Is surround sound on its way out? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
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According to this boob, it is.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57618566-47/is-surround-sound-for-music-and-home-theater-on-its-way-out/
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post #2 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 09:07 AM
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Boob is right.

Now, he may be right that the average guy, and especially the average guy's average spouse, would prefer a soundbar to speakers all over the living room (but does he really think a soundbar is monaural?!). However, he doesn't seem to have learned anything about multichannel sound post-quadrophonic.

CNET has its uses. Guttenberg is definitely not one of them.

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post #3 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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He really seems to think that all the sound he hears naturally comes from in front of him. I wonder if he also thinks it comes from two point sources.

He also believes that after decades of surround sound, we have 'not much' to show for it. Subwoofers, bass management, room EQ DSP, DPLIIx ....nah, none of that had anything to do with surround sound.
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post #4 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

He also believes that after decades of surround sound, we have 'not much' to show for it. Subwoofers, bass management, room EQ DSP, DPLIIx ....nah, none of that had anything to do with surround sound.

I think he means material being released. Where are all those new SACD titles..? Where are those audio blu-ray discs that were promised a few years ago..?

99.9 % of music still comes as 2ch CDs or downloads.
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post #5 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 10:23 AM
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Discrete multi-channel music can't be "on its way out" since it was never "in".

I don't think Guttenberg's comments apply to movies, what with object-based audio (Dolby Atmos and DTS-UHD) heading to consumer gear in the near future.

BTW, this isn't the same Steve Guttenberg from the 'Police Academy' movies, is it?

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post #6 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 10:41 AM
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No, but he was good in Cocoon too. I will say that media is being consumed differently today.

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post #7 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Surround for music alone was always a niche. I've actually bought more surround music-only discs in the last 2 ys than in several years before that combined, thanks mainly to Steve Wilson being hired to re-mix so many old favorites in the last couple of years.

Surround sound for movies is standard on all releases, and can also be available on streamed content. So, no it's not on its way out.
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post #8 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 11:06 AM
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The analytical mistake is assuming the sound bars are replacing multichannel setups. They're not. They're replacing the built-in speakers from older, larger-cabinet TVs, because even people who don't much care about sound (e.g. my mother) find the sound quality of modern flat panel TVs very poor. (And that won't change, because there's just no volume in those cabinets for decent loudspeakers.)

True multichannel setups, with at least 3 speakers up front placed properly and decently placed surrounds, were and probably always will be fairly rare. The nice thing is, now that music is largely decoupled from media limits (remember that main reason "stereo" is 2-channel rather than the planned 3-channel is because the LP is a very primitive data storage medium) there's nothing stopping an artist from simultaneously releasing a track in surround, stereo downmix, compressed, etc. Sadly, few do so at this time. Perhaps that will change. IMO it takes one incredible new "record" to show the way, and we still don't have it. (Even though some adaptations, such as the REM ones on DVD-A or DSOTM or Wish You Were Here on SACD, are very good.)

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post #9 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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IIRC, the biggest selling surround music disc to date is....the Beatles' 'Love'. I don't know if any 'new' music will show the way, as surround is probably going to remain mainly a thing for the older/affluent in the near future...
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post #10 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

Discrete multi-channel music can't be "on its way out" since it was never "in".

I don't think Guttenberg's comments apply to movies, what with object-based audio (Dolby Atmos and DTS-UHD) heading to consumer gear in the near future.

BTW, this isn't the same Steve Guttenberg from the 'Police Academy' movies, is it?

I agree. I read Guttenberg as talking about surround music only. Movies and concerts are a different ball game. He id dead right about quad in the 70s. That was a huge flop. In 2050 our kids will look back and say "remember the 3D and 4K flop in the 20teens" biggrin.gif

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post #11 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

He id dead right about quad in the 70s. That was a huge flop.
But Guttenberg seems to be floating the notion that quad flopped because consumers didn't like surround sound rather than because of a format war between 3 incompatible matrix encode/decode schemes compounded by gimmicky/distracting mixes

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post #12 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 12:24 PM
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He talks a whole lot about surround for music (Which is generally correct), but somehow throws in the 'and movies' bit with zero backing.

