2 channel Surround Sound - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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I've always had a 5.1 home set-up for all TV/Movie viewing in the living room. We had to temporarily move to smaller quarters while we did some house work, and instead of bringing all my speakers etc to the apartment, I just brought front L and R speakers along with my receiver and DVD player.

I've been pleasantly suprised at how typical 5.1 broadcasts and movies sound on just the 2 channel set-up and I'm wondering if I can live without the other channels until I have a dedicated theater type room. 2 channel music is what I care about most, but realistically the system is used for TV/Movies much more frequently.

My equipment:
Speakers: Dynaudio Focus 110's
Receiver: older H/K AVR-630
DVD: Oppo BDB-95
Amp: Emotiva UPA-500


I have my receiver set to only recognize the front and Left channels, and they are set to large.

My general questions:

-In this configuration, am I simply getting stereo sound from all multi-channel broadcasts/signal?

-If so, can I replace the 5.1 receiver with a good 2 channel integrated amp and get the same results?

-I would like to add my sub back into the mix when I set up in our regular house - does that change the above?

-What am I missing? I never felt that the rear channels added so much that I couldn't live without them, though I realize that I will lose quite a bit of effects, especially with movies.

I'd appreciate any thoughts and/or insights.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

In this configuration, am I simply getting stereo sound from all multi-channel broadcasts/signal?
Yes, the multi-channel signal is downmixed to 2 channels, so none of the content is discarded.
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If so, can I replace the 5.1 receiver with a good 2 channel integrated amp and get the same results?
Sure, most sat/cable TV boxes and disc players can send a 2-channel signal (analogue or digital) to an integrated amp.
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I would like to add my sub back into the mix when I set up in our regular house - does that change the above?
You can look for a 2-channel integrated amp or receiver that has bass management and a subwoofer output or, failing that, connect the sub via speaker wires to the integrated amp (and connect your speakers to the sub).
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What am I missing? I never felt that the rear channels added so much that I couldn't live without them, though I realize that I will lose quite a bit of effects, especially with movies.
If surround sound never added enough to your experience that you feel it is a must-have, then you're not missing anything. You already understand that you will lose the surround effect, but if that doesn't do much for you than don't worry about it.

BTW, why not continue to run your 2-speaker set-up using your current A/V receiver? The additional outputs (centre, surround, subwoofer) are already there, so if you change your mind in the future about using those connections, you're covered.

Sanjay
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, the multi-channel signal is downmixed to 2 channels, so none of the content is discarded.
Sure, most sat/cable TV boxes and disc players can send a 2-channel signal (analogue or digital) to an integrated amp.
You can look for a 2-channel integrated amp or receiver that has bass management and a subwoofer output or, failing that, connect the sub via speaker wires to the integrated amp (and connect your speakers to the sub).
If surround sound never added enough to your experience that you feel it is a must-have, then you're not missing anything. You already understand that you will lose the surround effect, but if that doesn't do much for you than don't worry about it.

BTW, why not continue to run your 2-speaker set-up using your current A/V receiver? The additional outputs (centre, surround, subwoofer) are already there, so if you change your mind in the future about using those connections, you're covered.

Thanks for the information! I want to replace the receiver for the sake of simplicity. It defaults to its proprietary surround mode and I have to manually change it to 2 channel everytime I change sources. There is a way to change the default, but this dumb receiver re-defaults to factory settings any time the power is cut, which frustrates me to no end.

Has anyone else out there jettisoned those other channels without much remorse? I find that the voices are imaged nicely, and sound is very good for everything that I've watched recently. Django Unchained being the ultimate test in my mind thus far.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 01:47 PM
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I want to replace the receiver for the sake of simplicity.
If you swap your Oppo BD-95 for their more recent BD-103 or BD-105, you can use it as a pre-amp, since it has two HDMI inputs (for your sat/cable TV and maybe game console). Since bass management and volume control are built in, you can connect the player directly to a stereo amp and you can add a subwoofer in the future. Talk about simplicity.

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post #5 of 14 Old 08-16-2013, 06:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

If you swap your Oppo BD-95 for their more recent BD-103 or BD-105, you can use it as a pre-amp, since it has two HDMI inputs (for your sat/cable TV and maybe game console). Since bass management and volume control are built in, you can connect the player directly to a stereo amp and you can add a subwoofer in the future. Talk about simplicity.

Now that is an interesting solution! I wish I had waited to get the DVD player so I wouldn't have to take the hit on the -95.

