Steve Guttenberg asks if surround sound for music and home theater is on its way out? - AVS Forum
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Old 02-10-2014, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57618566-47/is-surround-sound-for-music-and-home-theater-on-its-way-out/


My opinion:
Maybe for music...
No way for movies...

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Old 02-10-2014, 10:15 AM
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Ah...what does he know? Dude hasn't had a hit movie in ages.

Stephen.

Chances are very good that I was drinking when I posted the above.

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Old 02-10-2014, 11:33 AM
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Ah...what does he know? Dude hasn't had a hit movie in ages.

And has not aged well by his pic...

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Old 02-10-2014, 11:34 AM
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When you look at how happy people are watching tv programs on a tablet or listening to music with $300 Dr Dre Pill speakers I think high quality audio and video are definitely becoming endangered.
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Old 02-10-2014, 11:42 AM
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Steve Guttenberg, the expert, doesn't know what he is talking or writing about. PLIIX or PLIIZ?
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sb1 View Post

Ah...what does he know? Dude hasn't had a hit movie in ages.

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Originally Posted by GoCaboNow View Post

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Originally Posted by sb1 View Post

Ah...what does he know? Dude hasn't had a hit movie in ages.

And has not aged well by his pic...
No kiddin'! He looks like a completely different person. tongue.gif

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Old 02-10-2014, 02:37 PM
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Surround sound has always been a gimmick just like 3d. They are crutches for poor filmmakers to immerse us in technology rather than a good story.

This is pure rubbish. By your reasoning, they only way to tell a story is through literature. All of cinema must be a gimmick. Colour, stereo sound, slow motion, foley.

Placing you within the world on screen and enveloping you in an experience is the goal.

Do you think The Lord Of The Rings or Jurassic Park were relying on the surround sound for audiences to enjoy the films? No, the use of surround sound simply enhanced the experience.

All of these gimmicks, as you call them, are simply tools. It all comes down to how these tools are utilized.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:41 PM
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Surround sound for music was never fully in (as far as albums go), so not sure how it could be on it's way out. SACD, DVD-A and blu ray audio was always a niche type product. I wish they would have taken off as I am a fan. frown.gif I just bought 2 DVD-A discs in the past 2 weeks that I had to pay an arm and a leg for as they have been out of production for years (of course I just found out about them a few weeks ago.... mad.gif ) which is a shame.

As far as surround sound for movies on it's way out??? That is crazy talk. I heard color is on it's way out as well. rolleyes.gif

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Old 02-10-2014, 03:19 PM
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Surround sound has always been a gimmick just like 3d. They are crutches for poor filmmakers to immerse us in technology rather than a good story.

Say what? Surround sound is far more than a gimmick; it's essential for a movie soundtrack to envelop you in a soundtrack where it may be entirely appropriate to a "good story" to localize sound effects coming from beside or behind you.
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Old 02-10-2014, 03:25 PM
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I enjoy SACD's and DVD-A's. The effectiveness of multichannel soundtracks depends on the artistry and skill of the sound mixer. Some can be very good, others not so much. But what Steve fails to mention in his article is that hi-rez discs also have an enhanced 2 channel track that's sampled at a higher rate than redbook CD. The higher the sampling rate, the closer to the original analog sine curve - and thus the original master tape recording - you can get. There's no question the high resolution stereo tracks on these discs sound better than the CD version, at least to me.
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Old 02-10-2014, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by benes View Post

I've never felt I was missing anything when I watch a movie or a multichannel album in stereo. The same cannot be said for watching a color movie in black and white.

Surround sound adds nothing to the experience other than the distracting gimmick of "oh look theres a sound behind me now". Its the aural equivalent of gratuitous pop-out 3d.