About every single movie sold on DVD or BluRay has a 5.1 or better track. Most HD broadcasting carries 5.1. Practically every PS and Xbox game has surround sound. Sure, soundbars are an OK solution for rental apartment dwellers who are generally not allowed to pull wires inside the walls, but homeowners are not limited in that way. A few of my friends did living room renovations recently, and wiring the room for 5.1 was on the list. And there is no shortage of 5.1 HT systems on the market. Heck, there are even plenty of systems with wireless rears.

The guy might be right about music, but for movies, TV and gaming, surround is stronger than ever.
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post #13 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glimmie View Post

He id dead right about quad in the 70s. That was a huge flop.
But Guttenberg seems to be floating the notion that quad flopped because consumers didn't like surround sound rather than because of a format war between 3 incompatible matrix encode/decode schemes compounded by gimmicky/distracting mixes

I was there, and went to the demos, etc.

The matrix decoders were typified by plain vanilla SQ matrix decoding. One word: lame. This was well before Dolby Pro Logic was invented. The Prfo Logic in Dolby Pro Logic really helps. As is detailed below, center channel speakers were uncommon if present at all.

Hmmm, CD-4, anybody? The newly minted Shibata styluses were expensive, exotic, and wiped the ultrasonic carriers off of the CD-4 discs in about 10 playings or less.

The 4 channel open reel tapes actually worked well but released media was short on titles and the playback equipment was expensive. Many of the open reel 4-channel tapes were 3 3/4 ips which most agree underperforms cassette. Dolby B was yet to be invented.

One alternative was based on 8 track tape cartridges, which I will not detail except to say that the same technology was used in car audio and widely hated because of its lame performance and lack of reliability. Decks that congenitally ate tapes, anyone?

Most demos were composed of large floor standing speakers, one per corner. Each channel was played at or near the same level. Later on people realized that surround channels should not distract from the main sources.

There were many things wrong with the first roll out of surround audio. I never heard even just one attractive demo.
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post #14 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 12:35 PM
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If we ignore his rampant stupidity about the point of multichannel in general and where sound comes from in a concert hall, there's a germ of a coherent point there. The original idea was that people would by 5.1 systems for movies, and then want music software to play on the same system. To the extent that people find soundbars to be good enough for movies, that theory doesn't work and you get into the chicken-and-egg problem facing all new formats.

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post #15 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 01:01 PM
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Guttenberg says "fewer and fewer listeners have surround sound systems"...

I think that more and more people would have surround systems if the gear was more user friendly, affordable, and wireless. I hardly ever listen to CD's any more. I want to see and hear the performers on stage, in my living room, on my time, and at what volume I choose.

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post #16 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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He gives no data for that claim. It may well be true...but it may well be that 'fewer and fewer listeners' have what we would call home audio systems at all , anymore.

5.1 AVRs are cheap now. Loudspeakers can be cheap. Plenty of gear is already 'wireless' (though even 'wireless' means you need things plugged in to electrical wall sockets). Or you can plug your laptop into your AVRm with a single HDMI cable. I don't get your point about volume, that has always been at the user's command.

User friendly, well, that's the bane of home electronics technology generally.
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post #17 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Guttenberg says "fewer and fewer listeners have surround sound systems"...
Which is kinda silly. I doubt too many people who bought 5.1 systems have abandoned them. The problem is that relatively few people have bought 5.1 systems, and even those who have probably do most of their listening somewhere else.

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post #18 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

He gives no data for that claim. It may well be true...but it may well be that 'fewer and fewer listeners' have what we would call home audio systems at all , anymore.

5.1 AVRs are cheap now. Loudspeakers can be cheap. Plenty of gear is already 'wireless' (though even 'wireless' means you need things plugged in to electrical wall sockets). Or you can plug your laptop into your AVRm with a single HDMI cable. I don't get your point about volume, that has always been at the user's command.

