Why Isn't Multichannel Music More Popular? - 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 #1 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 01:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Why Isn't Multichannel Music More Popular?



Multichannel music is quite popular among AVS members—at least, those who voted in a previous poll. So why isn't it more popular generally?

In a recent poll on AVS, I asked if you prefer 2-channel or multichannel music recordings. Over 57% responded with a preference for multichannel, while less than 33% percent preferred 2-channel, and less than 10% had never heard a multichannel recording. I suspect these numbers do not reflect the general population—after all, I think we're all geeks on this bus! Also, if multichannel music was popular in the general public, more artists would release their music in surround. (One often-cited exception is Porcupine Tree, whose 2005 multichannel DVD release Arriving Somewhere is seen above. And of course, AIX Records releases many music titles in surround.)

Whether or not you prefer multichannel music, why do you think it's not more popular in the general public?

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post #2 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:05 AM
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I'd be willing to bet most people haven't heard true multi channel music, only stereo music played on a multi channel system.
I love my DTS music.
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post #3 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:11 AM
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I voted "Other" in the above Poll and this is why.


I think one of the main reasons a lot of people prefer 2 channel is $$$


Maybe they think multichannel is ordinary due to listening with poor quality gear
like those cheap plasticky Home Theater in a box thingo's.


I have found from experience that you can successfully build a QUALITY multichannel rig by
using your QUALITY 2 channel gear as the foundation and then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, adding gear of similar quality.


I guess a lot of people will baulk at the idea of using their say........$10-15K stereo system and maybe having to spend almost as much again to achieve a balanced high performance multi channel system.


Also patience may play a role as it may be tempting to spend your current budget on EVERYTHING you need in one hit.


I have found enormous satisfaction in adding the right pieces at the right time and price over the years whilst steadily upgrading.


Whilst a QUALITY stereo rig will ALWAYS beat one of those plasticky HTIB thingo's I am VERY confident that multichannel music on a QUALITY multi channel system can sound SUPERB and in some cases actually SURPASS stereo.

Lastly I must state that my thoughts do pertain mainly to LOSSLESS Blu Ray (concerts), SACD and DVD/A!!!!!!!!


Not a big fan of those Pure Audio High Fidelity releases.


Cheers

Last edited by linger63; 08-08-2014 at 02:18 AM.
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post #4 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:44 AM
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Very simple: Who is taking the time to sit in that one spot only and listen to music all around him/her?

Yeah, @ the beginning when it's new in our life we explore it and we enjoy some of those cool surround music.
But after approximately 15 years of sitting right in that sweet spot, it's time to move around and ride our horse, or go sailing, or fishing, or just have a picnic @ the beach under a tree by the ocean or a lake. ...You know...

@ home nowadays we cook, we do the laundry, we clean the yard, we get kids to school, we garden, we surf, we listen to the birds singing on our porch, we invite friends for brunch, we play bingo, we go bowling, we watch the news, we water the plants and the flowers, we shower more, we dust, we duck, we stay alert, we hug, we kiss, we talk, we look @ the sky, @ the view, @ what's outside, and we enjoy meditating, sleeping, dreaming, ... and music is playing, often, from our servers, our r.a.d.i.o.s, or stereos, our living rooms, our bedrooms, our studios, our libraries (we love to read too), our galleries, and all that jazz.

Nowadays, how many hours a day do you spent sitting in that hot spot and listening to multichannel music?
After ten years of doing that it's nice to do some' else, don't you think?
...Unless you are completely new to it, then you'd rather listen to your smartphone through headphones.
And unless you are an addict with no direction home.

That's why.
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post #5 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:49 AM
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By the way, Scott, do you believe those polls are abso!utely accurate? ...Like a probability of 50% error margin.
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post #6 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:52 AM
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Don't know about any previous polls. But I prefer my music 2 channel.

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post #7 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:55 AM
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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.

Last edited by NorthSky; 08-08-2014 at 02:58 AM.
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post #8 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 02:57 AM
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^

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post #9 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 03:05 AM
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Yeah I know, it sometimes is shocking to read other's opinion.
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post #10 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 04:14 AM
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Most people have not heard a good multichnnel recording on a great system. Once they do, they all admit that this is how they'd like to 'actively' listen to music or see/hear concert video.

One of the reasons, beyond baseline gear cost, is that setting up a normal room for effective multichannel is extremely hard. And even in my dedicated HT, it took years of adding acoustic treatment, using digital room correction and gear tweaks to get a rock-solid cohesive surround soundfield. But once you have that, man, nothing, but nothing beats a good Steve Wilson mastered (or better yet, authored) recording in high-rez!
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post #11 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 05:20 AM
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The majority of people don't even sit down to listen, so why would they bother with surround?