Interesting. I disagree with that entirely.
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Old 02-10-2014, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by archiguy View Post

I enjoy SACD's and DVD-A's. The effectiveness of multichannel soundtracks depends on the artistry and skill of the sound mixer. Some can be very good, others not so much. But what Steve fails to mention in his article is that hi-rez discs also have an enhanced 2 channel track that's sampled at a higher rate than redbook CD. The higher the sampling rate, the closer to the original analog sine curve - and thus the original master tape recording - you can get. There's no question the high resolution stereo tracks on these discs sound better than the CD version, at least to me.
It's nuts to say high rez audio aren't superior to standard CDs.
Hi rez stereo tracks can be incredible.

It's also nuts to say a surround track cannot exceed the depth of mono or stereo or provide a more immersive experience for viewers.
Of course, I am assuming competent mixers are involved and not dullards.

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Old 02-10-2014, 04:54 PM
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Interesting. I disagree with that entirely.

Of course. But how someones set up is compared to yours - who knows? I have been in family room setups where the surround speakers just don't feel connected to the rest of the sound track. Instead of being immersed in directional sounds, and action, it is like what's that noise over there? Others, they can't play the track loud enough to really let the surround sound envelope the viewer. Don't want to wake the kids, annoy the wife, annoy the neighbors, annoy their Mom upstairs. One of my buddies got a soundbar and wireless sub unit for his flat screen on the wall. He said he LOVES IT and is better than a theater because it is not so loud. I asked why he does not use the wireless subwoofer that came with it and he said it is too loud and he does not like it and does not want to annoy his neighbors. So, no surrounds, no .1 channel and he likes it much better than a commercial theater. As long as he is happy...tongue.gif

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Old 02-10-2014, 05:17 PM
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Complacency of "it's good enough" really bothers me. "We can see the universe through telescopes so there's no point in going into space." Imagine where we would be if we stuck to that kind of thinking.

In real life, sound is not happening only in front of us. It is three dimensional. This is why Dolby Atmos was created - To recreate the world of sound within the film. I love that in Gravity we feel as if we are in space with the astronauts because their voices are placed where they are coming from. Does this make the core story better? No. Does it enhance the experience drawing me into the story more? Yes it does.

GoCaboNow, you make a great point about poorly setup and equipped home theatres.

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Old 02-10-2014, 05:40 PM
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Vintage gear is in vogue now, maybe that is part of the reason for that statement? Whatever, surround at home ain't going away, period. So long as there is money to be made that is.

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Old 02-10-2014, 05:52 PM
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by benes View Post

I've never felt I was missing anything when I watch a movie or a multichannel album in stereo. The same cannot be said for watching a color movie in black and white.

Surround sound adds nothing to the experience other than the distracting gimmick of "oh look theres a sound behind me now". Its the aural equivalent of gratuitous pop-out 3d.


stereo is just a distracting gimmick of "oh look there's a sound on the left, and check out what's coming from the right!" ..... Mono FTW! wink.gif

Did you know that classical composers, even back to the baroque era with Vivaldi and actually quite a few others even before, have tried repeatedly to create a "surround" experience, which is why we have pieces written for double choir, or even quadruple, and they were meant to perform so that the audience would felt literally surrounded by the music?

Stereo for that matter, has nothing to do with the real world at all, we constantly live in a "surround" space so to speak. The problem I have with 3D is that it's still an illusion on a 2D screen, while surround sound is really the opposite (and no I'm not talking about Dolby Pro-Logic tongue.gif )
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:45 PM
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its just consumer negligence. how often have you gone into a home and all 5 speakers are sitting on the tv stand because running wires would be "too difficult?"

