Why Isn't Multichannel Music More Popular? - Page 2 - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Why Isn't Multichannel Music More Popular?
Most people prefer 2-channel music 27 8.54%
Most people have never heard multichannel music 138 43.67%
Most people play music in the background 71 22.47%
Most people listen to music on headphones 32 10.13%
Other 48 15.19%
Voters: 316. You may not vote on this poll

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post #31 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LairdWilliams View Post
But SOME of us actually like STUDIO albums in surround - where there is no "concert video" - and which don't even attempt to sound like a real performance space.

Many of these albums are real eye openers.


Confining your discussion of surround music to live-like performances is a tad like discovering oil painting but never using anything but brushes. You still get an enhanced experience, but you will never realize the full potential of the medium.
couldn't agree more.

I would estimate I have 300+ SACD, ~100 DVD-A, close to 300 vintage quadraphonic LP's, 6 or 7 7.1 non-concert Blu-ray audio discs. I do know I own more SACD/DVD-A than CDs since CD's first came out! by contrast, concert discs in all disc formats (DVD, Blu-ray, SACD/CD) are probably ~6, tops.

your observation, along with comments made by other posters shows part of the problem is the majority of the minority who know about multichannel music think of live concerts first, not studio recordings, when the vast majority of released multichannel music are studio mixes - a big disconnect between what people think the format is mostly used for vs. what's really been done.

studio mixes in 5.1 or 4.0 quad can be phenomenal. I give one example:

Elton John's early "classic"recordings. in all the stereo mixes I ever had on LP/CD starting in the 70's, the mixes are very congested - rock instruments, vocals, piano & orchestra. typically, his vocals & piano get buried in the rest of the dense mix, kind of a mushed up wall of sound. In 5.1 these same recordings approach revelatory - his vocals are clear, distinct, separated from the mix, piano is distinct and not buried, sounds from all instruments guitars can be individually followed, separated from the orchestra. its not all bunched up in a mix so dense you can't make out individual lines. every Elton John 5.1 SACD is like this, far superior to what I've heard on LP & CD.

people who are relegating multichannel listening to movies & concert vids are missing a whole lot of what's been done by masters at mixing surround music.
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post #32 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 11:32 AM
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Most people don't care that much about music in the first place. They like it, there are certain songs that mean something to them, they like to dance, they respond to a catchy tune, they think Beyonce is sexy... but they don't have that combination of passion and intellectual grasp of music that takes a person to the next level.

So they're not going to spend time and money to improve their liatening experience. They're not music aficionados; they're music users.

Even most people who own surround systems (not that many, all in) fit this description. They stream movies instead of buying Blu-rays, and surround music is a collector's medium.

Finally, of course, most people won't buy into anything that requires buying multiple formats, especially at a price premium. I just paid over $20 for a multichannel re-release of a 40 year old recording, and I'll still have to rip the CD version myself if I want a portable copy. At least it came with a CD. This is how I know I'm not "most people." Not even "most people" on AVS, which itself is a tiny, tiny subset of the real "most people."

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post #33 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss9001 View Post
couldn't agree more.

I would estimate I have 300+ SACD, ~100 DVD-A, close to 300 vintage quadraphonic LP's, 6 or 7 7.1 non-concert Blu-ray audio discs. I do know I own more SACD/DVD-A than CDs since CD's first came out! by contrast, concert discs in all disc formats (DVD, Blu-ray, SACD/CD) are probably ~6, tops.

your observation, along with comments made by other posters shows part of the problem is the majority of the minority who know about multichannel music think of live concerts first, not studio recordings, when the vast majority of released multichannel music are studio mixes - a big disconnect between what people think the format is mostly used for vs. what's really been done.

studio mixes in 5.1 or 4.0 quad can be phenomenal. I give one example:

Elton John's early "classic"recordings. in all the stereo mixes I ever had on LP/CD starting in the 70's, the mixes are very congested - rock instruments, vocals, piano & orchestra. typically, his vocals & piano get buried in the rest of the dense mix, kind of a mushed up wall of sound. In 5.1 these same recordings approach revelatory - his vocals are clear, distinct, separated from the mix, piano is distinct and not buried, sounds from all instruments guitars can be individually followed, separated from the orchestra. its not all bunched up in a mix so dense you can't make out individual lines. every Elton John 5.1 SACD is like this, far superior to what I've heard on LP & CD.

people who are relegating multichannel listening to movies & concert vids are missing a whole lot of what's been done by masters at mixing surround music.
Yep - a little quality time with the mixing/engineering work of Greg Penny, Elliot Scheiner, Steven Wilson, James Guthrie, and Chuck Ainlay, (just to name a few) can be very rewarding.

