My CBll has Circle Surround and I never use it. I tried it for music and preferred stereo, tried it for Direct TV and found I liked the Theta Matrix better, and of course LDs and DVDs sound better using whatever encoding they came with. If you haven't heard CS, is there someplace that has a CBll that you can listen to before you spend the money?
If you really want to improve the sound of your CBll upgrade your DACS, that makes almost as much of a difference as buying new speakers. If you have standard DACs get the Superiors for your front channels, if you have the Superiors get the Extreme!
Steve B. uses his CS all the time though and seems to like it. Back to your question, don't know the answer. Mine has always had it.
Circle Surround comes with a card as well as files as part of the CB2 software.
I luv my Circle Surround. I find Circle Cinema to work great for stereo PCM and Dolby Digital 2.0 stuff that I watch a lot with DirecTV including HD stuff as well as with local OTA digital and analog channels. Its a big improvement vs Dolby Pro Logic or Special Matrix.
I also like Circle Non-Encoded for stereo CDs, but remember I have equal amps and speakers and tweaks for five main channels. If I had inferior center or surround channels odds are I might well not like Circle Non-
Encoded and prefer straight stereo for music.
Your Theta dealer should be able to do the Circle Surround upgrade for you in house, by simply ordering the card from Theta and then reloading the software using all files provided by Theta pertinent to your CB2, including the Circel Surround and Circle Surround Enabling files.
I am curious what you guys prefer about CS over stereo. I also have the same speakers and amps all around. I have found that CS and, actually all surround formats, have much less sound stage depth than stereo. When I listen to music in stereo the sound extends behind the speaker plane and in front of the speaker plane. Depending on how the music is mixed, it often extends outside the speaker boundaries, and of course the instruments are distinctly heard center, left and right.
When listening to music with any surround format, including CS as a comparison I have found that the sound is flat along the speaker plane, the depth of the sound stage is no longer there.
Maybe stereo sounds better in my system because I am using time and phase accurate speakers and have spent a lot of time with positioning and acoustics. When I was using a more conventional speaker system (Meadowlark, and before that a brief stint with B&W, and before that Gallo Covered Reference) I didn't have the sound stage that I have come to love. At that time I did play around alot with CS and several of the Matrix formats.
I wish one of you guys using the Casablanca ll with CS lived close to me so that we could experiment and narrow down for sure why stereo sounds better in my system. My own opinion is that it is because I followed the advice given in the Audio Perfectionist but, I know that I am shouting into the wind if I am the only one that has followed along this path and has heard the difference. It isn't sexy, it isn't expensive, and it flies against the "conventional wisdom" found in audio magazines and dealerships. Of course, that could be because "conventional wisdom" is that more expensive means better quality, and that audio satisfaction can't be achieved and needs constant upgrades.
There are sometimes different paths, or similar paths with some differences, to achieve that elusive audio and/or home theater nirvana.
Keep in mind that Circle Non-Encoded, which I use with stereo CDs, I find it doesn't change the front soundstage at all, simply adds a bit of ambience from the rears extendng the soundstage a bit more. I have a great soundstage in two channel stereo as well. I find that Circle Non-Encoded doesn't use the front center speaker much at all. Hey, Phoenix isn't that far. Come over and visit some day!!!!
At some time or another I seem to find myself in almost every corner of the world. Well, dragged there actually. Maybe I will be working in AZ soon and will take you up on your offer. For awhile I was going to AZ alot, recently there hasn't been any work for me there. Last night I played around with the CS format and here are my thoughts.
It had been quite a while since I had played around with CS for stereo music so, I thought it was time to give it another shot. I did give it a good listen a couple of months ago when reconfigureing the audio for Direct TV and found I preferred Theta's simple Matrix for most of the channels and stereo for the music channels.
Since I have recently made some changes in speaker position, tilt, and room acoustics it seemed like I should give CS another listen.
I used Paco de Lucia's "Siroco" CD for the comparisons. It is useful because it is a well recorded acoustic music disc with only 3 instruments. Guitar, hands clapping, the sound of feet dancing on a wooden floor, that's it.
Listening to track 3 in stereo the guitar is suspended between the two speakers, the clapping hands are slightly behind and outside the right speaker, the dancing feet are about 3 feet behind the guitar moving in a arc. Even though my speakers are 3 or 4 feet forward of my TV, it still compresses the sound stage. Without it I think that the dancing feet would sound like they were another 3 feet back. Even with the TV there I never have the sense that any of the sounds are coming out of the speakers. It is all between, behind, or outside of the speakers.
When I switch to CS Non-encoded the sound instantly sounds fuller. Seems like a good thing, until I listen for a few seconds more. Now the guitar is stretched from speaker to speaker and I find myself looking at the speakers. The clapping is coming from the right speaker and the dancing feet sound is less distinct and seems to be smeared along the same plane as the guitar.
I know that everyone here that has spent the money on their CBll and its various configurations has listened carefully and has come to their own conclusions as to what works best in their room. I think that the differences in speaker types, room acoustics, and of course personal preference determine what is right for each system.
The main thing is that you may have the CS installed and love it and use it for several applications or, like mine, it may just sit idle and never see any use.
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