No one will deny anyone the joy of posting in avsforum. Holy macaroni!! You are almost at 10,000 posts.
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post #17 of 30 Old 06-15-2007, 05:36 AM
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Nick:
I do not think it is the equipment that is the issue here (although that may be an issue for some folks). I think there is some confusion between the analog/digital debate with the 2-channel versus 5.1-channel debate. These both have to do with the recording and reproduction of music (and other sounds) and what happens between the recording and playback. I certainly can't speak for all but I think I can clarify the issues in my case.

The room that your equimpent is set up in is the single most significant factor in how your system sounds. Second is the way the equipment is positionned and the room treatment employed to maximize the effectiveness of that equipment. Leaving aside the source signal, the requirements for multichannel are much more complicated than for 2-channel as a function of the number of speakers and the listening position. The sheer number of variables that can positively or negatively effect the sound in a multi-channel setup is problematic. A great deal is known about 2-channel recording, mixing and playback including speaker positionning, room treatments and equalization to maximize the accuracy of what the listener perceives. However, we cannot say the same for real-world (i.e., NOT Gary Reber's "Holosonic Home Theater Lab" for Widescreen Review) application of multichannel because it is still evolving and has only become popular enough to generate a mass audience in the last few years. So, it is easier to establish a reliable 2-channel system and, because we have been doing it for much, much longer than multichannel, the guidance available is less controversial than with multichannel.

On the source side, there are certainly attempts to establish standards for multichannel mixing, channel levels, etc. for movies to be used in home theaters but there is also a great deal of variance in the multichannel recordings available to the consumer. No single standard exists. On the multichannel music side, there are also a variety of different approaches which make different demands on the room and the associated equipment. If the sonic variables change from one recording to the next then it is difficult if not impossible to choose equipment (not all multichannel equipment is effective reproducing 2-channel sources), position the equipment and treat the room for all possible multichannel sources.

I am certainly not advocating $20K turntables or five figure preamps or any of the myriad snake oil treatments that are valid topics in the rabid analog 2-channel world. However, I can tell the difference between a $1K HT in a box and a $10K 2-channel system in terms of what sounds good to me IF THE EQUIPMENT HAS BEEN SET UP IN A FASHION TO MAXIMIZE ROOM EFFECTS (or is in the same room so that the interaction between equipment and the room is equal for both systems). This means that a properly setup HT in a box can sound better than a poorly setup 2-channel system. So equipment does make a difference. There is also the question of what we can afford. I can probably tell the difference between a set of $2k speakers and a set of $40K speakers but I will not spend $40K on a set of speakers (diminishing returns and all that).

I have been able over time to assemble an HT system with reasonable quality equipment and with reasonable integration into the room which provides a movie experience that I enjoy, my wife enjoys and many others who have watched movies in have lauded as outstanding (they could, of course, simply be trying to spare my feelings). That same system for music is nowhere near as effective for music as my 2-channel system upstairs in the living room. Guests have said that they wanted to listen to a music recording and go to the living room system without prompting from me. (One possible influence here is that I am a musician and most of my guests are musicians and when we play music at my house we do it in the living room). I have already described the equipment in this system (posted above) and there isn't a single multi$K piece of equipment in it (speakers notwithstanding). I did, however, spend a lot of time positionning the speakers and dealing with the room to get the best sound. I have spent far more time and money on the HT system but it still doesn't do as good a job with music...

So, can a HT system reproduce sound as well as a 2-channel? Of course, depending on appropriate efforts to balance all the myriad variables associated with room effects, equipment, playback parameters for whatever mixing has been done with the source material.

Can equipment designed for multichannel applications do as good a job on 2-channel material as equipment designed for 2-channel? Yes, of course, IF YOU WANT TO PAY FOR IT.

