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-   -   Do You Prefer 2-Channel or Multichannel Music Recordings? (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/92-community-news-polls/1589177-do-you-prefer-2-channel-multichannel-music-recordings.html)

Scott Wilkinson 07-03-2014 12:25 AM

Do You Prefer 2-Channel or Multichannel Music Recordings?

The vast majority of music recordings are 2-channel, but multichannel recordings offer a different experience. Which do you prefer?


A multichannel surround system is essential for the full enjoyment of most movies, but it can also provide an enhanced musical experience. Multichannel recordings also offer more options than 2-channel—in particular, a choice of perspectives. Mixing engineers can put you in the audience with ambience (room reverb, audience noises during live shows, etc.) in the surround channels, or they can put you in the middle of the ensemble, what AIX Records—a leading provider of multichannel-music recordings—calls the "stage perspective." On the other hand, the sweet spot for multichannel is smaller than for 2-channel—a point in the middle of the speaker array instead of a line perpendicular to the plane of two speakers.

Which leads me to ask: When you sit down to listen to music, do you prefer 2-channel or multichannel recordings? If multichannel, do you prefer the audience or stage perspective?

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Webmonkey 07-03-2014 02:56 AM

Live concert recordings in multichannel for me - for the authentic audience experience. Studio recordings in 2 channel. Beatles and other original mono recordings in mono ofcause :-D.

Plain and simple - they way it was went to be :-D

tenthplanet 07-03-2014 03:16 AM

Number of channels is secondary to the quality of the music. If the music is good and multi-channel I would take advantage of it. Being two channel doesn't bestow some mystical sonic quality on recordings.

cranster 07-03-2014 03:26 AM

I love the immersion of multi channel music.

MSmith83 07-03-2014 03:31 AM

I generally prefer a good two-channel experience. However, for me it is by and large about the music itself as I often enthusiastically listen to mono recordings of older content like golden age film scores.

TorTorden 07-03-2014 04:04 AM

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.

popalock 07-03-2014 04:38 AM

I use the "expanded stereo" format option on my Pio Elite SC-57. While I don't feel the center channel adds much, I really like what the rears bring to the table.

While playing music I can go into my advanced settings and turn the rear surrounds on and off, which gives me perspective real time.

What I found was that the rear surrounds seem to pull the front stage from behind my screen to right directly in the middle of my room.

I've demo'd this for several people in my space and they agree.

While this may not be exactly what you are referring to in the context of "multichannel" music, I would still vote yes to perfering multichannel over 2 channel.

JWhip 07-03-2014 05:34 AM

For Multichannel , I really only listen to live recordings, where the rears are used for ambiance. A perfect example of this is the SACD version of John Pizzarelli Live at Birdland. It is superb and places you right in the venue. I really don't like instruments in the rears as is the case with a lot of MC music recordings. There are also some superb DVDs and Blu-rays. Other than that type of thing, I generally prefer 2 channel and lost of my music listening is done in 2 channel.

MIkeDuke 07-03-2014 06:05 AM

In my room, with my gear, I listen to 2ch almost exclusively. If it is a CD it is only played back in 2ch in MY SYSTEM. With my layout, I get very little sound at all from music in my surrounds if I try one of those audio modes from my Integra 80.3 . Movies, they are fine, but not for music. Now that doesn't mean I don't like MC music. If it is recorded that way, like a multi-channel SACD or DVD-A then I do like the room filling sound. But again, only if it is mixed that way. If it's a CD, it's 2ch only and the center stage I get simply outstanding.

JoeKustra 07-03-2014 06:35 AM

A good surround mix is great. I don't use a center channel since I have a small viewing space now. In a larger room the best mix of BD I've heard is Cowboys vs. Aliens when a horse enters the scene from the rear and it sounds like it too. For BD audio, especially the Styx concert, multichannel is great. For TV, I just DSP it to death even when it's already 5.1.

Whatever sounds good to you is the right choice.

HockeyoAJB 07-03-2014 07:04 AM

I'm not sure how you would categorize multichannel albums from Pink Floyd and the like that use all kinds of non-traditional instruments and sound effects that appear and disappear from various directions or even pan around you. Would you consider that as being on the stage or part of the audience? I'm not sure I would classify it as either. With their music, there doesn't really seem to be a stage, performers, or an audience, but rather an experience. In this case, multichannel recordings can be very effective and I would say that I prefer them over your basic stereo recording.

