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5.1, whats all the fuss about?

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
Am I just a retro grouch? I recently upgraded from an audio only integrated amplifier set up as 2.1, with the mains running full range, and the sub crossed over around 60hz. This worked just fine, but I was tired of swapping cables and multiple inputs to switch between sources. New setup is a 7.1 AVR configured as 5.1. The bass is much cleaner now, with the mains crossed over at 60hz as well, and the center channel helps with dialog when not sitting in the sweet spot. The surround however, seem completely pointless. I find myself trying to listen for them, but they seem as if they wouldn't be missed if they were gone. Has anyone else given up on the "surround sound" concept?
post #2 of 67
1. Where are your surrounds located?
2. Are they properly setup in the new receiver?

Lots of people love 2.0 and 2.1.

I love the 7.1 setup in my theater. The surround adds plenty to the experience in movies. With music I roll 2.1 as the image and experience is better for me and my setup.

Have Fun!
post #3 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

Has anyone else given up on the "surround sound" concept?

I've given up on stereo except as a source format. I play everything thru 7.1 kit.

Which AVR are you using, and how was it calibrated?
post #4 of 67
I actually love running a 2.1 set-up and could be very happy with it. But alas, I still have a 5.1 configuration for movies. Surrounds aren't really supposed to be sticking out like a sore thumb. If you have everything calibrated properly, they should offer a nice subtle depth and, well, surround effect with movies. If your receiver has room correction, then make sure you take advantage of it. If it doesn't, then get yourself a rat shack SPL meter, or if you have an iPhone you can download the SPL app. (There may also be one for android, not sure.) But once you get everything dialed in, find a good demo scene and play it first with the surrounds engaged and then with them off. When things are properly set up, you should notice a difference. And don't forget, many films just don't really take advantage of the surround channels much.
post #5 of 67
Get one of music BD made by AIX, to see what surround is about. As for movies, usually only action ones are using surround extensively, and even then in only few scenes.
post #6 of 67
Thread Starter 
My setup is a Yamaha RX-V667 driving three Ascend CMT-340s up front, and a pair of Ascend CBM-170s as surrounds. Subwoofer is located in the front right corner, and is a HSU VTF-3 MK-2. Due to room layout, they are more positioned more like rear surrounds than main surrounds. I have run the Yamaha YPAO a few times, and it puts the surrounds at about the same level as the fronts, and applys about a 3db boost to the center.

What are some good tracks or movies that would convince me that these are worth keeping?
post #7 of 67

Quote:


What are some good tracks or movies that would convince me that these are worth keeping?

Just about any action flick should convince you!

But keep in mind that not all program sources use the surround sound capabilities. It’s sorely lacking in many TV shows, for instance.

Coming from 2.1 to 5.1, I have to ask: Did you change your DVD player’s menu to enable Dolby Digital output? And are you using a digital connection (optical or coax) between the player and Yamaha receiver?


Quote:


…a pair of Ascend CBM-170s as surrounds. Due to room layout, they are more positioned more like rear surrounds than main surrounds.

Having the rears behind the seating isn’t a problem as long as they are spread apart. I had a set-up like this in the house we used to live in, and it worked great.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt



post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

What are some good tracks or movies that would convince me that these are worth keeping?

IMO the BD of Apocalypse Now is about as perfect as it gets if your surrounds are properly placed and calibrated.
post #9 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne A. Pflughaupt View Post

[font="Comic Sans MS"]
Just about any action flick should convince you!

But keep in mind that not all program sources use the surround sound capabilities. It's sorely lacking in many TV shows, for instance.

Understood. Watched Iron Man 2, and Thor, and while there certainly were a few surround sound effects, they really seemed gratuitous. Maybe these are just bad examples of 5.1 mixes?

Quote:


Coming from 2.1 to 5.1, I have to ask: Did you change your DVD player's menu to enable Dolby Digital output? And are you using a digital connection (optical or coax) between the player and Yamaha receiver?

Using a WD TV to play back content from downloaded movies or Netflix, output set to Digital pass through over HDMI, which seems to be the accepted way to use this box with a surround sound AVR


Quote:


Having the rears behind the seating isn't a problem as long as they are spread apart. I had a set-up like this in the house we used to live in, and it worked great.

Good to hear. I may move them around just for fun. The room layout doesn't really allow for it, but could put them on temporary stands.

It seems that the surrounds wouldn't need to be the same as the front three speakers to everything to sound right. Maybe I'll use some cheapies like the $25 Dayton's in the rear, and move the Ascend 170s somewhere else for 2 channel in the office or something.
post #10 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Possumgirl View Post

IMO the BD of Apocalypse Now is about as perfect as it gets if your surrounds are properly placed and calibrated.

....and its on Netflix now. I'll watch it tonight.
post #11 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

Understood. Watched Iron Man 2, and Thor, and while there certainly were a few surround sound effects, they really seemed gratuitous. Maybe these are just bad examples of 5.1 mixes?


