Originally Posted by Zacabeb
Yesterday I recalled having a conversation a few weeks ago with a colleague from work who's an acoustic and audio engineer, after he'd upgraded to a new receiver (I believe it was a Denon given it had Auro-3D) in order to get immersive audio. He lamented the lack of the Center Width control from Dolby Pro Logic II, and how he was displeased with how sound spread across all the fronts in a way that boosted the loudness somewhat. I asked if he'd tried the Center Spread option, but he said he hadn't found a setting like that yet.
I, too, lament the loss of PLIIx, partially for the Music/Movie modes which did more than enable a Center Width control, but moreover how it handles upmixing stereo music to produce a real sense of envelopment -- lateral expansion. The newer Dolby Surround upmixer (DSU) works fine for stereo movie/TV sound, as it has a superb center-channel extraction process second to none. But the way it formulates ambience from music for the surround channels is not consistent with nature, IMHO.
HST I am a little confused when you wrote: "he was displeased with how sound spread across all the fronts in a way that boosted the loudness somewhat." Is this in ref to Auro or DSU? Auro does not have any dialog extraction capability, so it cannot really do anything to elevate the dialog that does not also affect the rest of the mix. OTOH, DSU has a "Center Spread" option that toggles on/off a fixed degree of center spread, very much the same as PLIIx Music mode's default setting. It maintains overall dialog loudness, too.
What worries me about this is that if the Center Spread option is removed, will it mean it's just not there anymore, or that it is permanently enabled?
If it is gone, I'd expect it to be off -- no spreading. Part of the benefit of Center Width was that vocals could still use the main L/R speakers (same as in pure stereo mode) which may offer quality advantages when lesser speakers are used in the center. It also helped maintain the sense of stereo width because PLIIx, being a 1-band logic steering process, had to make tradeoffs between steering the center vocals vs maintaining stereo width. That issue does not exist with DSU due to the well-executed multiband processing it uses. I have found that with well matched speakers, and sitting dead center, vocals with center spread on/off are virtually indistinguishable.
It was always optional for manufacturers to implement, and I can't think of a good reason for Onkyo and Pioneer to remove it other than a Dolby mandate
I sorta doubt that Dolby would mandate removing a feature they themselves baked into their DSU code. However, as it is usually lumped into the global DSU mode, it became a nuisance for end users who used to assign PLIIx Movie for certain sources and PLIIx Music for other sources, letting the mode follow the source being used. For DSU, there is no easy way to do that -- there is only "the DSU mode" for any/all sources, and the user has to manually change the center spread setting each time. After enough complaints, AVR makers may have opted out of supporting center spread rather than solving the problem properly. I have no idea if this is true for any given AVR maker, but it at least seems plausible.
Deadwood II Theater
(Previous Deadwood Theater HTOM
Anthem AVM 60 7.4.4; Classé SSP-800 PLIIx 7.4; MiniDSP OpenDRC-AN
Oppo UDP-203; Oppo BDP-93; Win10 media PC w/Roon+Kodi; Roku Ultra; DirecTV Genie
Adam Audio S3V/S3H LCR, KEF Ci200QS 4 srrnd, Tannoy Di6 DC 4 hts, Hsu ULS-15 4 subs
JVC RS520; Stewart Cima Neve screen 125" diag 2.35:1, MLP at 115"