We are talking one speaker in each room streaming from an iPhone. Heck, people even play stereo through one single speaker.
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post #12 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
Very simple: Who is taking the time to sit in that one spot only and listen to music all around him/her?

Yeah, @ the beginning when it's new in our life we explore it and we enjoy some of those cool surround music.
But after approximately 15 years of sitting right in that sweet spot, it's time to move around and ride our horse, or go sailing, or fishing, or just have a picnic @ the beach under a tree by the ocean or a lake. ...You know...

@ home nowadays we cook, we do the laundry, we clean the yard, we get kids to school, we garden, we surf, we listen to the birds singing on our porch, we invite friends for brunch, we play bingo, we go bowling, we watch the news, we water the plants and the flowers, we shower more, we dust, we duck, we stay alert, we hug, we kiss, we talk, we look @ the sky, @ the view, @ what's outside, and we enjoy meditating, sleeping, dreaming, ... and music is playing, often, from our servers, our r.a.d.i.o.s, or stereos, our living rooms, our bedrooms, our studios, our libraries (we love to read too), our galleries, and all that jazz.

Nowadays, how many hours a day do you spent sitting in that hot spot and listening to multichannel music?
After ten years of doing that it's nice to do some' else, don't you think?
...Unless you are completely new to it, then you'd rather listen to your smartphone through headphones.
And unless you are an addict with no direction home.

That's why.
100,000% this.

I remember when I first listened to 5.1 music, it was a Dark Side of the Moon special remastering. It was phenomenal, especially listening to Time. Clocks dinging from every which way, it and then the music starts so deep...It was an incredibly immersive experience, I don't need to tell you guys.

But I never listened to it again. It's simply a matter of convenience. I can count on my hand the number of times in the last year I listened to music out of any speakers in my home. Sure, in the car, headphones, lots of other places often, but out of actual speakers....Maybe twice? Thrice at most?

It's just not convenient, is all.
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post #13 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 05:52 AM
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It is just too damn costly and a pain to set up. Most people don't have a dedicated room with 5 speakers and a sub. I have a dedicated room and love well recorded concert videos where the speakers are will hall ambiance. Too many multichannel recordings have music in the rears.Sounds weird to me and I don't like it. I have quite a few of the AIX blu-rays and do not like the stage mix and listen to them all in the audience mode. They are all well done. Othe than concert videos, all of my music listening is 2 channel.
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post #14 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 06:04 AM
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as an old quadraphonic junkie, I fully embrace multichannel music and try to collect as much as I am interested in & can afford

yes, you can't listen to it passively, but isn't that part of the fun? I agree that "modern" lifestyles aren't conducive to 5.1 or really any kind of serious listening but if 2 ch guys can find the time for quote - serious listening - unquote, then surround music devotees can too.

I prefer classical & majority of jazz, vocalists to be stereo, but rock is wide open to interpretation and some of the best recordings I've ever owned, listened to are either quadraphonic or 5.1. Anyone who passes on multichannel out of hand haven't heard any of Steven Wilson's surround mixes (his own music or the ones he's done on Jethro Tull, King Crimson) or Steely Dan's Gaucho, Beck's Sea Change.

everyone thinks of DSOTM, but those of you who missed the quad era missed some fantastic mixes - almost all Santana, especially Abraxas & Caravanseri - Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Moody Blues, and many more I can't list them all. For jazz fans, excellent examples of multichannel are the quad mix of Bitch's Brew, 5.1 Weather Report, 5.1 Miles Davis Kind of Blue.

Multichannel doesn't have to be hokey, ping pong effects. Steven Wilson's mixes are very complex, densely layered 3 dimensional surround fields with focused imaging.

The main reason it's not more popular is a toss-up between:

- most people haven't heard of it or choose to ignore it
- music is background for other activity/situations. I include ipod-mp3 player use in this.
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post #15 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 06:14 AM
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The way 90%+ of people listen to music is they download an mp3 off the internet and listen with cheap earbuds from their phone or mp3 player. I listen to music when I workout and when there are commercials on all my sportstalk radio stations in my car. I rarely listen from a receiver unless I'm watching a concert which is typically 5.1.
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post #16 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 06:22 AM
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Becks Sea Change and Guero DVD-A in the Acura MDX sounds quite good, and you can't move around doing other stuff really when you are driving. Of course these discs sound better in my home theater, but like a previous poster said, it's hard to stay dead center for long periods of time...especially when you have a couple kids.