Of course, reinforcing the other point I (and others) have been making - there are only a VERY few of us who care about music enough to be aware of who these people are. Does not make us "better" in any way. In fact, it makes us "weirdos". But there you have it - we're all weirdos about something.
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post #34 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 01:21 PM
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As I think I have noted before, I have quite a few Blu-ray and SACD titles that are MC. I only listen to the live concert ones that use the surrounds for room ambiance. I can think of one great SACD that places you at the venue and that is John Pizzarelli LIve at Birdland. That I appreciate! Most of my other MC favs are blu-ray concerts. I read here about how great studio albums sound with instruments from the surrounds. Sorry but I am not interested in that at all. I have listened to the discs I have that are like that but hate them. They are on the shelf collecting dust. One of the reasons 2 channel stereo remains dominant IMHO is that the stereo experience is more like how you experience music live when compared to the studio mixes I have heard on both SACD and DVD-A. When I attend a liove event which I do quite frequently, I don't hear horns out of the back of the room.
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post #35 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by quad4.0 View Post

I set up my own space-where I can have some wine and relax and raise the volume knowing no one will bother me-banging on the door-or on the phone, and enjoy the time I allow myself "critical listen time" -It's tough with a family set up-kids won't allow it and most wives either.
Mine are adults and gone, and the wife left long ago-to my benefit. I love my 5.1 collection on my Oppo 103. Why bother spending all that cash??
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post #36 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss9001 View Post

Elton John's early "classic"recordings. in all the stereo mixes I ever had on LP/CD starting in the 70's, the mixes are very congested - rock instruments, vocals, piano & orchestra. typically, his vocals & piano get buried in the rest of the dense mix, kind of a mushed up wall of sound. In 5.1 these same recordings approach revelatory - his vocals are clear, distinct, separated from the mix, piano is distinct and not buried, sounds from all instruments guitars can be individually followed, separated from the orchestra. its not all bunched up in a mix so dense you can't make out individual lines. every Elton John 5.1 SACD is like this, far superior to what I've heard on LP & CD.

people who are relegating multichannel listening to movies & concert vids are missing a whole lot of what's been done by masters at mixing surround music.
I have all of those on SACD and I fully agree. Listening to those albums in MCH is (to use an otherwise overused cliche) "like hearing them for the first time, but better". I have preferred the MCH versions of everything for which I had a 2 channel version (with one or two track-specific exceptions), but while I would not say Elton John's music is the most "suited" for MCH playback, conceptually speaking, I do think those SACDs represent the best degree of improvement over the originals in my collection (and I particularly like the extended jam session at the end of Razor Face in MCH on Madman Across the Water--a jam that is absent from the 2 channel version).
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post #37 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JWhip View Post
When I attend a liove event which I do quite frequently, I don't hear horns out of the back of the room.
If this is what you think of a the state of surround music, then your exposure is severely limited. That would be the last thing I'd want too (except for pieces where that was the composer's intention in the first place.) What on EARTH do you have in your studio surround collection?

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post #38 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 02:21 PM
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The big reason is that it just doesn't fit into the way most people listen to music. But it wasn't helped by the fact that it was introduced in formats that were constrained by proprietary formats and rights management.

I believe most people would prefer mutlichannel music to 2 channel music if they were given an opportunity to experience both in an unbiased presentation. Whether or not that preference is powerful enough for people to sacrifice convenience is another matter.

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post #39 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 02:41 PM
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I just think people's taste in music itself has changed. Gone are the days of prolonged listening sessions in dedicated audio rooms. Now the rooms are AV and HT. Music is visual and multi channel to some extent in that format. Being mostly 2.1-7.1. Bottom line...today people want their music as part of a visual experience or part of a mobile experience. So format doesn't mean as much IMO. Except for the small HT segment.


Another consideration is that a lot that passes as music today is unemotional, loud, obnoxious stuff IMO.
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post #40 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
Time is a luxury we can't afford to lose. ...The music simply follows us wherever we go, and whatever we do.