And babysitter friendly too!
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post


Thanks for the information! I want to replace the receiver for the sake of simplicity. It defaults to its proprietary surround mode and I have to manually change it to 2 channel everytime I change sources. There is a way to change the default, but this dumb receiver re-defaults to factory settings any time the power is cut, which frustrates me to no end.

That is pretty strange behavior. None of the last 3 receiver's I had did anything like that. I set them up, and they are that way the next time I turn the system on.
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Has anyone else out there jettisoned those other channels without much remorse?

The fact that a receiver is the centerpiece of the system, or that those other channels are there, isn't the problem.
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I find that the voices are imaged nicely, and sound is very good for everything that I've watched recently. Django Unchained being the ultimate test in my mind thus far.

That is what I have enjoyed with my last 2 AVRs,\ which are 5.1 and 7.1. The usual rule is that you turn off the speakers you don't have, and the surround signal gets sensibly routed to the rest.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 04:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Arnyk, my question about downsizing from 5 to 2 channels is more of a subjective question. I'm wondering if anyone has decided that stereo sound for their primary A/V system is an acceptable compromise in exchange for reduced equipment. Or are you saying that is your current configuration?

The receiver issue about re-defaulting is maddening. There may be a software update that could address the issue, but my computers don't have the connector required (the receiver is 10 years old). Plus if I commit to 2 channel, upgrading the preamp is appealing.

Thanks for the input!
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post #8 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 05:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

There is a way to change the default, but this dumb receiver re-defaults to factory settings any time the power is cut, which frustrates me to no end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

The receiver issue about re-defaulting is maddening. There may be a software update that could address the issue, but my computers don't have the connector required (the receiver is 10 years old). Plus if I commit to 2 channel, upgrading the preamp is appealing.

Stupid question, but have you just changed the surround modes to stereo/two channel or have you actually gone into the setup menu and shut down the superfluous speakers. Most multi-channel receivers I've come across allow you to turn off everything but the left and right fronts, and this would force the receiver into stereo all the time (because it would have no choice). If yours can't, then it's either broken or a very odd design.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 05:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

Arnyk, my question about downsizing from 5 to 2 channels is more of a subjective question. I'm wondering if anyone has decided that stereo sound for their primary A/V system is an acceptable compromise in exchange for reduced equipment. Or are you saying that is your current configuration?

My past configurataion was 2.1 and recently it was upgraded to 3.1. I find the upgrade to be rather strongly sonically advantageous. The music is imaged better and speech intelligibilty went up tremendously. The phantom center was pretty good but the speaker upgrades and a real center speaker made a big positive difference for both music and drama.
Quote:
The receiver issue about re-defaulting is maddening. There may be a software update that could address the issue, but my computers don't have the connector required (the receiver is 10 years old). Plus if I commit to 2 channel, upgrading the preamp is appealing.

Unless you are pinched for cash, getting a new AVR would solve a lot of problems.
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
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3.1 is an interesting option, that I haven't given tons of thought to. Part of my issue is space. The center would have to go on the mantel. Not a problem for me, but not a way to earn points with my wife. I'll give more thought to that.

Thanks again.
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

3.1 is an interesting option, that I haven't given tons of thought to. Part of my issue is space. The center would have to go on the mantel. Not a problem for me, but not a way to earn points with my wife. I'll give more thought to that.

Thanks again.

I ran 3.1 during the 1980s with 3 Ohm F speakers and a very robust 18" subwoofer. I ended up swearing off of speakers that lacked good directivity control, and ended up preferring more conventional speakers.

My current 3.1 system uses 3 Infinity Primus pc 351 center channel speakers for L, C, and R. They are not very tall and look pretty good stretched along a bookshelf. The PC 351s seem to avoid audible lobing and also have good directivity control and dynamic range.

A number of speaker manufacturers are billing some of their speakers as being for LCR applications. This carries both technical and WAF benefits if done right.
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post #12 of 14 Old 08-17-2013, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
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What receiver are you using?
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post #13 of 14 Old 08-18-2013, 05:35 AM
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What receiver are you using?

Denon AVR 1913.
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post #14 of 14 Old 08-18-2013, 06:30 AM
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I have two AV receivers. In the family room I have a whiz bang THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-92 that is about 8 years old. In the bedroom I use a modern bottom-of-the-line Pioneer VSX-522. My third Pioneer product is monster Elite A-30 integrated amp rated at 40 watts per channel for the exercise room. It is overkill for the application. I'm apparently a big fan of Pioneer products. I'm not sure why. Just a satisfied customer, I guess.
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