NOTE: Slightly edited for content clarity as well as punctutation and grammar; any extant mistakes are figments of your highly creative imagination(s)...
I don't post a lot. But, when I do, it's sometimes a lengthy post, with at least a little bit of thought behind it. (Such is my rationale for dumping this treatise upon your heads, anyway...) So, here goes:
While it's easy to be a cynic, a naysayer--easy to tear down via pessimism rather than risk disappointment after getting stoked up and excited--with a little thought (and, yes, a dash of hope!), one can see these are truly terrific times to be in this hobby of ours. There are fundamental changes going on in the synchrony of 3D video, 3D audio (11.X), and the convergences of the wirelessly-networked PCs, game consoles, wireless game controllers--and even, with the Xbox Kinect, "controller-less" game controllers!--smart phones, home automation...all also broadband connected to the whole wide "out there" web. After mentioning these synchronistic elements, all converging, finally, and feeding one another in a super-developing, exploding ecosystem--and prepared to feed each other, again, synchronously, to and for the eventual super-success of all (sooner than later)--let me stay mostly on topic and just concentrate on the audio thang, and comment only at the end on the burgeoning video 3D revolution. And other, compementary stuff...
I'm squarely in the 11.X camp. Tom (Tomlinson) Holman, reputedly the "T and H" in "THX," has long advocated (and demo'd) massive surround systems to great effect and acclaim among those fortunate to hear his arrays (many of them longtime, entrenched 2-channel audiophiles, hidebound industry leaders, "elder satesmen" of the reputedly "jaded" audio press)--and considers the systems we are now moving towards (with an apparent 11-monitor cap, at least for the present) to be a minimum
for truly accurate and enveloping surround sound...(the ideal max apparently being infinite, both humorously and seriously!)...Now, with his new (to most CE consumers) company Audyssey, we can enjoy a significant slice of that ultimate surround experience, provided one's room, and budget (and SO), permit relatively precise placement of high quality speakers and associated amplification, processing and sources.
Yes, Audyssey "only" adds four channels to the 7.X mix (with the "wides" being the most important/least subtle--indeed, said to be significantly MORE important than the rears, in, say, a 9.1 setup...or, tellingly, even in a 7.2-channel setup
), and these are not discrete channels, but algorithm-derived from the 7.X channels. (And, interestingly, if the source does not offer discrete 7.X channels, the whole will be derived from either 5.1 channels, or even 2 channels (!), piggybacking on Dolby Pro Logic IIx!). Still, the quality of the processing power of our new chips/quality of the derivation from existing channels--even mere 2-channel stereo--can be stuningly effective in the right room. This decidedly is NOT akin the the original, matrixed Dolby Pro Logic surround sound era of two decades ago.
Again, with the right source material and associated equipment, ideally placed. For many, this is not possible. But for a hard AVS core (nearly 15% in this poll so far, counting "mere" 9.1 devotees), with dedicated rooms (or without spouses or spousal complaints), this is wholly intriguing and desirable. More is more in the best sense: ahem, that'd be the auditory sense...A la Spinal Tap
: "Turn it up to 11."
That's me. Maybe you! In any event, the upside is that it does NOT take a whole revolution in source media, source playback decks, etc. to enjoy this tech--just a properly-decoding pre-pro or receiver, some more amplification, and some more speakers. Not even large ones. And here's the kicker
: There is no format war or dependency upon wide consumer adoption or "chicken/egg media vs. hardware dilemma" to affect the "success" of the 11.X evolutionary surround sound experience. It exists. You can buy into it and experience it for yourself RIGHT NOW. And forevermore, oblivious to the eventual larger market acceptance, or whether discrete 11.X channels are ever supported by the media oligopoly, the Bluray Group (Sony), or anyone else other than some CEA member getting that first 11.X receiver or pre-pro into your grubby little mitts. This ain't gonna be like the video 3D infancy we're also seeing right now. "Success" of the "format" is already assured, no matter what adoption-levels become per capita, as no significant CE industry or media company manufacturing or business-model re-structuring or capital outlays are needed,--or have to be recouped(!!!)--to ensure "success." Whoever buys the necessary equipment buys it. Whoever doesn't, doesn't. That is its "success." At whatever level this is maintained, however utterly miniscule to the larger media and CE markets. This ain't SACD vs. DVD-Audio. Bluray vs. HD-DVD. Beta vs. VHS. DAT. DCC. Quad. End of story. Nor must it leap the arguable hurdles of 3D video...
Which, as an aside, I happen also to see as being spectacularly effective (ahem, at least as a new technology launch, if not in terms of a lot of first-gen media efforts) and widely "adopted" (as below, perhaps passively to a large degree)--despite many of the hindrances, as reported above--because of the simple fact, similar to the whole of the limited capital-outlay effect mentioned re:11.X, that 3D adds little to the cost of already advanced-processing displays. Ditto: the fact that many of the tweaks required by 3D also enhance 2D viewing, so consumers will be "adopting" 3D equipment quite naturally, passively, even--like an unexpected prize in a Happy Meal--as part of the mutually-supporting processes of the constant evolution of TV improvement, and quite normal consumer-purchasing turnover patterns ...and maybe consumers'll invest in a few more 3D glasses when the prices drop and more media is available, which won't take long. Relatively. (Relative, say, to HDTV adoption.) Media/content availability, in fact, is the only real bottleneck to widespread adoption.
And, as first mentioned, there's the whole synchrony of meshed, integrated, networked technologies that will be simultaneously pushing and pulling us all--along with our tech toys--into a totally new 3D communications and entertainment world. The synchrony will both affect and effect--positively--the success of ALL the new individual technologies, at least in terms of mutually driving and supporting the larger trends. (The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.) And, the technologies'll be relatively cheap to implement. According to the natural evolution that has--suprise, surprise!--already brought us to this point (philosophically, in fact, we're already long past "this point," as perceived...given extant capital investment and multi-industry commitments, we're actually already way down the Miz-zip, Huck!) And it will carry us along even further, quite naturally, whether we make conscious choices. To egregiously mix metaphors (my bad, sorry), the stream already exists and is flowing, very rapidly, and by the time we think we know where we are, we're already way past it. + See the big picture; hear it, too.
My 2-cents. Exciting times for 3D audio and 3D video! And, and, and...