I wish the Blu Ray movement would take off, but alas, I think it's sputtering at the moment.
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post #17 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 07:01 AM
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It might be the case that folks perceive stereo as being natural and Multi-channel as being exotic.
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post #18 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 07:03 AM
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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.
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post #19 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
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.
Of course - one might counter that if you ARE doing something else then you ARE NOT really "listening" to it.

It is one thing to turn on the music while doing something else, and pay just enough attention to "feel" it so it can give you a boost.
It is quite another to actually listen to it - as in actually paying attention to it.

This is exactly why I voted "Most people listen to music in the background".
Very few folks even remember how to actually pay attention to anything.
And of the few who do, even fewer think music is important enough to merit the effort.
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post #20 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 07:25 AM
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There are many factors:
  • Most people don't have the equipment necessary to listen to multi-channel music
  • Multi-channel music listening doesn't fit the lifestyle of many people these days. They are more interested in casual listening with music everywhere, whether through headphones or cheap Bluetooth or other wireless speakers in every room and these are often just mono.
  • Unawareness that such a thing even exists
  • Decor concerns that make multi-speaker setups unacceptable
  • Probably others I haven't thought of yet

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post #21 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:00 AM
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Most people don't have a multichannel audio system. Why should they waste their money on multichannel source material?

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post #22 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
And besides, the only great multichannel music worth listening to is Classical music.
Seriously??? I have many awesome Bluray concert videos and only ONE is classical. While I think your comments about why most people don't listen to multi-channel are for the most part spot on, I could not possibly disagree more on this point.

Seriously ????
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post #23 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:32 AM
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I love my blu ray concerts but sometimes hearing instruments in the surround channels instead of up front where you actually see the performance can be odd.

That's why I actually enjoy the ones that keep the music up front and use the surrounds for the crowd etc.

I'm sure there are concerts that pump sounds into the speakers other than the front stage, like electric keyboards and such, and I'm fine with that. But the guitars and cymbals in the surround channels throws me off.
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post #24 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:32 AM
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Another thing, I also believe in general that those who have surround set-up are movie folks and are not interested in music enough to sit down and listen to multichannel music.
And the audiophiles that would have the interest to sit down and listen to multichannel music have often prioritized 2-channel and don't have a surround set-up.
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post #25 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:53 AM
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One reason that hasn't been brought up yet is the limited availability of multichannel music. 99.9% of the music I listen to isn't available in multichannel otherwise I'd own a lot more. People aren't going to buy it if there is nothing for them to actually purchase. This would be a very different conversation if every disc was multichannel and had a 2 channel mix as well, then we could have a proper comparison of what was listened to more and why. If I remember correctly, they were also quite a bit more expensive as well with the popular cd's always on sale in stores for $10 or so and the multichannel discs at $25. That's another big reason it was doomed to fail. Even now try to find Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (SACD) let alone at a decent price. Hell, even with Floyd there is only DSOFM and WYWH with the latter being $45 on Amazon. Sadly it pretty much failed before it even started. Not enough options and the price was way too high.
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post #26 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:54 AM
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I voted for "Most people play music in the background" but I think is if they had more crappy poppy music like Justin Beiver (how ever you spell is name???), or Autotune one hit wonders top 40's, more c/Rap etc.. and market it to these young phools perhaps it would have taken off.

Imho


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post #27 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 08:57 AM
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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.
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post #28 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 09:24 AM
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I voted according to my anecdotal experience (most people haven't heard MCH music before), though any of the options merits consideration.

I arrived at a MCH setup for movies, but quickly jumped on the DVD-A/SACD formats when I became aware of them (around 2001). I even purchased a DVD-A player before I had more than a 2.0 setup (sadly, it was stolen before I could finish the setup--it was a Panasonic, built like a tank and I'd paid a lot of money for it--insurance covered it, but I've never come across any player as solidly built).

My current setup is not "high-end" (at least not by enthusiast standards--it is, by far, the best setup of anyone I've actually met, though), but it's sufficiently good for me to appreciate the subtleties of a good quality recording (MCH or not). I have arranged my speakers in a way that is biased for audio (my screen is set up on the wall at a higher than ideal spot but I prefer sacrificing the video "sweet spot" rather than place my centre channel in a less than optimal spot).

Whenever I do a MCH demo of music for friends (so far), they have all been impressed and enjoyed it. But while some of them have their own MCH rigs for movies, none of them has adopted MCH audio into their collection. They consider music as something to have on in the background, not something to sit and listen to attentively. Even when they go to concerts, the "event" is more important than the music itself in most cases (I have three friends for whom this is not the case--we regularly go to jazz or classical performances and take in the music, but the rest are not interested too much).