What I found was that I could do a better job for less money by separating my HT from my music reproduction. YMMV.

mnilan
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post #18 of 30 Old 06-15-2007, 10:22 AM
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6-months ago i ditched my 5.1 setup in favor of 2-channel, and i couldn't be happier:

1) music is my priority.

2) the types of movies i watch lose very little by being downmixed to 2-channel. my priorities in movies are stories and cinematography, not explosions and special effects.

3) less fiddly.

4) i can put my money toward better gear (and more music!).

music is the best.
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post #19 of 30 Old 06-15-2007, 04:02 PM
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I am not going to ditch ht but 2 channel is more important to me. I just bought a mcintosh mc252 to run my main left/right speakers. I am using my yamaha ht reciever to run the other speakers for now, I plan on getting a pre/pro and another amp. I am using definitive technology bp7001sc'c for my main l/r. They get knocked for music but I dont get it. Mine sound incredible to me. Of course I took the time to set them up properly which makes a difference.

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post #20 of 30 Old 06-15-2007, 04:30 PM
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I have not ditched 5.1 for 2-channel, and I probably won't. Watching video concerts in surround is usually more fun and involving than closing my eyes and listening to 2-channel. Same reason why I'd rather be at a live jazz concert than sitting at home listening to hifi.

I like having both a 2-channel and multichannel setup in the same room. For me, it's a less expensive compromise to having two dedicated rooms. Simpler is better...

- Steve O.
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post #21 of 30 Old 06-16-2007, 07:03 AM
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I wouldn't ever ditch 5.1 for 2 ch but try and push people to go 2ch instead of 5.1. It is a lot easier to get a nice 2ch system then 5.1 on a budget. All the time I have friends and acquaintances asking what they should get for surround sound for $500, $1000, or sometimes $2000. For $500 you can get a nice little stereo, or a mediocre HT. Once you start hitting the $1000+ range it is easier, but still even at $5000 you could get a really nice 2ch system, or a good HT.

In the end I intermingled, the speakers are setup for 2ch and I have separate systems. The amp and speakers are shared but the 2ch rig has its own cdp and pre.

Jared
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post #22 of 30 Old 06-16-2007, 04:35 PM
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As I read, there are many reasons to buy a separate 2 channels gear versus using only 2 channels of HT gear. Many receivers have "Direct Mode", "Pure Direct Mode", "Pure Analog Mode". One can reason that the "Pure Direct Mode" is the equivalent of a separate 2 channel gear, in function if not in form.

Whereas the basic aim is sound quailty, many factors come into play when one makes an intelligent purchase, be it maximum bang for the bucks or best sound quality regardless of price, or anything in between. It is not too difficult to come to the conclusion that it is really not all about sound quality. Even in the case of "price no object" purchases, it is easy to see that purchases are not based on sound quality alone. We are all too easily influenced by everything around us, and there are too many to name.
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post #23 of 30 Old 06-16-2007, 05:38 PM
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I went the opposite way. Dumped the stereo system and the 5.1 setup absorbed the cash. (I do get the simplicity and elogance of a nice 2.1 system though.)

I just wish multichannel SACD and DVD-A took off, and I could replace the cd collection in it's entirety.
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post #24 of 30 Old 06-18-2007, 07:16 AM
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I could never ditch the 5.1 or 7.1 ... My mains cannot produce 12hz or 16hz at audible (more of a "feel") levels for movies.

2.0 direct stereo for critical listening of music or if I am sitting down. 7 channel stereo when I am cleaning, cooking, working, around the house.

I need both and if I had the money / space I would have separate setups for both (music and movies).
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post #25 of 30 Old 06-18-2007, 06:24 PM
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I once listened to all my music via Dolby PLII (M) thinking that more channels resulted in a better experience. I later realised that decent quality mains produced a far more coherent and detailed sound-stage with 2-channel recordings. I can't imagine going back to surround for 2-channel recordings.

Many audio n00bs believe more speakers equals more/better sound, hell, the "music everywhere" sales pitch is ubiquitous. That's probably one reason many don't bother with good mains, instead opting for lower grade multi-channel setups.