User friendly, well, that's the bane of home electronics technology generally.

...I was also thinking in terms of configuring the gear so that anyone in the family can power on certain devices, choose a source, a format, a volume setting, and be able to find quick support/help when needed.

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post #19 of 34 Old 02-12-2014, 08:13 PM
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He did get the bit about Steven Wilson right. Then again The Beatles preferred mono releases, didn't they?

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post #20 of 34 Old 02-13-2014, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

If we ignore his rampant stupidity about the point of multichannel in general and where sound comes from in a concert hall, there's a germ of a coherent point there. The original idea was that people would by 5.1 systems for movies, and then want music software to play on the same system. To the extent that people find soundbars to be good enough for movies, that theory doesn't work and you get into the chicken-and-egg problem facing all new formats.

+1 on all counts.

Most people buy only one copy of a song, and will take the first format that they find which will usually be a CD or download.

I do a lot of personal listening and have a 10 GB 320k MP3 library I ripped from my own CDs.

My daughter and her husband have a fairly nice ca. $300 Sony soundbar as their high end listening tool. It kinda-sorta even has a subwoofer.

My second son and his family use a HTIB that can't reach average listening levels very cleanly, let alone reference levels.

Both of them do most of their listening with personal devices on the road or at work.
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post #21 of 34 Old 02-13-2014, 11:49 AM
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I think the "boob" makes a very realistic point. I don't think his article was targeted to the audiophile market, but the general consumer market. My observation is that many people can't really appreciate the difference, and it all comes down to the convenience factor overpowering the quality factor.

I know my wife hates "all the speakers", and would throw them out if she could. In this day and age where MP3 is the predominat music format, listened to with cheap earbuds, what else can we expect?

Let's face it, how may people that watch a Blu Ray (or even a DVD) actually have a surround system?

As to music formats, we then get into the economics of it all, how many people will spend $75 for an SACD or DVD-A versus $1.29 for an MP3 download?

When you consider prices, ease of set up and use, audio quality "value" the path of least resistance for the marketplace is sound bars, with "iDevice docks" and "status headphones". Small bluetooth speaker systems are being promoted as quality sound now.....

So, maybe the boob is right....

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #22 of 34 Old 02-13-2014, 01:21 PM
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Am I the only one that packs a 106" screen, projector and 5 speakers for a week long vacation? Assuming, of course, where I'm going has a 5.1 receiver? wink.gif

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I wonder what he'd think about 3D IMAX?
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post #23 of 34 Old 02-14-2014, 02:41 AM
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Am I the only one that packs a 106" screen, projector and 5 speakers for a week long vacation? Assuming, of course, where I'm going has a 5.1 receiver? wink.gif

Could be. When I'm on vacation I'm often in places that are 10's of miles from the nearest power line or cell phone tower, A Sansa Fuze , two pair of IEMs and some batteries go into the travel bag. Still trying to make solar work.
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post #24 of 34 Old 02-14-2014, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DS-21 View Post

The analytical mistake is assuming the sound bars are replacing multichannel setups. They're not. They're replacing the built-in speakers from older, larger-cabinet TVs, because even people who don't much care about sound (e.g. my mother) find the sound quality of modern flat panel TVs very poor. (And that won't change, because there's just no volume in those cabinets for decent loudspeakers.)

As the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they remain the same..", my consumer product prediction is that we will see a return to the "console TV", as we had in the "real old days". People are interested in the least inconvenience, and the modern set ups require too much thought and effort for the average person. So, the "console" will make a return in my prediction.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #25 of 34 Old 02-14-2014, 07:12 AM
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So, the "console" will make a return in my prediction.

I'll take that bet. No matter the time frame either. biggrin.gif

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post #26 of 34 Old 02-14-2014, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

As the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they remain the same..", my consumer product prediction is that we will see a return to the "console TV", as we had in the "real old days". People are interested in the least inconvenience, and the modern set ups require too much thought and effort for the average person. So, the "console" will make a return in my prediction.