And besides, the only great multichannel music worth listening to is Classical music.
This is a somwhat crass, if not snobbish, observation.
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post #41 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 03:00 PM
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I think it goes back to the way its always been. It probably started that way because 2 channel is whats needed to portray a live performance
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post #42 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 03:14 PM
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I think it goes back to the way its always been. It probably started that way because 2 channel is whats needed to portray a live performance
This is simply incorrect, and this line of reasoning is probably another reason multichannel hasn't caught on. 2 Channel music can't convey the spatial qualities of a live performance (ambience, envelopment) as effectively as multichannel music can.

Multichannel music isn't about panning instruments all over the soundfield. It's about recreating more of the essential perceptual pieces than is possible with stereo.

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post #43 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 03:43 PM
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I have the DVA-A release of the Eagles Hotel California and to me nothing touches it as far as multichannel audio goes. I agree with the majority of the posters here that;

1. People have never heard a good remastered multichannel recording or

2. People equate more than two speakers to a lot more $$$$ they have to invest in there system.

I also believe that if you take the time to buy your components and speakers that the monetary expense can be spread over a longer period.

It has taken me 20 years to get to where I am and I could not be happier!!!!

(but believe or not I'm getting back into all things VINYL, but not to fret my yahama set to 11 channel stereo make those LPs sound fantastic!!)

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post #44 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 03:58 PM
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What - we don't listen to music - it is only used for tweaking gear and moving up to the lastest greatest thing - money no object of course. We don't need no sticking music.
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post #45 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 04:02 PM
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Content!

I voted "Other" because I believe surround music content is simply too lacking to gain main stream traction. If there was a content standard that could be played on car systems, broadcast on free digital radio, heard on psycho acoustic headphones or earpieces, as well as on home systems, we might see more multi-channel content created. There are many ways to encode multi-channel, and some are pristine. One of the problems though is picking one that can scale to products at multiple price points for mass distribution. Most people are simply "satisfied enough" with stereo MP3's, or CD's, or even FM to bother with looking into more. It's the "quad" thing all over again. We tried before, and people (the masses) generally thought the extra channels weren't worth it, both in sonic advantage, and cost and compexity.

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post #46 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 06:12 PM
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If I am sitting chilling, I like 2 channel, probably because that is what I grew up on, but I don't mind multichannel, I just prefer 2 channel. When it comes to Blu Ray concert disc which I have been getting into lately, I have liked doing them in multichannel. I find it fun to experiment with things as the same with music. I listen to a variety of music, I can listen to Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Alternative, Rap and even a little electronic, you will not catch any country on my list. I think the fun of this crazy world of audio and video that it is fun to mix it all up, keeps it interesting.
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post #47 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 06:16 PM
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Other.

People generally don't care about performance values -- they care about content. If music makes them want to dance, or makes them remember good times from the past, or tells a story that catches their attention, they love it. But if it lets you hear how the parts of an ensemble are spread out before you, left to right, well who cares? It's irrelevant. It's like not noticing or caring about the brush technique used in a Corot painting. It doesn't matter why the music works, only whether it does. And generally, spatial placement is just not relevant to the art.

I had a conversation a few days ago with my wife about adjusting her TV that made the issue clearer to me. I wanted to dial down the color and contrast so colors didn't pop so much -- she likes pop -- and I asked her whether real people in the real world looked like such neon confections. She said, "Of course not." Well, why do you want the TV adjusted to give things such an unnatural appearance? She said, "It's not the real world."
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post #48 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 06:33 PM
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We love our multichannel music, we play it loud when we have company who like to dance. Very rarely do we sit and listen without friends (like Diana Krall stuff usually) and usually the music starts the partying/dancing. We spent years getting the system to sound as close to a live band as possible and wish there was a lot more multichannel stuff. I don't think there is any one good reason for why there's not more multichannel but think that mp3 has caused many people to lower their expectations. Our visitors love the multichannel stuff when they hear it for the first time. I think people are not anywhere as picky with sound quality as they are with video quality when purchasing.
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post #49 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 06:57 PM
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Being this is the AVSforums, I am not surprised that "Most people listen to music on headphones" is not significantly higher percentage.

A lot of people who never heard of this forum go through their day listening to music played via different sources that mostly are mobile, even some very high quality mobile devices that play DSD files directly.

Then you have a more elite class of headphone users that combine computers that hold their music collection in high quality formats and then use headphone amp/DAC's to improved the playback quality to various headphones they own. Not uncommon to own several $1000 plus headphones in this crowd, along with lots of expensive audio gear.

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post #50 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 06:58 PM
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*** it wasn't helped by the fact that it was introduced in formats that were constrained by proprietary formats and rights management.
I'm surprised it took almost forty posts for the correct answer to emerge.