I own a few multichannel live concert Blu-Rays, which include video. However, I don't know if I would say that I prefer the audio on these discs moreso than the stereo studio recordings on CD. It depends, firstly, on the performance. If the band sounds great live and if the audio from the live performance is captured properly then it can be a treat. If not, then I'll take a stereo studio recording. It also depends on whether or not I am sitting down and attentively listening to the music without distraction as opposed to playing the music in the background while doing other things.

dmspen 07-03-2014 07:35 AM

The Eagles 'When Hell Freezes Over' DVD contains a 5.1 audio only track of the song 'Seven Bridges Road'. It's pretty nifty.

machavez00 07-03-2014 07:44 AM

I remember quadraphonic LP's in the 70's. My neighbor had a quadraphonic system, but I never got to listen to it. Add me as: Live recordings multi, studio stereo.

MSchu18 07-03-2014 07:48 AM

2 channel for me... though multi channel is very enveloping.

multi channel also seem to alleviate some of the necessity for proper imaging and placement for Front L/R

audiofan1 07-03-2014 07:57 AM

I love both but do listen to 2/ch more as it's hard to argue against a proper setup and a well done recording but then again a well treated room + proper setup +Audyssey + a well mastered sacd = :eek: :cool:

sjschaff 07-03-2014 08:04 AM

Got but 2 ears. As far as I know, all people in the business of making and recording of music have 2 as well. Keep it simple I say. Great mikes, well positioned in a great acoustic space is what matters most. Capture it right the first time and you can reproduce it back atcha' with a couple of speakers. Multi-channel is the side show at the carnival.

Blacklightning 07-03-2014 08:10 AM

I do not like adding any processes so all my cd's are 2 channel. Most of my Classical SACD's or DVD-Audio will be run in the pure 2 channel mode if the option is available. Right now I can only think of 1 SACD that I will pick the 4 channel track most of the time.

With the right room 2 channel can surround you with sound.
If I did listen to Live pop or rock concerts on DVD's I think I would pick the multichannel as it would be cool feeling the crowd around you. But for my classical stuff, my room becomes the concert hall and all the sound comes from the front just like the real thing.

hernanu 07-03-2014 08:19 AM

Multichannel if possible. If it's a bad mix or transfer, I assume it will be bad for both two channel or multichannel.

I prefer to be immersed in the music and as close to the original recording room as possible, so stage perspective.

Bluray for concerts, if it exists. A good lossless two channel is fine.

von Levi 07-03-2014 09:21 AM

Multichannel. No question.

After all of these years, there's still a lot of factually incorrect beliefs about multichannel sound being spread by people who have never actually heard a multichannel recording. I still see plenty of people who write it off as a gimmick because they assume that all the rear channels do is pump in ambience, or, the rears are used to create a mix that puts you in the center of the musicians (there are certainly a handful of recordings that do this, but the vast majority don't).

On good multichannel recordings the rears help spread the stereo image much wider than you get with just two-channels, and there will be a greater sense of depth perception to the sound (on the latter point, it can take solo piano recordings to a whole new level).

And not to sound too angry, but there are also lots of stereophiles who just scoff at the idea of listening to music using an A/V receiver connected to a transport via HDMI without actually having heard the results.

Lastly, another thing that has hurt the acceptance of multichannel is that you only realize just how superior it can be when you do a listening comparison to the stereo mix.

trans_lux 07-03-2014 09:21 AM

I listen to everything in AMBIOPHONICS.
Its only a single person experience and you can't move your head.
But its worth it. No matter how bad the recording it sounds amazing!



quad4.0 07-03-2014 09:32 AM


Originally Posted by sjschaff (Post 25459266)
Got but 2 ears. As far as I know, all people in the business of making and recording of music have 2 as well. Keep it simple I say. Great mikes, well positioned in a great acoustic space is what matters most. Capture it right the first time and you can reproduce it back atcha' with a couple of speakers. Multi-channel is the side show at the carnival.

That is an excuse. I have "seen and heard" all the reasons not to listen to 5.1 music. Unfortunately, not all MC is good. Just like any recording, crap in-crap out! Elliot Scheiner does the best work, The Steely Dan and Fagen stuff is terrific. As is every other production he has been involved with. Stereo is wonderful, with proper imaging it always had me interested but when I hard dvd audio I went bonkers, WHY? Because MC allows for a more cleaner sound, dividing up the instruments into 5.1 speakers and allowing more "room" to allow a cleaner sound. Stuff a band into 2 speakers and it will be somewhat "muddy" especially some older productions, ( Tubular Bells) comes to mind as well as some other productions with a full compliment of instruments.