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Old 02-10-2014, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by GoCaboNow View Post

Of course. But how someones set up is compared to yours - who knows? I have been in family room setups where the surround speakers just don't feel connected to the rest of the sound track. Instead of being immersed in directional sounds, and action, it is like what's that noise over there? Others, they can't play the track loud enough to really let the surround sound envelope the viewer. Don't want to wake the kids, annoy the wife, annoy the neighbors, annoy their Mom upstairs. One of my buddies got a soundbar and wireless sub unit for his flat screen on the wall. He said he LOVES IT and is better than a theater because it is not so loud. I asked why he does not use the wireless subwoofer that came with it and he said it is too loud and he does not like it and does not want to annoy his neighbors. So, no surrounds, no .1 channel and he likes it much better than a commercial theater. As long as he is happy...tongue.gif


Good points Cabo and the poster must have only experienced poor setups. I just cant understand how anyone would claim a properly setup quality sound system adds "nothing" to the experience. Obviously we could bring up countless movies where the audio really brings the experience to an entirely new level.......I think about something like Captain Phillips where it feels eerily real as far as being on the ship with that constant low bass rumble pulsating my riser/couch combined with the fantastic ambiance in the rears, it really pulls you so much further into the film vs just watching it in stereo. We could throw around examples forever......


Like you say though, as long as he is happy what do I care. smile.gif

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Old 02-10-2014, 09:05 PM
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Good points Cabo and the poster must have only experienced poor setups. I just cant understand how anyone would claim a properly setup quality sound system adds "nothing" to the experience. Obviously we could bring up countless movies where the audio really brings the experience to an entirely new level.......I think about something like Captain Phillips where it feels eerily real as far as being on the ship with that constant low bass rumble pulsating my riser/couch combined with the fantastic ambiance in the rears, it really pulls you so much further into the film vs just watching it in stereo. We could throw around examples forever......


Like you say though, as long as he is happy what do I care. smile.gif

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Old 02-10-2014, 10:01 PM
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Seems like there are lots of trendings in the wrong direction.

1. Just now getting out of a decade where discretionary income was at a minimum, so fun toys like home theaters were probably off the RADAR screens of the bulk of people.
2. People who think that Apple invented the world, and anything they didn't make isn't worth bothering with, who may have never heard anything but an MP3, who probably never stimulated either the music or movie industries by actually paying for their products.
3. A whole generation of kids who grew up during #1 and #2 above, and live in a world of tablets, phones, social media, clouds, and imaginary online friends.
4. The general decline of the music industry for various reasons, theft, vast influx of digital production tools, over-supply, general decline in interest in musical prowess, etc... Why create higher resolution music for almost everyone who listens to it to steal it in low resolution form?
5. Having moved from the Me Generation to The Me Publishing Everything About Me Every Hour generation. Who has time to move the dial from the Me Channel?
6. An ever-shrinking attention span that probably makes watching a movie some sort of exercise in self-control, when they really just want to check their page to see if anyone has reacted to whatever they published about themselves since the movie started.

I'm sure there are some more I'm forgetting. Probably the ever increasing tendency towards remakes and reboots and rehashes isn't helping either. Though, maybe that's exactly what appeals to people who suffer from all of the above, I dunno.


Anyhoo, re some of the discussion above, I will say that the biggest thing I noticed now when I go back and watch an older movie is not now much visually things have changed. Photography has been well developed for quite a while and plenty of them look quite nice. But sound design has utterly changed since then, and sometimes I'm just completely distracted by the really horrible sound design limitations that existed in back in the day, particularly for lower budget stuff.

Of course these days it may just as likely be the opposite problem of, as usual, the digital surfeit of options that they can't leave alone. Digital means no limitations, and sometimes a lack of limitations isn't necessarily the best thing for creativity and conciseness.

Wait, I just forgot everything I typed above. What was I talking about? Oh well, I deny it all just in case.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:10 AM
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Did you know that classical composers, even back to the baroque era with Vivaldi and actually quite a few others even before, have tried repeatedly to create a "surround" experience, which is why we have pieces written for double choir, or even quadruple, and they were meant to perform so that the audience would felt literally surrounded by the music?
I just hate it when you point to historical facts to make your point....

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Seems like there are lots of trendings in the wrong direction.