Using a WD TV to play back content from downloaded movies or Netflix, output set to Digital pass through over HDMI, which seems to be the accepted way to use this box with a surround sound AVR



Good to hear. I may move them around just for fun. The room layout doesn't really allow for it, but could put them on temporary stands.

It seems that the surrounds wouldn't need to be the same as the front three speakers to everything to sound right. Maybe I'll use some cheapies like the $25 Dayton's in the rear, and move the Ascend 170s somewhere else for 2 channel in the office or something.

I would personally keep the 4 surrounds the same. Much better panning effect and proper timbre match.
post #12 of 67
You should try out some DVD-A. Try Dark Side of the Moon, A Night at the Opera, or Beck-Sea Change. All of these will give you much better immersion with a 5.1 setup than simply running 2.1. DTS audio is usually what I go to to show off the "surround sound" of my system. More content delivered to ALL speakers than the typical movie.
post #13 of 67
Try Book of Eli
post #14 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

My setup is a Yamaha RX-V667 driving three Ascend CMT-340s up front, and a pair of Ascend CBM-170s as surrounds. Subwoofer is located in the front right corner, and is a HSU VTF-3 MK-2. Due to room layout, they are more positioned more like rear surrounds than main surrounds. I have run the Yamaha YPAO a few times, and it puts the surrounds at about the same level as the fronts, and applys about a 3db boost to the center.

What are some good tracks or movies that would convince me that these are worth keeping?


Just a few off the top of my head...

Tron Legacy... the crowd cheering scenes at the games stand out.
The Incredibles
Master and Commander
The Patriot
Cars

Check out the "Demo Disc" thread for the surround scenes. There was one that I remember of a plane crashing and the jet engine roaring overhead and behind that scared the pi$$ out of me. I think it was the movie "Knowing". Never saw it, so I didn't know what to expect.
post #15 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Horstkotte View Post

Try Book of Eli

That scene at the house is good. Tears of the sun is a good track too
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

....and its on Netflix now. I'll watch it tonight.

Netfilx is not a blu-ray. I don't find the sound quality of steaming netflix to be anywhere near DVD/Blu-Ray but I don't have maximum network bandwidth maybe it gets better.

Do you have any Pixar content?

Have Fun!
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

....and its on Netflix now. I'll watch it tonight.

Ooooh, please don't use the Netflix version to judge by. Apparently they only offer it in stereo so you wouldn't hear ANY of the great audio in that movie.

I'm usually quite underwhelmed by NF audio even for titles that are available in Dolby.
post #18 of 67
Surrounds aren't supposed to be highly 'active' all the time. A lot of the time on film soundtracks they're either quiet or providing ambience.

An easy way to 'hear' surround is to play a bunch of your favorite CDs through Dolby Pro Logic IIx. You *will* notice a difference if you switch between DPLII on and off (part of that is that you're also creating a center channel). If you want something spectacular, try Jimi Hendrix "Electric Ladyland" which features lots of phased audio moving around the room.
post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADDUpstate View Post

Just a few off the top of my head...

Tron Legacy... the crowd cheering scenes at the games stand out.
The Incredibles
Master and Commander
The Patriot
Cars

Check out the "Demo Disc" thread for the surround scenes. There was one that I remember of a plane crashing and the jet engine roaring overhead and behind that scared the pi$$ out of me. I think it was the movie "Knowing". Never saw it, so I didn't know what to expect.

I would add:

Avatar
Behind Enemy Lines
The Lovely Bones
Gangs of New York

I'm guessing that there are others that would be equally good demonstrations, but I'm wary of suggesting a movie simply because it has some flashy special effects. The surrounds should not "stand out" - for example with a movie like Office Space (or for most of The Lovely Bones) you will have very minimal ambiance through the surround channels; and a few scenes that employ them for dramatic effect (music, pans, that kind of thing).

Do not use VOD/Netflix/OTA-TV to judge surround sound; in most situations you're upsampling to your surround array and that's simply not the same as discrete. Pick up an actual DVD, Blu-ray, Laserdisc, HD-DVD, or whatever other format with a proper discrete 5.1/6.1/7.1 soundtrack.
post #20 of 67
The missile scene in behind enemy lines is a great scene too lol
post #21 of 67
I beg to differ about the location of the surrounds in the rear, rather than sideways. At least for music, I believe it is very difficult for the ear to link whats happening in the front seamlessly to the rear. Since 5.1 is around, pretty much every article I read recommended them at the side, not rear.
If you have them at the side and play Mahler's 9th Symphony with the Mahler Youth Orchestra (DTS 5.1), http://www.amazon.com/Mahler-Symphon...5638137&sr=1-1
you will have a soundstage that is 160 degrees wide and lays the orchestra out in front of you as if you were a foot or two behind the conductor.
It is the best surround recording I know, and even if you hate Mahler or classical music, it's well worth listening to to really see how a good surround recording can sound.
I don't think you will hear it like that with the surrounds in the rear.
Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott's (BR) is well recorded, also Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at Radio City Hall (BR)
My movies sound fine, too. Although I have a 7.1 set-up, many tracks are 5.1 and that's how I play them (Pure Audio).
Good movies are the Master and Commander, where the first few minutes should give you the feeling that you are on that ship, with noises coming from everywhere.
For explosions etc. 2012 is right up there for effects.
But even football games on CBS and Fox come now with 5.1 surround and make the games more lifelike.
So move them to the sides and see what happens. You can always move them back if you don't hear a difference.
post #22 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by jparr View Post

....and its on Netflix now. I'll watch it tonight.

