Originally Posted by lostsoldier
Well, everytime I've seen an orchestra, they are in front of me.
It's different when you hear an orchestra. Most listeners are sitting past the critical distance (critical distance = when more reflected energy than direct sound is reaching the listener).
The same is true from most home set-ups: more than 50% of what you're hearing is the room, not direct sound from your speakers. Notice the increasing interest in room correction (passive treatments and auto-EQ systems).
Besides, since every venue is unique in it's sound, does that mean the mixer now decides not only what, but where your listening?
The ambience in a live recording comes from the specific venue in which it was recorded. The recording engineer doesn't try to simulate a different venue any more than he tries to simulate a different orchestra.
In surround playback, the recorded ambience originates from around you, just like at the live event. In 2-speaker playback, the recorded ambience originates from in front of you and is reflected off your room walls.
With surround, you are hearing spatial cues that mimic the original experience. With 2-speaker playback, the spatial cues are describing your room.
The difference can be best described as "they are here" (the performers are in your room with 2-speaker playback) versus "you are there" (you are at the concert hall with surround playback).