Originally Posted by TorTorden
To me it mostly comes down to mixing and masters as always.
I therefore prefer mostly 2 channel music, since many 'conversions' barely sound any better than Dolby DSP on the stereo track or often just using the extra speakers to blast up the volum, costing what little perspective and depth I have.
It also sets some extra criteria to your systems calibration, I have in many cases heard setups that are just awesome for movies since the surrounds plays mostly different sounds than the rest of the system, with many surround mixes they just blast everything through anything and if you move an inch out of sweet spot the timing between channels fall off.
Now of course there are many many exceptions to this, the 5.1 surround mix of Dark side of the moon for example or pretty much any concert blueray benefit greatly from having surround.
In summary, providing it is done right I love it, if not give me stereo.
I agree, if the mixing has been done well, the experience is enhanced. If done badly then the experience will also be bad. For me, either stage or audience perspective can work. But, classical only works from a normal audience PoV (unless you like the disorienting feeling of violins screaming in your left ear while viola and bass thump and groan in your right. This is assuming you are sitting just in front of the conductor. It gets worse if you are sitting amongst the woodwind players.
With rock and pop forms it can work from either of the seats. But again, mixing is the key and would have to be a very central-ear bias, building volume and emphasis from the centre out, which is not the usual mix you hear in stereo. A multichannel mix cannot be stereo compatible, it would too hard and too weird. The multi's I like are from an audience seat, central in the hall, like I do in a cinema, say a dozen rows from the stage, but with movie-style surrounds, specifically designed with and for the music. Surround ambient mixes sound and feel great when done right.
The alternative is for to have a mix like was done for Alan Parson's Air album (4 channel), a little gimmicky with the effects, but I loved it then, with sounds whizzing around the room and an ambiance that moves from close and intimate to a big hall feel. I still like to put it on occasionally.
I have a stack of multi-channel CD's in Dolby and DTS. I also have about a dozen or so CD4's (vinyl) including Dark Side of the Moon and Creedence. Great fun, but mostly ambient surround stuff, not true multichannel. Too bad they were never transferred to CD/DVD (well maybe not all of them should be).