Several people have asked a variation of "who sits and listens to music attentively anymore"? I'm one of an apparently vanishing breed. I don't do it as often as I used to (kids and a family life--a lot easier to do when you're single) but I do it when I can. I treat the time as "entertainment time". Where someone might watch a show they've recorded or watch a movie, I listen to an album or two. But the idea of just sitting and listening to music (no sports on the muted TV, no reading, no surfing the web on a tablet, no other activity besides listening) is one that has probably been a lot less popular, at any point, than enthusiasts would like to believe. Without portability and convenience, music would go back to what it was prior to the advent of recording technology--an occasional and largely self-generated (as in playing an instrument in the home) thing.
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post #29 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 10:08 AM
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If you were to ask if someone liked the movie with a DTS MA audio track, they always answer yes, and most are not aware of MC music. I get the answer, "I was not aware of MC music"
"But will try it because the movie was great in 5.1, I can just imagine how good music will sound."
Not everyone goes into the big box electronic stores. These folks were never exposed to 5.1 music. Then, with the Sony BS, it just made the issue more cloudy - more complicated.

The Blu-ray disc has full capability. Once heard most will dump the sound bar and get a AVR and speakers. It's easy now, but sadly not promoted anymore as greed has become the main issue, and portable-simple-available- **** is the norm. I know even those who use it-hate it because of listener fatigue. Your brain, striving to hear what is missing it knows is there. Even the new HR download sites are not employing MC. I cannot understand why this is policy. At least offer it-
(FLAC).
One good point made by Donald Fagen and his new offering-"Sunken Condo's" he said, and I quote-"why bother even doing 5.1, when everyone listens on a small speaker anyway?
This, from a Grammy award winner for the best surround album-" Morph the Kat" and the big catalog of SD stuff in 5.1 that is really all very good!
Jimmy Page and his refusal to re-do the Led Zep cat in 5.1-the band that really ought to be 5.1-the music that needs to be 5.1! And no interest from Jimmy Page.
Now the real news, the Steve Hoffman thing-dedicated 2 channel die hard-now interested in surround!! Promoting it!! Involved in production!!
A choice is what is needed here, and all formats offer that. It all needs to be a choice. You cannot please everyone but having the ability to choose your playback is what I would like to see.
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post #30 of 187 Unread 08-08-2014, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Ovation View Post
I voted according to my anecdotal experience (most people haven't heard MCH music before), though any of the options merits consideration.

I arrived at a MCH setup for movies, but quickly jumped on the DVD-A/SACD formats when I became aware of them (around 2001). I even purchased a DVD-A player before I had more than a 2.0 setup (sadly, it was stolen before I could finish the setup--it was a Panasonic, built like a tank and I'd paid a lot of money for it--insurance covered it, but I've never come across any player as solidly built).

My current setup is not "high-end" (at least not by enthusiast standards--it is, by far, the best setup of anyone I've actually met, though), but it's sufficiently good for me to appreciate the subtleties of a good quality recording (MCH or not). I have arranged my speakers in a way that is biased for audio (my screen is set up on the wall at a higher than ideal spot but I prefer sacrificing the video "sweet spot" rather than place my centre channel in a less than optimal spot).

Whenever I do a MCH demo of music for friends (so far), they have all been impressed and enjoyed it. But while some of them have their own MCH rigs for movies, none of them has adopted MCH audio into their collection. They consider music as something to have on in the background, not something to sit and listen to attentively. Even when they go to concerts, the "event" is more important than the music itself in most cases (I have three friends for whom this is not the case--we regularly go to jazz or classical performances and take in the music, but the rest are not interested too much).

Several people have asked a variation of "who sits and listens to music attentively anymore"? I'm one of an apparently vanishing breed. I don't do it as often as I used to (kids and a family life--a lot easier to do when you're single) but I do it when I can. I treat the time as "entertainment time". Where someone might watch a show they've recorded or watch a movie, I listen to an album or two. But the idea of just sitting and listening to music (no sports on the muted TV, no reading, no surfing the web on a tablet, no other activity besides listening) is one that has probably been a lot less popular, at any point, than enthusiasts would like to believe. Without portability and convenience, music would go back to what it was prior to the advent of recording technology--an occasional and largely self-generated (as in playing an instrument in the home) thing.
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Quote:
I'm one of an apparently vanishing breed. I don't do it as often as I used to (kids and a family life--a lot easier to do when you're single) but I do it when I can. )
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??
man cave- dads room, the head room- remember this one on your room door? "Pain to all those who enter without my consent" We all need our own time
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