When multichannel was starting out, the music industry was so fecklessly paranoid about copying that they added onerous DRM to disks – I still don’t know how to copy a DVD-A to iTunes, though SACD’s are easier - and also refused to allow digital transfer to an outboard processor. So we ended up with the peculiar situation of disk players that had to have an analog output for every channel of audio. My first multichannel system had no fewer than twelve wires wires going between disk player and processor (3 for component video, 7 +1 RCA for audio, Toslink for video sound). And to add insult to injury, these players often handled bass management very poorly. True, with HDMI that situation finally improved, but the damage was long done by them. Multichannel audio should have come with a non-proprietary multichannel digital audio interface from the very start. And the record industry should have been less capricious with DRM. Multichannel lossless recordings should seamlessly integrate with iTunes or whatever other program one uses to play music in 2014. But they still don't.

Second, competing proprietary formats. Sony, as Sony often tries to do (and often seems to fail…) tried to shove its own format down everyone’s throat. So we have DVD-A and SACD. That would be fine, except some players that couldn’t play both. And, amazingly, many players still can’t play both!

So multichannel audio’s failure has nothing to do with the merits, which are frankly indisputable to anyone who loves music when done well. The record industry is like a less bloodthirsty Bibi Netanyahu: it never misses an opportunity to simultaneously shove its foot down its own throat and make life annoying (at best) for the rest of the world.

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I think it goes back to the way its always been. It probably started that way because 2 channel is whats needed to portray a live performance
Actually, anyone who knows audio history knows that "stereo" was a three channel medium crammed down to two channels only because three discrete channels were beyond the ability of the low fidelity primitive music encoding system in wide use at the time (vinyl records). Indeed, some of the best arguments for >2ch are those 1950s recordings made in proper stereo. Mercury Living Presence offers a bunch of them on SACD.
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post #51 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 07:15 PM
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I voted other.

I really want to like multichannel audio, so I searched for the music I most wanted to hear in multichannel, and it wasn't available. So then I looked through what actually existed that I might like, and it was out of print and enormously expensive.

What I most wanted to hear was orchestral-based movie soundtracks. It's rather ironic that movie music isn't available in multichannel, considering this music was originally mixed in multichannel in the first place, and if anything it was extra work to downmix it to stereo for the CDs and MP3s.

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bloodthirsty Bibi Netanyahu: it never misses an opportunity to simultaneously shove its foot down its own throat and make life annoying (at best) for the rest of the world.
I don't think this thread is improved by your way-off-topic politics.
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post #52 of 187 Old 08-08-2014, 10:46 PM
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When you can have an awesome listening experience with 2 channel, the non AVS'er is content and does not seek multichannel.

Sidenote: picked up the 5.1 DSOTM SACD last week and am not impressed. Immersive yes, but tonally, reminds me of 70's compression. I would suggest Depeche Mode 5.1 SACD "Music For the Masses" to anyone looking for a great listen!
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post #53 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 12:05 AM
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post #54 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 12:33 AM
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Esteemed Collegues:

I have pondered this question for a long time, along with why is the blue ray disc not used more for playback? As a trained classical musician when I sit down to listen to something that is what I do. I listen to it. Concert volume, not reading, talking, or dancing. When I go to concert, I not only listen to the performing group (mostly orchestral) and the way the way the venue modifies the sound. 2 channel is incapable of replicating that.

I'm sure most people do not sit and listen. They will turn it on and do other things. Cook. clean, read the paper or play with the kids. Even so you would think that with all this marvelous technology available record producers would not make multi-channel available for us audiophile geek types.

One other thing: Isn't this an AV site, and not a place for some know- nothing to blurt some political screed?

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post #55 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 12:34 AM
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It seems like people from my generation (X) and younger don't seem to be too concerned with audio fidelity, let alone multi channel. Maybe it's just the type of people I hang out with, but I've noticed a lot of people tend to be either into Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, 90's rap, or whatever... not hifi stuff (depending on what your definition of hifi is). I think people have a tendency to think music with high production value actually detracts from the artistic vision... which is a real shame.

I think a lot of those cooler artsier acts these days don't have the budget to make anything beyond 2 channel music. Some of the more creative bands with an epic vision tend to record themselves (some examples: Unkown Mortal Orchestra, Deerhoof, Melody's Echochamber). But they do make some really good sounding records, but of course they don't have the resources to take advantage of surround channel audio... which their music *should* be doing.