1. Just now getting out of a decade where discretionary income was at a minimum, so fun toys like home theaters were probably off the RADAR screens of the bulk of people.
2. People who think that Apple invented the world, and anything they didn't make isn't worth bothering with, who may have never heard anything but an MP3, who probably never stimulated either the music or movie industries by actually paying for their products.
3. A whole generation of kids who grew up during #1 and #2 above, and live in a world of tablets, phones, social media, clouds, and imaginary online friends.
4. The general decline of the music industry for various reasons, theft, vast influx of digital production tools, over-supply, general decline in interest in musical prowess, etc... Why create higher resolution music for almost everyone who listens to it to steal it in low resolution form?
5. Having moved from the Me Generation to The Me Publishing Everything About Me Every Hour generation. Who has time to move the dial from the Me Channel?
6. An ever-shrinking attention span that probably makes watching a movie some sort of exercise in self-control, when they really just want to check their page to see if anyone has reacted to whatever they published about themselves since the movie started.

I'm sure there are some more I'm forgetting. Probably the ever increasing tendency towards remakes and reboots and rehashes isn't helping either. Though, maybe that's exactly what appeals to people who suffer from all of the above, I dunno.


Anyhoo, re some of the discussion above, I will say that the biggest thing I noticed now when I go back and watch an older movie is not now much visually things have changed. Photography has been well developed for quite a while and plenty of them look quite nice. But sound design has utterly changed since then, and sometimes I'm just completely distracted by the really horrible sound design limitations that existed in back in the day, particularly for lower budget stuff.

Of course these days it may just as likely be the opposite problem of, as usual, the digital surfeit of options that they can't leave alone. Digital means no limitations, and sometimes a lack of limitations isn't necessarily the best thing for creativity and conciseness.

Wait, I just forgot everything I typed above. What was I talking about? Oh well, I deny it all just in case.
GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!!!!tongue.gif

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You're right. And I'm not being facetious here. Whenever I hear an instrument coming out of one side it only draws me out of the music. You don't need multiple speakers to create immersion any more than you need multiple screens to do so.

I recently watched the Mad x4 World Blu-ray and found it extremely distracting when the dialogue was positioned exactly where the person was standing on screen. If someone was standing on the right half of the screen the sound only came out of the right speaker. All this did was remind me I was watching a movie on a multichannel setup rather than immerse me in any way.

And when did this become about the "real world"? Movies aren't about replicating reality. If they were they would all be limited to real-time stories from a single 2 hour POV shot with constant saccade movements and no background music. Well unless the character was wearing his iPod. wink.gif

Movies are about telling a story. Better technology can help you tell a better story, but only up to a certain point. The addition of color was a huge step forward as it literally gave you a whole new palette to paint with. As did the addition of sound itself.

But one channel wasn't good enough so we put 2. But that wasn't good enough so we put 4. But that wasn't good enough so we put 5.1. But that wasn't good enough so we put 7.1. Then 9.1. Then 11.1. Then 22.2. Now we're up to 128. Where does it end? All this is companies trying to sell new products no one asked for. That is the very definition of gimmick. It's like printing a novel with colored text. Its completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the experience.

On the visual side of things there has been no fundamental change to the experience since color. The one change they've been trying to force on people has been largely rejected. The only reason no one complains about surround sound in theaters is because it comes automatically without any real disadvantage and doesn't require anything on the audience's behalf.

I'm all for improving quality. Higher resolution video and higher fidelity audio. I watch everything on a 5.1 setup and I'm not saying its wrong to do so anymore than its wrong for someone to want to watch 3d. But they are still gimmicks.
To be succinct and technical about it, AV reproduction of ANY type is a "gimmick."

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Old 02-11-2014, 12:27 AM
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True. But you could say that about anything. Tasty food is a gimmick since we could get all our nutrients from a series of pills.
Agreed.

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Old 02-11-2014, 06:36 AM
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5. Having moved from the Me Generation to The Me Publishing Everything About Me Every Hour generation. Who has time to move the dial from the Me Channel?
Nicely put, and so true!

Surround sound is a must for movies! For just music - it doesn't do much for me.