I think that is your problem, your source for the audio. You need to get it off of an actual BD movie on a BD player in your home.
post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKreutzer View Post

I beg to differ about the location of the surrounds in the rear, rather than sideways. At least for music, I believe it is very difficult for the ear to link whats happening in the front seamlessly to the rear. Since 5.1 is around, pretty much every article I read recommended them at the side, not rear.
If you have them at the side and play Mahler's 9th Symphony with the Mahler Youth Orchestra (DTS 5.1), http://www.amazon.com/Mahler-Symphon...5638137&sr=1-1
you will have a soundstage that is 160 degrees wide and lays the orchestra out in front of you as if you were a foot or two behind the conductor.
It is the best surround recording I know, and even if you hate Mahler or classical music, it's well worth listening to to really see how a good surround recording can sound.
I don't think you will hear it like that with the surrounds in the rear.
Jeff Beck at Ronnie Scott's (BR) is well recorded, also Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at Radio City Hall (BR)
My movies sound fine, too. Although I have a 7.1 set-up, many tracks are 5.1 and that's how I play them (Pure Audio).
Good movies are the Master and Commander, where the first few minutes should give you the feeling that you are on that ship, with noises coming from everywhere.
For explosions etc. 2012 is right up there for effects.
But even football games on CBS and Fox come now with 5.1 surround and make the games more lifelike.
So move them to the sides and see what happens. You can always move them back if you don't hear a difference.

A bit behind is recommended in the ITU configuration. 110-130 degrees from dead centre. I have mine at about 120 degrees and I found that better than the 90 degrees I initially tried before learning about the ITU configuration. ITU privileges music over movie sound, though (which is my preference).
post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ovation View Post


A bit behind is recommended in the ITU configuration. 110-130 degrees from dead centre. I have mine at about 120 degrees and I found that better than the 90 degrees I initially tried before learning about the ITU configuration. ITU privileges music over movie sound, though (which is my preference).

Many surround music records are done with assumption that four speakers are spread evenly around circle, which means 60 degrees for fronts and 120 for backs. Often they do not use center speaker that much (sound level is much lower in it) too.
post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmannth View Post

Netfilx is not a blu-ray. I don't find the sound quality of steaming netflix to be anywhere near DVD/Blu-Ray but I don't have maximum network bandwidth maybe it gets better.

Do you have any Pixar content?

Have Fun!

Netflix actually has the capability of streaming 1080p and lossless HD surround sound.... BUT, none of the devices as of 2011 have the capability to get that quality streamed via E-net. I actually read that on one of the headlines here on AVS.
post #26 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

If you want something spectacular, try Jimi Hendrix "Electric Ladyland" which features lots of phased audio moving around the room.

+1. Also, "EXP," the first track/cut from "Axis: Bold as Love" from Jimi features excellent phasing and panning. The flying saucer moves around in a circle several times, even in 2.1.
post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKreutzer View Post

I beg to differ about the location of the surrounds in the rear, rather than sideways. At least for music, I believe it is very difficult for the ear to link whats happening in the front seamlessly to the rear. Since 5.1 is around, pretty much every article I read recommended them at the side, not rear.



Have you seen this one?



LL
post #28 of 67
The key word on 5.1 and 7.1 is ambience .. the surrounds are not intended to dominate .. most film mixes are subtle and some have little to no mix .. any of the mentioned films should provide an idea of a more active mix ..

As well, the music selections noted ..

If you think 5.1 is lacking, 7.1 is not well utilized by Hollywood at all, IMO ..

Of course, the clarity benefits of DTS-HD Master, Dolby TrueHD, Linear PCM, DTS, Dolby Digital are as important, in fact more important, to me anyway, than the impact of 5.1 or 7.1 ..
post #29 of 67
To C Palmer Cass

No, I haven't, but that's where my rear speakers are in my 7.1 setup.

I don't doubt that there are many sites that recommend them in the rear, but when I looked years ago, it was sideways. My Digital Video Essentials from 2003 has them clearly at the side.
In the end, it's not that difficult to try it out both ways and do what sounds best to you.
post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKreutzer View Post

To C Palmer Cass

No, I haven't, but that's where my rear speakers are in my 7.1 setup.

I don't doubt that there are many sites that recommend them in the rear, but when I looked years ago, it was sideways. My Digital Video Essentials from 2003 has them clearly at the side.
In the end, it's not that difficult to try it out both ways and do what sounds best to you.

Surround setup for movies is different. In many cases fronts are recommended be at +/-30 degrees, that is why "Wide fronts" ( at +/-60 ) were introduced in most recent receivers. In 7.1 setup back surrounds are too recommended to be close each other. Movies are mixed very differently from multichannel music.
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