BNestico 07-03-2014 09:39 AM

I haven't heard many actual 5.1 studio mixes the one I'm most familiar with is from a prog/metal band called Between the Buried and Me. They released they're album The a Great Misdirect as a double sided disc with a DD 5.1 mix on one side. I really enjoyed listening to it. I've watched a ton of concerts on HDNet and Palladia in 5.1 and I love the sound. I've never seen one that can switch perspectives however. I notice on 2 channel CDs that the perspective of the drums in particular can vary. Some discs have the drums panned to sound like your sitting directly in front of the drum set the guys playing. Provided that bands drummer is a righty you'll notice the ride cymbal sounds coming from more to the left and hi-hats to the right. Toms descend from right to left. Other CD's flip this around and pan the sound as to what the drummer would hear sitting behind the drums. A good example of this is the drum solo at the beginning of "Say Goodbye" (track 6) from Dave Mathews "Crash".
Getting back to surround music, I never use the settings on my AVR to make a 2 channel track surround.

boguspomp 07-03-2014 09:53 AM

I voted multi stage. Why, because you can hear so much more, than on any stereo recording or even the audience multi recordings. As mentioned above, just listen to Steely Dan or Fagen or Pink Floyd or Tubular Bells in 5.1 and you are hooked for life. Another thing is, ask any mastering engineer. In stereo they have to tweak instruments with a lot of equalization to fit it into the mix. For example: 1 guitar has the mid range boosted way up and the other the mid range taken out. That way you can hear both guitar distinguished in the mix.With 5.1 they can leave the instruments mostly alone and give them the sound they should have in the first place.

audioguy 07-03-2014 10:37 AM

It all depends on the recording and the mood I am in. For most 2 channel studio recording, adding ambiance with my Integra does little. Live recordings can be quite excellent when played back with "expanded stereo" in 7.1.

Circle Surround available on Theta and I think Meridian is an excellent stereo expansion technique and Meridian had another expansion technology that was the best (don't recall the name).

I voted 2 channel.

akcorr 07-03-2014 10:55 AM


Scott Simonian 07-03-2014 11:15 AM

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No option for both?

Though I guess I'd say 'multichannel' but there really isn't any +2ch content of the crap I listen to. :p

lovinthehd 07-03-2014 11:37 AM

Hard to choose for me as well, would have preferred multiple choice response option. I just popped in a 7.1 blu ray of The Planets which is an audience perspective and very enjoyable, not quite like being in an actual concert hall but quite nice; the stereo version I have (different orchestra) is also quite nice but prefer the multichannel recording and don't think its the orchestra that makes the difference. However, for non-orchestral music I just popped in The Raven That Refused to Sing blu ray, and like the stage perspective, to be in the heart of it so to speak; I have been to a Steven Wilson show, where he actually uses surround speakers so that makes sense. Then there are 2 channel recordings I love and aren't available in a multichannel format. However, I would prefer to have multichannel recordings generally but hard to say whether stage or audience perspective as that would depend on the material and artist I think....what I really would prefer would be more available multichannel recordings!

Ovation 07-03-2014 11:48 AM

6 Attachment(s)
MCH "in the band/on stage" is my preference if available.

Next is MCH audience position.

Next is MCH via DPLII Music (after tweaking to my liking--default setting on my AVR wasn't great). On rare occasions, this doesn't work well with a particular track or album, I stay in 2ch mode for the exceptions.

Then 2 ch--but mostly on the 2 ch rig in my living room.

As for "we have two ears", sure, but stereo means 3-D. Moreover, we don't hear in only two directions. As a reason to avoid MCH audio, it's pretty flimsy. A better reason would be the paucity of choice of MCH releases.

Groot Geluid 07-03-2014 12:13 PM


Originally Posted by sjschaff (Post 25459266)
Got but 2 ears. As far as I know, all people in the business of making and recording of music have 2 as well. Keep it simple I say. Great mikes, well positioned in a great acoustic space is what matters most. Capture it right the first time and you can reproduce it back atcha' with a couple of speakers. Multi-channel is the side show at the carnival.

Not so. A speaker becomes a sound source. Having 2 speakers left and right, it becomes already difficult to reproduce a 'proper' mono signal. A very good test is with 3 identical speakers at the front, to play a mono signal via the Ls & Rs and then switch the same signal to the middle speaker alone. You will immediately hear a colouration when fed over 2 speakers. If done well a good surround recording in a great acoustic space, will sound so much better than a good stereo recording in that same space.

Djoel 07-03-2014 12:21 PM

Multi-Ch addict right here, I get piss when I'm waiting on a favorite or well received album whether it's a classic, reprint and it's only 2Ch hi rez, I feel it's a waste. Not like I don't buy it, but I wait to hear the reviews, and the price to come down!

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