Originally Posted by SyntheticShrimp
*** 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.
Originally Posted by rawrbington
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.