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Old 02-11-2014, 09:41 AM
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its just consumer negligence. how often have you gone into a home and all 5 speakers are sitting on the tv stand because running wires would be "too difficult?"
My MIL's home has this exact setup, a Yamaha HTIB with the rear surround speakers sitting on the console right next to the left and right front speakers. Another house is far worse however, some friends of mine have their TV wall mounted on an extendable swivel type mount in a corner. The left, right, and center speakers are mounted on the wall adjacent to the TV; that is, the left speaker is to the right of the TV, the right speaker is 5' or so further to the right, and the center is in between and a few feet above. It's completely ridiculous.

I shamefully admit that 6+ years now after moving I never have run the wires and mounted the rear surround speakers for our system. They're in a closet though, waiting for the day when I finally get around to it.

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Old 02-11-2014, 09:44 AM
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I shamefully admit that 6+ years now after moving I never have run the wires and mounted the rear surround speakers for our system. They're in a closet though, waiting for the day when I finally get around to it.

jeff

Well, at least you have them stashed away in a closet where they can do no harm. Someday, when you finally mount and connect them properly, a wonderful new world of surround sound awaits you. It will be like Dorothy walking out into a technicolor Oz. smile.gif
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:02 AM
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You're right. And I'm not being facetious here. Whenever I hear an instrument coming out of one side it only draws me out of the music. You don't need multiple speakers to create immersion any more than you need multiple screens to do so.
 

I guess you don't spend much time at live concerts. At a classical music concert, the violins are on the left and the cellos are on the right. At a rock concert, if the keyboard is on the left and the drums are on the right, why would you want all your sound in the middle?

I've heard many times that the best seat in the house for a classical concert isn't a seat at all - it's the conductor's podium. Now THAT'S surround sound!

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:13 AM
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Surround sound mixed so seamless that you don't notice the effect is not a gimmick. But overused its a gimmick.

Sound effects enhances the story, not the other way around.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by benes View Post

But one channel wasn't good enough so we put 2. But that wasn't good enough so we put 4. But that wasn't good enough so we put 5.1. But that wasn't good enough so we put 7.1. Then 9.1. Then 11.1. Then 22.2. Now we're up to 128. Where does it end? All this is companies trying to sell new products no one asked for. That is the very definition of gimmick. It's like printing a novel with colored text. Its completely unnecessary and adds nothing to the experience.

Are you implying that we should still ride horses and stuff? Cause no one asked for cars in the first place.

Of course one channel wasn't "good enough", neither was 2, etc. The goal is to give a "larger-than-life" spectacle, not to watch a documentary about how snails are sexually aroused in 4:3 mono.

One of the many purposes of a movie is to tell a fictional story in a somewhat tangible environment, both visual and aural. A tangible (I'm deliberately avoiding the word "real" here) environment involves a complex soundscape and that wasn't possible up until technology could make it possible. I couldn't care less about surround when I watch the news, but a movie is an entirely different experience.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Morpheo View Post

stereo is just a distracting gimmick of "oh look there's a sound on the left, and check out what's coming from the right!" ..... Mono FTW! wink.gif

Did you know that classical composers, even back to the baroque era with Vivaldi and actually quite a few others even before, have tried repeatedly to create a "surround" experience, which is why we have pieces written for double choir, or even quadruple, and they were meant to perform so that the audience would felt literally surrounded by the music?

Stereo for that matter, has nothing to do with the real world at all, we constantly live in a "surround" space so to speak. The problem I have with 3D is that it's still an illusion on a 2D screen, while surround sound is really the opposite (and no I'm not talking about Dolby Pro-Logic tongue.gif )

Just piggybacking your post here Morpheo.

IMO stereo is much more satisfying in three channels. There was quite a bit of three channel recorded on the old RCA living Stereo stuff. I believe three channels would be standard for stereo now but died for similar reasons as the latest multi channel die off. If you guys get a chance, spend a little time checking it out. Most receivers will have a Dolby option to go to 3.1.
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