A "console style" model--plus mike and 'smart' room acoustics correction software--might well appeal to households looking for a 'low impact' surround sound capable TV...?!

The 85" prototype|proof-of-concept|"roadshow" UHDTV from NHK pictured at this 2011 EBU demo (link) supposedly provides full surround sound playback from Hamasaki 22.2 channel audio input in rooms where installing 22 separate satellite speakers is impractical; instead, it uses 100+ small speaker units in a frame around all four sides of the display--plus some proprietary active-DSP|soundbar-style technology--to deliver "the same" playback soundfield to the audience.



Plus I'm guessing there might also have been a separate sub or two not visible in the photo!
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post #27 of 34 Old 02-14-2014, 11:30 AM
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Most people buy only one copy of a song, and will take the first format that they find which will usually be a CD or download.

It looks like the recent High Fidelity Pure Audio (HFPA) initiative--offering possible 2.0, 5.1, and 7.1 versions of the same content on one BD, packaged with an 'equivalent' CD or coupon good for a FLAC|mp3 download--is an attempt to create a pervasive 'buy once, get every version' consumer purchasing model.

We'll probably have to wait a year or two to see if this works for 'newly recorded, first release' material . . . but the current 'much higher than CD' pricing, and mixed messages about the target audience do not seem to auger well for future wide consumer acceptance and market penetration by this product.
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post #28 of 34 Old 02-16-2014, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

A "console style" model--plus mike and 'smart' room acoustics correction software--might well appeal to households looking for a 'low impact' surround sound capable TV...?!

The 85" prototype|proof-of-concept|"roadshow" UHDTV from NHK pictured at this 2011 EBU demo (link) supposedly provides full surround sound playback from Hamasaki 22.2 channel audio input in rooms where installing 22 separate satellite speakers is impractical; instead, it uses 100+ small speaker units in a frame around all four sides of the display--plus some proprietary active-DSP|soundbar-style technology--to deliver "the same" playback soundfield to the audience.



Plus I'm guessing there might also have been a separate sub or two not visible in the photo!
_

Any info on the review or feedback on the presentation? This is exactly what I was predicting....everything included, (speaker set up, acoustic check, etc). Of course the new consoles will likely be Bluetooth & Wi Fi with installed smart device connections.

I do wonder if they would include Blu Ray/DVD players.....as I feel these may be on their way out as well.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #29 of 34 Old 02-16-2014, 10:15 AM
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I do wonder if they would include Blu Ray/DVD players.....as I feel these may be on their way out as well.
Not until there is something as affordable and convenient to replace them with. There is not enough BW in most places in the world to do downloads especially for BR so that's not an alternative.
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post #30 of 34 Old 02-16-2014, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

A "console style" model--plus mike and 'smart' room acoustics correction software--might well appeal to households looking for a 'low impact' surround sound capable TV...?! The 85" prototype|proof-of-concept|"roadshow" UHDTV from NHK pictured at this 2011 EBU demo (link) supposedly provides full surround sound playback from Hamasaki 22.2 channel audio input in rooms where installing 22 separate satellite speakers is impractical; instead, it uses 100+ small speaker units in a frame around all four sides of the display--plus some proprietary active-DSP|soundbar-style technology--to deliver "the same" playback soundfield to the audience.

Plus I'm guessing there might also have been a separate sub or two not visible in the photo!

Any info on the review or feedback on the presentation? This is exactly what I was predicting....everything included, (speaker set up, acoustic check, etc). Of course the new consoles will likely be Bluetooth & Wi Fi with installed smart device connections. I do wonder if they would include Blu Ray/DVD players.....as I feel these may be on their way out as well.

The current NHK-STRL "SHV sound transmission and reproduction" webpage (link) just indicates that--as of end 2012 (i.e., latest Annual Report)--research into Loudspeaker Array Frame (LAF) reproduction of 22.2 audio is "ongoing".
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