Better to start with good mains and add in the rest (centre, surrounds, sub) when the budget allows, though this is probably rarely done.

As an aside I would never ditch surround for film, not only for big action scenes but for the added immersion that ambient effects offer (think Master & Commander or the U-571 for example).

My 2c.
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post #26 of 30 Old 06-19-2007, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eRav3r View Post

Many audio n00bs believe more speakers equals more/better sound, hell, the "music everywhere" sales pitch is ubiquitous. That's probably one reason many don't bother with good mains, instead opting for lower grade multi-channel setups.

Better to start with good mains and add in the rest (centre, surrounds, sub) when the budget allows, though this is probably rarely done.My 2c.

Well said. I too was guilty of this for many years. I'd have "X" dollars to spend, my thinking was to buy 5 new speakers.

However, recently I was in a position to spend around 6k, but this time I decided to invest the money into a pair of full range towers. I would have never imagined their would have been such a drastic improvement in what I hear while listening to two channel music. I expected and hoped for a subtle, noticeable difference. But a "holy crap", while shaking my head and chuckling to myself, I didn't expect.

Mark

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." - - Stephen Roberts
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post #27 of 30 Old 06-20-2007, 06:02 AM
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I very much enjoy HT in 7.1. However, for music listening give me my two-channel. Where I differ from some others is that I prefer using monitors and a sub(s) for two-channel over floorstanders. (or floorstanders with subs) I've been a "sub guy" since before HT started to take off. I prefer to be able to place the mains where they image best, and be able to place the subs where they sound best . . . it is important to have a low enough crossover point to do this seamlessly, and yes you have to have great sub(s), not just ones that shake the room.

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post #28 of 30 Old 06-20-2007, 07:36 AM
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I, too was bothered by this at first with a 50" screen in between my mains. However, I found a very acceptable solution - I built a sound absorption panel that I put in front of the TV when listening to music. It is comprised of 4" thick OC703 in a wooden frame. Makes a huge difference as the sound isn't bouncing right off of that TV screen anymore. I also moved my mains forward of the screen and toed them in, giving a very satisfying 2 channel sound stage.

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Originally Posted by mnilan View Post

I was unable to get two channel music to sound quite right in my HT - primarily because of the 50" DLP display between my front L and R speakers. I eventually gave up and set up a separate 2-channel in another room (I am fortunate to have the space 8^) and now life is (almost) good.

I must admit however that I am not completely satisfied with multi-channel SACDs or DVD-Audio discs in the HT room. When there is a movie going the HT is great but when I put on multi-channel music (and there are no visuals to distract me), I can hear all kinds of issues that simply don't come into play when watching movies. So, I listen to music in the 2-channel "music room."

PLUS, this way, I don't have to choose sides between 5.1 and 2-channel!

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post #29 of 30 Old 06-20-2007, 07:45 AM
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My stereo material I listen to in stereo. My 5.1 music/movies I listen to in 5.1. The 5.1 mixes of music I have in stereo are usually far more enveloping.

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post #30 of 30 Old 06-25-2007, 01:19 PM
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I love how 2ch sounds in my HT and never use processing like PLIIx. Whenever I add a new piece of equipment and recalibrate, I always start with getting my 2ch sound as good as possible and then work my multi-channel rig around that. My HT also gave me a real appreciation of what a good sub/s and accurate bass response can do for 2ch which flies against a lot of "purist" tastes.
I'd never ditch my multichannel rig for exclusive 2ch, because I really have become a huge fan of live concert DVD's. 2ch just can't quite capture the ambience and size of the venues the way that multi channnel does. The quality of the recordings is also getting extremely good and I'll never get tired of watching something like Buddy Guys' intoxicating smile as he lays down a blues riff......
As far as movies go it's a slam dunk 7.1 & BIG screen the only way to go!!
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