I'm obsessed with Brian Wilson's later 60's productions like Pet Sounds and Smile/ the modular recording technique... I'd love to see someone employ those same techniques with surround sound. I think that's what the Smile record was made for as far as I'm concerned! I try to do a similar thing with my music but I've only got one studio to work with. If I had the capability to mix in surround I'd do it.
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post #56 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by LairdWilliams View Post
I am a tad confused as to why everyone in the discussion here is so infatuated with live performance for surround.

I certainly agree that surround enhances live performance recordings if done properly.
I also certainly agree that surround can be very distracting when viewing a live performance, if the surround is done poorly.

But SOME of us actually like STUDIO albums in surround - where there is no "concert video" - and which don't even attempt to sound like a real performance space.

Many of these albums are real eye openers.


Confining your discussion of surround music to live-like performances is a tad like discovering oil painting but never using anything but brushes. You still get an enhanced experience, but you will never realize the full potential of the medium.
i agree. i actually dont have any multi channel music that is NOT a concert blu ray. ill have to try some studio surround recordings sometime.

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post #57 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 11:26 AM
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I find that people like me, and us here on AVS are very far and few between. I voted other because I think most people really just don't care about quality. I tried to show my step dad the Dark side of the moon DVD-A on my 5.1 system and he was like "yeah I prefer stereo". (The man who got me into big 'ole speakers in the 90's, and have had more than 100 reference level listening sessions with him over the years.) Seriously? I want to buy a good digital processor for my car just so I can enjoy Multi-channel much more often. I drive an hour to and from work each day. I maybe know just about 2 people that value sound quality as much as I do and it can be frustrating. Nothing worse than someone inviting you over to watch a movie only for you to find out that you will be viewing on their 32" lcd with integrated speakers. I may be getting off track here, I'll show myself out.

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post #58 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 01:09 PM
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I just started getting into MC a couple of months ago and WOW! There is no greater musical experience than to hear an album you grew up with mixed into 5.1. The first album I heard was JT-Benefit, an amazing mix.
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post #59 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by SyntheticShrimp View Post
The big reason is that it just doesn't fit into the way most people listen to music. But it wasn't helped by the fact that it was introduced in formats that were constrained by proprietary formats and rights management.

I believe most people would prefer mutlichannel music to 2 channel music if they were given an opportunity to experience both in an unbiased presentation. Whether or not that preference is powerful enough for people to sacrifice convenience is another matter.
Not only MC but the loss less aspect of the recordings is the key here. To me and I am not looking for a discussion on the issue, it's far better than any redbook cd made.
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post #60 of 187 Old 08-09-2014, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by HockeyoAJB View Post
All of the above. The biggest reason though, is a lack of multichannel setups in people's homes and the lack of compatibility of multichannel audio with mobile devices, car stereos, etc. Even for those who have a 5.1 or 7.1 setup in one particular room, that is just one room in their house. Unless they are able to sit in that room then they don't really benefit from paying the premium for multichannel audio. Not many people have an actual surround sound setup in their car. Most just have a multi-speaker stereo setup.

Recording studios at least had the sense to include a stereo copy of the music with the multichannel version so that people wouldn't have to buy the two versions separately to be able to enjoy in various environments. But, multichannel music won't really take off until the average car has a Blu-Ray/SACD player or at least a 5.1 head unit with a USB port that accepts 5.1 LPCM/DSD. If they can succeed in getting those into cars then I suspect that Apple, Google, etc. would be more willing to make mobile devices that support it and carry the multichannel music in their online stores.
I'd say this is part of the reason. Truth be told, there are a fair number of car stereos that actually do support multichannel of some sort since many do support DVDs with 5.1 sound (and some even did DVD-A!). But the days of spinning media is fast fading and most music in cars these days is either terrestrial analog, HD Radio, Sirius/XM satellite, and of course, digital devices. The problem with digital is that there is no way to transmit multichannel audio via Bluetooth since standards efforts failed to materialize years ago.

And then for home audio, many people have home theaters, but no nice way to introduce multichannel audio to them outside of the old spinning disk, which is generally only sought out by people who visit this forum and others like it. There isn't a digital download service who makes multichannel a priority. And new recordings are seldom recorded like this, much less distributed.

At some point I would think that Apple or Amazon will provide an HD audio product, but even if that happens, I cannot see them doing multichannel, which would be a shame since a lot of Apple TV or Fire TV setups hooked up to home theaters could certainly delivery the content.

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